Potluck Discussion: Ride Nutrition, Two Minute Intervals, and How to Quickly Get Your Form Back

Our hosts have a “potluck discussion” about athletes' different needs for carbohydrates, how 2x2-min intervals compare to Tabatas, and why current athletes can come back much quicker from time off.

Welcome to our pilot “potluck discussion” with CEO Trevor Connor, coach, Grant Holicky, and physiologist Rob Pickels. In these discussions we’ll pick topics we find interesting but which don’t deserve a full episode. Our three experts will break them apart using a mix of existing science and their own coaching experience.  

Do we have different carbohydrate needs?  

The discussion starts with an experience Rob Pickels recently had on a ride that ultimately led to him buying a jar of honey to survive his ride home. It raises the question of whether different endurance athletes have different carbohydrate needs when they ride, and if those needs can be trained or even changed.  

What is the difference between 2×2 minute intervals and Tabata’s? 

2×2 minute intervals are a classic interval protocol compared to what some would call the more modern Tabata style. Coach Connor has used both and raises the questions of whether they hit the same energy systems and just as importantly, if it’s the protocol or simple motivation that determines how successfully they turn around race fitness? 

Why are current athletes able to come back from time off much more quickly? 

Coach Holicky has been noticing that unlike even 10 years ago, current top pros are able to come out of the off-season immediately firing on all cylinders and find their fitness fast after an injury or time off. He’s seen this in amateur athletes he works with as well. The question is whether something changed in how athletes train, or the current longer race calendar is selecting for athletes who can find their race form fast.  

Get ready for some exciting conversation and let’s make you fast! 


LAURSEN, P. B., SHING, C. M., PEAKE, J. M., COOMBES, J. S., & JENKINS, D. G. (2002). Interval Training program optimization in highly trained endurance cyclists. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(11), 1801–1807. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200211000-00017 

STEPTO, N. K., HAWLEY, J. A., DENNIS, S. C., & HOPKINS, W. G. (1999). Effects of different interval-training programs on cycling time-trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 31(5), 736–741. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-199905000-00018 

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor  00:04

Hello and welcome to another episode of Fast Talk. I am your host Trevor Connor with my full allergy deep voice going on today. I am here with two co hosts. So you all know Rob Pickles but joining us again. We have Grant Holicky who can’t stop playing with his phone.


Grant Holicky  00:24

It’s just nice to be here. But, unfortunately, you guys aren’t the most entertaining people in the world all the time. So I have to entertain myself the phone.


Rob Pickels  00:31

Yeah, I’m sure our listeners are looking at their phones too. While we’re talking so well.


Grant Holicky  00:35

Pickles spend so much time talking about his home breakfast. I don’t even hear about your breakfast. Hey, man.


Rob Pickels  00:40

Listen, when we got to do a soundcheck in the morning, I like to talk about what I had for breakfast.


Grant Holicky  00:44

And we’re back to the latte back to the latte. Thanks. And I’m happy to be here, Trevor. We appreciate it.


Trevor Connor  00:50

I want to I want to go to the hall lucky household so and I can see you yelling at your kids are playing on their phone at dinner and be like


Rob Pickels  00:57

yeah, and real quick. Can I point out that this morning for breakfast Grant had toast with almond bread. Yeah, I’ve toast with toast. Yeah, it was a toast sandwich. I think I’m picturing this as a piece of toast a piece of raw bread and another piece of toast. Yeah, I’m


Grant Holicky  01:10

anti paleo


Trevor Connor  01:14

Yeah, that is truly about as on a paleo as you can possibly get.


Grant Holicky  01:18

I tend to do that. They sit there in the morning. I try to think of what would be paleo and then I go the opposite.


Trevor Connor  01:25

Like some gluten spread to just put on top of the toast


Grant Holicky  01:30

what it’s like that that Seinfeld episode where he orders Chinese food and goes extra MSG that’s


Rob Pickels  01:38

gluten on that. What would the closest thing to gluten spread be?


Trevor Connor  01:42

I don’t even know how you would make that I actually want to know like if you could separate gluten and turn it into a paste what we have with tasty


Rob Pickels  01:50

pay. Next episode.


Grant Holicky  01:51

All right, we paste episode. Yeah, I’m in.


Rob Pickels  01:58

Coaches, we have a new guide for you at fast talk labs.com called how to grow your coaching business. In this free downloadable playbook coach Phillip hatzes explores how coaches like you can grow profits, create opportunities and reach your growth goals no matter how big or small, visit Bastok labs.com. Now to get this free download. Alright, Trevor, what


Trevor Connor  02:25

do we do? Okay, as you can tell, we’re doing something a little bit different. Today, we’re off to a ripping start. I’m just not going to qualify it at all. But there’s a lot of different topics that we have brought up as potential episodes that just couldn’t hold their own as an episode, either there wasn’t enough to talk about or there wasn’t a ton of science that we could provide, to really give a thorough covering of the topic. But some of these we thought were really interesting, we would like to discuss so we’re trying a new type of episode here, or we’re taking a few of these things that we said, can’t do a full episode on it. But we’re going to discuss them, we’re going to take 10 minutes for each talk a little bit about if there’s any science that we’re aware of, but mostly talk as three coaches, or physiologists and what are our experiences with these different topics and hopefully still be able to give some good information. But think of these as little episode edits, little short versions of some interesting topics that we’re just going to cover quickly.


Rob Pickels  03:28

Yeah, and I think part of the goal here is to create that discussion, right, create an opportunity for people to kind of share how they have gotten through this, how they feel about it. It’s gonna be a lot of anecdotal and this, maybe not quite as much research as we would normally do. But I think it’d be fun. Yeah, and I think the saving grace is these are anecdotal, they’re discussions, but they’re discussions among three people who I like to think we kind of know what we’re talking about where we’re founded in science and everything else. So, you know, hopefully we don’t spew too much BS and if we do our apologies, this is a discussion kind of a lot of personal experience in this one.


Trevor Connor  04:08

So grant has called this our potluck discussions.


