Stop Your Legs from Fighting (Themselves)

Neuromuscular training expert Grant Holicky of Apex Coaching offers insight into how this type of training works and how exactly to implement it in your own training.

Torso of a woman rounding a steep switchback on her bike.
A rider rounds the corner during the 2019 Cyclone Challenge in England. Photo: Andison

Want some free watts? Your legs are fighting themselves, and we want them to stop.

Episode 8 is all about neuromuscular training, decreasing what is called coactivation, which is when your muscles actually work against each other. Neuromuscular training can provide big gains without requiring any increase in fitness.

We are joined by neuromuscular training expert Grant Holicky of Apex Coaching for insight into how this type of training works and how exactly to implement it in your own training.

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk, develop news podcast and everything you need to know to impress.


Grant Hollicky  00:11

We’re going to talk about pedal stroke with our athletes. But at a period of time, if somebody’s been doing this for 10 to 15 years, that gets a little redundant, they’re gonna tune you out on that a lot of what we end up doing is specific workouts and training. In order to develop that neuromuscular recruitment in order to lay down those patterns. You know, the the studies that are out on how our nerves work and how those things go on is, the more that we use the pathway the more of myelin we lay over those neuron sheets, and the faster that signal is going to travel to the muscle musculature. If you’re doing the wrong thing over and over again, you’re gonna lay a really efficient pathway through that neuromuscular system the wrong way.



Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk the velonews training podcast I’m Kaylee fretts. And in today’s episode, we’ll explain how to teach your legs to stop biting themselves. We spent a lot of time focusing on vo to max lactate threshold and bodyweight. But there’s a way to get better on a bike that doesn’t show up on tests. How? By training, proper muscle firing patterns, it’s called neuromuscular training. And it is vitally important but often misunderstood. With me today is Coach Trevor Connor, as always, and a special guest grant colicky a coach at Apex coaching, an expert in neuromuscular training. Let’s make you fast. Alright, so in my in my usual role as village idiot, I’m going to be particularly idiotic today because this this is a subject matter that flies way, way over my, my head and my understanding of physiology. So we’re going to be leaning heavily on Trevor and grant for this particular episode. And we’re going to start with the basics. So grant, let’s let’s turn to you first, can you provide a definition that I will understand of neuromuscular training.


Grant Hollicky  01:59

So in neuromuscular training, what we’re trying to do is increase the economy, or for lack of a better way to say at the efficiency of your legs and how they’re pedaling bike. So this is one of those things that’s going to show up year after year, despite how you’re training in that particular season, the ability to turn the lights over well, with high economy quickly, and all those things on the bike, are going to be able to give you an opportunity to increase power output and hold that power for a longer period of time.


Trevor Connor  02:34

So we covered this very first podcast, we talked about what separates an amateur from a pro. And if you’ve listened to that, or if you remember back to that podcast, we pointed out that things like vo two max don’t really improve. You don’t really see that big an improvement in max power. But one of the places where you really saw pros differentiate themselves from amateurs in this neuromuscular recruitment. As grant said, If you become more economical or efficient, we’re going to use them interchangeably here.



which apparently we shouldn’t.



I wish there was some there was some off mic debate before this podcast again, Well, not really debate, just Trevor being Trevor.


Trevor Connor  03:23

So for purposes of this same



economy and efficiency are not the same thing, Trevor, if it’ll make you feel better, why don’t you tell us what the difference is, before we continue on?


Trevor Connor  03:33

And we will cut this out? No, we’re not cutting this out, Trevor explained to explain to us what the difference is that we can then use them in them interchangeably. Specifically, efficiency is the degree to which internal energy is converted to external energy. So we only use about 25% of the energy we actually generate, we’re only about 25% of it goes into the bike, the more of it that you can put into the bike, the less that you lose this heat, the more efficient you are. Economy is the actual movement itself, being able to do the work with a movement pattern that requires less energy. So if any of you are big Monty Python fans like me, you might have seen that skit where they had the Center for unusual walking, and you watch them do all these crazy walks to move across the floor. Those are very uneconomical walks where if you watch people who are much older who say have a hip injury, they actually learned to become very economical and kind of slide their feets in their movement because they’ve lost a lot of strength. So they really don’t have a lot of energy to put into their walks. So that’s economy when we’re talking about neuromuscular training, using your muscles better actually improving your your pedal stroke. That’s actually there is some efficiency involved there but it’s actually more economy improving your economy.



