Is There a Value to the One-Hour Easy Ride?

We all understand the purpose of high-intensity intervals and long endurance rides, but is there a value to kitting up and doing a workout that’s both short and easy?

Photo: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

Time is short and we all want to make the most of the time we have. We often ask the question of whether getting out for a short run or ride is worth it, especially when we consider the need to change, fill bottles, and shower afterwards. High-intensity intervals or a throwdown on Zwift might seem more appealing or “valuable,” but what if your training plan calls for an easier base ride?

This is a question we have wanted to offer definitive answers on for years. The problem, however, is that it’s not something researchers seem too interested in studying. At best, we have a few indirect studies and some theories about how the physiology justifies it.

As much as we wanted to bring you an episode deeply rooted in science and research, instead our three hosts—Grant Holicky, Rob Pickels, and Trevor Connor—answered the question in this episode with a mix of science, experience, opinion, and anecdotes to debate whether there really is a value to the short, easy ride.

Along with our hosts, we’ll hear from a few top experts in the field including physiologist Dr. Stephen Seiler, Inigo San Milan, a physiologist and coach with UAE Team Emirates, and recently retired former professional Brent Bookwalter.

So, keep it easy, keep it short, and let’s make you fast!


​Andersson, H., Bøhn, S. K., Raastad, T., Paulsen, G., Blomhoff, R., & Kadi, F. (2010). Differences in the inflammatory plasma cytokine response following two elite female soccer games separated by a 72‐h recovery. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20(5), 740–747. Retrieved from 

​Ardavani, A., Aziz, H., Phillips, B. E., Doleman, B., Ramzan, I., Mozaffar, B., … Idris, I. (2021). Indicators of response to exercise training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 11(7), e044676. Retrieved from 

​Billat, V. L., Flechet, B., Petit, B., Muriaux, G., & Koralsztein, J. P. (1999). Interval training at VO2max: effects on aerobic performance and overtraining markers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(1), 156–63. Retrieved from 

​Connolly, D. A., Brennan, K. M., & Lauzon, C. D. (2002). Effects of active versus passive recovery on power output during repeated bouts of short term, high intensity exercise. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 2(2), 47–51. 

​Darani, M. M., Abedi, B., & Fatolahi, H. (2018). The effect of active and passive recovery on creatine kinase and C-reactive protein after an exercise session in football players. International Archives of Health Sciences, 5(1), 1. Retrieved from 

​Deposited on: 23 July 2010 Enlighten – Research publications by members of the University of Glasgow (n.d.). 

​Gibala, M. J., Little, J. P., Essen, M. V., Wilkin, G. P., Burgomaster, K. A., Safdar, A., … Tarnopolsky, M. A. (2006). Short‐term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. The Journal of Physiology, 575(3), 901–911. Retrieved from 

​Hanssen, H., Nussbaumer, M., Moor, C., Cordes, M., Schindler, C., & Schmidt-Trucksäss, A. (2015). Acute effects of interval versus continuous endurance training on pulse wave reflection in healthy young men. Atherosclerosis, 238(2), 399–406. Retrieved from 

​Hovanloo, F., Arefirad, T., & Ahmadizad, S. (2013). Effects of sprint interval and continuous endurance training on serum levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, 12(1), 22. Retrieved from 

​Laursen, P. B. (2010). Training for intense exercise performance: high‐intensity or high‐volume training? Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20(s2), 1–10. Retrieved from 

​Lesnak, J. B., & Sluka, K. A. (2020). Mechanism of exercise-induced analgesia: what we can learn from physically active animals. Pain Reports, 5(5), e850. Retrieved from 

​McKay, B. R., Paterson, D. H., & Kowalchuk, J. M. (2009). Effect of short-term high-intensity interval training vs. continuous training on O2 uptake kinetics, muscle deoxygenation, and exercise performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107(1), 128–138. Retrieved from 

​Montero, D., & Lundby, C. (2017). Refuting the myth of non‐response to exercise training: ‘non‐responders’ do respond to higher dose of training. The Journal of Physiology, 595(11), 3377–3387. Retrieved from 

​SEILER, S., HAUGEN, O., & KUFFEL, E. (2007). Autonomic Recovery after Exercise in Trained Athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(8), 1366–1373. Retrieved from 

​Thomas, C., Bishop, D. J., Lambert, K., Mercier, J., & Brooks, G. A. (2012). Effects of acute and chronic exercise on sarcolemmal MCT1 and MCT4 contents in human skeletal muscles: current status. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 302(1), R1–R14. Retrieved from 

​Tufano, J. J., Brown, L. E., Coburn, J. W., Tsang, K. K. W., Cazas, V. L., & LaPorta, J. W. (2012). Effect of Aerobic Recovery Intensity on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(10), 2777–2782. Retrieved from 

​Wiewelhove, T., Schneider, C., Schmidt, A., Döweling, A., Meyer, T., Kellmann, M., … Ferrauti, A. (2018). Active Recovery After High-Intensity Interval-Training Does Not Attenuate Training Adaptation. Frontiers in Physiology, 9, 415. Retrieved from 

Episode Transcript

Rob Pickels  00:04

Hello and Welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host, Rob Pickels here with Coach Connor. Time is short, and we all want to make the most of what little we’ve got. We all ask the question of whether getting ready for a short run or ride is worth it. Especially when we consider the need to change, fill bottles, and shower after.

Rob Pickels  00:24

Some high intensity intervals or throw down on Zwift might make sense, but what if the plan is an easier base ride? This is a question we have wanted to offer a definitive science on for years. The problem, it’s not something researchers seem to interested in studying. At best we have a few indirect studies and some theories about how the physiology justifies it. As much as we wanted the deep science episode, today are three hosts: Grant Holicky, Trevor Connor, and myself bring a mix of science, experience, opinion, and anecdotes to debate the question of whether there really is a value to the short, easy ride. Along with our hosts, we’ll hear from top experts in the field including physiologist Dr. Stephen Seiler. Physiologist and coach of UAE Team Emirates, Inigo San Milan, and recently retired ex professional Brent Bookwalter. So keep it easy, keep it short, and let’s make you fast.

Chris Case  01:22

Hey there Fast Talk listeners, you may remember my voice. This is Chris Case, and I’m excited that today’s episode of Fast Talk is brought to you by Alter Exploration my new adventure cycling company. Alter exploration crafts custom life altering cycling trips that create opportunities for both physical and mental evolution. Journey with us and you’ll learn how transformation begins or comfort ends. Alters Journeys will take you over hardscrabble climbs, and through jaw dropping landscapes. Our trips are best suited for those who could laugh and adventurous twist of fate for those who aren’t perturbed by 20% gradients, and for those who would never think twice about turning back. Our journeys aren’t so much a vacation as an exploration of you and the destination. At the end of each day, you’ll be preoccupied as much by the transformative experience, as by the satisfaction of exhaustion, life altered. Learn more about my favorite adventure destinations and start dreaming at

Trevor Connor  02:23

Well, welcome to another episode of fast talk. This is an episode I have been excited to do for a long time. So really glad we’re getting to it. I’m also going to admit I’m kind of terrified as well. Because this is a question we have been asked a lot. It’s a really fun topic. So I wanted to come into this episode super prepared with like 30 research studies. And I couldn’t really find any, because what we are talking about today, which we get asked about all the time, is, is there really a value to that one hour slow workout slower? So I mean, we’re talking cycling, the one hour ride if you’re running the 20 minute run, but I get why people ask us about this. Everybody has busy lives, you have family, you have kids, you just begged your spouse to be able to go and hop on the bike and do this workout, it took a lot of sacrifice to get this hour. At the end of it, you’re like that didn’t really feel like a workout. You want to do something hard, you want to beat yourself up. And we have made the case that actually you still need those easy rides. So we’re going to talk about it today. But like I said, the issue is and Rob has said he’s actually found some stuff. But for the most part, doing a study of obz variety is kind of not sexy. Everybody wants to study interval work. So finding research to back this up is difficult. And I think as we have this debate, a lot of what we’re going to bring up is indirect evidence.

