Q&A on Annual Training Plans, Race Stress, and Body Image, with Julie Young

We're joined by coach and athlete Julie Young who helps us field questions on how to build an annual training plan, coping with race stress, and overcoming body image issues.

track cyclist

We’re joined by long-time contributor Julie Young who helps us field unique listener questions on how to build an annual training plan, coping with race stress, and overcoming body image issues.

Building annual training plans

The first question comes from our forum, from Devin Knickerbocker. He writes:

“I just read the Houshang Amiri article “How to Develop a Yearly Training Plan” and I notice that he uses a spreadsheet.

I have also been using a spreadsheet, but what resources and formats do you guys use to design and manage an ATP? Are there any apps or programs that facilitate this better than Microsoft Excel?

I have tried to use TrainingPeaks, but I have found that it is difficult to get the right level of view. For example, their ATP builder is a combination of too high-level (e.g., you can’t look at planned progression of weight lifting, core, flexibility, skills and training all next to each other) and also, somehow, too granular (e.g. you have to pick the amount of TSS that you plan to be doing seven months in the future, which feels absurd).

TrainingPeaks is great for planning a week and/or designing individual workouts but for the ATP functionality, i just don’t feel that it fills the bill. Any other ideas?”

Coping with racing stress

This question comes from John Ingram of Dublin, Ireland. He writes:

“I’m new to road racing. I love it. But my love of racing is matched only by my hatred of pre-race nerves. The stress, the anxiety—sometimes to the point of nausea—takes away from the experience. What do I do to make it go away so I can enjoy this sport even more?”

Body image

This question comes from Amanda Newell in Providence, Rhode Island. She writes:

“As a sprinter, it helps to put on muscle weight. Commitment to this discipline often means I’m surrendering to the fact that buying jeans will be more challenging than not. How can I better accept the beauty in strength and performance versus one that is defined more by the traditional image of beauty and femininity as skinny and less muscular?”

Episode Transcript

Chris Case 0:11
Everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk. I’m Chris case. This is your source for the science of endurance performance. And today we have, of course, Coach Trevor Connor, and longtime contributor and former guest many times Julia Young. Welcome back to fast talk, Julie.

Julie Young 0:29
Thanks for having me back was great to have the opportunity to join you guys again,

Trevor Connor 0:34
Julio has been too long been excited to have this chance to talk with you meet two. Listeners, Chris and I are excited about an upcoming milestone here fast on January 27, we will release our 200 Fast talk episode, we’re proud to have brought you 200 episodes featuring the world’s most respected and influential experts in training, physiology, sports nutrition, bike fit, recovery, sports medicine, plus some bad jokes about Canada. So we have a very special 200 episode plan for you. And we’d like you to be a part of it. Record your best questions on your smartphone Recorder app and email them to info at fast talk lab stock calm by January 1. Any topic is fair game. But we are especially excited to hear your questions about the future of endurance sports. So again, record your questions and send them to info at fast talk labs.com.

Chris Case 1:34
Today we’re gonna dive into some listener questions on things like training plans, the stress of racing body image, so we’re gonna run the gamut. Why don’t we just head straight into the questions? We’ve got a good one here. It comes from Devin Knickerbocker, who’s a longtime listener, he has contributed this question on our forum. I’ll read it now. He writes, I just read the WHO Shang Amuri article How to develop a yearly training plan, and I noticed that he uses a spreadsheet. I’ve also been using a spreadsheet. But what resources and formats do you guys use to design and manage an ATP? Are there any apps or programs that facilitate this better than Microsoft Excel? I’ve tried to use training peaks, but I’ve found that it is difficult to get the right level of view. For example, their ATP builder is a combination of two high level for example, you can’t look at Planned progression of weightlifting, core flexibility, skills and training all next to each other. And it’s also somehow too granular. He says, For example, you have to pick the amount of TSS that you plan to be doing seven months in the future, which feels absurd. Training peaks is great for planning a week and or designing individual workouts, but for the ATP functionality, I just don’t feel that it fits the bill. Any other ideas? Julie, let’s start with you. How do you build out your annual training plans for the athletes you work with?