Okay with that With that behind us, we will we will continue to use them mostly interchangeably. For the purposes of this discussion. We will use them interchangeably we will use them interchangeably. I hope that doesn’t bother any of the, you know, PhD physiologists out there too much.


Trevor Connor  05:18

But the key point here is when they compare amateurs and pros, one of the biggest things to differentiate pros is far, far better neuromuscular recruitment patterns.



Can you expand on that? Did you look you look for a study?


Trevor Connor  05:34

I’m the anal retentive.



I might sort of


Grant Hollicky  05:39

it makes me feel comfortable because that’s Neil’s role in apex. And when he’s not here, I feel kind of lost. If somebody’s not lecturing me on efficiency versus economy.


Trevor Connor  05:51

So don’t tell anyone tell me all this. But when I was managing reo, three of our athletes were being coached by Neil. And they nicknamed me Neil with heartbreak. Like you are just like, Neil, except he gives everything and why did you get that?



That’s fantastic. This is all going into thought,



Oh, God, I hope so.



I hope so. Okay, so we know what it is, can you guys explain to me as to the village idiot as you do, why this is important


Grant Hollicky  06:19

for what I do, and especially in the season that we’re in talking about cyclocross and talking about cycling training, the ability to have that smooth, quick reacting pedal stroke, the ability to bring the cadence up quickly, and the ability to pedal at a high cadence. One of the big things that that that I tend to notice as a coach is that newer cyclists tend to pedal in that lower cadence range, they’re mashing the pedals a little bit, it feels like you’re putting more power out, it feels like there’s more resistance on your legs, but the fatigue in your legs is high. So riding that higher cadence allows us to react quicker to what goes on around us accelerate faster things along those lines. And having that ability in high economy of neuromuscular recruitment allows us to pedal a little bit of that higher cadence. And it’s, it’s going to really help our writing dramatically.


Trevor Connor  07:17

So looking at it from a physiological standpoint, and this is actually one of my favorite analogies to give, because people really, really like this one, the way I like to think of it is pictured doing a bicep curl. Because this is really simple motion, there’s really just one muscle involved. Imagine you have a bicep that is strong enough to curl 40 pounds. Now imagine every time you try to curl away your triceps activate and basically fight that motion. So you might be strong enough to curl 40. But your max lift is only going to be 20 pounds, because your triceps is actually fighting that fighting muscle and muscles fight one another, that effect is called co activation. In a simple motion like that, that sounds ridiculous. And that isn’t going to happen. When you’re thinking about the pedal stroke on a bike, we have over a dozen muscles that are involved, often having to fire more than once through the the the full circle the pedal stroke, you have a lot of CO activation. So you have a lot of your muscles actually fighting one another. And one really interesting study that they did a few years ago, they compared the ko level of coactivation and amateur cyclists to professional cyclists. And you actually saw six times as much coactivation in the six times longer coactivation. In amateurs, then in pros. So essentially, their own muscles are fighting themselves, and they’re losing probably 2030 watts, just from all that co activation. If you can train your muscles to fire in a better pattern and not fight each other. You don’t have to get any stronger and your wattage is going to go up. That’s why it’s so valuable.



And this is what I was referring to in the intro when I said your legs fighting themselves, basically.


Grant Hollicky  08:59

Yeah, and and not only that ability to produce more watts, it your ability to hold that wattage for longer. And that may even come into it as a bigger effect, the more you’re fighting against yourself, and that car activation is going on quick or we’re going to break down because we’re just not going to be able to hold that for as long.


Trevor Connor  09:18

Right? That’s a really good point. Because when you have two muscles fighting one another one is being forcefully lengthen and you start getting tearing, and that’s going to cause you to fatigue very rapidly.



Is that the source of well, for example, if I do my one annual run, and I go and I run three miles, and I can’t move for like a week and a half afterwards. Is that some of the source of that pain that my legs are essentially not not particularly economical?


