Q&A on Heat Acclimatization, Sweat Rates, Altitude Effects, FTP Testing, and Fasted Training, with Lindsay Golich

Physiologist Lindsay Golich, who works with some of America's best Olympic athletes, helps us field questions on heat, altitude, FTP testing, fasted training, and much more.

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US Olympic Coach Lindsay Golich

Coach Lindsay Golich is a sports physiologist who has worked with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center for the past five years. She works closely with USA Cycling and USA Triathlon in areas of environmental physiology, including altitude, heat and humidity, as well as data analytics for performance modeling.

With Lindsay’s help, in this episode of Fast Talk we tackle several questions related to her areas of expertise, including heat acclimatization, sweat rates, altitude effects, regulating temperature, FTP testing, and fasted training.

Our first question is a follow-up to a previous question from Dan Swenson on regulating temperature. He writes:

“Being wet and in the wind with bare skin is really going to chill you. And being dry and in cold wind is going to chill you. The nuance I want to ask about is if you compare being damp with sweat under a rain jacket with being dry but having no wind-break at the same temperature, is there a difference in the chilling effect? Or is there perhaps a cross-over temperature where one becomes more heat-depleting than the other?

I’m thinking this could come into play when racing or training on rolling terrain where having no wind break would be more comfortable on the climbs but having a wind break would be more comfortable on the descents.”

Our next question comes from Pete Ying, on the effects of temperature on power zones. He writes:

“You have mentioned before how important training at different energy systems is and that using power and threshold values to set these relative ‘cut-offs’ for training different energy levels is crucial.

How does ambient temperature and/core temperature affect energy systems relative to threshold? For instance, if it is at 200 watts at a normal core temp and an ambient temp of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, what happens if all of a sudden that person trains at 200 watts but at an ambient temperature of 95 or 45 degrees? Does that change the energy system that person is training?

Similarly, what happens if the core temperature increases or decreases during a ride—even if that individual rides at the same power, would that change the energy system that is trained?”

Our next question comes from Abdoullah Mitiche, a coach and athlete who has lived in the hot and humid tropics for the past 12 years. He writes:

“My athletes and I race in hot and humid conditions (33-38 degrees Celsius and 80-90-percent humidity for 4–6-hour races). I’ve read many research papers on heat acclimatization protocols and it’s been part of my peak block. I also do this with the athletes I coach.

Heat compromises quality (intensity), so usually I do the heat acclimatization in the easier sessions (Z1/2 workouts), but that’s not race intensity. Is it worth acclimatizing at race intensity?”

This series of questions on altitude comes from Amanda Barnes in Truckee, California. We can take these one at a time. She writes:

  1. How should I prepare for competition at higher elevation, if I’m coming from lower? Is it better to arrive as close as possible to the competition, or give a certain amount of time?
  2. How do athletes differ in their response to altitude in terms of reductions in pace or power? Is it a wait and see type of approach, or are there general guidelines we can offer as rough expectations?

This question comes from Erik Olsen in Aarhus, Denmark:

“Coming from a middle- and long-distance running background I have a hard time grasping the 4dp test you talked about. To me a five-minute maximal effort is like, ‘Do this and go home and cry,” much like a 1500-meter track competition. I would not be able to do a 20-minute test 10 minutes after and still get near my FTP. What does this tell me? Don’t go this deep on the five-minute test or don’t do this particular test?”

This final question comes from Matt Surch in Ottawa, Canada, who has been on a plant-based diet for the last 16 years. He asks:

“Does the research suggest that riding in the fasted state, or at least improving fat-max function through fasting adaptations, is correlated with decreased rates of inflammation, and perhaps increased rates of free-radical processing/clearing?

I’m thinking of an earlier episode where you discussed the spectrum of free-radical clearing rates between pros, and am wondering whether there’s a link to fat-max, and thereby, the proportional amount of time spent in ‘fat-burning mode’. In other words, might increasing fat-max via fasting protocols improve recovery during and between periods of time spent on the bike?”

[For more on fasted training, check out Performance Gains and Adaptations from Fasted Training, with Dr. Brian Carson.]

References

  • Devrim-Lanpir, A., Hill, L., & Knechtle, B. (2021). Efficacy of Popular Diets Applied by Endurance Athletes on Sports Performance: Beneficial or Detrimental? A Narrative Review. Nutrients, 13(2), 491. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020491
  • Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Longo, G., Grigoletto, D., Bianco, A., Ferraris, C., … Paoli, A. (2020). Time-restricted eating effects on performance, immune function, and body composition in elite cyclists: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 17(1), 65. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-020-00396-z

Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:12

Hey everyone, welcome to Fast Talk your source for the science of endurance. I’m your host, Chris case. Coach Lindsay goldrich is a sports physiologist who has worked with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in Colorado Springs at their Olympic Training Center for the past five years. She works closely with USA cycling and USA triathlon in areas of environmental physiology, including altitude, heat and humidity as well as data analytics for performance modeling. With Lindsay’s help today we tackled several questions related to her areas of expertise, including heat climatization, sweat rates, altitude effects, regulating temperature, and then also FTP testing and fasted training. All that and much more today on Fast Talk. Let’s make you fast. Either Fast Talk listeners. Now you can join the smartest online forum in cycling for free. Our popular new forum is now open to all members of Fast Talk laboratories. join for free and you can discuss recent episodes, ask follow up questions, and even chat with some of our episode guests. And starting next week, our members will enjoy a special perk. Don’t miss out. Sign up now at fast Doc labs.com. Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of Fast Talk. I’m your host, Chris Kay’s got Trevor Connor, Coach Connor in the house today, as well as Lindsey goldrich. Lindsey, welcome to Fast Talk.

 

01:40

Hi, yeah, thanks for having me on the show.

 

Chris Case  01:42

Tell us Lindsay. What what’s your what’s your day job.

 

01:45

I am a sports physiologist with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee in Colorado Springs. I’ve been with the organization for about five years. And where I work, we have a facility called sport sciences. And that consists of sports physiology, psychology, technology, and Dietetics. And we have a really amazing lab at the Olympic Training Center, that we have access to all these great different technologies tools for that we work with our summer and when our Olympic athletes.