Grant Holicky  04:11

Yeah, everybody’s bringing a little something to the table and hopefully we get a meal out of it in


Rob Pickels  04:17

a year from like the Linda casseroles, right?


Grant Holicky  04:20

Yeah, yeah, I’m from the land of well, there’s a reason I had the breakfast I had I am from the land of glutinous non paleo pasta casserole, everything in a dish. Throw it together. Yeah, it’s perfect.


Rob Pickels  04:33

Nice. I love it. Well, if we don’t mind I’m going to use that as a segue to kind of kick off our first topic. You know, this came to me as I was out riding last week as almost all of my good ideas come to me while I’m riding let’s be honest here I need to ride my bike more I’d probably be smarter if I did. This was a normal after work ride. You know, I had an hour or two before the sunset beautiful day. So I grabbed a water bottle I set out on my gravel bike and you know I tried to do that because not take any calories with me and that’s why I use your food segue. I didn’t take any calories with me because I’m a very carbohydrate dependent person. You know, back in the day, my wife found me one day, sitting on the floor of the kitchen staring into an open refrigerator because I was so bummed I couldn’t even choose what to eat that just describes how carbohydrate dependent I am. So anyway, we’ve flashback to last Wednesday or Thursday and I’m out writing and my water bottle. It wasn’t enough. I was getting hungry after an hour and 15 hour and a half of writing and I was gonna be able to make it back home, but I was definitely not really having any fun anymore. So I’m out riding kind of the dirt roads north of town. You guys are very familiar with Nimbus road and on the side of Nimbus road. There was this little stand I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but you should look. Grant knows exactly what I’m talking about. Grant knows. I skidded to a stop it was almost like a like sliding into a parallel park on my gravel bike skidded into a stop at this little stand that was full of honey. And fortunately, they took PayPal. Oh, so I bought an entire jar like mason jar full of honey. How did you keep that on your bike? Well, because I’m a gravel rider. I have a handlebar bag. Okay, where she of course I do. And so what did I do, I then rode out to Neva road. And here’s the thing I was going to take the trails back home, but I now have a glass jar of honey in my handlebar bag. So I couldn’t take the trails because it was knocking against my head too. So I’m now heading away from home at 25 miles an hour on Neva sitting up my finger in a honey jar, eating honey off my finger. It was the most glorious thing and it was one of the best moments I’ve ever had on a bike. It was golden hour the sun was setting. Nobody was out there. The grass was green for the first time in a long time because it recently rained, eating honey straight out a jar. I even pulled up to the stoplight at the diagonal cars next to me. I’m digging into my jar of honey with people. Everything was sticky.


Trevor Connor  07:10

I had honey I was gonna say that handlebar bag and I took


Rob Pickels  07:13

a picture I’ll show you guys the picture I have honey like on my face. I didn’t even know it.


Grant Holicky  07:18

i All I can picture is Rob riding with a red t shirt a little too short his poohbear Honey, I


Rob Pickels  07:30

I don’t think I was in a T shirt. I’ll go back and look at pictures but I want to use this this this in my opinion. This is a great topic. What do you guys eat while riding? Are you carbohydrate dependent like me? How do you get through things? Because I know for me, I’m super dependent on food and try as I may to extend my time that I can go without eating on the bike because it’s a huge limiter. Because I love to do really long Mountain Bike Adventures and I have to take a gazillion calories with me. What’s your experience kind of with this food? What are your favorite things to eat while you’re out there? What do you got?


Grant Holicky  08:01

I’m gonna let Trevor go on this one because I have this sneaking suspicion he might be different than Rob.


Trevor Connor  08:07

I am still not past the moment of do we now need to call Rob Winnie the Pooh. For the rest of his life. I’ll


Rob Pickels  08:14

take that. Rob poohbear Pick a little little poohbear


Grant Holicky  08:17

I like blueberry.


Trevor Connor  08:18

I think I know the photo that we’re gonna use for this episode. Oh, I


Rob Pickels  08:22

was in a green Henley.


Grant Holicky  08:24



Trevor Connor  08:25

you are covered in honey.


Rob Pickels  08:26

I’m covered in honey.


Grant Holicky  08:30

Okay, I do have data jack. This is not about right food. But I hate nothing more than being sticky is just one of my favorite things in the world. And I will make major choices in life to avoid stickiness. I have been mid race, mid cross race, having taken a gel and we can get to that. But even Oh no, it was because I had a gel to start. And I had gel on my fingers and it was sticky. And we’re in the first lap across race and I got a water bottle and I’m spraying down my hand because I hate feeling


Rob Pickels  09:04

sticky. Wow. I hate being Sandy but not to that level. Oh,


Grant Holicky  09:08

as many have noted, I am not type A but that says Treffert nods vigor is your type a moment. That is my thing. I cannot stand being sticky. So this is how


Rob Pickels  09:21

I’m just going to bring in a little thing of Elmers glue and wave it at you. Honey might do the trick, Trevor.


Trevor Connor  09:28

Oh, this reminds me of just got to quickly share my story of the most epic ride I ever did in my life. This was when I was living on Vancouver Island. And there’s this route that anybody who’s lived on Vancouver Island knows exactly what I’m talking about when I talk about the port Renfrew ride, which is this bout 110 120 mile epic just up and down killer climbs route and you go to this little logging town of Port Renfrew. And basically the road ends there like you take this road out. And it just ends And then you have to come back on all these hills and this route under normal conditions will crack you. But I went out by myself did not go fully prepared. I was thinking I could stop at a store and there are very few stores in this route because you have no idea just how out in the middle of nowhere you are. So did not bring enough food did not bring enough water. And as I’m passing the few stores I discovered I’m writing on the day when all the stores are closed. So there was nowhere to stop to get food, nowhere to stop to get water. I get to port Renfrew realizing I got a little over three hours to get home. I’m out of food, the one store in Port Renfrew is closed. And then I look at when is the sunset, and it is in two hours. And you’re on a logging road with big logging trucks that will kill you.