Julie Young 3:01
What’s funny, when I read this question, I was actually trying to research some some different tools for myself. I agree. Like for me, the training peaks annual training plan is too cumbersome. And I also just want to have like windows that I can go back and forth on and not have to lose a window and then have to reference another window. So just kind of seeing them side by side, which is generally I find the training peaks annual training plan, like I said, just too cumbersome. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any other tools. So I do resort to an Excel sheet. And I you know, just put different color coding in that Excel sheet which which helps me visually. The other thing I use, which I know doesn’t help because it’s not integrated. But I do use bridge athletic for my strength training programs. And I love that platform because it’s dedicated to strength work, that it really helps in the development of the strength conditioning.

Chris Case 4:03
So I want to point out here that Devin is commenting on this article that has a the image being used in the article is a Excel spreadsheet. It has a lot of color coding. It was built by who Shang but if anybody has ever seen what Trevor produces for an athlete, it looks very similar to this and there’s a reason why that is correct.

Trevor Connor 4:27
Trevor Hill who Shang was my coach and he was the one who when I started my coaching career, it was under to Shang so I actually started with his template as my template. And maybe me I took an already complicated template and just made it almost unreadable.

Chris Case 4:45
Yes, but it’s all it’s still built in Excel.

Trevor Connor 4:48
It is still built in Excel. So I mean, my response to this is, I see it as you you have a choice and I have like duly done the research into this and ultimately made that conscious choice of, on the one hand, you have something like training peaks. And look, their yearly Training Plan Builder is based on a lot of science. I mean, this goes right back to Joe Freels cyclists training Bible. And his concepts, were building a yearly training plan that was basically built into training peaks. And if you like their philosophy agree with their approach, you basically have a somewhat simple template that makes building a training plan a lot easier. So I think if you say I’m inexperienced with this, and I need some help, something that’s going to guide me and make this simpler for me something like what they have in training peaks, or some of these other tools is great. But you are sacrificing, as the question implied, having to do exactly what you want it to do. And if you are like, Julie, I’m getting the sense, you’re like this, if you’re certainly like me, and I’ll say I’m ridiculously anal retentive and want to have complete control over every little part of it, then you got to do something custom. And then I think you’re building an Excel sheet.

Chris Case 6:11
And you’re also saying that you haven’t really found anything that is in between those two worlds, what training peaks offers, and what you want to do, there’s nothing out there yet.

Trevor Connor 6:21
You know, for me personally, because I have my own way of coaching my own systems. If you look at my template, if you look at who Chang’s template, and you look at training, big samplers, there’s a lot of commonality there there is standard waves that have been developed for doing this. So you’re gonna see those similarities, but I have my own system, I have my own way that I like to coach. And there is no tool out there that allows me to do it exactly the way I want. So I haven’t tried, I just stick with Excel and go, yes, Excel is a little clunky. But I get to build the training plan. I want to build

Julie Young 6:56
exactly that. I guess just feeling like more control. And I mean, again, like, I don’t know, for me, and a lot of ways it’s, it’s simpler. And it’s just, you know, just able to put in what’s important for me and not kind of these extra curricular things.

Chris Case 7:11
It seems like once you have that template built in Excel or whatever tool you decide to use, then it gets much simpler. It’s It’s time consuming, though, to get the Excel spreadsheet or the template of your choice. To that point, it took you years did it not Trevor, to develop what you have now? Yeah,

Trevor Connor 7:29
I completely started with who Shanks template, you stole it? So completely? Well, I shouldn’t say I stole it, because he allowed me Yes, right there you go with permission with permission. And then as I got into my coaching styles, like, well, I want to change this, and I want to change that. And then it just became a system for me at the beginning of every season, I would spend time in October to take my template go, what do I want to change? What do I want to add? What have I learned this year that I want to incorporate into this? So every year my template would change. And that has been ongoing for how many years now? So it has evolved a lot and more than a decade? Oh, well, more than a decade. Yeah. And one things I like about Excel is I’ve worked a whole lot of formulas into it. So that simplifies some things where I can, you know, I don’t want to go into the gory details of it. But for example, on the first things I built in is figuring out the the hours for people instead of just saying, Well, I want you to do 15 hours this week. And what I looked at is what’s the max hours that each particular athlete will do? And then what is their typical week? And then I have these formulas to say, Okay, what this would be a bigger week, and it says for this athlete, a bigger week is this many hours percentage over that. Yeah, you know, if I want a typical week for this athlete, it’s this range. So I built in all those formulas to calculate that. So that’s just one example. Yeah.

Chris Case 8:54
Well, to follow up with Devon’s question here, since both you and Julie are saying that Excel is a relatively powerful tool, if you want to go that route, do either of you have basic tips for somebody out there, either they’re building it for themselves, or they’re a coach, and they are wanting to move beyond what training peaks offers, or whatever the case may be? What are the basic tips that you would offer to somebody as they build this annual training plan in a spreadsheet program? Julie, I’ll start with you.