 

Chris Case  02:17

Great. And yeah, I think a lot of the questions we selected today have to do with heat acclamation, sweat rates altitude. And that’s because you’ve really worked extensively over the last few years getting getting high caliber athletes ready for Rio. And now you’re working on getting ready for Tokyo and of course being done in the springs. You’re always dealing with the effects of altitude is that do I have that right?

 

02:45

Yeah, you do. Exactly. And so when I came on board, we had another senior physiologist, Dr. Randy Wilber, who literally wrote the book on live high train, low training and altitude. So our big background in physiology is really what we consider more environmental physiology. So looking at ambient temperatures, altitude, and a sports that I really focus a lot with or work quite a bit with are more endurance sports, so cycling, triathlon, and a few distance runners where, you know, those different environmental conditions have a significant impact on training and obviously on race day performance. As we got ready for the Rio 2016 Olympics, we had a pretty big heat initiative. And then that’s been super sized as we get ready for Tokyo since Tokyo has the potential to be the hottest Olympics to date that we’ve had, gosh, probably over the last, you know, 50 or 60 years. Wow, great. Well, let’s,

 

Chris Case  03:44

let’s actually get into some specific questions that deal with some of the very topics we just mentioned. Our first question comes from Dan Swenson on regulating temperature. He writes, being wet and in the wind with bare skin is really going to chill you and being dry and in cold wind is going to chill you. The nuance I want to ask about is if you compare being damp with sweat under a rain jacket with being dry, but having no windbreaker at the same temperature, is there a difference in the chilling effect? Or is there perhaps a crossover temperature where one becomes more heat depleting than the other? I’m thinking this could come into play when racing or training on rolling terrain we’re having no windbreaker would be more comfortable on the climbs, but having a windbreaker would be more comfortable on the descents.

 

Trevor Connor  04:34

So the sound a little bit like one of those highschool questions of a train left Philadelphia. Go ahead.

 

Chris Case  04:40

It is it is a little bit I mean, we’re talking about splitting hairs here. But Lindsay, I don’t know if you’ve had time to think about this. Do you have some thoughts here for Dan?

 

04:51

Yeah, this one you know it, I would say kind of like stumped me a little bit of just trying to figure out how best to go about it. The most important part is Having a relatively stable core temperature. So rather than I know, we’ve been talking about, you know, getting hot, and now we’re talking about a little bit about being cold. For me, I work primarily with our summer athletes. So I’ve only done a few assessments with athletes, you know, going cold and looking at their efficiency and economy, you know, for cycling and running. And what changes, again, when I have found that, that this is also very individual, some athletes can better tolerate different conditions and a lot, a lot of this goes just to Body Body Mass. So again, lean mass, fat mass, and where you’re carrying is different, those different areas of fat mass also make a big difference on you know, your comfort. But I would say, you know, you can take the simple example. And when you watch the Tour de France, in athletes, they’re climbing up the mountains, and it’s raining and sometimes leading and snowing. And then on the descent, they’re stuffing their jerseys with whatever they can find, you know, if it’s putting on one Baker’s windbreakers jackets, newspapers, you know, bags, whatever it is to keep cool. So, you know, the more comfortable you are, the better decision making, you’ll have, especially on a descent with reaction time. So, you know, I think that’s the safety thing, and also ability to maintain the higher speed, you know, individually or within a group. This one, I would say, you know, we would want to test but I think too, you could go back to like an a climatization process that, you know, even if you we know, through some heat climatisation testing and research that even with the climatisation, with a simple five to six date, protocol, and nothing special an hour a day and he had a low intensity, we do know that it can help to regulate by temperature in colder environments. I can’t remember the study, but it came out probably in 2015 2016 or so. So, again, I mean, I think those are things we want to be fit. But there are some things, just having the correct clothing and being prepared for those conditions is what I would say is most important than anything else.

 

Chris Case  07:20

And, Trevor, I know you always have thoughts when it comes to clothing and temperature and regulating temperatures. But what would you say here?

 

Trevor Connor  07:27

I was the same as you that I looked at this question. I didn’t even know where to start it where I started, which is asking a whole bunch of questions like what is the ambient temperature? How hard did you go to get damp? How long are you going to be without a windbreaker? There’s so many factors to consider here. That I found it really hard to answer the question. And so I in those cases tend to go towards the simple which is as you know, I’m a believer and overdressing there is a simple you can unzip, why does it have to be an either or why not have the windbreaker, unzip it on the climb so you don’t overheat and then zip it up. When you start the descent. That would tend to be my approach. Going to what you just brought up about racers and stuffing anything they can in their their jerseys. I can remember a couple races that were absolutely miserable. I remember this one Mount Hood, it was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, it was raining. And this is back when they had the rule that we couldn’t wear knee warmers or arm warmers. So we’re all standing there and jerseys and shorts. Not a single one of us was anything going oh boy, I’m dressed right for this race. Any one of us if we could have put on more would have put on more and I was stuffing newspapers down my jersey for the two cents. Because anything I could do to warm up it was a miserable race and we were freezing. So the mistake I tend to see athletes make is get over concerned about that over concerned about what happens if I get a little sweaty. What happens if I overheat and underdress and as a result, underperform and every pro I’ve talked to about this says the same thing. I have never had to quit a race because I was overdressed. I have quit many because I was underdressed.