Rob Pickels  03:54

Yeah, Trevor, when I was looking for research for this, I really had to look outside the cycling world and into team sports. And I actually I found a decent amount. I’m really looking forward to bringing that up later in the episode. But before we start, I really have to have this one question answered. When we say easy, can we qualify what easy means before we go any further?

Trevor Connor  04:19

So I’m going to use the definition that you tend to see in the research when they do have the easy ride, which is 65% of vO two max or max heart rate?

Rob Pickels  04:31

That makes me do math. How hard is that?

Trevor Connor  04:36

He’s a scientist, not a mathematician dammit 65% of you. So to give you the example, it’s if your max heart rate is 200 You’re riding at 135. So for a lot of us this is 120 heart rate 130 heart rate, I can tell you putting that into power numbers when I go out and do that 65% ride so let’s say your threshold powers in the Three hundreds, like 323 30. This is a ride at 160 watts.

Rob Pickels  05:05

So well within a zone that we would call active recovery, right zone one and five zone model. Because here’s the thing, when you say an easy one hour ride, Trevor, that’s the majority of my training. And maybe for some other people out there, but I do tend to do, you know, obviously, that’s at a true zone two and a five zone model 65 70% of my threshold. So we’re talking easier than that something that really is just for recover. Yeah. And

Grant Holicky  05:39

I think one of the big things that we get into with this, and that I find interesting is that, typically, if you’re talking to a professional athlete, or professional cyclists, and you’re talking about their easy rides, the level at which they do those is really easy. Yeah, I mean, I have athletes that will do the hour long recovery ride, and the TSS for that hour is 12. And I’m trying to figure out where they went and what they did that they got that low. And then I asked my masters athletes to do a 45 minute easy recovery ride, and the TSS is in the 30s. So there’s this big swing of what this can mean. But according to the research, if you’re below that threshold, zone, one threshold or 65%, or however you want to do it. There’s not a whole lot of strain going into the legs or the system. Yeah, that’s the point.

Trevor Connor  06:33

And that’s hard for people to see, I go on do on these rides, I will have a 25 Tss. And you look at that, that’s not driving up my CTL. And what am I doing?

Grant Holicky  06:42

Right, right. And this comes to the whole point of this whole episode is, was it worth it? Yes,

Rob Pickels  06:48

yeah. Because what we know is that we’re not getting a stimulus for adaptation out of this. But if that’s not the point of doing it, then I think that that’s quite alright. And so yeah, I want to hear fraud.

Trevor Connor  07:00

Are we not? And that’s going to be part of the debate here. Is there actually a snippet? So yeah, we’ve talked about the way to adapt. It’s the fundamental principle of training as you produce a stress that’s more than your body can handle. And in the case of this workout, it’s neither hard nor super long. So absolutely, you’re not producing a big stress. So yeah, I agree with you that the argument should be you’re not going to adapt out of it. But what I have found interesting the research is, might not be that black and white shenanigans, who we’re gonna have a debate here.

Grant Holicky  07:34

Wow, I’m just gonna stand over here on this side wants you to argue,

Trevor Connor  07:38

I mean, texting on your phone. Yeah,

Grant Holicky  07:41

I’ll just go back to finish my eat. We

Trevor Connor  07:44

are starting this just so everybody knows we are starting this episode. 15 minutes late, because Grant was just sitting there texting on his phone.

Grant Holicky  07:50

I told you, I was ready. I can do two things at once. Guys. I’m

Rob Pickels  07:53

not texting, I’m just responding to my athlete. It was an email.

Grant Holicky  07:56

It’s totally different was an email emails are far more important than a text, which means

Trevor Connor  08:05

you weren’t ready to start talking?

Grant Holicky  08:07

Oh, I’m ready to start talking. I’ll I’ll talk while I type that. It’ll just come out weird. I just feel bad for whoever gets that email. Hey,

Rob Pickels  08:14

guys, none of this is in the outline. Just. Fair enough. Fair enough.

Trevor Connor  08:20

Who invited this guy?

Grant Holicky  08:21

Yeah, well, I do love how just so everybody knows. This is in the introduction of our outline, it says this is where we usually introduced our guest. But today, it’s just grant, which doesn’t make me feel bad or anything. That wasn’t me. You know, the fact that I carved out time for this doesn’t make me feel bad about it or anything. I feel good about myself.

Rob Pickels  08:43

I think the grant has realized that when the first three or four options we have fall through that, it rolls down

Grant Holicky  08:50

to when I get called grilled. Do it. Oh, guys, I

Rob Pickels  08:52

got to do

Grant Holicky  08:53

Sure. Mike, he’ll eat it. Billy Danny,

Trevor Connor  08:58

I really want to argue, but the truth is, I put that in there just to test that grant reads

Grant Holicky  09:02

the now you know, now you know, and he does.

Trevor Connor  09:07

So let’s actually start there, which you know, we’ve already started this debate. Let’s dive into the physiology of this and whether there are any sort of physiological adaptations, and I’m going to throw something out. And then I know Rob is going to slam me with a bunch of research that he found that he’s very excited about. This is why you’re so nervous. But it like I said, I found it very hard to find studies of this type of workout, because let’s face it in the research world, this isn’t sexy, who wants to study the slow one hour, right? You want to study sprint work to bada, something like that. So most of the evidence I found or research I found was where they were comparing some sort of interval work to the boring, moderate intensity ride and they didn’t want to talk that much about the moderate, boring intensity ride, which we’re always at 65% of vO to Max and 60 90 minutes and just who cares? It’s kind of their, their attitude towards it. But what I found interesting was in most of these studies, particularly the ones looking at Sprint intensity workouts, they would say, Oh, this is great, because the adaptations from the sprint work were virtually identical to the adaptations from the moderate intensity ride. So you did see improvements in vo two Max, you saw improvements in lactate threshold, whatever the various markers they were trying to measure. And so they go, well, then Sprint’s are great, because it takes less time, and you’re getting the same gains. But I kind of flipped that around and said, Yeah, but you’re getting the same gains, you didn’t say, there were no gains to the moderate intensity. Right. Right. Right. There actually were. And it was interesting that nobody’s pointing that out that this is that our boring ride. And actually, you’re seeing adaptations from it,

Rob Pickels  10:53

you should keep talking because I want to go back and review your research. I have nothing to back this up at the moment. Now, don’t look at me and ask

Grant Holicky  11:01

me to fill in right now.

Trevor Connor  11:03

I am going to say a lot of these studies were in to untrained and we’ve always said you take somebody off the couch, you haven’t do anything and they’re going to improve. So there’s the argument, you take somebody who’s a much more experienced endurance athlete and have that and do that moderate intensity versus sprint intervals? Are you going to see equivocal results? Or is that the case we’re going to see the moderate intensity ride does nothing you can also have the argument is a sprint interval training and to do that much

Grant Holicky  11:30

right, from my point of view, as a coach, I think so much of what I’m going to come back to in this episode is anecdotal, or experiential, right? What have we seen in athletes? And what have I seen in myself, what have I seen in the people I’ve coached because I can tell you that I’ve seen a huge variance in the people I’ve coached. And I can tell you that I’ve had athletes that benefit incredibly from don’t do anything. And part of why they benefit so greatly from that is that their day is really busy and getting on the bike for an hour on those days, as you mentioned, Trevor is hard to do. It takes a lot of effort. And so if they can just sit there in a in a day and do nothing, they’re static, and it makes everything go better. Their life, stress comes down, right, all these other things come down that would stay up if they’re trying to do this easy ride. And I have other athletes man that if I ask them to sit on the couch, they will tell me how awful they feel the next day no matter what. And so, I would love to find some research that points to one side or the other. But I would still say that so much of this is going to be individual, because the way I approach the hour easy ride is keep moving. I almost look at it as lubrication. Because one thing that I do know is that when you don’t ride or you don’t train for a few days, though you may not have an influence at all on quote unquote fitness. You always have an influence on feel and how you feel when you’ve taken two days off and not written versus how you feel when you’ve written an hour easy. Those days can be monumentally different.