Julie Young 9:25
I think for me, again, I prefer to keep it more on the simple side. Like I said, I just you know, I don’t really put in the formulas. And the reason for that is that I find most of my athletes are so unique in terms of their like time availability, for example. So it’s hard for me to have like these set percentages in terms of like time per week. And for me again, I just really rely on a more simple format, more color coded and that seems to work well for

Chris Case 9:59
me. Sounds like he got some company there in the room, Julie?

Julie Young 10:03
I do. In fact,

Chris Case 10:06
Trevor, do you have any basic tips that you would offer somebody without giving away too many of your secrets,

Trevor Connor 10:10
I guess my feeling is if you are an athlete who’s wanting to take care of their their own training plan, or you’re new to coaching, I would say don’t try to build something from scratch. I think there’s a lot of good systems out there while they might not have all the exact bells and whistles you’re looking for. They’re based on good training science. And to me, that’s the most important thing. And they’re going to help you make sure you build an effective training plan. So if you’ve never built one before, I’m going to say, if you’re using training peaks, whatever software you’re using, use their their yearly training plan system, and you’re probably going to end up more successful than going, Oh, I can build this from scratch. And I say that as somebody who very early in my cycling career, I’ve already told my story on the show about my dramatic overtraining. That took me off the bike for a year. Part of that was because I tried to build my own training plan when I had no idea how to build a training plan at the time, and it was just not wise. Sure, sure. So I would say if you’re fairly new, use the tools out there. If you are a coach, and you’ve had a couple years experience coaching, and you say, this tool that I’ve been using doesn’t give me what I need. That’s when you can start thinking about Yeah, maybe I should build my own system, build an Excel sheet, where I can get exactly what I need to communicate the way I want to my athletes, but I don’t think you necessarily need to go there right away.

Chris Case 11:39
Right. Great. All right. Well, let’s move on to another question here. This one is having to do with the stress of racing, it comes from John Ingram. He’s over in Dublin, Ireland. He writes, I’m new to road racing. I love it. But my love of racing is matched only by my hatred, of pre race nerves, he writes, the stress, the anxiety, sometimes to the point of nausea takes away from the experience, what do I do to make it go away, so I can enjoy the sport even more? Julie, let’s start with you. What would you say for John here?

Julie Young 12:13
Yeah, I have a lot of thoughts on this one, I think, first, we need to recognize like, stress really does come with the territory. And that stress is not necessarily a totally negative thing that, you know, we do, like have this certain threshold of stress that allows us to operate and perform at an optimal level. But I also think we need to understand like we can, we can get better at managing it. And I think a lot of times we forget, like that mental side of sport. And you know, we put tons of training in the physical side, but yet, we kind of disregard the the mental side of it. And to me that management, you know, takes as much practice and consistent training as the physical. So I think it’s something you know, again, not not necessarily totally a negative thing, and also something we get with more practice we get better at, I also think if we can change our perspective on racing, that, you know, it’s not necessarily this, this place where we’re just like proving ourselves, but it’s a place where we can actually thrive and because of our fellow competitors become better. And we can, we can learn and push ourselves and, you know, reach new highs that we couldn’t do on our own. So kind of flipping the perspective on it as just again, something that’s like this really heavy pressure filled proving ground to a place where, you know, it’s an opportunity to learn and improve and then changing that, that feeling of like, it’s something I have to do just something I get to do. And I think that can really help change the perspective. And kind of just evaluating like, why are you feeling this pressure? You know, what is it or the stress? I guess, I should say, you know, what is it that’s, that’s generating that stress? And kind of understanding that and also just kind of reminding yourself of, like, why you’re doing it? Why is it meaningful for you? versus, you know, like, is it something for other people? Or is it for you? So I think those those are a few things that that I would start with and then, you know, I think with racing, like, it’s every race is going to be different, but the more experience you gain, the more you know what to expect. And then that helps alleviate the stress as well.

Chris Case 14:33
Trevor, before you dive into your answer, specifically to John’s question, I wonder if I’ll ask a broader question. Maybe it’s a kind of a dumb question, but not everybody’s built the same. Why would John have such a reaction to racing whereas somebody else maybe same age, new to the sport has a completely different reaction to the stresses of racing doesn’t get sick, but just as like, This is amazing. I love this Is that just the nature of his personality? You know, is there anything underlying there that you can help explain why people react differently?