 

Chris Case  09:19

There takes some forethought as to what you’re going to need. And this obviously depends on a training ride versus a race where maybe you want to you know you’re going to be hard going harder in the race, you know that weight is somewhat of a consideration but you still don’t want to cut all the corners and not be have at least a layer extra for that. By chance it starts to rain or it gets cold or whatever. But yeah, I’m with you, Trevor overdressing it I’ve taken that to an art form. But that’s what zippers are for that What they were made for, it’s up to the writer to regulate their own temperature. There’s no rules about that you got to make some judgment calls and figure it out for yourself. And if that means stopping, just for a minute to shed a layer and put it in your back pocket, do so don’t necessarily think that you have to keep rolling and try to take your jacket off or whatever. And then risk crashing, just to keep moving. You know, the this is, we’re not pros here. We’re not descending off the Stelvio trying to grab anything from the fan to shove it in or jersey to stay a half a degree warmer. So take the time to just regulate temperatures. And don’t worry too much about carrying an extra jacket. It’s a couple ounces. Right. Yep. Our next question comes from and it is a follow up to a previous question, Pete Yang, and this question is on the effects of temperature on power zones. He writes. You’ve mentioned before how important training at different energy systems is, and that using power and threshold values to set these relative cut offs, or training different energy levels is crucial. How does ambient temperature and or core temperature affect energy systems relative to threshold? For instance, if it is at 200 watts at a normal core temp and an ambient temp of 70 degrees Fahrenheit? What happens if all of a sudden that person trains at 200 watts, but an ambient temperature of 95 degrees or 45 degrees? Does that change the energy system? That person is training? Similarly, what happens if the core temperature increases or decreases during a ride? Even if that individual rides at the same power? Would that change the energy system that is trained? Lindsay, I’ll turn it over to you what what thoughts would you share for Pete?

 

11:54

Yeah, I mean, it’s an excellent question. And I know, again, within Endurance Sports core temperature is such a critical part for a lot of competitions, and racing. But my quick answer is that no, the core temperature does not change the energy system that’s being trained. And for simplicity, we can break down our energy systems, it really into three bins, our aerobic energy system, a glycolytic, and an anaerobic. And unless you’re like a track cyclist or a sprinter, through track and field, I’m going to assume that 90% of your training is more aerobic or glycolytic. And even the higher majority of those tubin becomes more aerobic. And since we’re machines are not machines, unfortunately, we have zones within training, and these zones will cover those bases of those training or energy systems. And then it more important to really understand what’s actually happening because of the ambient temperatures, there’s a ton of research that shows that the impact of the ambient temperature so high heat, high humidity, really can change the gross efficiency, which is the ratio of work generated and the total metabolic energy costs within cycling. And when when we look at this, there’s a lot of time trial studies and research is out there, that shows that performance does deteriorate in heat. But what that exact percent decline becomes very great. We know that there’s a decrease in growth efficiency. And this accounts maybe for about half of the power loss. But a good portion of that is due to increase skin blood flow, which we use for cooling. But because of this, it kind of has a ceiling effect on the muscular blood flow. And then this has a negative impact on the growth, deficiency of cycling. But when we look at you know, do you want to adjust your training zones and different things like that? Again, my answer is no. Or does it change your energy systems, there’s a few different theories out there, you can change your zones, I’ve read a couple research articles, depending on more extreme heat conditions, by up to 6%. But as always, with a lot of this stuff, it’s a general rule. And that might work for about two thirds of the athletic population. So there’s full third of athletes out there that will not fall within that, you know, general recommendation. And you can rely more on perceived effort, you know, during prolonged training to figure out really what type of intensity and things that you want to do. But we know that as temperature for that perceived effort goes up and and then that can also begin to change your power output. So there’s just things that we want to be really careful and cautious of when we’re thinking of like how we want to adjust training based upon these high temperature and extreme conditions that our bodies are facing.

 

Chris Case  14:59

Ever Have any extra thoughts that you would add here?

 

Trevor Connor  15:04

I think that’s a great way to look at it and fully agree. We’ve talked on the show about how when you’re figuring out your your zones or figuring out particular power numbers, we tend to, and I’m glad you brought this up, think of ourselves like machines, and we’re not. So we’ve talked about the fact that you might get on the bike one day and your FTP is 250 watts, the next day, it might be 260. The day after that, it could be 230, you’re gonna, you’re gonna fluctuate, it’s gonna depend on how well recovered you are, how well rested, you are a whole variety of factors. So what I basically took from what you just said, is, can he the fact that yes? Is that just adding to the regular daily variability? Yes. So every day, you have to go out and make some of that judgment calls an athlete. And this is really what separates an experienced athlete to be able to say, here’s where I’m at today. And not just arbitrarily say, Well, my FTP is 250. And it’s going to be 250 every day, and that’s what I’m going to ride to. The other thing I will add is, all these things are stressors. So if you’re going out in the extreme heat, you’re adding a stressor to your body to try to keep your core temperature down. So it’s more demand on the body, which is going to add to the overall stress, which is going to affect your ability to recover. So doing work in extreme heat and humidity, you’re probably going to need a little more recovery. Unfortunately, it’s not adding to the training stimulus. It will help with your heat acclamation. But it might be a little harder to get the same amount of quality work, and still be in the same state of recovery by the end of a week at high temperature, high humidity.

 

16:54

Yeah, exactly. And I think this is always interesting. And I don’t know if we’ll get to this a little bit later. But the whole process of the hit acclimatization is something that we really stress with our athletes. And working on other strategies for that pacing and perceived effort and what the Nutrition and Dietetics like nutritional and hydration, all contents need to go into minimize some of that stressors, right? So you’re here taking the strain and the stress from environment and actual training and trying to find that nice balance as you move forward within within your training and even competition. So I know that there’s a lot of modeling out there too. And I would say that I use it with quite a few of the athletes I work with, I work with quite a few track cycling athletes. And we know that the velodrome when it’s hot and humid, gives us really fast time, right. So we try to seek out some locations where, like in Aguascalientes, Mexico, high altitude, high heat, high humidity, and that tends to be where we see a ton of World Records broken for, really the hit like individual pursuit and our records and different things like that. But then there’s that cost benefit ratio. And so we’ve got a couple of different through some data analytics out there of figuring out what an athlete’s efficiency is based upon different temperature bins, if you will. But the way I use that it really becomes so individual. Again, it’s not a one size fits all that some people can tolerate the heat a lot better than others due to body mass, and size and fat mass and lean mass heat adaptation, you know, and then if you throw an altitude, that’s another adaptation or climatisation that we’re looking at. So it becomes a little bit more complex. When we start to really get into the nitty gritty side of things.