Rob Pickels  10:48

And if anybody has ever been no legit, this is a problem logging trucks haul bought on logging roads, there’s like no rules out there for like a gazillion actually


Trevor Connor  10:59

laws that logging trucks have the right away because they are so heavy and so big, they can’t really stop and get out of the way. So they can literally take you out and keep going. So I had my oh my god moment. I’m already bonking and I now have to time trial, this killer route back, no food, no water, somehow made it. I left my bike outside of my apartment. I barely walk into my apartment, go into the kitchen lie down on the floor. And I’m literally reaching up to see what I can grab on my counter and make it fall on the floor so that I can eat it and lay there on my kitchen floor for an hour and a half.


Grant Holicky  11:46

Sounds about right. I think we’ve all had that moment ish with ride food. I’m very different than Rob, in that I typically won’t bring a lot of food I have learned how to eat on the bike. And it might be my history in swimming, where you’d go two and a half, three hour practices. We never ate candy in the pool. You know, I mean, and now I asked my swimmers to bring things like it’s it makes such a difference. But we didn’t read the pool. And we never even had Gatorade on the pool deck. I mean this a long time ago it was maybe we had some water. So that’s what I learned, for better or for worse, right. And so I brought that to the bike. And I got to a point where I go three hours, almost no problem with no food. But if I started getting over two and a half, three hours with no food, I just cracked. And then you can’t catch up. Right. So I had to learn how to start eating in the first hour of a race or eating in the first hour of training rides. And honest to God, man, it’s learning I had to actively force myself to eat, I’m not hungry. So really a different experience than yours. And my wife, who’s a registered dietitian talks about this all the time, you have to train yourself to eat the proper amount of food, whether that’s off the bike or on the bike. But you know, we’ve all got the have these wheel houses that are a natural place. But how do we train that I don’t know that you can train the other direction. I really don’t.


Rob Pickels  13:11

What I think is interesting here is you look at my body type, right? I have fairly big legs, fairly big calves, I don’t lift or anything else, I have a body type that you would expect for someone like me, Trevor, kind of a body type. You’re more of a lean climber sort of guy. I’m very envious of who you are. But Greg, you’re different, right? Because you’re a very strong individual, like you have solid muscle mass, your legs are just as big if not bigger than mine. So it’s interesting that your energy system is that much sort of different. And is that just training or is that something else?


Grant Holicky  13:42

Well, I mean, I think the legs I grew up swimming breaststroke, and you just constantly use your legs and you do that. But I’ve really had to work and continue to have to work as a 49 year old cyclocross racer, if I don’t put a ton of top end work in during the course of a year, I don’t have the top end, I revert back down to my baseline, which is go forever. Go forever, go forever. And I found that out the hard way. Right. I’ve had to figure that out and go, Wow, I don’t have a sprint anymore. But yeah, people look at me and go, Oh, you’re a sprinter. And I’m like, No, I’m not really a sprinter. I’m a great lead out guy. Good draft, I can ramp it up for a minute, minute and a half, two minutes, three minutes, something like that. But my explosive power is not very good.


Trevor Connor  14:29

Yeah. So this is kind of an important point because you brought up I’m kind of that lean climber at least that’s what I look like but that’s not my natural form. So when I moved to the the National Center in Canada, I was 180 pounds. And it wasn’t fat. It was all muscle. I’m actually it’s fairly easy for me like Hugh Grant to put on a lot of muscle mass. So I actually have to kind of work to keep that off. So when I arrived there who Shang who was big on the track, took one look at me he’s like, I can’t wait to get you on the track. And even though I had all this muscle mass, I still couldn’t sprint. And I remember the first time I went on the track, he had me do some drills. And then I was like, So what do you think? And he just kind of shakes his head and goes, no, no good on track.


Rob Pickels  15:14

So interestingly, I’m the most normal of the three of us. And you two are the enigmas.


Grant Holicky  15:19

Yeah. And I think bring this back to the food thing. For me, that makes a little bit of sense that I can rely on more that aerobic, go for a long time oxidized, get my own calories, for lack of a better way to put it. You have never had that. And so you always need to take in the extra calories. Yep. And then, Trevor, what’s your food thing on a bike? Yeah.


Trevor Connor  15:40

So I’m going to tell you a little bit of anecdotal and then we can bring some science into this. But, you know, I had a transition. So I was very much like you heavily reliant on carbohydrates. When I was training up in at the center in Canada, I was very big on a high carbohydrate diet. And to be blunt, I ate a lot of candy. So I was probably 65% of my diet was carbohydrate candy.


Rob Pickels  16:04

What was your candy of choice, just real quick,


Trevor Connor  16:06

up in Canada, we had Swedish Fish. But can the Canadian equivalent was these big feed, which tastes like Swedish Fish, basically the same sort of candy, but they’re big up in Canada, I could not eat enough of those.


Rob Pickels  16:20

i Sorry. So back on track, you ate six.


Trevor Connor  16:23

I tried to be about 65% of my diet from carbohydrates. Like I’d have days where I was eating 700 grams of carbohydrates. It was crazy. And I was the same, I could not ride for more than an hour without having to eat. I had to eat all the time. I switched to a paleo diet in 2010. And now I just wanted to spell one thing here paleo diet, despite what people think is not a very low carbohydrate diet, it is a lower carbohydrate diet, but there’s actually a big range. So right now, I’m probably 30 35%. Carbohydrates don’t eat as much as I used to eat more protein, eat more fat. And the one thing I have noticed from that is, I can go a long time now without eating like I can, if I wanted to, I could go out and do a five hour ride without eating at all. And I would be, you know, I wouldn’t want to be racing at the end of it. But otherwise, I’d have no problems. But as grant brought up, I think there is a transition, I think my body has become more reliant on fat. And Ryan and I did play with this a little bit where he did some glycogen testing on me. And even after I went out and did some intervals, and didn’t eat that much, he then measured my glycogen, and muscle glycogen, surprisingly, I hadn’t lost that much. So I’ve trained my body to be very reliant on fat. But as Grant was pointing out, I think I have a loss. And I never had this to start, but I’ve lost even a little more that top end. Yeah, sure. I’m the guy who can sit on the front of the field and just pound a big wattage for a long time. Yep. But if somebody attacks my one minute jump is kind of embarrassing.