Rob Pickels  13:08

I feel like we just time warp to the end of the episode to a grant Holic you take home. Well, no,

Grant Holicky  13:13

no, because I think I think that take home would be even more specific than that. Right? But what I’m guess I’m throwing out there is that I’ve seen it be very, very different for different athletes.

Trevor Connor  13:25

So quick backstory, or I have been incredibly frustrated and my inability to find research I’m glad Rob’s actually found some

Rob Pickels  13:31

I know but Grinches leaped over everything I

Trevor Connor  13:33

could. What I got here I’ve got the unifying theory here. What grant just said and the research

Grant Holicky  13:45

please, we’re giving it to us we’re about

Trevor Connor  13:47

to have a grant just flipped off Rob. Rob served as water in response.

Grant Holicky  13:54

Very classy.

Trevor Connor  13:57

So let’s get this this train back on the tracks. I was incredibly frustrated, not be able to find anything. So literally the hour before this episode. I’m like, I got to do one more hunt. And actually a review that I was reading had a mention of a study. I looked at the NIT title that study and the title is refuting the myth of non response to exercise training. Non responders do respond to higher dose of training 2019 Study lead authors is David Montero. And it was a fascinating study that relates here. So you were talking about some people respond, some people don’t. So here they’re looking they’re looking at the the literal definition or non response, which is people that don’t see any sort of improvements for training. And they tried these different training approaches on people again, found some were responders, some weren’t. And then what they did is is they took all those people, responders and non responders and had them add more volume. So it was more frequency of training. All this training was at that low intensity. None of it was long so it was over the core. So the week just adding 120 minutes, but they were training more frequently, and all of a sudden, all of the non responders became responders. So they actually make the case that this whole non responder thing is a myth. And the most important thing is frequency. Which to me is his argument for Yeah, even though you’re just doing an hour easy, and it feels like you’re wasting time, the frequency is important. And if all you ever did was interval work and took days off in between, but you might actually get no adaptation,

Rob Pickels  15:32

I got a little maybe bone to throw in this good week. And that’s, that’s this aspect. I think there’s a lot of research that’s being studied here, when it’s talking about 65% of vO two Max is doing so in a non endurance trained population, right. And part of me wonders if we actually looked at physiological parameters in these people 65% of vO two Max might be well, within normal training zones, zone two or even a zone three, I don’t know I’m pulling that out of thin air, I have nothing to back that up. But it likely is a higher workload, relatively speaking than we’re talking about untrained endurance athletes.

Trevor Connor  16:14

Well, since they’re doing this by oxygen consumption, theoretically, 65% should be perceptually. About the same for everybody. They’re going to be putting out a insanely low wattage if they’re untrained. But

Rob Pickels  16:27

it’s relative to them. It’s like you and I riding a 200 watt.

Grant Holicky  16:31

Yeah, so let me Well, let me draw this out. One of the questions that I have about this is looking at your research and looking at it untrained individuals, the point of the easy ride for an untrained individual would fit beautifully in frequency, more frequency means more training, that training is gonna benefit that rider. But why are we doing it for the trained rider, we’re not doing it for the train rider for frequency of exercise, or an attempt to raise stress on that athlete, we’re asking, at least I am I’m asking well trained athletes to do easy days to get them to recover. And I’m asking them to recover actively, so that they don’t feel tight the next day, they don’t feel dead the next day, and I’ll feel blocked up the next day, all of those things. So I’m looking at this going, okay, that research makes a lot of sense. But it may not be what we’re trying to do with the population we’re talking to on this podcast

Trevor Connor  17:28

we raised this before and I agree with you is the reason I can’t take all the research I found and say this is definitive, is because of how much of it was done. On a more sedentary, healthy population. It’s the same mistake like so much of that sprint intensity training researchers that improves everything with same population, then they’re taking top pros and go go just do sprints, improve everything you go, different population.

Grant Holicky  17:52

Well, and the same thing is true on the other side of the coin is that when we’re talking about moderately trained individuals, I would venture to say that 90% of the listenership of this podcast is above a moderately trained individual in the lab, moderately trained individual and lab is three times a week for 45 minutes, that’s usually the definition. So if we’re saying that, of course, the moderately trained individual needs a whole bunch of base work before they’re allowed to do vo two Max work can see the benefit, well trained in population probably already has the base work. So like, you have to take everything that’s going on in the lab with a grain of salt, because it’s a different setting.

Trevor Connor  18:30

So I mean, it looks like where we want to get to is talking about where to use these particular right. Yeah. And that’s kind of if glad you read the outline, the second part of the outline, why don’t we plow through some of the relevant physiology here. And Rob, you can jump in on this. And then let’s get into that. Where is it useful? How’s right into a training plan and get there. So I’m going to throw out a couple things. And then Rob, you can you can jump in any of these or add to this, but a couple important things to keep in mind. One is we’ve talked about this before the importance of autonomic stress that is, you know, they’ve shown again and again and again, that if you’re producing a lot of autonomic stress, and I’m not going to dive too deep into the physiology of that, that can push you towards overtraining, you’re basically really stressing your nervous system. And your nervous system doesn’t like it. And they have shown that above what’s called your aerobic threshold, it’s on off switch, you start producing on off stress below that you don’t. So doing interval works can produce autonomic stress. But going out and just doing a sweet spot right is going to produce autonomic stress. And the one thing that that’s nice about these slower, shorter rides is zero autonomic stress. So if you can get some training gains from them, you can do that without that risk of overtraining. A couple other things to bring up. You know, we’ve shown again and again and again, stroke volume is one of the most important adaptations in endurance sports. You are maximally stressing stroke volume at that 65% Unless you’re a top pro. So again, if you’re trying to stress a system radnet 65% of your max, you are already stressing that stroke volume. Another thing important to keep in mind, this is something Dr. And Hugo saw Milan has talked about a lot. When you ask him the value of these low intensity workouts, he always goes to your your MCT transporters. These are your transporters for lactate. So there’s MCT, one and MCT, four. So MCT for you tend to find on your more anaerobic cells, and their job is to transport lactate out of the cells. And that can be an issue, if you have a ton of MCT fours, you’re gonna end up with lactate in your blood, and it’s got nowhere to go. So you have this other type of transporter MC T one, and you tend to find it on more aerobic tissue that can transport lactate into the cell, so that the cell can use that lactate for fuel. What you tend to find is the high intensity work really builds MCT for transporters. Well, it’s that low intensity that builds up MCT one. Now that was a really short explanation. But as I just said, this is something that Dr. nugo saw Milan is really focused on as part of why he really pushes for this low intensity work. So before we move on, why don’t we hear from him and more thoughts on what these two transporters are all about.