 

Chris Case  18:49

Yeah, there’s a lot of factors to take into account and individual variability layered on top of all of those things makes it hard to to even have a rule of thumb here, but great answers. Let’s jump to a question that that does get to the climatization question a bit more. This one comes from Abdulla Mateusz. He’s a coach. He’s an athlete, he’s lived in hot and humid tropics for the past 12 years. And he writes my athletes and I raised in hot and humid conditions and by that he means 33 to 38 degrees Celsius 80 to 90% humidity four to six hour long races. I’ve read many research papers on heat a climatization protocols and it’s been part of my peak block. I also do this with many of the athletes I coach. He comprises or sorry, heat compromises quality intensity. So usually I do the heat climatization in the easier sessions, zone one or two workouts, but that’s not race intensity. Is it worth a climatized at race intensity Lindsay, before we actually tackle this question from Abdullah, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind or if it would be helpful for you to talk about the the best way to acclimatize, as you’ve learned from the work you’ve done with the Rio athletes, the Tokyo athletes,

 

20:18

both great questions. So, you know, the the main thing that we know is Hito. climatisation, is that when you look at the research, there’s not anything that’s earth shattering, that’s happened in the last four to five or even 10 years. But what has really shifted and just the total heat of climatization process is the amount of tools or technology that we can use to actually assess and provide instantaneous feedback to athletes and coaches. And I think that has greatly accelerated a learning curve, for pacing power speed, at different parts during your heater climatization process, as well as training prescription from coaches, saying that something that’s been what I’ve found over the last, you know, five years has been really the most impactful, just the different tools that we can use.

 

Chris Case  21:12

Could you give an example of one of those tools?

 

21:14

Yeah, you know, and simply, like, a simple example is, you know, power meter, I know, this is not obviously brand new, but we can actually look at cycling efficiency, and how that begins to truly deteriorate at any given power output over a period of time on the bike, you know, we can begin to see our as their pedaling efficiency or their Delta efficiency changing as their fatigue sets in. And the fatigue we often know is not due to a time to exhaustion type of issue there, but often an increase in court temperature. So one of the things that we use with quite a few of our athletes is that we have core temperature pills. And we have this amazing environmental room here in Colorado Springs, where it’s about a 900 square foot room, where we can adjust the temperature, altitude, or temperature, altitude and humidity to really match any environment throughout the world. So we can go really hot, we can go really cold, we can go really high, we can go really low in altitude. And within those things for Tokyo, we will set the room to what we anticipate as being kind of the extreme temperature for the day, or even an example of like the the cycling race, the road race or time trial, we can adjust it where the temperature might actually continue to increase throughout the course of a four to five or six hour race, the men’s race is going to be really long, I’m pretty brutal on Tokyo, the road race, and from there, when we have athletes, while core temperature builds, we can actually begin to see in addition to their power output, perceived effort, but what’s actually happening internally, and where their inflection point is, and then begin to put strategies together. So going back to the question of saying, like, Are my strategies cracked? Yeah, I would say, yeah, his his strategies are absolutely cracked, especially for longer endurance. And then what we do at the training center, or what I would say, that I do with a lot of the athletes is that far out from an event, so we’re looking at Tokyo, and we’ll say, you know, August 1 as an example of like competition day. So we’ve got about six months right now, prior to our first event, that we’re actually going to run through a heat of climatization protocol, quite a few of the athletes here in the next couple couple weeks. So we can want to assess the stress and strain that we’re putting the athletes through in addition to training, so we have a better idea of just managing that training load of what that the heat actually that additional strain that it puts on the athlete and the ability, you know, for that training session and our recovery. So we have a better idea of how to prescribe that, individually as we get closer to Tokyo. In our protocol, it’s, you know, somewhat pretty traditional, we’re gonna use about almost a three week heater climatization protocol, and not every day, but you know, anywhere between two to four times a week, depending on the load that each of the athletes have within their training. The main thing that we have an access to is that we’ll use quite a few different methodologies. Rather than just training in the heat of the day or you know, in the in our environmental room at you know, set conditions, we’ll do some lower intensity training at a pretty high intense heat and humidity. We’ll do some trainings outside that are just overdressed. And we’ll even use some sauna, sauna protocols. And I found rather than just sticking with one protocol, meaning it has to be all sauna, all overdressing or all, you know, training in the heat of the day when we when we marry all three of those together. We actually can be less invasive to the training prescription from the coach, but also in a true application gets the end result of that heated climatisation that we’re looking for.

 

Chris Case  25:01

Trevor,

 

Trevor Connor  25:01

I have a friend who was training for the China Olympics, which was that was like 2008. Lisa. Yeah. So they were very worried about the heat. And he was furious because they they did these heat acclamation protocols that. One of them was they set them all up and trainers inside a trailer, and had them basically do a training camp in this heated trailer, on trainers, which all them absolutely hated. And he was furious about it, because it was unnecessarily painful, impacted his training. And I remember him grumbling, our job is to get as fit as possible, and then just deal with it when we get there. And they’re getting in the way of that. So it drops it in, you know, obviously, you are doing something that extreme of putting button athletes and train on trainers in a heated trailer for six hours. But what is your feeling on that about the balance between finding these things to adjust and just say, and let’s make the athletes as fit as possible? And then they just got to deal with it?

 

26:12

Yeah, I mean, I think you’re absolutely correct, you know, for any going into any extreme condition, environmentally, the number one rule is get as fit as possible. You know, it is that simple. But then, you know, for the Olympics, or if it’s your a race, or whatever it might be, you know, we’re looking for that 1%. In sport sciences, I always say that we’re, we’re the 1% gain. As you come into my my arena, that you know, I have athletes that, you know, obviously they’re the best of the best Murray, they’re trying to find that, you know, 1% or even less than 1% gain. And that might come from the heat adaptation or heat acclimatization. I think there is a big balance, we’ve learned a lot, like I said, you know, from over the last, you know, 10 years or so there’s a time and place to do some long indoor sessions, where it’s in a heat, a high heat environment. But now with these technologies, we can actually see how we achieve the goal of that session. So we may not have to be in there for four to six hours to get the actual adaptation just like training, right. Rather than going out for a six hour training ride, we add in other types of intervals like tempos, and we can we can maximize a similar type of workout put in three hours that we might in six hours. And we can do the same thing with the tools and technologies that we have to maximize on athlete training. And I think too, right, we need athletes to have the ability to still continue to tap into their training at the high intensity. And if we’re doing all our long training sessions inside, or we’re probably missing out on some of that race specificity that’s really critical or crucial for that optimal performance.