Rob Pickels  17:58

Yeah, yeah. Fair enough. Can I ask this question, right? Because, you know, I’ve definitely tried to go lower carbohydrate. And I’ve definitely trained in a manner to take advantage of that, right? Because you can get some mitochondrial biogenesis by activating different pathways in a low carb state. Do you feel like when you switched over to a lower carbohydrate, paleo and your case, was there a period of time where you just didn’t feel good? Were writing wasn’t very strong for you, or whatever else? Because this is always kind of what gets in my way, right? Is that yo, maybe I do low carb and I feel okay for a week or so. And then my glycogen stores get depleted, and I go another week or two, and then I hate life. I hate writing. I hate everything else, because I just feel like garbage. Did you go through that? Did you keep pushing through it? Or did your body switch over and you didn’t really have any issue? Well,


Trevor Connor  18:48

that’s very common. I did not experience that because I made the transition very slowly. And I did in the offseason. So I wasn’t trying to train through it. By the time I was back to full training. My body was a little more used to it. So I really didn’t notice any negative side effects. I was actually quite surprised that winter when I got back to training of, well, I can go out and ride for hours and not eat and it just doesn’t seem to be affecting me. This is quite surprising. But


Grant Holicky  19:13

I would also wonder if you can keep yourself together. Can you not sprint, like that’s part of the equation too, right? We know that we can fuel lower carb, but when we put the higher efforts in, you need those carbs. Yep. And so I can tell this by looking at you. How long are you able to go without sprinting? How long are you able to go really truly in that zone? One zone two plays and that’s really hard for people and I don’t think they realize how difficult that is. And if you start getting out of that at all, you’re gonna feel pretty awful.


Rob Pickels  19:45

Yeah, you know, it’s really interesting part of me, you know, here’s the thing I’m experimenter you know, and I love to try things. If you look, it’s funny on my LinkedIn profile. It says the only thing better than finding the perfect solution is trying something else. as in I’m in the point where it would almost just be interesting to me. Even if I get worse, I want to know what it takes to get worse to tell you the truth. Right? It would be interesting because you know, to put this into perspective, yesterday, when we were doing this workout literally the first time, I’ve really truly done sprints in a long, long time, and I really haven’t weight lifted very seriously since last summer. And I was easily averaging 1450 ish, close to 1500 watts for three seconds. I don’t know what the peak was, I can go back and look, it was probably even higher than that. That’s just a normal sort of thing for me. So I wonder if I’ll always retain that ability, I don’t think I’ll ever come down to having a peak sprint of 900 Watts, I just don’t know if I can do that.


Trevor Connor  20:42

That’s what I’m was gonna bring up is, you know, back when I was a pretty muscley, guy and a ton of carbohydrates. I sucked on the track, I had no sprint, I have never had a sprint. I think when you’re talking about that, that really top end, that’s where you really get into Do you have the genetics or not? Like you said, you haven’t been doing any sprint work? You haven’t been doing any strength training, I have been in the weight room all winter and spring? Absolutely. Hitting that side as hard as I can. And you’re putting out 1400 watts for three seconds yesterday, I couldn’t break 1000 watts. Yeah. But


Rob Pickels  21:15

what’s interesting about this right is I have no interest in racing on the track at all. Maybe it’s because I ran so much track, you know, as my primary sport, that I have gravitated to doing these long, stupid mountain bike things, which are totally the opposite of what my physiology would demand. And this is why, you know, when I do consult with people, I say, hey, what do you want to accomplish, and we’ll try to get you there. It’s not always about being I don’t want to say successful, right? Because if I wanted to be successful and stand on podiums, I’d be a track racer. And I could probably do that, I will never stand on a mountain bike podium ever, just because I don’t have those abilities. But that’s what I love to do. And that’s what I choose to do.


Grant Holicky  21:56

And I think that’s an important piece is do what you love. And they’re trained for that.


Trevor Connor  22:04

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Rob Pickels  22:11

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Trevor Connor  22:21

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Rob Pickels  22:25

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Trevor Connor  22:38

So we need to start transitioning to our next one. But I’m gonna finish up here with where I have landed with my athletes, which is I do think some athletes are a little more carbohydrate dependent, other athletes don’t need it as much. I am very against the extremes. I am not a fan of the go to the Keto approach. And I’m also not a fan of the super high carbohydrate because there’s no way to be super high carbohydrate without eating a lot of junk food. There’s just no way. So I have gravitated more and more with my athletes to saying, figure out if you’re a little more carbohydrate dependent or not, and you can just a little bit but ultimately, what you should be trying to do is just eating a healthy diet, and you’re going to be the type of rider you’re going to be.


Grant Holicky  23:23

Yeah, you really should pay attention to what drives you. I’ll tell a really quick story right before we go and eat protein on race day, especially for cross. I’ve always noticed that right, I used to be I used to eat bacon and eggs before cross race interesting, because that made me feel good. I couldn’t ever really put my finger on it. But eventually bacon and eggs didn’t sit well with my stomach. So now it’s a lot of peanut butter. So you’d have a good bit of peanut butter in that morning to get a little fat, a little protein. That’s what I run on everybody’s individual, we need to find those pieces for athletes and athletes need to find those pieces for themselves.