Grant Hollicky  09:46

Well, you definitely have some of that going on. You know it might be that offseason. 10 to 15 pounds you gained as well. You know a lot a lot of those things. Yeah, well, any anytime you’re not doing a movement with regularity, you’re going to lose That muscle economy. And especially for somebody who hasn’t ever run a lot, say, you know, somebody’s background is triathlon or they grew up running, they’re going to be able to go out for a run and have less of that soreness less of that breakdown, then somebody who doesn’t run very often and never did. And this one of the great things about neuromuscular training, that I’m sure we’ll touch on more, is that it is something you can retain from year to year. You know, it’s funny, coaches will, and athletes especially get into this mindset, if they take two weeks off, they’ve lost everything. But at the same time, they’re going to turn and look at the seasoned athlete and go, Well, they’ve got all that years of base years of base years of base, years of base doesn’t really exist, you know, if you lose your fitness, you lose your fitness, but you can retain the efficiency of movement, the economy of movement, and and that pedal stroke and that ability to have the pedal stroke is going to serve you year after year after year, especially early season.


Trevor Connor  11:01

So really important thing, though, with the neuromuscular side is a lot of people just think, Okay, well, if I do a lot of riding, I’m going to learn that that firing pattern, I’m going to improve the neuromuscular side. So back in 2008, there was this great study out of Brazil, where they address that question. So they took high level elite or even pro level cyclists and compare them to track athletes. So they found very high level triathletes who are putting in about the same number of hours per week on the bike. As the these high level cyclists, the difference is, you don’t see a ton of neuromuscular training in a lot of triathletes, it’s just not something they focus on, they have so many other things they work on. We’re all these cycles, we’re doing a lot of neuromuscular work specific neuromuscular work, and then compare them again for the CO activation. And what you saw was, yes, the cyclists look very much like the pros from the study I told you about a couple minutes ago, the triathletes looked like the amateur cyclists, they had very high levels of coactivation, you really see saw a poor neuromuscular recruitment pattern. So just doing time on the bike, didn’t teach it.


Grant Hollicky  12:12

Yeah, it’s similar to technical ability. You know, that’s been something we’ve talked about, not to disparage the triathletes out there. But



we don’t really mind.



I coach them I don’t.


Grant Hollicky  12:24

But you know, triathletes do spend a lot of time in the aero bars, and they they spend a ton of time on the bike time on the bike doesn’t make you necessarily technically sound, it doesn’t make your ability to accelerate, quickly inherent, those are the things that you have to focus on, put effort and time into, and consistently train.



So my, I have an old school bike racing dad. And when he was teaching me how to ride when I was, you know, 10 1112 years old, and starting to race a little bit, you know, he would always tell me, you kick over the top of the stroke, and you and you pretend that you’re scraping mud off your shoe across the bottom is that the sort of thing that we’re talking about here is this a little bit more specific work, and more than just thinking about a good pedal stroke,


Grant Hollicky  13:11

we definitely know we’re going to talk about pedal stroke with our athletes. But at a period of time, if somebody’s been doing this for 10 to 15 years, that gets a little redundant, they’re gonna tune you out on that a lot of what we end up doing is specific workouts and training. In order to develop that neuromuscular recruitment in order to lay down those patterns. You know, the the studies that are out on how our nerves work, and how those things go on is, the more that we use the pathway, the more myelin we lay over those neuron sheets, and the faster that signal is going to travel to the muscle musculature. And this goes back even to what Trevor was saying before about just time on the bike. If you’re doing the wrong thing over and over again, you’re gonna lay a really efficient pathway through that neuromuscular system the wrong way. So we have to really go out and get out of what we’re used to, for some people, and create workouts and create sessions that are built around specifically training this, from a physiological standpoint, not just from a mental standpoint.


Trevor Connor  14:14

So I’ll just quickly add to that one of the ways I actually identify somebody who has really bad neuromuscular recruitment patterns is not so much trying to look at where they’re applying the power through the pedal stroke, but especially look at when they try to do high cades. So I was I was running a trainer session last winter and I had a lot of athletes at very different levels come in, and I would do cadence drills with them. And I would see the the people had the bad neuromuscular recruitment, a they couldn’t hit very high cadences. And even just that 110 hundred and 20 RPM, you just see them bouncing all over their bike because that’s basically the neuromuscular system saying I can’t keep up with this. I can’t Fire the muscles in a good pattern, even at this low cadence so when I started having them do a lot of cadence work, really try to hit those higher cadences and do it will stay smooth on the bike not bouncing all over the saddle, they actually started seeing a lot of improvements.