Dr. San Milan  21:29

This is why doing lactate testing is a very good surrogate to know what happens at the mitochondrial level if you have a solid mitochondria. And you are able to clear lactate coming from the fast twitch muscle fibers exported by those transporters that I mentioned earlier, the MCT force, and they’re imported into the slow twitch muscle fibers into the mitochondria by another transporter, which is the MCT one, and they’re metabolized there for fuel. So you’re not only getting rid of that acetic microenvironment. But you’ll see use lactate as an extra fuel. And lactase is more potent fuel that in carbohydrates, for example, traumatic brain injury patients, for example, they prefer to use the brain prefers to use lactate, or glucose. And pretty much every cell in the body would like lactate or glucose, because it’s a much, much simpler process to metabolize it. So anyways, lactate is is a great fuel. So when you have a good life experience capacity, you kill two birds with one stone, first you don’t accumulate lactate and acetic microenvironment is lower, and therefore the muscle contraction is going to be better. And second, you use it as a fuel, and you spare other fuels. So by Yeah, if you don’t have a good mitochondrial function, as you said very well, you will have no other choice than sending the lactate out to the blood, right where it’s then utilize burned by almost every cell in the body for fuel again, but it’s in the blood. And this is what it means that you don’t have a good like Dickens capacity in the muscle.

Trevor Connor  23:04

There was something that really caught my attention that made me go back through some of the research. And this became really important to me, and is probably going to be my driving point for the rest of this episode. And then I’m going to throw it to you guys. And we can discuss this. But there was a point in one of these MCT studies that said, volume and not duration is what’s critical to the development of MCT. One, and I had to suddenly do a double take on that go, What do you mean, and I realize it’s it’s a real subtle difference that you can overlook, but a very important one, what they’re basically saying is the duration of your workout, whether you’re doing a one hour workout, or a six hour workout doesn’t seem to be all that important. But it’s the volume when you’re thinking about your weekly volume. That’s important, you need to have some big weekly volume. And that really caught my attention. And I went back and went through some studies that I’ve read a long time ago. And I’ve quoted a bunch of times in this show, including some of the research by Dr. Sylar some of the research by Dr. Larson and suddenly saw that that was pointed out in some of those studies too. And I can’t believe in some ways that I kind of missed this. So there was a 2009 study by Dr. Sylar that said the same thing where he basically said, we don’t know how the length of a training session affects cell signaling. But we know that volume has a big impact. And I think that’s really relevant because it could be just accumulating volume, whether you’re doing with a bunch of one hour workouts at low intensity, or doing it with some longer workouts. It’s actually just the volume that’s more important. And there was a very recent study, and we just put up a short article by Dr. Steven Chung on our website about this study that looked at the two days and basically said to work out today just as good as is trying to combine that into one workout.

Rob Pickels  24:55

See and this is where things get difficult for me because the conversation And I think I might need to be pulled back to center on this, the conversation feels like it’s shifting a little bit to a zone one in a five zone model to anything below the first lactate breakpoint, which in my opinion, is zone one and zone two, in which case, what we’re talking about here is just base training of one hour as opposed to base training of four hours at a time. And I think that that’s a very different conversation.

Grant Holicky  25:29

Yeah, yeah, I’d say so. I mean, there’s there’s a whole lot of evidence. I mean, we know that you need to train it, Zone Two for whatever. Yeah, can we all much time as possible, because that makes us really good at clearing that makes us really good at, you know, that’s going to have the best influence on our LT, it’s going to drive it up the most. And I think that’s, that’s something that needs to almost be repeated at the beginning of every one of these episodes for athletes is remember that zone two is going to drive your altitude the highest, it’s gonna have the biggest impact. We forget that right. But one of the things that I have seen a lot in people is they get on the bike, or they they work out three times a week, four times a week, and they murder themselves four times a week, right? I watched that athlete go to fatigue, way sooner than somebody that’s doing same three hard days a week, but with easy writing in between, of course, yep. And so right out of the gate, we’re going okay, that easy writing, everybody in this room just went, of course, to that statement. So that means the whole episodes moot, we all think it’s, it’s worthwhile to do the easy out ride. So my point is that, like there’s benefit to those easy rides, you’re better off doing that than nothing, when you’re throwing all that intensity in. I agree.

Rob Pickels  26:42

I think though, that if we talk about stimulus for adaptation, oftentimes, what we’re talking about is the state that your body is existing in as a baseline, your average level of adaptation stimulus, and then the newly load that you’re putting on it, it’s the difference between the two of those, right, that ultimately drives the adaptation that you’re looking for. And so if we say, exercise below, the first lactate breakpoint has a reduction in autonomic stress, then we know the body is able to handle a lot of that without going into an excessively fatigued state, I don’t see a reason that we would want to do that work at zone one, instead of Zone Two, where our baseline level of stress is going to be higher, meaning our fitness level is ultimately going to be higher. Now, if somebody is only ever exercising at active recovery zone, I will say that that is their baseline. And one great way for them to get more fitness is to bump that up a little bit while staying below that first lap. So rate point,

Trevor Connor  27:51

couple things I will say to there, I actually made a particular point I have yet to say recovery ride. I have been saying that the short, easier ride. So to me, that is below the VT one. So that is zone one and zone two, particularly because when I get hit with this question of a what is the value of that? Right? Everybody who asked me that question. Getting them to write in Zone Two is hard enough to write and zone one is next to impossible. So I guarantee you, when we’re answering this question, we’re answering more of the zone to the other things I’ve been talking about the ones that thing that I brought up is the 65%. Yeah, and and a lot is on models that’s actually used as the break point between zone one and zone two.

Grant Holicky  28:29

Sure. Well, one of the things that I think’s interesting about this is you guys both alluded to it in some way. If we’re only doing an hour, or we’re only doing 45 minutes, is there really a great deal of stress created by being in zone two and that instead of zone one? And that’s an interesting way to spin that question, right? So if we’re looking at this and going, so this is so off brand for me, because I’m about to suggest doing something or possibly suggest doing something harder than easier. And I’m a huge recovery guy and do it easy and do all that stuff. But if you’re not going to strain yourself doing 45 minutes, zone two, and there may be a benefit for being at zone two. Maybe you do recovery rides at zone two will

Rob Pickels  29:11

in Yeah, at that point. We’re just discussing total weekly volume which which we’re agreeing in. Hey, however, you can drive that volume up is great. Anecdotally grant, something that I’ve noticed is as athletes improve their fitness, and that zone to that that LT one breakpoint gets pushed up. If the athlete doesn’t also move up their workloads, their increase in fitness tends to fall off. So let’s say the upper end of that zone used to be 175 Watts and now it’s 200. If you’re still only writing at that original wattage prescription, you don’t see it move up past 200 anymore. It sort of stagnates

Grant Holicky  29:51

Oh, well. I am going to put a caveat into that what you’re talking about is pretty big gap. 175 to 200 is a big jump and you do have to shift everything when you make that big jump, one of the arguments that I will make to athletes all the time, though, is, you’re better off missing load than missing Hi, someone whoever sent right when we’re playing with the zone, and I look at him and go, you know, five watts to low isn’t gonna matter, five watts too high could matter a lot. I agree. But then coming back full circle to this does that five watts matter between zone one and zone two?

Trevor Connor  30:23

So my answer that is I am old school. So I look at no that’s why I’m here. Why did Why do you put the old school at the end of that

Rob Pickels  30:37

it’s a snow day, Trevor actually pulled up on a sleigh today drawn by horses, because he couldn’t ride his bike. That’s how old school he is.

Trevor Connor  30:45

I’m old school. I’m Canadian guy, we could just go with the snow jokes.

Rob Pickels  30:49

They’re not funny.