Trevor Connor 15:08
I think that’s a really good question. And the only thing that really just comes to mind immediately is everybody is wired differently. Yeah, some people just, they react quite strongly distress other people do, it takes a lot more distress some or they have actually a more positive reaction to stress. don’t really think I have without diving a ton into sports psychology, or bringing in an expert sports psychologist have much of an answer for you. Julie, do you have anything to? To add to that?

Julie Young 15:37
I mean, I think it’s exactly what you said, you know, just we all perceive stimulus differently. You know, we can all like Chris and I can perceive a stimulus totally differently. And so my stress level to it might be greater, because I see it as something kind of like negative and threatening, and Chris is just like, oh, that’s no big deal. And so it’s how we’re interpreting this, the stimulus and then gets is then what’s generating that that stress or not. So I think that’s a big part of you know, why people experienced that same stimulus in different ways.

Trevor Connor 16:13
I think the important thing is you can train how you react and respond to that stress into that stimulus. So I’ll give you my own personal example, my first year racing, I was stressed case, like I knew the night before every race, I was not sleeping at all, that’d be so stressed, right? And that culminated my first year racing, I went with some people to a stage race. And of course, I was the cat four. So they put me on a on a cot. And it was a three day stage raise. And I had three days of not sleeping at all. So by the time I got to that final stage, I was a wreck. Yeah, I bet from the stress. So I ended up working with a sports psychologist who wrote, I still feel one of the best books on sports psychology I’ve ever read. It’s unfortunately not in print anymore. So I’ve went covered that it was never going to be printed, again, bought five copies of it, and hand those out to my athletes and always asked for them back

Chris Case 17:14
like a little library URL, Trevor,

Trevor Connor 17:16
but it was. In that book, he really talked about Julie what exactly what you said, which is, there’s actually an optimal level of activation. So there’s such a thing as essentially being under stressed, where you’re not going to perform at your best. And it is a big bell shaped curve. And there’s an optimal point of stress and activation, where you’re going to perform your best. And then if you go too far, you you end up like I was where you weren’t sleeping in your Iraq. So he worked with me on how to get to that optimal level. And there’s a lot of different techniques that you can, you can use, he had a whole chapter in there about relaxation and breathing techniques, those didn’t work for me, that works for other people. So you should try all these, the one that actually worked for me was self talk, where instead of trying to prevent myself from being stressed, I would try to get excited about the stress. So when I start feeling stress, I go great, bring it on, you keep telling myself, I love this, I love this stress. And over a year or two, I convinced myself of that. And even to this day I go to a race, I start feeling that stress, I’m like, Ooh, I miss that. It actually feels good, as opposed to something that I dread.

Chris Case 18:28
Yeah, and we’ve done several workshops, videos on fast talk labs, with Grant Holic key on managing stress. What you just talked about self talk, examples of how to use that, when to use that and other things. So those are great videos that can supplement to the answers to this question here today.

Julie Young 18:47
Yeah, I mean, I think again, it kind of like goes back to what we said that, you know, I think we perceive stress as this real negative. And when it comes to sport, it isn’t a negative, it’s just that that healthy threshold, and that, you know, we really do have the opportunity to get better at managing stress. Again, it’s not something we’re just subjected to, I think we really need to remember just like the physical, it really does take consistent practice consistent training. And we need to continue to like we need to maximize our training sessions for that. And to your point, Trevor, the self talk, you know, like developing that self talk and hard training sessions and interval sessions and like fast paced group rides and using all those opportunities to keep honing that ability. And I do think those fast paced group rides are a great way to keep like, you know, working through the these nerves and because it is it is more that unpredictability of the racing, you know, and simulating that that I think again, the more you kind of know what to expect, the more you you know, know you can work through these things that that develops confidence and reduces that stress and I also I really appreciate and agree with what you said, Trevor about, like, you know, in some ways, I think this is what draws us to sport as athletes, it’s kind of like that, that stress makes us feel alive. And there was a great quote from Billie Jean King that says pressure is privilege and pressure, you know, kind of creates that sense of stress. But it does, in some ways make you feel alive as an athlete.

Chris Case 20:23
In John’s case, it seems like it’s making him feel a little too alive. So he has some homework, some homework to do, he has to work on this, there’s practice involved in finding the right amount of stress, not too much, and not too little, the Goldilocks amount of stress, if you will.