Grant Hollicky  15:15

Yeah, and one of the things you can look at that as single leg, especially on the trainer inside, you know, Dallas Fort Worth our studios, we have the wahoo kickers in there and we’ll do single leg stuff at a at a certain wattage and you just hear the clunk clunk, clunk clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk long around the pedal stroke or we get 10 seconds of smooth and then there’s just sound all over of people ramming an edge of the pedal stroke. So it’s, it’s quite simple to identify that whether in yourself or in an athlete, as Trevor said, look at your power meter, see where your cadence is, how much trouble you’re having 120 kids, how much trouble you having a 30 seconds, single leg drill. These are great identifiers of where your neuromuscular patterns are and how economical you are on the bike.



I mean, how high should a sort of a normal road athlete I mean, we’re not talking, you know, track race stars? How, how fast should a normal road out, they’d be able to pedal? I mean, are we talking like if you can’t, if you can’t comfortably pedal 125 rpm and you probably have an issue?


Grant Hollicky  16:18

Well, great, great trackies can hit over 200. No problem. Yeah, that ain’t happening in this room. But well, actually, maybe it is. I don’t know how you to pedal. You know, I we tend to look at trying, you know, some of the workouts we’re doing, we’re looking at sustained cadences for a minute to a minute and a half at 120. year over. And that that that to me, 120 RPMs is a bit of a magic number. Can you sustain that for a period of time, we all hit it. But we’re like Trevor said, we’re bouncing all over the bike and your legs can’t keep up. We look with a lot of our, I’d say our high level elites not even really in the pros looking for cadence builds up into the 150 to 160 range. That’s what we’re trying to find and sustain cadences, and 10 to 120.


Trevor Connor  17:06

I think this is a fantastic thing to do at the beginning of the year. I think this is true with all cyclists, one of the things you’re always trying to prevent is injuries later on overuse injury, knee problems. And I think neuromuscular work, which is training the muscles to fire right combined with some off the bike work like some core work and some weight work is a really great way right at the start of the season to get your legs ready for the harder work you’re going to do later and prevent you from developing injuries.


Grant Hollicky  17:34

And a lot of how we tend to look at this is almost to an extent, and Trevor and I spoke about this a year ago, a reverse periodization and how you look at your season. So many riders early season, just gotta get in the miles just got to get into miles just got to get into miles. And as we talked about earlier, just getting in the miles doesn’t increase economy, it doesn’t help efficiency. So if we can create something that began the season, we’re forced to be at high cadence forced to be at high effort forced to be at high power, even if it’s for short periods of time, we’re raising that ceiling of what we’re going to be capable of, from a cadence point of view, from strength point of view, and from a power point of view. And always having that in the training, I think and we believe is going to develop the threshold it’s going to develop via to max and develop all those things. Because as we discussed at the beginning, you’re going to be able to hold that longer, you’re going to be able to reach at 20 or 30 watt higher threshold, and you’re going to be able to maintain that threshold for a longer period of time



that 20 or 30 watts. Is that sort of assuming that a rider is coming off pretty poor economy or is or do you think most riders if they’ve never done work like this before, you know and they’re not track racers or something, could probably expect that that kind of range?


Grant Hollicky  18:49

Well listen, I mean, the the simple fact that we have professional cyclocross athletes that we coach at Apex that are in the top 10 in the country that are doing this neuromuscular workout in November mid cyclocross season, because we expect to see some sort of gain from them now, yeah, this is a this is something that all the population could gain from and, you know, I don’t I don’t, I don’t know that any of us are ever going to target Well, yes, you’ll get 20 watts. You know that that sounds like an infomercial. And the only thing that might guarantee you 20 watts is you’re in bike motor, but that, you know, this is one of those things definitely that you’re going to see return on this investment,


Trevor Connor  19:33

especially if it’s regular, and and focused. So back in 2015, in the spring velonews had me review a bike trainer that had this nice screen that showed your spin scan, how you’re how smooth your pedal stroke is, and I was sitting there thinking you know, I focus on all this stuff. I brace in the pro ranks for God knows how long I’m going to crush this. So I got on it, I launched that spin scan for my first workout and I had this great figure eight. I’m like, ooh, what does that mean? And then looked at the instruction manual just to see what the different shapes mean, they went figure eight, amateur rider just didn’t like that at all. So now, forget the review. For velonews, I was dedicated, I’m now going to get that nice doughnut shape. And I really worked on it, and did a lot of neuromuscular work. And like, so this is after 20 plus years of racing, got that doughnut shape. And I had the best spring I had had in years, and I hadn’t changed anything else about my training. It was that so even after 20 years, I could still see gains.