 

Chris Case  28:01

Question about the the methodology that involves the sauna? Is this simply writing and then jumping into the sauna at the end of the session and getting the the heat using the heat after the workout? Or how is it being used?

 

28:23

Yeah, that’s a great question. So it’s a protocol from Dr. Stacy, since she put this together with a few other sports scientists, gosh, I don’t even know when probably around 2010, I guess 2012 and October back when, when when we came out with a lot of this data. And you’re absolutely right. So we have a couple different ways we use this on it. Sometimes it’s after a training session in normal environmental conditions, and an athlete would go into the sauna in two things we’re trying to continue to induce that heat stress from being inside. In addition to a slight dehydration, which produces I’m going to teach shock proteins and things that we actually know help produce that long term heat a climatisation benefit. Another way we also use it is that we have an athlete doing a very specific intense indoor training session in our environmental room at a at a high heat high humidity environment. And that session might only be an hour, hour and a half, then we would go into the sauna directly after again to maximise on basically the what the body is doing, producing that true climatisation. So it’s not just the plasma volume, but there’s some other enzymes from the liver and things that we’re looking for that help with more of that long term, long term training adaptation that we’re looking for for the climatisation

 

Chris Case  29:53

Well, I bring it up kind of half jokingly because I don’t want people out there listening to abuse the sauna. In some way, there’s probably a wrong way to do that. I just picture people putting garbage bags over themselves and walking into the sauna to try to lose weight and climatized in some way, and that could go wrong. Fast. So we’re not we’re not talking about that high school wrestling team, method of weight loss and heat acclamation here,

 

Trevor Connor  30:24

I think not at all the really important thing you brought up as you immediately said, Well, we have a protocol that was developed to name some big names who came up with it. This was researched, this was carefully regulated. This is at a center that’s got all the gear to make sure the athletes are doing it right. This is not something to go Whoo, I got a sauna at home. Let’s start having some fun and playing with us. Yeah,

 

Chris Case  30:48

right. Right.

 

30:50

Yeah, and I think you know, not only for the sauna, but for all of heat a climatization. It’s really easy to go overboard, you know, athletes, you know, I’m going to do is lift ride, and no fan in my room in the bathroom, and you know, make it really hot and humid. But there is a time and place to do that. And like I said to I think that’s where some of the new technologies, which are actually cost effective, you know, our core temperature pill system, it is a little bit expensive, $80 per pill, but you’re not doing it every time you’re in the heat, you’re really trying to do it on keeping our key training sessions. So you’re getting that feedback and understanding so an athlete then can say, okay, when I feel like this, this is what’s actually happening. But it is important, right to make sure that we’re we’re not overdoing the fancy stuff, the shiny stuff, or like getting an Asana, you know, wearing the garbage bag and putting on 20 layers and forgetting about just the fundamentals of actually training and recovery.

 

Chris Case  31:52

Okay. Altitude effects, let’s turn our attention to a series of questions on altitude. These come from Amanda Barnes, she’s in Truckee, California. Let’s take these one at a time. How should I prepare for competition at higher elevation? If I’m coming from a lower elevation? Is it better to arrive as close as possible to the competition? Or give a certain amount of time? Lindsay, let’s let’s start with that question. Let’s start with you. We’ll move on to the next question after we’ve answered this one.

 

32:27

Perfect. Yeah, I think this is probably the most common question in altitude that I get from athletes in all different areas. And my my quick answer is that it is ideal to show up as close to your event as possible, or 10 plus days prior. So there is you know, basically, we’re looking at like a eight to nine day gap in there where if you’re coming to competition, you think I can take a week off of work, and get to an altitude and prepare and see the course and then have my competition. And you’re there for five or six days, that’s probably the absolute worst time. So again, it’s better to show up, you know, within 24 to 48 hours of competing or getting there, we have 10 plus days to really prepare and become a climatized. And you know, what really happens when we get to altitude. And the reason for these is that within the first day, we we have an increased heart rate, we have an increased respiration rate. We do see our hemoglobin which are those red blood cells carrying oxygen carrying, blood cells in the body begin to increase but they’re just like a quick fight or flight system. It’s not actually doing anything long term. By the time we get to 10 days, we see some of those things begin to taper meaning our heart rate as begin to come back closer to normal or breathing or respiration rate is come back to the varsity level or lower altitude norms. And we’re also starting to see some more long term benefits of that blood cell adaptation that red blood cell adaptation that we get from altitude for many years, like looking at the Leadville 100 Mount Bike races is always a hot topic with athletes that I’ve worked with in the past is saying you know, we’re going to a more extreme altitude and coming from sea level and and when should I get there and you know, same rule applies whether you’re, it’s your first time and you’re looking to complete the race or it’s your 14th time and you’re trying to win the race. Again, you know, there’s some altitude big impacts that can have really negative impacts if we if we don’t arrive properly. In that kind of that gray area.

 

Trevor Connor  34:42

I remember about 1011 years ago, I had a friend who was racing for Bizzle, and this is right before basil became the top team in the US and they were going to tour Utah and he was telling me how we’re gonna crush everybody. We’re flying in six days ahead of time, and we’re gonna go live at altitude and just destroy this race, I remember hear him saying that and just going, Oh, this is not gonna end well. And sure enough, they did not have a good race. It’s kind of a hard thing to understand. But like I the the answer you just gave is literally what I wrote down. And just to add maybe just a little bit of an explanation of some of the physiology. When you arrive at altitude, your immediate response is not to try to get the aerobic system adjusts, the aerobic system never adapts quickly. So actually, the immediate adaptation is to build your tolerance to handle anaerobic metabolism. So your ability to clear lactate to basically not hurt as much when you get that acid build up. So that’s why when you immediately arrive at altitude, you can kind of handle it. But after you’ve been there a couple days, your body says, Okay, I’m here for a bit. And it starts to switch towards those longer term adaptations. So working towards building your aerobic systems ability to handle altitude. So you have this period of time in between where you’re actually at your absolute worst. Though, in addressing here, in your opinion, this I will say if you are somebody who regularly travels to altitude, you do have a bit of a memory and you can probably break some of the rules, because your body is going to get back to normal quickly. I certainly noticed after I moved back to Toronto from Colorado, for my first couple years, I’d fly back to Colorado within a day or two, I’d be back to normal.