Grant Holicky  30:52


Trevor Connor  30:53

So, you know, first of all, yeah, I agree that hitting those numbers, when you’re doing high intensity gets very important. I’m a big believer that there’s a value in writing right at that aerobic threshold. But I think when you’re talking zone one and zone two, I think you have a big range that you can work in. The only thing I’ll stand on there, which is the old school notion, which I still have some belief in is there are certain things that start to max out right around that 65% of vO two max. And if you’re just going out for a pure recovery ride below that, if it’s a two hour ride, and it’s not just recover, you want to get some work, I would say 65% or a little above that just to make sure you’re maxing out that stroke volume. That would be my only thing there. We’re actually getting into a complex conversation about what intensity you should do these lower intensity rides at Dr. Steven Siler shared some of his thoughts with us on the topic.

Dr. Stephen Seiler  31:50

I do sometimes feel like that, you know, one of the first responses to training is you do get an increase in via to Max, you do get an increase in that upper limit. So if you express training intensity, as a percentage of Max and Max goes up considerably in the first months or a year of training, then obviously, that impacts that there is a change in what’s sustainable metabolic flux for the athlete. And I do think that’s part of the reason why an elite athlete can train at 65% of co2 Max and benefit, because 65% of five or six liters a minute is still a lot, it’s still a big work capacity. If we take totally untrained people again, then probably I would say, let’s just get you go. And I’m not going to ask you to run for two hours. Because in the early phase, so totally untrained, I think you can pretty much do whatever you want with them, and they’re gonna get better, and maybe more high intensity is going to be a way for them to kind of get up to speed. But as soon as you have been training, probably six months, then I’m going to start saying Alright, now let’s look at how you train, let’s look more carefully at how you train. And so far with even with recreational athletes that are running 30 miles a week or training five hours a week, we’ve seen it this polarized approach helps, it helps them if nothing else, it helps them to understand the idea of easy hard that they get more variation in their training intensity, instead of letting every workout be kind of 45 minute redline. So our data suggests that at least down to recreational five hour a week or 30, you know, 2030 mile a week guys, or women, there’s still a benefit to be made from looking carefully at training intensity distribution.

Trevor Connor  33:51

This was a huge aha moment for me of that volume, you said, you know, we’re talking about volume here. And we all recognize the importance of that. But you know, I almost feel like I needed a therapy session here because you know how much I loved the long ride. And when I revisited his research, what I saw is it’s the volume of low intensity, you do need that you get adaptations out of that. So that was the one important thing I saw. But it’s really the the volume over the course of the week or over the training block, not the volume in that particular ride, which is an argument for if you’re getting that 10 hours of low intensity, whether it’s in 10 One hour rides or a couple five hour rides, you could very well end up in the same place.

Rob Pickels  34:37

Well I certainly hope so because we’re entering the winter season and my training is typically 48 minutes on the train on the morning and 48 minutes on the train or in the evening. And instead of going out and doing an hour and a half or two hours like I do in the summer. If the weather yucky

Grant Holicky  34:53

but this is where I’m going to jump in and say yes 100% from a pure lab fitness point of view. But we all know that that’s not the only thing that has to do with fitness and ability to perform. Those longer rides are important for your brain, your ability to think you can do that psycho biological model tells us that those two things are inexorably tied together. So, yes, but don’t take this as the I’m gonna get rid of the lawn right? So I think there’s that value that may be unspoken in the studies that says same z’s, but actually experiencing our three to five, and how that feels and how you push yourself through it. And how have you talked about surviving the bonk and all those other things that matters a lot, depending on what you’re training for.

Trevor Connor  35:39

And I appreciate you saying that you had no idea how much I had to choke on those words. As I was saying 10, one hour, I just the same as to five hours. I’m like, hell no, I want my 10 five hour rides. But so I agree. And we did a whole episode. And yes, there are benefits. But I think the better way to put this is that one hour ride, don’t think of it as just a recovery run out and how I sell I sold it to my athletes is there are actually adaptations to it and you do enough of those, they’re additive. No, it’s not going to get you to the same place as if you are also including some of those longer rides. But believe it or not, they are going to add up and you’re gonna get gains out of them.

Grant Holicky  36:17

Well, and I think some of this comes down to the type of athlete we’re talking about, too, if I’m talking about one of my professional athletes who’s training 20, some hours a week, I want Monday to be easy, like they need a mental break, they need something, you know, hey, we’re coming, we’re coming down here. Now, I have long said, I don’t care whether you rot or you sit on the couch, you need to rest whatever that is you need to rest. So as a coach, I will look at those two options pretty interchangeably. But I know that most of the athletes that I work with are going to want to move, they just feel better when they move. Now, by contrast, a lot of the people that I work with as a Masters athlete, only are going to be able to find 12 hours total in a week. So taking away one of those hours to sit on the couch. Yeah, they’re gonna miss out maybe on the possibility of some sort of adaptation, even if they’re doing it easily, and getting a recovery and being able to hit Tuesday hard. So I do think there’s a lot of benefit with that.

Trevor Connor  37:18

Listeners, this is a great time of year to expand your training knowledge join fast talk laboratories now for the best knowledge base of training signs on topics like polarized training, intervals, data analysis, sports, nutrition, physiology, and more. Join fast talk labs today and push your thinking and your training to all new heights. See more at fast talk

Trevor Connor  37:45

And now we’re getting into the next part. So I think this is a good segue into looking at this in terms of the week as part of a week because I will say if you’re a high level cyclist, and all you do all week is one hour zone, one zone two rides, you’re gonna lose fitness.

Grant Holicky  38:00

Yeah. And you’re gonna get smoked when it’s time to go hard, right?

Trevor Connor  38:03

So you need the high intensity. But going back to that autonomic stress, and this is where there is a lot of research that produces a ton of autonomic stress that starts pushing you towards overtraining. And what you see in the research is too high intensity rides per week, seems to be about optimal threes pretty similar, anything more than that, and you are pushing yourself towards overtraining. And I don’t care if you’re training eight hours a week, or 20 hours a week. You just can’t handle so much high intensity. So the question here is, do you just do your two high intensity sessions and take the rest of the days off? Or do you do these easy one hour rides? And what I’m seeing is, these are complimentary. Yeah, get greater gains, even. It’s just one hours, you say you do it, let’s say Tuesday, you do the high intensity. And then it’s one hour zone one, two, on Wednesday, and other one of those on Thursday. You do intensity on Friday. Even though those two easiest rides, you’re kind of going well, that felt like a waste of time. It’s actually complimentary and you’re getting benefits?

Grant Holicky  39:05

Well, I think you’re getting benefits in several different ways. And maybe stuff that we can’t necessarily quantify. But like, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen a lot of people go only hard and sit on the couch and they they go into fatigue and overtired much quicker. And maybe that’s because they don’t have any base training that allows them to clear anything they’re doing, their total

Rob Pickels  39:27

volume of training is low, or you would presume that their fitness is lower.

Grant Holicky  39:31

And so their high intensity is going to hit them harder than it would hit somebody whose general level of fitness is higher. And as we’re talking about, you know, if you do those one hour rides, you can gain adaptation and fitness out of them. And that’s going to help you because you’re in that clearance phase. Right. That’s that zone. One Two thing that we’re talking about raises the ability to get rid of all the crap that you’re producing. But this comes back to the whole thing with cycling is you brought up The beginning of it, everybody wants the MC T for everybody wants that. But nobody’s going to take the time to do the less glamorous stuff that this is how we get rid of this stuff. This is how I use it great. But how do I clear this stuff out? And, and I’ve long said this comes back in and one of the things that people will hear at nauseam from me, you know, the, the training montage that Nike puts up for their ads, in reality would be boring as hell, like, you know, training montage videos or commercials for a major brand would be boring, because it would just be people doing miles just again, what are you doing today? What’s special? Nothing? I’m just doing it again. And what are you doing this year different? Nothing much. I’m just doing it again. Right. And this is one of the things we miss in training is we are constantly listening to athletes and coaches talk about what they can add, what can I add? What can I add? Well, this is something maybe you can add, add your EZ rides, get a little bit of adaptation out of them, and give yourself a chance to just enjoy and ride for fun and ride. Look around. I’ve come to the place in the last probably 10 years of my ride. And it took me till I was in my 40s to enjoy the easy ride. And now I go outside of my This is amazing. I’m not going to hurt, not going to suffer. I get to look around this beautiful.