Julie Young 20:39
Yep. And I also think, you know, having within within a race going in with a game plan, and having those those kind of mini goals within the race, it helps you have a focus, as opposed to just like, what’s going to happen and kind of being, you know, at the mercy of the race, kind of just having a game plan for yourself, whether that’s, you know, working on positioning near the front, or working on mindset and that positive self talk or, you know, saying, Hey, I’m going to try a flyer, you know, having those different goals really helps provide that focus.

Trevor Connor 21:13
Last thing I’m going to add is this is an undervalued skill that all pros have to learn or you never become a pro, of managing that stress and being okay with that stress and that fear. For example, when I was going up from cat four to cat one, I had a training buddy who was phenomenally talented cyclist, and he got up to the cat to level went to Bri mountain stage race and did the the one two race which, back then they didn’t have pro ones that was basically the pro race was the last race he ever did. Because even though he was more than strong enough to be there, he was so scared of that peloton. He was at the back the whole race and just said, I will I will never do this again. Because the fear got overwhelming. And, yeah, when you’re in that fast field where everybody’s really aggressive, and you’re bumping shoulders, that stress that fear can get overwhelming. And it’s something that all athletes has as they develop, particularly cyclists because this is a dangerous sport, you have to learn to address one way or the other. And I do remember seeing a very interesting study where they looked at how to professional cyclists deal with the fear of crashing. And so they did interviews with these athletes. And what was interesting, unexpected in the study was when they’d asked these these professionals, do you think you’re going to crash and go, Oh, yeah, no, I’m going to crash? Do you think it’s going to be bad? No, I’ll probably end up in the hospital. And they’ll go does this bother you? And they go? No. Which is

Chris Case 22:47
part of the sport. Yeah, I think that’s worth mentioning. In someone’s like John’s case, these nerves, this anxiety, this stress is actually taken away from his enjoyment at this point. If he never moves past that, probably worth considering moving beyond cycling as a sport of choice for him if he’s got a good engine, as an endurance athlete, and he wants to put it to good use and have more fun, maybe just has to find a different sport. And that’s an extreme example, you would hope that somebody could work through those fears. But you’ve just mentioned this friend of yours that basically said, I can’t I don’t want to do this. It’s not fun for me. I you know, maybe he took that engine and applied it somewhere else or, you know, that’s an option too.

Trevor Connor 23:29
You know, in his case, he was a high level collegiate swimmer, then got into cycling had that experience. And my understanding is he then went back to swimming because,

Chris Case 23:38
yeah, take all that aerobic engine and throw it into the pool and there’s a far less danger in terms of crashing in a pool.

Trevor Connor 23:45
Or if you crash in a pool, you’ve got bigger

Chris Case 23:49
Oops, there’s a wall, I forgot. Yes. It listeners, we’re pleased to announce the release of our eighth pathway. Our newest pathway is focused on exercise in the cold. Just in time for the chill of winter exercise. Members of fast soft labs can explore the best ways to train in cold weather, and how colder temps affect our performance. The exercise in the cold pathway features Dr. Stephen Chung, one of the world’s leading environmental physiologist, as well as Dr. Inigo Sun Milan, our Canadian CEO and coach Trevor Connor and Dr. Andy Pruitt. winter training isn’t as simple as just adding another layer follower exercise and the cool pathway to learn more. Let’s move on to our next question here. It has to do with body image and interesting subject very interesting subject. This question comes from Amanda Newell in Providence, Rhode Island, and she writes as a sprinter, it helps for me to put on muscle weight. commitment to this discipline often means I’m surrendering to the fact that buying jeans will be more challenging than not, how can I better accept the beauty and strength and performance versus one that is defined more by the traditional image of beauty and femininity as skinny? And less muscular? Julia, I’m going to start with you here.

Julie Young 25:13
Well, personally, I think Amanda, needs to figure out what’s important for her is it more important to pursue excellence and challenge herself on the bike or fit into a certain size jeans? And I think also just kind of be like thinking about of those two things, what’s contributing to value in her life, like on a daily basis? And, you know, I think, you know, figuring out like, which which one delivers more meaning to our life, which one is more fulfilling? Might help put it in perspective.