 

Chris Case  36:42

Have you seen that in athletes as well, Lindsay?

 

36:45

Yeah, it is true. You know, in the more times you’ve been to altitude, and each one of those visits to altitude, the longer you’re at altitude, you you do have a bit of a ability to adapt more quickly. But what we see in the training center, we actually have ability where we do total hemoglobin mass testing. So an athlete will come in, and we’ll test them the first day that they arrive. And then some athletes we’ve tested, you know, once a week, or more frequently, other athletes will wait to the end of their climatisation to see how well they’re climatized. So what’s happening from at a blood level, and it is really individual, but there are some simple things that can just totally mess that up. So if you come down to today, and let’s say, you know, you live in altitude, but you’ve gone somewhere for three, four weeks, and you’re coming back, but you’re dehydrated, or you haven’t actually done a little bit of a nutritional perspective of slightly increase of carbohydrate intake, to make up for some of that respiration and increased heart rate that we see that if we’re not staying on top of that, what normally could be, you know, your you know, you know, three to five days where you get over that initial hump, it could take you five to seven days. So, you know, again, it’s not a huge difference. But if you’re trying to plan it around a race, those two days could be really critical, because one of those days could actually fall on your competition day, if you’re not doing all these other factors. Again, some of them are just simple. So going back to I think what we said earlier, coming altitude, the most important thing, get as fit as you can so that you can handle the conditions. And then making sure hydration and nutrition are pretty intact. Those definitely make a big difference, too.

 

Chris Case  38:36

Yeah. And that really gets at the second. The second question here from our listener, Amanda, how do athletes differ in their response to altitude in terms of reductions in pace or power? Is it a wait and see type of approach? Are there general guidelines we can offer as rough expectations?

 

38:56

There are some just general guidelines. There’s some models out there. That show really once you get to an altitude of really 5000 to 6000 feet or higher. So if you’re at that 3030 500 feet, you know, it might be altitude coming from sea level, but there’s still not a significant impact in your power output, or pacing output. But once we start getting to that kind of moderate altitude, or low altitude and rising to that moderate altitude, that’s where we start to see pretty significant detriments for athletes in their power output. Again, those models, they range anywhere between six to 10%. If we’re looking for an athlete going from sea level, somewhere to about six to 8000 feet, but when I look at it from a sport science perspective, perspective, six to 10% is a huge difference. You know, if we’re looking at an FTP power, you know, even just 100 watts, simple math, that’s, you know, a, you know, a significant change in power output, and now you’re getting 200 300 400 watt outputs for certain things. That’s a pretty big shift in numbers. One of the things again, going back to some tools that we can actually use as an athlete goes to altitude, do a series of just general training sessions, easy rides and interval days. And we can actually see what that athletes individual differences in altitude, I have a few athletes, they do a running race here in Colorado Springs, and they run to the top of Pikes Peak has Pikes Peak marathon and, and I’ve seen athletes that come from sea level and as they get to that kind of more extreme or high altitude output, when we were running with power meters and have have some good data, that their outputs, power outputs begin to decrease, you know, anywhere between, you know, more like eight to 15%. And then I have an athlete that lives and trains at altitude more frequently in their out their power output decline is only maybe six to 8%. So there is a lot of individuality. And that goes back to what we’re saying earlier is that, you know, if you if you’ve been altitude more, more times a longer time, your body will climatized more quickly, and you’ll have slightly less decline in your power output. But what that decline is, again, it’s really individual and I think this is where a power meter can be really helpful in training for athletes to have that as a tool to understand, you know, what, what their limits limitations are, especially they you know, quote unquote, like go up the mountain.

 

Trevor Connor  41:27

So I still remember the the first race I ever did at altitude. This is when I was living literally right by the ocean. So I was living at sea level was the Parker Main Street Omnium here in Colorado. And it started with a prologue really short prologue. So the times were all under 10 minutes. And there was a two minute climb, and then about a mile from the top of that climb to the finish. So me being an idiot, planned it the way I would plan it, it’s 11. Guys, okay, there’s a short prologue. So I’m gonna have to do some good art above threshold efforts. So to said, All right, I’m going to hit that two minute climb and take it up above threshold, and then bring it back down to threshold for that, that final mile to finish. So I hit that climb, hit it pretty hard, got to the top of it, and just went like that. And then that mile to the finish, I don’t think I broke 200 watts. And I got passed by three people. I was tow. So important thing to know about if you come up to altitude, and you race at altitude is not just the loss in your power. But the recovery, you can do a good hard one two minute effort above threshold at sea level. And yeah, you’re gonna be gasping for air for a couple seconds. But you’re ready to do another effort. Pretty soon, you know, in 30 seconds, you do a big effort like that at altitude above threshold. And you can just be done. Yeah, 510 minutes before you can pedal the bike again,

 

43:08

that made me think of one last thing I know with some of the athletes and cyclists that I work with here in Colorado Springs is that pre COVID world that we would go to sea level quite a bit. And we have another velodrome out in LA. And for the athletes, we actually had had them do field testing at sea level. And then we did field testing at altitude. So we actually had some different numbers. So we can actually create, you know, very specific recommendations for each athlete based upon that, right. So, so we’re not going to an area where we’re one and done with our intervals, and we’re not getting the maybe the load or training stimulus that we need from it. Or that way, we can really give some specific feedback and say, Hey, we need to get, you know, four or five of these efforts in to get that overall training stimulus. All right, let’s

 

Chris Case  43:54

move on to a question from Eric Olson. He’s in our who’s Denmark. This one has to has to do with FTP testing. Coming from a middle and long distance running background, I have a hard time grasping the four dp test. You’ve mentioned, to me a five minute maximal effort is like do this, go home and cry? much like you would experience in a 1500 meter track competition? I would not be able to do a 20 minute test 10 minutes after and still get near that FTP figure. What does this tell me? Don’t go this deep on the five minute test or don’t do this particular test. So correct me if I’m wrong. The four dp test is sort of modeled after what Neil Henderson came up with.