Rob Pickels  41:22

I’ve certainly noticed that as I’ve started running again recently with the weather turning. I used to just go out and run kind of hard and it kind of stunk. I’m not gonna lie. And I purposely said, What am I doing to myself? I’m just gonna run easy. Yeah, it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

Grant Holicky  41:39

Oh, unbelievably. So I don’t mind it anymore. And one of the main reasons that people won’t continue with exercise programs, if we’re talking about getting sedentary people to move, one of the main reasons they don’t continue with exercise programs is it hurts, and it’s hard. And we’re not spending time trying to find things that people can do that they enjoy. That’s pleasant. This country would look like Canada, if we got people to understand I’m kidding. I don’t know. We’re Oh, no, that was that was a compliment Canada.

Rob Pickels  42:10

Okay. I didn’t think there was one. So I didn’t go there. Hey, oh,

Grant Holicky  42:15

no, I’d say Canadians move more than Americans move.

Trevor Connor  42:19

Trevor’s system.

Rob Pickels  42:24

The look on his face was like, I don’t know if I agree with that one. Used to be

Trevor Connor  42:29

the funniest part of it’s snowing here. It’s pretty cold right now. And the whole office has been making fun of me because I have this little portable, sitting by Grant. And we’re like I moved rooms in our office building and it goes with me, and I am the Canadian.

Grant Holicky  42:43

You know what that is, though. That’s just

Rob Pickels  42:44

experience you need like 100 foot extension cord. So it’s plugged in at all times.

Grant Holicky  42:50

That’s just the experience,

Trevor Connor  42:52

I just need to kind of carry it under my arm. This is just Trevor,

Grant Holicky  42:55

knowing how to deal with this.

Rob Pickels  42:57

I never, ever, ever, ever do a zone one recovery ride ever? Well,

Grant Holicky  43:03

this goes back to what we were talking about before the different types of athletes, if you’re only putting out 10 to 12 hours a week, eight to 12 hours a week. Yeah, I don’t see a whole lot of reason to do it. Zone one, right, do the zone to ride and get known adaptation out of it. Right. But pointing to your frequency piece right or total time on the bike in a week. I think that makes a ton of sense. But I will say this, if you are one of those people that is getting a lot of training time in, you know, you’re in that ballpark of 1516 hours a week or even I would say above 14, then I think there’s a lot of value for the easy recovery day. You keep moving right, you keep the body well oiled, and I would I would speak for the old farts in the room. Myself and Trevor,

Rob Pickels  43:47

I’m 40 now dude,

Grant Holicky  43:48

dude worth? How old are you? You’re


  1. Thank you. Okay, I’ll

Grant Holicky  43:52

speak for the old fart in a room. I didn’t know he was over 50. So that’s the old guy. But when you start talking about the older, I’ve certainly noticed this that I don’t respond well to a day completely off. I feel tight. It feels stiff. I’m not comfortable. So I ride on my easy days. So

Trevor Connor  44:09

going back to that study, I found literally an hour ago about the frequency and showing that more frequent training, even at low intensity tends to eliminate non responder effect, right. You talked about guys that you see a riders that you see that just do high intensity and take the other days off. Yeah, they don’t seem to adapt the same way. I would love it if this study was repeated with more experienced athletes, where you had some of them doing interval work a few times a week and taking the days off in between and then had another group that did the intervals. But then did that lower intensity rides in between to see what the difference in the adaptations are? And my guess is, you’re going to see very different adaptations, I think see a greater effect. I

Rob Pickels  44:52

think that you will because if we’re talking about a relatively low volume group, then what we’re talking about is just increasing. Oh, overall training volume. And in general, I think that no matter what if as a zone one or zone two or whatever situation, it’s beneficial for you. But what I’m really wanting to key in on is not only grant smashing his elbow on the table, but in in the athlete for whom increasing volume is probably a diminishing return situation. Is there benefit? Because the benefit is not driving up the hours more? Is there a benefit to this active recovery situation? And I’m gonna go on a limb and say, it depends. So

Trevor Connor  45:35

let’s go there. And you’re saying it depends, because this is the research that Rob brought that I’m excited i Here i

Rob Pickels  45:41

am going to say it depends. And it’s this, it doesn’t make a difference in the whole scheme of things. And the reason is, if we look at and I looked at multiple studies that look at inflammatory response with cytokines, with looking at markers like C reactive protein and creatine kinase, there is typically very little difference between active and passive recoveries. So how a lot of these studies are set up, there’s certainly some that are looking at active and passive recovery during an interval workout itself. I didn’t look at those, what I looked at oftentimes showed up looking at football or soccer, as we would call it, in which case there are two matches 72 or 96 hours apart, and they looked at what did players do in between those matches, one group wouldn’t do anything. Maybe another group would do cold water immersion or massage, and then a group would do active recovery. Typically, it is relatively low, what I would consider a zone one workload and

Trevor Connor  46:41

in this case, we are talking about active recovery being an easy easy workout the day after something exactly exact because sometimes active recovery is referred to you finish a race and then you do active recovery right after the

Rob Pickels  46:53

race. So this is like day one is a soccer match. Day two is an easy spin on the bike, day three is another soccer match, are you better or not? And nine times out of 10. In these studies, there is no difference in their performance in their inflammatory markers in any of these when we have active and passive recovery. But there is some physiological differences. If we look a little bit more acutely, we know that blood lactate decreases faster during active recovery situations, then it doesn’t passive. But that’s only when we look at it in a relatively short time course because you give somebody a couple hours cleared. Yeah, exactly. It’s back down to baseline anyway. So that’s why these studies that are looking in between individual bouts of dual heart interval, take a quick break, do a heart interval. That’s why it doesn’t even matter. Because all of that stuff goes back down to baseline. Anyway,

Trevor Connor  47:48

let me just interrupt you. Because that’s something we’ve never said that is such an important point. Everybody’s had the high school coach who’s told you, you need to do that easy workout the next day to clear all that lactic acid at your muscles. Again, there’s no such thing as lactic acid in the human body, we’re talking lactate. But even there, if you do absolutely nothing if you do the worst recovery in the world, after having done huge sprints, and built up a ton of lactate, it’s all gone with an hour to know, Brent Bookwalter spent over a decade as a top level cyclist. Let’s hear if he shares Rob’s opinion that recovery rides might not be all that beneficial. For somebody who’s training less, let’s say they’re only doing eight hours a week, do you feel there’s a value to those easy recovery rides?

Brent Bookwalter  48:35

It depends, I think I’m the person and the schedule. I don’t think a recovery doing or not doing a recovery ride is going to make or break you from, you know, becoming the season you want to have or the result you want to get. Through my career. I definitely saw there’s definitely pro riders out there who don’t really like recovery rides, and they do more often is and for them, it works. One of my teammates from the past few years that is high caliber GC writer who would often just say that no recovery ride just you know, for him, it was no shamming up no water bottles, no messing with the bike, you know, a lot of it’s the mental recovery that takes place, too. So it’s pros and cons. If Yeah, you know, the the bike is also it’s it’s therapeutic time, as well for some people if you do have the time, so to get on there and be able to enjoy the bike and just relax and look around and know you don’t have any agenda and put some blood through the legs and the body, burn a few calories that can be beneficial and help you recover. But it’s not absolutely essential.