But I think Trevor, that’s a that’s a pretty perfect little transition into how do we learn these things? What are things that people can be doing on a weekly basis? Or a daily basis? You know, is this the type of thing you can do at the end of every ride? Or, and what


Trevor Connor  20:56

are these workouts look like? I’m not gonna lie to you here. I spoke to grant about this a year ago, and he gave me a whole ton of workouts that I’m now giving to my athletes. So I’m just gonna say, Grant, you had the best workouts I’ve ever heard. So please, fair enough.


Grant Hollicky  21:10

So you know, When, when, when we’re approaching this, it’s easy. We’ve talked a lot about the high cadence work and it’s easy to focus on the high cadence work. There’s there’s two pieces to this. One of the pieces to this is how do we put power into the pedals. So what we tend to do at Apex and a lot of these to be, you know, completely forthright or Neil Henderson’s workouts, he’s the he’s the mad scientist, the Geek in the apex team. I won’t say he taught me everything I know, because I don’t want to sound like Kaylee and the village. But so so the workouts we tend to put out there early in, I’d say early season, but especially right now in cross when we get a weekend break, and we’re not racing, cadence, drills, power drills, all these things. So we’re building from both sides, we want to look at how we can get power into the pedal stroke. So one of the workouts we do our bigger sprints, something that track riders are absolutely fluent in putting the bike and you’re 53 in the front, and you’re 1112 or 13, and back on a flat road and start from almost a standstill. as slow as you can be, you’re probably not gonna bust out a track stand. But what you’re doing there is you’re pulling and pushing with the arms on the bike, you’re pulling and pushing on the pedals with the bike, and driving that cadence from super low and high power all the way up to that high cadence pedal stroke up at 100 to 110 that we’re looking for. Well, we’ll do a little workout with six to eight of those sprints. It’s one of those workouts that people walk out of afterwards and go well it was you know, kind of hard but wasn’t really that hard. And then they go try to go upstairs later and they can’t really walk up the stairs. So it those those sneaky hard workouts. On the other side of the coin is is high cadence stuff. So what Trevor was talking about what some of the cadence pyramids, and one of my favorite sessions to do is to go 30 seconds with the right leg only 30 seconds easy riding in 30 seconds with the left leg only repeat that two to three times. So 630 second effort, single leg, and then immediately into a high cadence hold one minute at 120 RPM



are those single legs done it you know, 90 hundred RPM, what’s the A?


Grant Hollicky  23:20

Well it by nature, by nature, you’re going to be fairly high cadence with those in order to have a smooth pedal stroke. If you’re at you know, 80 RPM, the load on it’s probably so high, you’re gonna break down, you’re not gonna make it through 30 seconds. Anyway, this is one of those beautiful sweet spot things, when you find the right load. And typically that load on the high cadence holds his tempo probably 70 to 80% maybe even up to 90% of lt, we want a little bit of pressure off the pedals so that we can continue to spin. So yeah, you’ll tend to be at 90 to 100 gotcha. And so that’s sweet spot. And, and again, maintaining through the tail end of that 32nd effort. Another one that we do with a lot of athletes is just straight up one minute cadence built, the starting at whatever your self selected cadence is and then building that cadence up to as high as you can possibly get it over the course of a minute. And having an eye on the clock so that we know that it’s not 100 for 30 seconds 110 for the next 15 112 for the next 10 and we blast five seconds 160 How do we slowly but surely over the sweep of the clock, lift that up and hold each next segment as we go up.



How often are we doing this?


Grant Hollicky  24:38

early season we’re tend to be doing some sort of neuromuscular work two days a week Tuesdays tend to be more of a session based less drill based, neuromuscular effort high gear Sprint’s short sharp 10 seconds to 15 seconds high cadence Sprint’s cresting hills 30 seconds just be huge efforts with tons of press. And then Fridays often we’re doing drill work, single, like cadence, work, cadence builds, things of that nature on Friday



is the kind of thing you can throw into the end of a of a normal ride.


Grant Hollicky  25:14

Yeah, I think it is. I mean, I think it’s, it’s just like anything, it’s one of those things that, to me, though it’s best done a little bit fresh, if you’ve already broken down at the end of the ride. This is one of those things that maybe you can do a little bit at the end of the ride to remind yourself and your body of what this is supposed to feel like. But if you have fresher legs, you’re going to be able to move through the workout with a little bit better progress and probably get a higher return out of it.