Trevor Connor  23:55

Great. So let’s go to our next topic, which is something I have been thinking about a little bit lately. And I surprisingly, even though I look for it don’t have any research for this one, which is killing me, Trevor with no researchers. I like my research. So I’m gonna give you a little bit of backstory, because this is a it’s personal experience that got me thinking about this one, but it’s a particular question about interval work. So I used to love and I found this broad around my race form really well. I used to love to do two by two minute intervals. So it’s two minutes at what would be considered around your VO to max power than a two minute recovery and then a two minute interval. I repeat that six times for a set and then I would do two or three sets. It’s a really hard workout. But boy when I wanted to turn my race fitness around, I could really do it with that workout. It was a great one. But when I moved to Colorado at altitude, I discovered I couldn’t do them hard enough. So I actually switched to doing two bottos I started doing those 2010s not quite at the bottom but So like 15 fifteens, which is 15 seconds all out 15 seconds off, you keep repeating 2010s or 20 seconds all out 10 second rest 20 seconds all out. And you repeat that for about five, six minutes, and then you puke. So living in Colorado, I had to switch to those bottles because I found I could do those at altitude. But this year, I’ve gone back to doing my two by two minute intervals. And I’m actually discovering my race fitness is better than it’s been in years, even though I’m not training nearly as much as I used to nearly not nearly as well as I used to. So kind of go on the bow, there’s something to these two minute intervals. And I’m wondering what the difference is, and I have read study after study comparing interval work. But interestingly, I haven’t really found any that compare those very specific Tabata protocols, to what you see is more standard in the research, like research, let’s just look at five minute intervals, two minute intervals, three minute intervals, one minute intervals, but you always see a long rest, you never see that shorter. Right, right. So I actually couldn’t find a study comparing this style of interval to the Tabata. So I was really interested in discussing this. And do they hit the same energy system? Do we feel is one is better than the other? What are your thoughts?


Grant Holicky  26:19

Well, I want to come back to the altitude piece, at least very briefly, right? When we move up to altitude, obviously, that’s where all the research is. People going from sea level to altitude, we used to talk about this and swimming and running has it too, they have these benefits at altitude, right. So if you swim the mile at altitude, you get 23 seconds taken off your time for the database. But there isn’t as much research on people born at altitude going down and what that does, and there’s not as much research for somebody like you traveler who’s been here, how


Trevor Connor  26:53

long been here a long time, and I will tell you, so there’s what’s called altitude non responders. I am a non responder. Okay.


Grant Holicky  27:01

But over enough time, does your physiology change at least a little bit? Do you respond a little bit and obviously, we would expect that that would be the case you have people that you can bring up to out to for a week, they respond right away, right? And we see that in training, too, you have training responders that respond right away, but over a long period of time, are you starting to get at least comfortable or used to the feeling of doing those two monitors at altitude, and therefore can do them a little bit more effectively? That’s one thing that I would jump out at me. I love those two minute intervals. One of my all time favorites, minute on minute off. Yep, just three sets of five or just the old Neal hunterson style of just we’re going to do 16 of these in a row minute on minute off. I love that feeling. That’s my go to for race prep as well. But I hear you man, like two minutes when you’re at altitude, it’s super, super hard. And to me, that’s the biggest piece of your story is the altitude piece.


Rob Pickels  28:04

Yeah, for me, I think there’s a few things to unpack here. First off is just the question of is doing something different, beneficial, you know, you get used to doing one type of workout and then you switch that up, you’re gonna see something that helps you break through a plateau, you know, so I think that there’s a couple of these underlying sort of things as to why it seems like the two minutes are more effective now than they were before or maybe easier than they were before. But you know, Trevor, I think your original question was more on the Tabata versus the two minutes. And I do have a couple thoughts there. You know, the first is if we look at sort of the structure of these workouts, when you’re doing the repeat 10 seconds, really hard or what, 20 seconds, maybe with a 10 second recovery, then oftentimes, I think that you’re dipping into your high energy phosphate system, right to get that initial sort of punch, it gets you up there. And we know that there’s a delay in the oxygen kinetics, right, you’re working really hard, you’re recovering, you’re working really hard. If you were to look at your oxygen utilization, it would kind of be slowly ramping up through there. Now you get deeper into that set, you’ve done a bunch of reps at this point, then your oxygen consumption is probably up a bit higher at that point. So we know that there is a delay. I think that if we switch this and we look at the two minutes, you’re getting that high energy phosphate kick in the beginning of the two minutes, but we are getting more oxygen utilization, because you are in that two minute you’re going steady sort of thereafter. In


Trevor Connor  29:29

that second minute. You are mostly reliant on aerobic metabolism.


Rob Pickels  29:32

It’s definitely a lot higher. Yeah, for sure. So I think that there are some differences there now is two minutes enough two minutes isn’t something that I necessarily do a lot of personally because of the thinking that well two minutes isn’t really enough to truly get your oxygen kinetics all the way up. You’re not really stressing that vo two system all that much, you know, but I do see that as maybe increasing your anaerobic capacity. You know, if you’re familiar with sort of the critical Power theory you have your W prime which sort of describes to in a minute yeah which describes the work you can do above critical power. I can definitely see that helping there. You know, but at the same time Tabata is are also something that I don’t necessarily do, you know, as a sprinter, I can crush the first few Tabata is but then with that short recovery, I usually like boom, I’m like tapering off tapering off tapering off, so I almost have to hold back in the beginning of my Tabata and that seems like it kind of defeats the whole purpose of that workout, if I’m going to make it all the way through a set,


Grant Holicky  30:31

I think that’s a natural response to to that 20 seconds on 10 seconds off. Whenever I have somebody do two bodies for the first time, or I do one that’s for cross that’s 10 on 10 off, just because punch, relaxed, punch, relax, going into them, they’re all making this assumption that’s not going to be that hard, right? Like they are killer 10 on 10 off, whatever, that’s not going to be a big deal. And they’re like, Oh, I’m three in and I’m breathing out of my eyeballs trying to figure out what’s going on. There’s a little bit of this mental protection response that you have to overcome to do Tabata is the right way. And I wonder how much of that continues to creep in and stay in when you’re doing a set up Tabata is that on my mind, and this is very much personal, because Rob’s probably going to look at this almost the opposite direction. I almost think that minute on or two minutes on, I can go deeper. Because I’m sitting there going, I know I got a full minute off, I’m gonna go super deep. I’m going to be cross-eyed for 30 seconds, but then I get to recover.