Trevor Connor  49:34

No, it’s an interesting point. So sometimes, as opposed to adding a little extra stress or getting up and getting on the bike. You’re just better sitting on the couch and get some rest are saying

Brent Bookwalter  49:44

yeah, definitely. Yeah, I’d say what I would start to do the last few years I would if I had like a full recovery day. I would sort of like alternate them. Easy Ride off to easy ride off day depending on what was going on. But yeah, I think it’s a great time to They give some attention to those like often neglected areas to that can actually have more impact on the training like he could ride for an hour, which is about the ride for an hour, it’s an hour and a half investment, because you’re getting up changing, messing around a bike stuff. You know, if you can spend that hour, the hour and a half, if you can line up and plan your and ride and strategize your post ride nutrition, for the whole next block of training or the whole next week and the hour and a half, that’s probably gonna give you more benefit than turning the legs over on the bike for an hour, hour and a half.

Trevor Connor  50:31

That’s a good point. I’ll also say one other thing I have noticed that is a difference between top level pros and more amateur riders is when a Pro has a recovery day, they can really recover.

Brent Bookwalter  50:42

Yeah, and it’s easy. I mean, I think it’s difficult, which you know, as you coach athletes, but the verbiage in the wording is important is for some people a recovery ride or an easy ride is the same for other people. It’s not, if the day is really about recovering and regeneration and rest, and you’re gonna go out on the bike, it’s got to be easy. And I can’t tell you how many recovery or easy rides I’ve done in my career where I either rode too hard and hated myself for the next day because I didn’t recover. Or I just let whoever I was riding with right away from me and said, Well, you know, that didn’t work. Yeah, probably a common misconception that people don’t understand how, how slow and easy that we would ride when it’s recovery time. Yeah,

Trevor Connor  51:25

people they don’t believe me when I tell them what my average wattage is on my easy recovery rods. Like yeah, head rods, or I’ve gone out for an hour and a half and average 120 watts. Sure. Yeah. Yep. Give us just a couple quick comments about this foundation that you’re running.

Brent Bookwalter  51:41

Yeah. So I’m, I am working with a pro cyclist Foundation. And that is a fairly new project was founded and continues to be based actually in Boulder. Now they just moved over from Denver to Boulder. It was the foundation that I started as loosely advising and consulting back when I was still racing. And they were connecting with different pros in the sport many American. And then when I retired from racing, I didn’t have any plans to jump right into anything. And actually, I’ve done a ton of work about finally getting to the point where I was quite happy to have nothing in terms of processing and moving forward time. But the opportunity came up to do a little more formal work with the pro cyclist Foundation. And yeah, I’ve kind of made an exception to that, because I felt like it was it was sort of the right fit. I knew I definitely didn’t want to go into the team car be back on the race circuit. But you know, staying connected to the cycling world. And largely what I’m tasked with the pro cyclist foundation right now is serving as an intermediary and a connection and sort of liaison between the athletes and the programs that the foundation serves and the foundation itself. So that’s something that I’m still quite connected to. And the experience in my mind is fresh of traveling the path from junior to collegiate to professional. Yeah, and I’m enjoying sharing my experience there and reconnecting and keeping that line of communication open with many of my peers, and then also having the excuse now to you know, try to get to know some of the women more or some of the different discipline writers and broaden my my horizons and perspective there. So yeah, it’s a nice combination of new enough. But I’m also familiar enough that we’re not totally squirming out of water either.

Rob Pickels  53:19

So I also looked at a few other studies outside of just this inflammatory side of things where they were looking at delayed onset muscle soreness, stones, and this one was a little bit more murky. In some of the direct measurements of domes. There was an improvement with in this study looked at medium intensity, continuous exercise, gotta love Gotta love that term. I personally hate it. But I know what they mean. If anything, strength recovery actually improved 72 or 96 hours after baseline. So there is one study that shows Hey, doing something active is potentially beneficial. The thing that really maybe put some benefit really maybe that doesn’t make any sense is or this episode exactly, is that exercise itself, right. And I’m talking focus solely on active recovery for this exercise itself is going to increase an analgesic effect within our body. And that’s potentially where this domes situation comes in. And that in itself could improve performance and be worthwhile because you’re just less sore, you don’t hurt as bad. Exactly. And that analgesic effect takes place because of serotonin increases in the body. And then also how endogenous in our own body, opioids tend to work in that situation. We don’t have to actually actively recover the affected muscles. No, we just have to move we just have to move and so you can be really sore from swimming or from running because I’m sore from swimming. So you can be really sore from running have quads that are on fire can’t walk up and down stairs. You can go for a swim with a kid kickboard, don’t even use your legs and probably be in a better place because of this analgesic effect.

Grant Holicky  55:06

What he meant was with a pull buoy, not with a kickboard for anybody who’s a swimmer, but that’s how much I know about swimming. Yeah. But I think that anecdotally this speaks to it. You know, I think we’ve all been in that place where we done a lift or something, and we’re like, oh, we’re gonna move the next day, or I did. Oh, that probably helped me with Tom’s. And yeah, there’s a reason it does.

Rob Pickels  55:24

I love what you just said. That probably helped me. Yeah. Which is my last point. And that is if people remember back to their CEOs point from it is if if people remember back to the episode we did with Scott Frey, the placebo effect was a big part of this. And so why I said it depends is, I think it matters if you think active recovery is beneficial for you. Well, let’s, let’s,

Grant Holicky  55:46

let’s look at almost all the stuff that’s coming out and recovery in general, I’m sorry to cut you off. Maybe this is what you were gonna say. But we can look at the boots, we can look at recovery protein we can look at, there’s all this research starting to come out on these things that say they don’t really matter. But if you think they matter, they matter. The whole ice bath thing, right? i Oh, ice baths don’t help ice baths don’t help but then there’s still going to be this population that that swears by an ice bath, because they think it helps them. Now I think there’s aspects of the ice bath that do help that we aren’t looking at. But that’s neither here nor there. But that’s a major piece of all of this stuff. And this is what I’m trying to get at when I’m talking about people that are doing a big volume already. Why move instead of sitting on the couch? Well, now we’ve got a little bit of evidence that the analgesic effect is going to help because serotonin some of the other things that are gonna go in there, I’m probably just going to feel better on a Monday if I moved.

Trevor Connor  56:42

So I’m going to add a couple things is first of all very important that everybody understands. You only get Dom’s. That’s the delayed onset muscle soreness when you do heavy centric activity. So running your triathlete your runner if you’re in the weight room, if you’re doing plyometrics you’re gonna get a lot of that. No real eccentric movement in cycling, so cyclists don’t really experience Dom’s, which is why you don’t see DOM study on cyclists

Rob Pickels  57:05

into follow up on your point there. I’ll let you get back to what you’re saying. The research that looks at this Dom’s, what they did was they put people in essentially mechanical advice. And they tried to extend their knee, they tried to do a quad lift, and the machine was stronger than they were in it pushed them down, right that it’s a very painful thing to go through. And I remember when when we were like meat headed high school athletes, we would do this bicep curl workout where you lifted the weight up and somebody physically pulled it down when you were on the preacher bench. Trevor knows what I’m talking about. I’ve never been so that was probably like Rhabdo in my biceps after stuff like that. But any Trevor, back to you.

Trevor Connor  57:47

Yeah, well, worst thing I ever saw in my life, I was in the weight room. And I saw some guys trying to play with us. And this guy was doing bench press and the way he was doing it was too heavy a weight that he couldn’t lift. And you’d have somebody that would help hold it. Yeah, to prevent him from dropping on himself. And then it was just kind of that slow drop down. And this guy was overdoing it. And he tore his chest muscle it completely separate.