Chris Case 25:45
Trevor, what are your thoughts here? Don’t give me that look,

Trevor Connor 25:48
a hard one for me to answer because, yeah, I understand. It’s a little bit different. When I can’t fit my jeans. I’m excited. But I agree with Julia, it’s what is your priorities? And is the traditional perspective of beauty, what’s most important to you? And I think of there was a woman I used to train with who she was a phenomenal sprinter, one Canadian nationals in the sprint like her first or second year as a cyclist. And she had a bill that if you looked at the traditional perspective on beauty, that was not it. And that didn’t ever bother her, because that build made her a great cyclist. Yeah, I

Chris Case 26:35
mean, this is a pretty complex subject to dive into. There’s a lot you could offer the way outside of sport here, this is gets into a lot of things. I’ll ask a bit of a follow up question. For example, say this person here, Amanda says, Well, I want both. Can she strike that balance? Julia, in your, in your opinion, in your experience, both from your own career athletes you’ve worked with? Can people have it both ways?

Julie Young 27:05
I guess for me, like, in my career, like, I was so focused on kind of doing whatever it took to be the best I could be on the bike. Like, I really didn’t care about all the other stuff. I mean, I think your body kind of it morphs, you know, and so maybe there is maybe there is an opportunity for her to to try to see if like, you know, maybe with a little bit less muscular gain, like maybe she can still maintain that that high level of performance on the bike, you know, I think she would just have to try to experiment with some some different training, approaches to see like, Okay, if she did a little bit more endurance and a little bit less, like time in the gym, you know, could she still maintain that high level, but again, for me personally, like, I really wanted to, like throw all my focus and energy into being the best I could be on the bike and really didn’t care about, you know, kind of let the chips fall and all other aspects. And wasn’t really, so I didn’t honestly ever think about like, image.

Trevor Connor 28:14
I think going with that images, concern, give some serious thought to what is your what is your definition of beauty? And maybe you need to redefine that a little bit. You know, I think back when I was doing my Masters when I was taking my health classes, and this is gonna sound horribly unpolitical II correct. But we used to talk about skinny obese people, which was people that were skinny, but they didn’t eat well. They weren’t healthy. And they had all the metabolic characteristics as somebody who was obese with all the health issues that went with that. And I can tell you, for me personally, if you asked me, What’s my definition of beauty, it’s not necessarily skinny, it’s healthy. And to me, somebody that’s healthy and fit that is that is quite beautiful. It’s not how skinny can you be and how tight a pair of jeans can you fit into. And so I mean, that would be my recommendation is, maybe you need to do that redefinition, and not necessarily see skinny as the definition of beautiful, but see Healthy and Fit is the definition of beautiful.

Julie Young 29:21
I agree. Like for me just again, personally, like it was it’s more important and even still, like it’s more important how I feel versus how I look. And I think just having like sport and having, you know, again, that opportunity for challenge and that pursuit of excellence like that, to me, it’s it’s more lasting and more pertinent in my life than than how I look.

Trevor Connor 29:44
Right. Which is the the being healthy. Mm hmm, exactly. Very good. Okay, so I’m going to spring this on both of you. We’ve never done this on a q&a episode, but I actually got hit with a question yesterday on the forum, which I replied too, and I thought it was really interesting. I gave my response my feeling. But Julie, as a very experienced coach, I’m really interested in seeing where you land on this one. So I’m going to read this and spring in on both of you, including Chris. Very good. Ready? Okay, so this comes from and I’m using is handled, because I don’t actually know his real name, but it’s just Gerard on our forum. And he writes, We know Trevor is a fan of five by five minute intervals for bass training, which is a nice compact session, and appears to be very effective. Two by 20 minutes is commonly talked about slash prescribed and plans by other coaches. And I’ve seen it being done anywhere from sweetspot to above threshold, so we put some brackets 90 to 105% FTP ranges. So what do and don’t you like about two by 20 minutes versus Trevor’s five by five minutes?

Chris Case 31:00
Why don’t you explain to those who are unfamiliar with your five by fives, what you mean by that?

Trevor Connor 31:05
So yeah, I think this is a response to we just put up a video explaining how to do these five by five minute intervals, which I love. So the prescription is I have my athletes do it, right, same range. So it’s around 95 to 105%. of FTP, if you want to do it by power, though, I actually focus more on feel and heart rate. So what I tell my athletes is, let’s say their their threshold heart rate is 172 beats per minute. They’re not allowed to exceed 173.