Trevor Connor  31:29

So I like what you were bringing up, Rob, because this is so I would my first question I had is are these work in the same energy systems, or are they different and what I find interesting about both these types of intervals is they’re kind of this in between interval they’re not purely aerobic, they both might start with heavy reliance on anaerobic but because you’re doing those two minutes, you’re going to deplete that anaerobic store and be relying a lot on aerobic metabolism, as we said in the second minute of each interval. And I do also think with only the two minute rest, you’re never fully replete in your anaerobic sides of the time you get to that sixth interval, you’re above threshold, but you are relying a lot on aerobic metabolism, but to Bottas because you only have a 10 second rest, you might be able to do as you said as a sprinter, you might be able to do the first couple 20 seconds anaerobically. But the same thing, by the time you’re getting towards the end of that set, you’re above threshold, but you’re still mostly relying on aerobic metabolism. So they do have a lot of commonalities in my opinion, I love that you brought up the watt prime because this is where I went to because when I give this type of interval to my athlete, I talked to him about burying the needle, which is at what Prime needle I want to see them go below zero, I want to see them absolutely depleting it in the workout. And where I landed on. I wonder if there’s a motivational thing here because I noticed last year when I was doing the 2010s, I wasn’t getting the watt prime down all that much. I used to be ill absolutely destroy what Prime in my 2010. So I wonder when I’m going out and doing them if I will, just wasn’t motivated. And really given that that effort were with the two minutes. And again, another important thing about the 2010s You don’t look at your power meter when you do those. So I’m just trying to go all out. When you do in two minutes, you can actually look right and I know my target wattage, and I noticed when I’ve been doing these two minutes, I am staring at that trying to stay above a particular wattage, and it really hurts. And to me, this might be as simple as just a motivational side. But when I look at my watt prime, I am absolutely burying the needle now when I’m doing the two minutes on two minutes off. So I’m wondering if it’s a lesson energy system thing, and more just right now I’m a little more motivated to do this workout.


Grant Holicky  33:41

Well, and I think one of the other things that my mind jumps to is I have two things that my mind jumps to one at the beginning of this, what’s the average power at the end of each set of these things? 2010s your average power is going to be slightly higher, I think, yeah, ultimately at the end. So it’s more of what’s your average power at the end of eight minutes, that’s probably right around threshold, it’s a different way to get to an eight minute threshold set, bump, bump bump, I’m really good at mimicking racing, that’s what I’ve used that for us way use 4024 A lot. Two minute on two minute off, your average power is going to be lower. You know, you might be 400 watts for the two on but you’re gonna be like, if you’re doing it right, you’re gonna be 100 watts for the two off. So you’re gonna land 250 Watts, 240 watts for your average. That’s a different eight minute block and the end of it right you go deeper recovery more. So that’s one thing to throw out there. The other thing I want to throw out there is what are you more primed to do right now? If you’ve lost some of your sprinting ability over the last couple of years are you more to that two minute diesel and leave it there at 400 watts? This is awful, but I can hold it there or that Rob pickles spiky style of ongoing way up here trying to recover way up cut to recovery. So I mean, yeah, and of course you know me I’m huge on the motivation thing. Yeah. All right, right. I think if we could fit figure out a way to bring mental motivation into the AF of FTP into the functional piece of FTP. We really beyond something, but it’s just a super interesting topic to me. I love to Bottas I love minute minute offs. After this discussion I’m going to be trying two minute on two minute offs. To see where that goes. I can’t tell you how many coaches I know that love the four minute vo to air quoting the VO two because I think that’s questionable how long you can? Are you really at VO two for four minutes do you might be Supra Lt. Yeah. But are you really vo two. And that doesn’t exist it out to know you’re not doing that thing at altitude.


Trevor Connor  35:40

So it’d be these two minute intervals. So I know what my if I did a vo two max test. I know what power I’d be finishing out. And that’s what I’ve been targeting for these two minutes. It takes everything I’ve got to do two minutes at that wattage, right. I could not do four minutes at that wattage and not for, right, been we’ve been talking about this. But I just want to ask this question directly because this is where I landed with these intervals. And I’m using myself as an example. But just to help give clarity. And I think this is something important that everybody listening should think about when they’re doing their work. When I was comparing these two types of intervals, I immediately as a scientist went to well, what are the energy systems and is one just hitting a better energy system than the other. But I’ve moved away from that and it goes back to I used to be able to do 2010s The Tabata workout where by the end of that set, I was gasping for air, I was dead. When I was doing them. Last year, I’d go that hurt. But I was never gasping in the same way, I was not digging as deep during the two by two minute intervals, I’m getting to that place of man that took everything I had. So I’m wondering if it’s less about energy systems and the science and if this is truly a motivational thing. So I’ve always said, there’s a lot of ways to get to the same place. There’s no magic interval. And maybe it’s just purely that motivational. And I’ve just landed now back on a workout that I enjoy that I can really dig deep in that I can’t do it to bodies anymore. And that’s what’s making the difference, not the energy system it’s hitting and how do you guys respond to that?


Rob Pickels  37:13

For me, everything is always a combination, there is no clear answer. I’m not a black or white person, you know, and I definitely think that there’s both there’s a motivational component to this. There’s a just doing something different component to this. You know, I do think that we’re hitting energy systems differently. Like I said, I think that the Tabata is going to be stressing that high energy phosphate and the recovery there of maybe a little bit more importantly, you know, in the two minute on two minutes off, you know, and you’re looking maybe a little bit more at lactate clearance, you’re actually getting a little bit of that for two minutes, as you’re pedaling at low watts. So I do think that the energy systems are different as well. Now, exactly why one is, you know, hitting you a little bit better or harder right now, is such a complicated answer. I don’t have that answer.