Rob Pickels  58:11

Oh, God, why we used to like run the stack on the preacher bicep thing, you know, started at power started 200 pounds. But then by the end of the workout, you know, and then you would go easier, easier. At the end you couldn’t concentrically curl 10 pounds, that’s how destroyed your kills. You

Grant Holicky  58:29

couldn’t do anything the next day. So what was the benefit? Well, you know, so I

Trevor Connor  58:33

wasn’t actually expecting to go here. But you guys have really gotten into the immune ology side and the recovery side, after you’ve done a lot of damage to muscles. And there’s a reason a lot of this stuff doesn’t work. And there’s mixed results about that easy ride the next day, there’s actually a very complex process that happens when you’ve done a lot of training and damaged your muscles. So there’s it’s a, I’m gonna give it the very, very short version, there’s three stages to it. But the first stage, you have to have an immune cell called macrophages. They basically mount the response, they come into your muscles, and first they take on what’s called a phagocytic phenotype. Meaning they come in, they find all the damaged tissue and they consume it, they go to break it down, they basically eat you. Then once all that damaged tissue has gone, they changed their phenotype to one that promotes the rebuilding. And that’s the key phase where they go Okay, now we’ve taken out all this damaged tissue, and now we need to rebuild it, and hopefully it rebuilt it bigger and stronger. That first stage is important because if you delay that first stage, you can actually get scarring in your muscles. But there are cases where that response is too much. And those macrophages come in and they start damaging healthy tissue and it means it’s that much longer before you recover. So what you want is something when you’re trying to recover from a fair amount of damage you want Something that’s not going to interfere with that phase. But it’s also going to prevent the overall response where you starting to damage healthy tissue. And that’s actually one of the theories behind Compression Compression seems to help an effective transition from that phase one to the productive phase two. I haven’t seen any evidence that says, going out and doing an easy ride has any impact on it whatsoever,

Rob Pickels  1:00:22

but easy rides in compression boots, would I want to watch you

Trevor Connor  1:00:25

do that with them fully inflate?

Grant Holicky  1:00:27

So so my question is, but my question is, is the evidence pointing to compression by the actual compression? Or is it by the increased venous return?

Trevor Connor  1:00:38

So that’s one of the questions that’s been really interesting, since the original theory is, it just improves blood flow. So getting the right, that’s going to help the right cells get to the tissue, right. But there has been some interesting studies that that doesn’t explain where you actually see with compression, a change in the cytokines, which are the signalers of the immune system, somehow the compression causes a change to a more anabolic signaling than the previous very destructive signaling.

Grant Holicky  1:01:09

And the reason I asked that was that, I remember that movement creates increased venous flow, right, and creates compression in the musculature.

Rob Pickels  1:01:20

Well, guys, I have compassion for the question of compression. But I think we got to get back on the movement side grant. So keep on truckin.

Trevor Connor  1:01:27

So, let’s

Rob Pickels  1:01:31

start, I just wanted to say that it wasn’t good. It was terrible. I wrote it down. I said to myself, I can’t

Grant Holicky  1:01:41

forget this. Oh, my God.

Trevor Connor  1:01:44

So let’s wrap this up. Because I think we could continue two hours having this discussion, because it’s such an interesting one. There is not definitive science. This is a

Rob Pickels  1:01:52

debate, not a discussion. Yeah, it’s a debate,

Trevor Connor  1:01:55

which is great. So why don’t we start summing up what we all think of this and then move into as our kind of our take homes are suggestions on what you should be doing. And whether you should be doing that one hour ride, or you should be sitting on the couch or in the compression boots,

Rob Pickels  1:02:15

I think you should be doing the one hour ride. But I think it’s dumb to do it at zone one that people ought to bump that up to zone two, because then we’re just increasing your overall volume. If you’re one of grants pros, or if you’re just significantly better than I am, then certainly do an active recovery ride, if it’s going to make you feel better and help you with other things. But don’t do it. Because the science is saying you have to do it to clear these metabolites. Because frankly, that’s probably not very true.

Grant Holicky  1:02:43

I agree with that completely. My My biggest take home on this is you need to have days that you are shutting down, that you’re recovering, mentally, and physically, we all are going to need those days. If if you’re somebody like Rob, who is deriving a lot of joy and deriving a lot of just clearness of head because you get to do an hour ride. Like that’s one of those things that are probably a major part of your life and your happiness, then continue to do that ride. If you’re somebody who, man that hour ride is going to add a huge amount of stress to my Monday just to find the time to get it done. Don’t do the ride, just hang out relax a little bit. I think one of the things that we really miss in all of this with athletes is yes, we want them to have recovery days, we want them to have days that come down. But that extends so far beyond just the bike. And so finally, I’ve moved to having athletes have the recovery day Sunday. So there’s nothing to do, there’s no work, there’s no stress, there’s no anything. Can I get the parasympathetic nervous system back in? Can I get them to sleep? Can I get them to smile? Can I get them to have a good time. So I think it’s really extraordinarily personal as to what you should do on these days. I’ve found for me at 49 years old, if I don’t move on a day, I feel really tight the next day, and I don’t like that feeling. So I’d like to move.

Trevor Connor  1:04:08

So I’m going to bring up one other bit of research that we didn’t talk about because I just wrote an article answering the question, if you’re only training five, six hours a week, is polarized training, still effective. And I found actually a bunch of studies on that comparing polarized training to sweetspot training to a bunch of different training approaches, with the athletes doing just under five hours of training a week. And what they found was polarized was just as effective and in a couple cases more effective. And if you’re doing less than five hours a week polarized, you’re doing very, very little high intensity and a whole lot of that zone one zone two writing Yeah, or training. And yet it’s still effective. Yeah. So I do think those workouts are very valuable. What I’ve got from everything I looked at and from this conversation is we know or that the low intensity and high intensity both promote that PGC one Alpha pathway, which is what produces most of your endurance gains, they promote it through different means. That way, they hit that pathways differently. And I’ve explained that in different episodes, I won’t go into that today. And it’s additive. So just doing the high intensity, you don’t get quite the same gains, just doing low intensity, you don’t get quite the same gains. So you need the additive effect. The thing that I found fascinating from all of this, which is a slight revision of what I’ve said before, is, I’ve always been a big believer in those long workouts. And what you’re really seeing here is it’s about the volume, which is how much low intensity you’re doing over the week, more than the length of the ride. So well, I’ll still say that one long ride is valuable. What I’m seeing is a lot of those gains you get from low intensity you’re gonna get by doing a bunch of one hour rides, and that gives you a value to those rides. Yeah,

Grant Holicky  1:05:53

I I’m a big believer in what Rob’s doing right now. Is that like morning ride in the evening, right? I think I saw somewhere recently, there’s some evidence that weight loss, metabolism is increased by frequency, multiple workouts in a day. And so that kind of goes right into what we’re saying with this to move, move, move, move. Good point, keep on truckin. All right, was another episode of

Trevor Connor  1:06:21

there’s my answer about that. Do we have anything else to say? Grant take us away?

Grant Holicky  1:06:26

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast be sure to leave us a rating and a review the thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk, especially mine are those of the individual as always we’d love your feedback. Join the conversation at or tweet us with @fasttalklabs. Head to to get access to our endurance sports knowledge base, Coach continuing education, as well as our in person and remote athletes services.

Rob Pickels  1:06:59

There’s one more line.

Grant Holicky  1:07:00

I know there’s one more line. For Grant Holicky.No, for Rob Pickels and Trevor Connor, I am Grant Holicky, that’s all folks.