 

Trevor Connor  44:43

This is Neil Henderson’s test. So you do the whole thing and under an hour and it starts with a couple of five second, Sprint’s Yep, then you do a five minute all out effort, then you take about a 10 to 15 minute break, then you do a 20 minute effort. Then you take another kind of 10 12 minute break and to do a one minute effort.

 

Chris Case  45:02

Alright, so what? So what Eric here is having trouble with is you say do the five minute maximal effort and he’s like, Okay, then I’m going to do that I’m going to fall off my bike, and I’m going to be done for the day. So how does? How does this test indicate my FTP? Lindsay, do you have some thoughts here?

 

45:21

Yeah, so um, you know, the the four dp test, really, it’s a critical power test, right? We’re trying to establish a critical power curve, which is like a sigmoidal curve, something like that s shaped curve. And in order to do that, you need at least three data points. So with this 40 p tests that Neil and he’s come up with, through Apex coaching, they’ve got four data points. And again, the big picture of this is to identify or profile you as an athlete. Are you a pursuit? Or are you time trials? Are you a sprinter or attacker, a climber are more of an all around athlete, and then it’s helping you to maximise on your areas of strengths or weaknesses throughout the season. As you get ready for competition, I find that the most important thing to keep in mind is that yes, each one of these efforts has to be all out because you’re trying to, quote unquote, properly shape the curve. But what’s interesting in this is that it’s going all out for the five minutes. And yes, you may only have 10 minutes to recover before that 20 minute effort. But we’re looking at the 20 minute effort. It’s not saying this is your 20 minute FTP, necessarily. So I think that’s where we have to kind of have a slightly different shift. But it helps to give us an idea of what’s happening on that curve from 20 minutes to 60 minutes, all the way up to you know, two to three hours. So going into that 20 minute effort slightly prefix speed helps to establish that a curve, that that were that you can use within your training prescription for, you know, intervals, and then I know part of the whole 40 p testing, you know, they’ve got a whole process of figuring out what type of intervals and training sessions work best for you to maximise on your your potential as an athlete.

 

Trevor Connor  47:09

Trevor, what,

 

Chris Case  47:09

what thoughts would you share here?

 

Trevor Connor  47:11

I agree completely. I think that five minutes has to be all out. And so I’ll quickly share a story because I do this test. And I have a route that I use. And there’s a climb that I really like to use for the five minute test, because if I do it right, I hit the top of the climb right at the end of that five minutes. And so I went and did this test in November after I’d taken a long offseason and forgot to adjust my start line for the fact that while I’m not very fit right now, so I do absolute all out five minute effort and hit the five minute mark 30 seconds from the top of the climb. And I couldn’t make it to the top.

 

Chris Case  47:50

So you went all out,

 

Trevor Connor  47:51

I could not finish that 30 seconds at any wattage, I had to basically put my foot down before almost fell over. And then just turn around and descend the climb once I can breathe again. So I am thinking that that is all out. And I still 15 minutes later did a good 20 minute test. But part of the reason for this and the reason I like the way Neil has designed it is I’ve seen a lot of athletes who have a very strong anaerobic system, but a weaker aerobic system basically fake a 20 minute test to go and do the 20 minute test fresh and producing a lot of that energy anaerobically. And it makes it look like their threshold power is much higher than it is this 20 minute test is trying to get at what sort of power can you do mostly relying on your aerobic system. And so the reason you have that five minute test beforehand is really basically burn up those anaerobic stores. And while you’ll recharge some of them before you do the 20 minute test, you’re still going to go into that 20 minute test and produce a more true aerobic

 

Chris Case  48:59

power is this in a way, a shortcut to the 60 minute test. So you’re essentially taking the 20 minute test, pre loading your system beforehand, so they get to deplete some of those energy systems that you might be able to tap into in the 20 Minute. And then the 20 minute, quote unquote, the number that you get out of that is more representative of what you would do in a 60 minute test if you actually did a full 60 minute test.

 

Trevor Connor  49:29

The issue I have with somebody when they do it fresh and they’re really relying on anaerobic energy is you hear I think it was Dr. Coggins, who came up with this to multiply it by 95% and you get your your 60 minute FTP. I have seen athletes that put out a 20 minute test or I go if we multiply it by 95%. That’s too high, right. I think when somebody does this 20 minute test after that five minute effort, like said you’re getting something that’s true or aerobic asked is, would we say, what the power you put out in that 20 minute test is the same as what you would do in a 60 minute test fresh? I’m not willing to go that far, I would still have a multiplier. But I would feel more competent in the multiplier, right?

 

Chris Case  50:14

Well, I asked that question, because I feel like people are always looking for shortcuts. And they might think that, okay, this isn’t the point nine, five equation, this taps into these other systems. First, I’m a little fatigued, I’ll do the 20 test, 20 minute test. So it’s actually closer to that 60 minute figure that I would see if I actually did it. I just don’t have to go through the pain of doing a full 60 minute test. And I don’t know if that’s a misuse of this test by people or not, or if it like you said, it gets getting closer. And you still have to take other things into consideration and all of that. But

 

50:50

yeah, I think it doesn’t take the place of a pure 20 minute, 40 minutes or 60 minutes. FTP tests. I do know, like when, when you go when you sit down and talk to me about this, you know, he’s saying, you know, this is a good test, it’s good if you’re also time crunched. So we’re not needing to go out and test you know, four times to get the numbers, we can get this done in one session, and it’s going to be pretty darn accurate to what your, your, you know, power curve will look like, I think the most important thing to to keep in mind is that this 40 p test it, it is helping to pinpoint an FTP power. But what the difference of just going out for a pure 20 minute or 60 minute time trial type of effort is that that’s establishing a true FTP power, but it’s not giving you what your time to exhaustion is, as an example, you know, because you as an athlete, and we see this as elite athletes is that their FTP power doesn’t change much, you know, at the at some point in their career. So they can go out and ride, you know, burn 50 375 watts, that’s their threshold power, but what changes throughout their careers, the amount of time that they can sustain it. And, and even through the course of this test, even though you’re not going out to 60 minutes or Plus, it actually helps to pinpoint that because of looking at the other markers, those shorter efforts with the combination of a long effort to help to pinpoint when that that shift actually takes place.