Trevor Connor  25:41

One of the workouts I really love to give athletes to both identify issues and to help them improve is exactly work in that sort of sustained cadence. So anybody, almost anybody can hop on a bike and hit 150 RPM, which they don’t care about form and you just don’t want to watch them because it looks like they’re gonna hit the ground. But it’s all about that control. So I love doing what are called cadence pyramids, where you started either 90 or 100 RPM, and you do a minute at exactly that kid, then you go up to 110 and do a minute trying to hold that exact cadence, go, you know, initially I’ll start with athletes going up to 120. But as they get better and better go up to 130 140. Because you really have to learn those neuromuscular firing patterns to be able to hold that exact key. When it comes to neuromuscular training, there’s a lot of ways to skin that cat. So we caught up with Carter Jones, a recently retired pro tour rider who has a physiology degree from the University of Colorado, and asked him some of the things he does to train the neuromuscular side. Forgive the quality of the audio, we had to talk with Carter while he was training over in Europe.



Yeah, and I’d always do that and



kind of peppered in my rides throughout the year. You know, endurance drives, apparently, it’s like, liquid metabolism. And it just kind of gets you feeling fresh again. I can turn for all day to kind of get a dole feeling in your legs.



feel good again. Enjoy.


Trevor Connor  27:19

How big are your spreads? Is it just a quick effort? Or do you kill yourself? No.



Usually when I work, when I work on my furniture, I actually just work on really high cadence stuff. So like starting with, like 110 rpm and seeing I can get up to you know, 510 seconds, it’s just working on the legs to speed. Or if I do like, full max sprint like no, no more than 10 seconds. It’s more just as you said, activation rather than fatigue. Yeah, something Brad has showed me last year, really struggle with like quick acceleration.



So if I can work on, like Aiden,



getting that jump could really benefit me. sprinting is not important for a climber, until it’s really important. Like sprinting doesn’t matter until you find yourself, you know, at the top of the climb, and a group of three spring for the winneba stage is really important. So it’s definitely something to keep in mind. You know, it’s like, obviously, you have to be able to climb to get there. But then, you know, being able to feel that can really make the difference in results. I know I’ve missed out on results in the past or I’m done as long as I’d like to.


Trevor Connor  28:53

Are there any other tricks are things that you do for neurological training, and stability.



Now, for me, it’s all just about keeping it as simple as possible. Like my,



like bodyweight exercises,



extra step of going to a team like that for for the winner. Goodbye, you know, if I could just do it at home in 10 minutes before I ride. That’s That’s the key. It’s all about motivation for me. And



that’s when I’ll actually do something.


Trevor Connor  29:31

What about during the season.


Grant Hollicky  29:32

As I noted before, this is something that that we go through mid season a lot with our athletes, we tend to look at the big picture and what their schedule looks like if we have a weekend we’re not racing. I love the three day block of a neuromuscular training day on day one, some sort of a via to max or sprint t sort of day on day two, and then into threshold day or tempo day on day three, that those blocks moving from high intensity to lower intensity And often, also shorter duration, a longer duration have proven a we get nice return on that the muscles can handle that. And so it’s a great thing to work in throughout your season. If you raise Saturday, you know, Sunday tends to be a down day maybe some neuromuscular work Monday, some sprint work tuesday wednesday or into your heart session of the week. If you there’s three day blocks tend to seem too big. And for a lot of amateur races they are we race Saturday we race Sunday, Mondays and easy day spend a Tuesday becomes a neuromuscular day, Wednesday becomes our hearts session. Thursday we rest Friday we pre race Saturday, we get at it again and bang our heads against our friends.


Trevor Connor  30:43

So grant two other questions for lease in the research they’ve shown that you do get some neuromuscular gains on the bike from both weightlifting and also from doing some some big gear work like those five minute located in sub a climb type work. Do you agree with that? And do you feel they’re useful?