Grant Holicky  37:55

I am a big fan. As a coach of variety. I really, really like variety. And I will sit there in a training plan and look at two workouts and I’m trying to decide between one might be a slightly better workout physiologically for the athlete. And I’ll use the other one, if I haven’t used that workout for a while with them. This is personal preference on my part, and maybe I have athletes that don’t appreciate it. But I like to keep things variety. I don’t like to repeat a workout inside of a month, unless we’ve really talked about it and targeted it. So I think there’s a big element of that change. Right? If I’m going to come back and try this different. Oh, wow, it’s working for me. ride the horse is kind of my mentality. This is working for you right now. Go with it and use that right now. Because it’s Tuesday, in my work for you Tuesday, mentally, it might not work for you


Rob Pickels  38:52

on Wednesday. Yeah, the other thing too is I feel like to workouts like this. They’re pretty similar, right? It’s like saying, I want Italian tonight for dinner, you know the genre that you’re in, whether it’s the detail of chicken parmesan or pesto, I don’t know that that really matters. But what we know is that it ain’t French, you know, you’re not eating Thai. You know, those are totally different energy systems with you know, I’m hungry all the time. I make it through the last third of every ride by thinking about what I’m going to eat when I get home and it makes me so excited.


Grant Holicky  39:23

Well, that’s that’s good to know.


Trevor Connor  39:24

We know are Rob’s motivation tasks that


Grant Holicky  39:27

we do across race. I’m just going to be yelling out. We’re going to sandwiches, we’re going to a deli.


Rob Pickels  39:31

God grant that’ll get me into at least the second lap because I’m good for the first lap. It’s all the subsequent laps thereafter that I tend to struggle with unless it’s muddy, and then I’m solid all the way through.


Trevor Connor  39:42

I’m motivated by a new workout routine. Rob is motivated by a turkey leg. Perfect. All right, so we got one more to discuss here. Let’s go to grants topic grant.


Grant Holicky  39:54

So one of the things that I’ve been noticing lately and really stood out and cross season but I’ve noticed than some of my athletes this year to is we’re watching these athletes come off of breaks or injuries and have the first race back be this phenomenal race. You know, the great example of this is Maddie Heyman a few years back at ribeye, right breaks his arm. He’s riding and trainer in the garage for months comes back rebased his first race, and he wins it. And not just wins it but off the front all day wins it. So this is such a change over the last 15 to 20 years in cycling where the conventional wisdom was how many race days we need x number of race days in the legs before we can even be competitive. And I even noticed this year the announcers like crazy and wild men aren’t wins the first race of the year. And everybody’s like, this is the first time he’s raced all year. Now let’s we can talk about cross and he’d been racing cross but still first road race of the year and he wins. Vanderpool comes back after the back injury first race of the year, and he wins. JD Roosevelt’s last weekend at the World Cup mountain bike first race of the year. And she’s second. So what’s changing? You know, why is this something that’s able to happen now, versus 20 years ago when this was unheard of? I mean, it almost never happened. People didn’t go when on their first race day. So my question to you guys is what is changing? Because if it was just Vanderpol, or is just man art, we could just go those guys are freaks. They’re different, or it’s the cross impact of it. But variable had no cross this winter. And it’s not just those guys. So what’s what’s changing? What do you guys see.


Trevor Connor  41:38

So I have a theory on this, and I’m going to be very interested in your reaction to it, it has two answers. And there is research on this. If you go back 20 years ago, the season was shorter, and you had a very traditional periodization approach, which was long bass season, then a big transition where you do a ton of racing to get into form. And then you’re on form for a while, you hold it as long as you can, until basically then you crack and season’s pretty much over, you might be able to come back once but that’s about it, right? So it was a very, very long build and then hold, you can’t do that anymore, because the seasons have gotten so long. And what you’re seeing athletes switching to is a more Block Periodization approach, which is you do these shorter blocks, and there’s three phases to it, you have a couple of weeks, where you literally go back to basically base training, then you have a short build of a few weeks. And then you have this realization phase where you are on race form, but it’s only like two weeks, maybe three weeks. And then you repeat the cycle where you go right back to base. And you see athletes now doing 678 of these blocks in a season, where go back to base Quick Build be on form for a couple of weeks back to base, and you just keep repeating that cycle. So I to me some of this is athletes have gotten very used to that of building quickly. And getting on to form quickly that one of the side effects is if you get injured, your body’s used to that. So when you come off the injury, you can do that quick build and beyond that form quickly. The other side of this that I wonder is because that’s now more the approach that you see athletes taking, if that’s now favoring the type of athlete who can get on to form really quickly. I’m actually one of those athletes, I need seven, eight races to find my race legs. And I wonder if athletes like me couldn’t survive as well in this current environment. And now you’re seeing those guys who can come on to form quick, but can only hold it for a short period of time and then come off and then come on to form quickly again, if now it’s actually selecting for that type of athlete.


Rob Pickels  43:48

Yeah, I think that for me, is this a it’s a chicken or egg situation right where I think the nature of racing is changing you we are not seeing athletes compete a season like we did in the past


Grant Holicky  44:00

well, and even within the individual races. It’s changing. You Raj road racing now it is way more dynamic than it was before. COVID. Even


Rob Pickels  44:09

everything I mean, in a lot of regard. Cross racing is true, right? Cross racing used to be three quarters of the race was a parade. And then everybody attacked each other in the last lap.


Grant Holicky  44:19

That’s why That’s why I spent could have the slowest start of anybody on the planet. You play the jaws music and now all of a sudden he’s there. Exactly. Now these guys go out of the gate


Rob Pickels  44:27

hard. I mean, it’s strong. Oh, from the beginning, right? Yeah.


Grant Holicky  44:31

For me. One of the big pieces that I keep coming back to is this rest piece or the for stress piece of an injury. I’ve had a couple athletes this year that took way more breaks than what would be our norm or our comfort. We had to we didn’t have a choice. There was injury, sickness, one athlete with the fires in Boulder, and other athlete for mental health issues. Just I need a break, but they came out of those brakes and they were on fire. And they’re better than they’ve ever been. So when I listen to Trevor, talk about the Block Periodization, what keeps coming into my mind is, you’re reppin you rip through this race block, and then you go rest for four or five days or even a week. Yep. And then you start the base and you start the wind back up, hit it, you’re amazing for a little while, and then you get the rest. So as the sports psychologist in the group, I just keep coming back to this idea of the reset button, right, you get to hit the reset button. And as you just noted, you get to decompress for a little period of time. You don’t have to worry about racing, you don’t have to worry about the obligations. Go back, you hang out with your significant other, you just veg for a couple of days. To me, that is a huge piece of the puzzle that just wasn’t there before. Because as you said, Trevor, the season was March and then it was over in September. Yep. Now it’s year round, furrowed. Yeah. I mean, you’ve got you’ve got Thailand in December, which is, you know, a decent sized raise. I mean, it’s, it’s on the calendar. But you’re starting Real Racing tore down under in January. And you’re you have to be worlds is October or September, whatever it is. That’s a and you’ve got erased that whole year. So how do you maintain anything of sharpness?