 

Chris Case  52:22

All right, let’s shift to one final question. This has to do with fasted training. It comes from Matt search. He’s in Ottawa, Canada. He has been and he noted this, I’ll just mention it. Not sure if it’s relevant, but he’s been on a plant based diet for the last 16 years. Matt writes, does the research suggest that riding in the fasted state or at least improving fatmax function through fasting adaptations, is correlated with decreased rates of inflammation, and perhaps increased rates of free radical processing and clearing? I’m thinking of an earlier episode where you discuss the spectrum of free radical clearing rates between pros, and then wondering whether there’s a link to fat Max, and thereby the proportional amount of time spent in quote, fat burning mode. In other words, might increasing fat max via fasting protocols improve recovery during and between periods of time spent on the bike? Lindsay, what are your thoughts?

 

53:21

Yes, this one’s interesting. You know, there’s, I would say, there’s a lot more research to show that all of this sounds legit. But there are some holes from a physiological perspective. I know there, there are quite a few dietitians and sports scientists out there that believe that yes, that you can do this. My philosophy on it is that it doesn’t happen. So basically, what happens, there’s some it’s just really based on some factual premises. So fat oxidation happens at a faster rate when insulin is low. So when you’re in a fasted state, we also know insulin, insulin levels are influenced by blood glucose. And when blood glucose is at its lowest, when we’re fasted, we’ll see this fat oxidation happen. And low to moderate intensity training, you know, really utilizes more fatty acids as energy substrate. So when you look at kind of the factual premises, it all sounds legit. But in reality, when you put it into play, that’s not necessarily what happens. A lot of the studies that are out there, they’re not done on as well of highly trained individuals. So they’re more untrained individuals so they actually can show that they’re getting a better adaptation in a fasted state. So I think that’s one thing just to be cautious of that I find where a lot of the information comes from. The The one thing that I see the most important thing is that every entity lose fat. But it really doesn’t have much to do with fasting or not fasting. Really, it’s a law where like thermodynamic thermodynamics where you’re shifting your energy balance of calories in versus calories out. And I think that’s the most important thing is that if we’re trying to improve our fat burning mode, we should focus on our nutritional perspectives, and then let the training be the training. So we’re not compromising our ability to produce power, or even recover on the bike. So my philosophy I’d rather have athletes look at, you know, a well, more well balanced diet and getting in the right calories in calories out to get that body mass in the direction that they’re aiming for, rather than trying to go out in a in a constantly fasted state. Trevor, I

 

Chris Case  55:59

assume you pretty much agree with that, huh?

 

Trevor Connor  56:02

Absolutely. It’s a really interesting question. This is one I tried to dig into some research for last night. I think you said one of the really important things, which is, there’s two questions here. One is impact of intermittent fasting on inflammation in general. And then impact of fasting, well, cycling. What what that what effect that has on inflammation. And I do wonder if there’s a bit of a confusion of the two, there’s certainly a fair amount of research showing that intermittent fasting can be great to reduce inflammation, because that’s when your body goes into a kind of a repair clearing mode. But does that mean that it gets better when you get on the bike? No, you’re you’re producing a completely different reaction in terms of the free radical processing, where we talked about So you mentioned our previous episode, we talked about that. In pros, it had less to do with their ability to process fat for fuel better than amateurs, what you were seeing in pros was a much greater natural antioxidant production. And in pros, you are also seeing a greater efficiency. So particularly in the electron transport chain, you’re seeing less electron leakage and complex for the electron was I’m getting deep into the science, but basically, they were producing less oxidative stress. And there, they were enhancing their own antioxidants that had nothing to do with their their fat max. So I did try to look into this and see if there was any research and did find, found only two studies. So one was on time restricted eating effects on performance, immune function, and body composition and elite cyclists. And certainly, as I said before, found that time restricted eating helped with reduce inflammation, but that’s not time restricted eating. Like, that’s not riding fast. That’s general dietary approach to the day. So there’s a bit of evidence there. But I did find another study that looked at so this is brand new, this just came out a review efficacy of popular diets applied by endurance athletes on sports performance, beneficial or detrimental and narrative review. And so they actually addressed that question of exercising will will fast and they found one study. It was a Ramadan study that looked at the effects of exercising well in a fasted state and said, No change was observed in the testosterone cortisol ratio between the ri f trials as the Ramadan fasting. A significant rise was reported in Aisle six adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations after there are if so basically, you’re seeing an actual increase in inflammation.

 

Chris Case  59:03

Any any other thoughts here on the question from Matt?

 

59:07

Yeah, I would say no, no, one thing, Trevor, that you’ve touched base on, too, I didn’t listen to the podcast on the Pro. So I want to go back and listen to that one as well. And the free radical clearing rates, when you’re looking at the professional cyclist is that, again, the main reason is that the change in their oxidative stress is due to their efficiency. And that’s the time course of a training adaptation. So I think that’s something important to keep in mind as well. You know, again, the more efficient you can become pedaling and on a bike, the more improved economy that you have. So your internal economy and economy to the to the bike as well, are both improving. So I think that’s something to just I was just thinking of that as you’re going through that I’m like, why would that take place and it is really based upon their time person just long term training adaptations And the hours and time in the saddle that that we’re seeing that change in their oxidative stress.

 

Trevor Connor  1:00:05

That’s actually a really good point that it there’s been several studies looking at athletes taking a eating a keto diet, where they’re relying much more in fats or fuel, and it shows that they become less efficient that when you’re completely relying on fat for fuel, there is a greater oxygen cost. So that would, as you’re saying, increase the oxidative stress.

 

Chris Case  1:00:26

Well, thank you, Lindsey goldrich, for joining us today on Fast Talk. It’s been a pleasure.

 

1:00:33

Yeah, thanks. It’s been a lot of fun. Lots of great questions. So thank you very much.

 

Chris Case  1:00:40

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts and be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on past talk are those of the individual as always, we’d 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.com slash join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Lindsay College in Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.

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