Grant Hollicky  31:00

Yeah, we we, we often do workouts called over unders, five minute threshold or tempo efforts. A minute below self selected cadence and self selected cadence, you’re gonna hear us say this a lot. So what you tend to write at this is if I asked you a five minute threshold effort, if you look down to three minutes, and this would be where your cadences ideally, we want to see that 90 to 100. But different people are different places. So if this workout in an over under session, that first minute might be located to work 60 RPMs, that’s hard. That’s a big load. And then having that shift for the second minute be at an at an above 100 to 105 RPMs. And again, still holding that same wattage. So under, over, under, over under over we’d like to do a lot of those, the three minute big gear threshold efforts just above threshold efforts are a great early season staple for us. 60 to 70 RPM, again, really over over geared sports specific strength on the bike really, really, again, broadening that strength base for what you’re doing on the bike, off the bike, our athletes are doing some sort of a strength session, usually once a week, all throughout the season, often twice a week, we have riders that really have responded, saying they feel stronger, they feel more in contact with the bike, they feel better structured all of those things, you know, simple, simple way to look at what we’re trying to do. There’s our our strength, strength specialists we use Aaron Carson a rally sport and and Aaron takes us through lots of single light work lots of bad



Jimmy are in Boulder.


Grant Hollicky  32:45

Yes, yes, sir. And it was where our Apex offices are based out of. So single leg work. Her mindset behind it is mobility, strength, flexibility, having that ability to load single leg works and allow us to activate the musculature and really find it in our bodies.



Well, even this village idiot is now I think, quite convinced of this, this is not work that I have done in quite a long time. But even for the semi racer like myself, sounds like the kind of thing that could make my my bike life little bit easier. Trevor, can you just run us through just to remind everybody why we care about this.


Trevor Connor  33:26

Okay, so try not to sound like that infomercial and saying you’re gonna instantly gain 20 watts, we’re really looking at at five benefits that I think grant is explained really well to neuromuscular training, just to quickly sum them up. The first is you improve your economy and efficiency, you’re going to last longer on the bike because you’re going to have less muscle tearing, and other issues that are associated with the coactivation we talked about. So the third one is because you have your muscles firing in the right patterns, you’re going to see less overuse injury. And that’s going to allow you to do bigger work later on. And the last one, which we touched on, but this is a really great point that Grant has made in the past is if the neuromuscular firing patterns aren’t there, you’re going to be very unstable on the bike. And that’s going to lead to a real, what you call the leak of power, which I love that term.


Grant Hollicky  34:22

Yeah, and I am just to expand on that a tiny little bit here as we finish up. So much of what we’re doing when we’re riding is, is benefited by writing with a bit of a higher cadence and holding that higher cadence, you know, the old expression of spin to win and all those things. Higher cadence is going to allow you to respond quicker to attacks, change speeds faster, get in and out of corners with more explosiveness, and neuromuscular training does so much in order to benefit that high cadence riding. It sets you up to ride at that place. Much, much easier. And that leak of power that Trevor just mentioned, tends to diminish. We can get on the pedals quicker, we can turn them faster we can respond to attacks, we can go then attack, that’s what we’re looking for on the bike is that ability to change speeds on a dime. That’s what makes great racers.


Trevor Connor  35:23

The other really important takeaway here is time on the bike is not going to do it. You have to do dedicated work to improve that neuromuscular side. And that’s a combination of single leg work, cadence, work, both high cadence and trying to control that high cadence and some low cadence work. And just some short sprint work. And the really nice thing about the neuromuscular work is with a few exceptions, it’s generally not fatiguing. It doesn’t beat you up the way a vo to workouts gonna beat you up. So here’s a way of improving without having to worry about burning yourself out


Grant Hollicky  35:57

and and as every coach will tell every athlete remember that just because it doesn’t beat you up, doesn’t mean it’s not helping you. So this is a great way to get a big return without destroying you. And a great way to piggyback on a hard session maybe the next day and really increase your return on your investment.



This is sort of the rough equivalent of Rocky chasing the chickens versus going for a run right? That kind of a Sure. Sure.



Sure. doesn’t beat you up but it’s very important.



Speak for the chicken



All right, that was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we’d love your feedback emails at Webb letters acapella group com Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes stitcher Google Play, and be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. While you’re there. Be sure to check out our sister podcast developers podcast that’s a news and banter and other things. I’m also on that one become a fan of Elon is on slash felonies and follow us on slash felonies. bastok is produced by velonews which is owned by competitor group. The thoughts and opinions expressed on desktop are those of the individual and are brilliant for Trevor Connor and special guest grant hockey of effects coaching I’m Kaylee Fred’s. Thanks for listening