Q&A on Training Without Power, Optimizing Time at Your Desk, “Lunch Ride Syndrome,” and the Benefits of Fixies, with Amos Brumble

New England legend Amos Brumble joins Fast Talk to discuss training without power, the benefits of fixies, lunch rides, and more.

Amos Brumble Fast Talk
Amos Brumble on the attack.

Amos Brumble is a New England legend. Is it because of his racing palmarès? His charm? His collection of guinea pigs? Or all of those things? We find out, and then we dive into some listener questions.

David H. of Seattle, Washington asks:

“Suppose a 55-year old athlete is training with a heart rate monitor and perceived effort and recovery scales and is able to train between 10-16 hours/week. No power measurements. The athlete’s goal is to maximize performance on gravel races—about 100 miles and about 10,000 feet of climbing—which, with the exception of the first 20 miles or so, basically means a long time trial effort. Given that goal and training context, how would you recommend that a training plan be structured? I ask this question because so much of the discussion on your podcast references power. I understand why, but I don’t have a power meter in part, for cost, and in part because heart rate is enough ‘quantification.’ I’m interested in the meaning and aesthetics of riding hard.”

The next series of questions on low-cadence work comes from Ray Farris:

“My impression from your podcast is that the low cadence sessions talked about in the session were fairly short efforts at high power. However, Steve Neal of the Cycling Gym, whom you have had on Fast Talk a couple of times, seems to like to give his athletes sessions of several intervals of 20-40 min at low cadence at tempo power, generally 83% of FTP, subject to an 83% of max heart rate limit on power. And I just watched a Lionel Sanders YouTube video in which his coach had him do multiple sessions of 40 minutes at 50-60rpm at what I roughly estimate is about 80% of FTP.

What’s the thinking about these types of interval workouts? 1) Do these build FTP? 2) Are these “hard” workouts in the Seiler polarized model? Do they have a place in a polarized model and if so what is it and when is it in terms of periodization blocks? 3) Do these raise the athlete toward his theoretical VO2 max, but at the cost of lowering VLa max? Does this trade-off even matter for anyone other than pro level sprinters?”

Our next question comes from Russ Sanka, in Bristol, Tennessee. And it’s a good one for anyone who has a desk job. He asks: 

“What can I do at a desk job to aid in training/recovery? I have been using a stand-up desk and a DeskCycle but I would like to hear your opinions and the research on the subject.” 

This next question comes from Ivan Stanzio from Milan, Italy. He asks: 

“I love to ride my fixie in the ‘off-season’ to train on. I feel like it helps me with training and strength that I can’t get on a geared bike. Is this true? If so, what am I gaining and how does that help me when I go back to the geared bike?” 

Our final question comes from Peter Burghardt. He asks: 

“Can you address ‘lunch ride syndrome’—the tendency to go out the door and immediately hammer down because you’ve only got 45 minutes. Do you have suggestions for lunch ride workouts of an hour or less?”


  • Peterman, J. E., Healy, G. N., Winkler, E. A., Moodie, M., Eakin, E. G., Lawler, S. P., … LaMontagne, A. D. (2019). A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce office workers’ sitting time: effect on productivity outcomes. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 45(5), 483–492. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3820 
  • Peterman, J. E., Morris, K. L., Kram, R., & Byrnes, W. C. (2019). Cardiometabolic Effects of a Workplace Cycling Intervention. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 16(7), 547–555. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1123/jpah.2018-0062 
  • PETERMAN, J. E., WRIGHT, K. P., MELANSON, E. L., KRAM, R., & BYRNES, W. C. (2016). Motor-Driven (Passive) Cycling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 48(9), 1821–1828. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000000947 
  • Torbeyns, T., Geus, B. de, Bailey, S., Pauw, K. D., Decroix, L., Cutsem, J. V., & Meeusen, R. (2016). Cycling on a Bike Desk Positively Influences Cognitive Performance. PLOS ONE, 11(11), e0165510. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165510 


After this episode published, we heard from friend and colleague Jim Peterman, the author of the study on the DeskCycle. Here’s what he had to say:

Just to be clear, DeskCycle is actually not passive cycling—you’ve got to pedal the DeskCycle. It’s really easy pedaling but still pedaling. The research we did with passive cycling was on a homemade contraption. (We wanted to create a passive cycling machine, but failed to find funding.)

You did hit it correctly in terms of the benefit of cycling at work and recovery. It’s maybe not the best for recovery. That being said, though, passive cycling (if we ever got one created) could potentially flush the legs in a similar manner as NormaTec boots. That could maybe improve recovery.

The key thing with these, though, is that you don’t need to be doing it all day. Just do it for a portion of time at work. (Maybe 10 minutes?) I don’t have any evidence for that other than how I felt after using it, but something for the future maybe.

A couple other thoughts:

  • Cycling at work maybe isn’t going to help a ton in terms of recovery but may have other benefits such as improving markers of productivity or creativity or decreasing stress. Again, it doesn’t have to be done all day, but breaking up sitting can be beneficial in other ways.
  • The DeskCycle did improve VO2max (in sedentary folks). So it might not be a recovery tool but a training tool.
  • Cycling, whether passive or not, increased energy expenditure. So it could be a potential tool to help with weight loss. 

Episode Transcript

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