Chris Case 31:36
So these are right around threshold, not vo T max, these

Trevor Connor 31:40
are not, you know, when people hear five by five minutes, they often think vo to Matt, right, these are not vo two Max, these are not 120%. So this is threshold, maybe a little above threshold. So it’s five intervals, one minute recovery in between, so you don’t get a long recovery. And the research I’ve read on these basically says, you get the the quality, if not a little better quality than doing a 25 minute time trial. Because that one little that one minute recovery just allows you to sustain the power and and potentially even do it a little higher power than you could do 25 minutes, just straight across, right? So there’s a lot of research on them showing a lot of great gains. But I’ve certainly gotten feedback from people that I get the they go and do them and go, that workout was only 70 tss, that’s like that’s an appetizer that’s not a real workout. And I think that’s part of what he’s getting at with the question is to buy 20 minutes, you’re getting 40 minutes at quality versus 25 minutes at quality. And I think he’s struggling with the five by five minutes right around threshold just doesn’t feel like enough.

Chris Case 32:44
Well, I’m gonna let Julie speak up first and answer this question how she thinks they would compare.

Julie Young 32:49
So I guess my feeling, you know, listening to this question is, like, for me in my training, like, I always have a variety of lengths of the intervals and, you know, terrain and for me, like I’m still like a big fan in sub threshold work, because I feel like it is still getting those same adaptations with less stress. And I was listening to a podcast from it was a, like a physiologist from Ai s and he was talking about like, they’re, they’re now focusing attention on too much time at threshold could be detrimental to mitochondria. And I thought that was really interesting. And so for me, like I again, kind of going back to this idea of sub threshold, I feel like we can still get the same adaptations with less stress. So like listening to Trevor’s, you know, five by fives, I think, like, for me, like that makes sense. Like to get that higher quality. And perhaps you do those more at a pure threshold type intensity, and then in perhaps then you do like to buy to buy 20s at at sub threshold, but for me, like, I’m always thinking about the athlete, and not necessarily just the like, the pure physiologic adaptation, but like demands of the event. And so, like, using intervals, not again, not necessarily just for that narrow, physiologic, like objective, but thinking, you know, Cadence thinking, like mental, like mental demands of the event. So, you know, I do think there’s value in having people do those longer, like efforts just mentally to be able to push themselves through it. So like, if they’re, you know, they’re doing Leadville and they’re having to do like these, you know, big six, six mile plus climbs like mentally to get used to that. But then I also think, you know, like the shorter efforts like those higher intensity efforts, but But sure, higher quality are also valuable. And for me, in my training, I tended to like kind of a mix of like set threshold, the threshold intervals on flats and maybe the flat intervals shorter durations and then climbs, longer durations. But again, it’s as much for like the mental aspect as the physical aspect, as you know, like the mechanical cadence aspect of it. So I guess when I’m developing intervals, I’m not thinking of just one factor.

Chris Case 35:20
Well, for me, I would say, the five by fives serve their purpose, and the two by 20 serve a different purpose. They’re not mutually exclusive, they could both be worked into a trading plan effectively. But I would say in terms of the execution, it’s going to be harder in some ways to have a high quality execution on on a 20 minute interval, it’s it’s a longer period of time where you’re focused and concentrating on that target wattage, whatever that might be. So that has pros and cons. If you did this every week, perhaps that’s mentally taxing. And at some point, you know, you lose the benefits of it to some degree. However, like Julia said, there’s a mental component to any interval session, I would say that can be applied to races. So if you’re leading into a race with at least a 20 minute climb, or maybe it’s an hour long climb, who knows, but that two by 20 session could be very valuable and helping you wrap your head around what that effort feels like staying consistent, if that’s what you need to be on a long grind of a climb. So, like I said, I think each of them has its own benefits, the five by fives, I would venture to say that they’re going to be something you can work into the training plan more often, they’re more of a digestible, it’s not a snack. But it’s with that one minute rest in there, you can reset more often figure out what you need to do next time, if you kind of did the previous interval, poorly or not, not ideally, and you work on it over and over again, there, you have more chances to improve the two by 20s are just a little bit more challenging, and you don’t get as many opportunities to perfect them. What How did you answer this question, Trevor?