Rob Pickels  46:22

Yeah, I think that we’re seeing a switch, right? Almost because it’s gotten so long, people need to specialize more. Not everybody is doing every single Grand Tour, they’re not finding success like that, like they were before. We’re almost switching from a durable diesels sort of athlete to more of a high performance sports car athlete a little bit more fragile, a little bit faster when when they’re able to be on form. You know, and I don’t want to get too far off topic. I think that that’s been very interesting for racing. It’s not just the same guys. And every grantor is who’s showing up for this one who’s on form who’s able to, you know, but I think in the pro peloton what we’re seeing right now, and this is across the world, right? COVID changed everything about life. There is you know, anecdotally more sickness now in the pro peloton than there has been a very long time. You know, and it’s not people getting COVID It’s just people getting the flu off in general, you know that setting them back. And so, you know, we are ending up in this position, you know, and grant, I did mean to ask you a question before you were talking about some of the athletes you’re working with? Did you change the training? Is it more of a, I don’t want to say frenetic but big loads, big offs. And that really hard in between because you’re trying to catch back up as opposed to maybe a little bit more of a moderated sort of build


Grant Holicky  47:38

is different for each one of them. Because it depended on what was going on. Right. For the people that needed a mental health break. I wasn’t going to come a nice you got a week off. Let’s go and crank it back up because I’d crack him again. But at the same time, those guys and girls, I know they’re fit, right. Like I have had a couple athletes where I was concerned about what they lost, right? This has been a chunk, it wasn’t like I gave them a week. We had a month where there wasn’t any good training. And yes, let’s crank it up. And we skipped some of the pleasantries, so to speak, right. Like we skipped some of the base period. We’re gonna do some of it, but it was short. And here we go. And it worked really, really well. And we walked out of it gone, did it that was kind of RAD. And I had one athlete that we did that went gotten that crash. Now we have to do it again. And they’re going back to Europe. And we’re like, hope it works again. Yep. But yeah, I think this is really interesting, just in general. And I think, Rob, you make a really interesting point of the athlete it’s going to work for right and I just think it’s so cool watching some of those early season races because people that have learned that they’re quick responders, they’re gonna come in hot. Yep. Because why not? Because if I can get a win on the pro tour, I don’t care if it’s in February.


Rob Pickels  48:56

This is Ely is a burden every cross season right? Right crushes the first third of the season. He’s nowhere to be found thereafter. But he can


Grant Holicky  49:03

win the World Cup that way, because he won the first five rounds of the World Cup and he knows Wow, and Vanderpol are coming back. And he’s probably going to get his, you know, lunch money stolen. So I might as well do it. Now. I think this is a really interesting piece for our masters athletes too, though, right? Of how do we block a season and in May on this show, everybody’s heard me say, use your vacation, use this use the natural flow of your life. This is a really neat way to start looking at those people and Block Periodization and go, Hey, look, it’s working over there, too. It’s working at the pro level. Well, I


Trevor Connor  49:39

think an important thing here is to know which type of rider you are. So you’ve been talking about specialization. And I do think you see a little bit of those people that can come on to form quick and use that repeated block type approach are really those ones like the Vaughn arts that you’re seeing specializing in that type of event. I still think the ones You are trying to win the grand tour, taking the old school approach of the gotta build slow Yeah, it’s important to know which type of writer you are and figure out how to block out your season recording I’m I’m more that Grand Tour style rider like when I go and race in March I get my butt handed to me, it’s like I said, I need seven eight races just to find my form. So I plan out my seasons, I know I’m gonna have a period where I’m on fire and doing really well. And I’m just going to suffer through those March races and plan accordingly. If you’re the other type of rider then you write maybe you come in super hot in March, take a break in April Cummins super hot and may take a short break in June and super hot again in July.


Grant Holicky  50:41

Yeah. And that’s me, like I can do that. I’ll just show up for a random road race. And I’ll be pretty good. And I definitely have this mentality in my training, knowing that I have two kids and the busyness of life and all that stuff. I’m going to make hay while the sun shines, right? And I’m gonna do this while I can. Because even if I get super fit and may and everything goes down the toilet for a month or two, I had something and I have still have that something for a period of time. So yeah, and part of it is who you are. I happen to be a quick responder you happen to be a little slower, but also what your life’s like, if you know you’re going to be unpredictable. Do it while you can do it. If you know you’ve got this, I’ve got this three months. everything sorted. I can dial this in. Yeah, man go for the traditional style because you’re right, like Grand Tours and maybe even arrays like Unbound, you’re probably not going to be able to win your way into that thing. Right.


Trevor Connor  51:35

Well, guys, I think we are hitting towards the end of this conversation. I hope you enjoyed it. This leg said There’s a new type of episodes so we’ll see how this plays out. But I certainly enjoyed the conversation here in about Rob’s food habits. Not even getting a dirty look for that one.


Rob Pickels  51:53

Oh, I love my food.


Grant Holicky  51:54

He’s very proud of himself for the honey story.


Trevor Connor  51:56

That’s really why you went you didn’t want to give any practical information you just wanted to tell about you’re just


Grant Holicky  52:01

wanted to tell his poohbear story and be proud and revel in


Trevor Connor  52:05

well poohbear You want to take us out?


Rob Pickels  52:07

Yeah, that was our first potluck discussion. we’d love your feedback, so be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on fast talk are those of the individual especially on this episode. 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/join and become a part of our education and coaching community for the should need carbs but doesn’t grant Holic GI and the train himself to not need carbs Trevor Connor. I’m the all carbs all the time Rob pickles. Thanks for listening