Trevor Connor 37:13
I mean, basically, both of you just covered a lot of what had my response. And Julia, I think you’ve completely added to it, I think you had some really good points. And yes, it is slightly different energy systems, that is different purposes. And I think they both have some some great value, the direction I went in, and I’m going to give a longer response than what I typed. So I just want to give a little bit of my philosophy here. There’s this great study that I read many, many years ago, that it’s a strength training study, but I still love it. And I’ve seen similar research done in endurance exercise, looking at intervals like this. But the strength training study, they had three groups, they were all doing the same exercises. But one group, when they got in the weight room, they would only do one set of the exercise, second group would do three sets, third group would do six sets. And then I think they had them do this for six weeks, a couple times a week, maybe was three times a week, I can’t know exact details, and then looked at their strength gains at the end of this of this intervention period. And what you saw was the group that did one set, saw 80% of the strength gains that the group that did three sets experienced. And the group that did three sets, and the group that did six sets, no significant difference. So it’s a law of diminishing returns, where you can keep doing more work, but at some point, you’re not getting any gains out of it, but it’s going to fatigue you and wear you down. And so I’ve always taken that approach with intervals, which is, I don’t think intervals are about absolutely beating you up doing as much as you can until you have to crawl home. So yeah, you’re going to produce a much bigger TSS with the two by 20s, than you’re going to do with the five by fives. But my argument is, at least to the extent that they target the same energy system, the gains are going to be pretty darn close. But when you then look at it in the context of a full week, you do the two by 20s. If you actually execute those with sufficient quality that beats you up, it’s gonna be a few days before, you’re gonna be able to do any sort of quality on the bike, again, where you do the five by fives, you can do quality in the next day. So when you look at in the context of the whole week, the five by fives are going to allow you to have a higher quality entire week. And I think the overall training as strange as it sounds, is going to be better. That’s always been my philosophy. So my issue with giving the two by 20s is always the you’re doing a lot of beating yourself up for not a lot of extra gain and it’s going to require more recovery. That said, I think both of you had a great point and I remember, Ryan and I worked with an athlete who was a contender for winning the Nationals time trial. And we gave him through the winter the five by fives, and got his threshold power up higher than it had ever been. But he struggled with sustainability, he struggled with holding that power for 40k. So I do think I agree there is a value, what I usually do with my athletes is I’ve extended period of the five by fives, and I give them three by sixteenths, two by 20 is fine as well. But it’s used the five by fives to raise the power, and then use those longer intervals to learn how to sustain the power.

Chris Case 40:37
So these can be used in tandem in a training plan to make significant gains that one couldn’t do by itself. Right. Yeah, very good.

Trevor Connor 40:45
And I don’t know if you guys are interested, but Ryan just replied to this. Do we want to hear Ryan’s reply?

Chris Case 40:50
Wow, that’s really putting him on the spot. Make sure you point out any typos that he might have included in his.

Trevor Connor 40:57
Absolutely. So this is new to all of us. I’m looking at this page. And I just saw this come up. So we are doing a live answering of a question. Wow. Very good. So here we go. Ryan. Oh, I like how he starts. Totally agree with Trevor get done.

Chris Case 41:14
There you go. No,

Trevor Connor 41:16
he wrote totally agree with Trevor’s first point, which is the about the it’s difficult to do the two by 20. So quality. I saw this every year in my indoor cycling classes, we would work up to a two by 20 workout once or twice a season that’s about it, it was inevitable that the riders who are unwilling to reduce their FTP to levels that I recommended based on previous performance ended up not making the entire 20 minutes. So we would spend time spot reducing their FTP on the fly as they were doing those intervals, they would always end up at a sub threshold power by the end because they were pushing too hard early on, and weren’t actually prepared to ride at what they had set for their FTP. So my take on those is that if you’re going to do them start easier than you think you need to. It’s not worth being a hero on trying to ride them at 100% FTP the first time. If you make it one or two workouts at 90%, FTP and complete them with good form, a steady cadence, etc, then that’s a huge success. build from there. But avoid the trap of going all in on the first session and having to reduce power throughout are building too large of a training load that requires a large recovery repayment afterwards.

Chris Case 42:30
Yeah, very well said. I think anything else to add to that, Trevor? Nope. No, very good. Well, Julie, it’s been a pleasure to have you back on the program. It’s been too long. Thanks for joining us today.

Julie Young 42:42
I appreciate it.

Trevor Connor 42:43
Julio. It was a pleasure having you on the show. Yeah,

Julie Young 42:45
thanks. You guys. Always enjoy chatting with you guys. And yeah, just brainstorming on these subjects.

Chris Case 42:52
Perfect. That was another episode of fast dock. Subscribe to fast talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts and be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on fast talk are those of the individual. As always, we love your feedback. Join the conversation at forums dot fast talk labs.com to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of fast talk laboratories at fast talk labs comm slash join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Julie young and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening