When Good Intervals Go Bad, the Best Way to Train VO2max, and More—with Jon Tarkington

USA Cycling’s head of coach development joins us to answer questions about training, coaching, why young riders are winning Grand Tours, and plenty more.

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For almost a year now, former pro cyclist-turned-coach Jon Tarkington has been heading up coach development at USA Cycling with some big plans for the future of the program. In this week’s show he joined us to help answer a host of listener questions. Some of the topics covered include: 

  • How much high-intensity work is too much? Tarkington gives us his insights into an athlete he’s recently started working with whose previous coach had been prescribing what he described as “huge amounts” of volume at Zone 6 in increments of 10 minutes. Tarkington gives us his take on how long he believes these types of intervals should be—and, spoiler alert, it’s nowhere near 10 minutes. 
  • It’s a question we get asked a lot: What’s the best way to train VO2max power? We debate shorter intervals at higher power (2-4 minutes above threshold, 120-130% of FTP) or longer intervals and more total work (still over threshold, but not as high, e.g., 105-110% of FTP). 
  • In the last five years the “young guns” of cycling have risen to the top of the podium, disrupting the tradition of more mature athletes (think Pogacar and Bernal). Are young riders taking over? And, if so, what’s driving this—better recovery, changes to training, improved athlete development? We discuss it all.  

In this show, we also cover: doing intervals in the base season, how to develop as a coach, and how to convince athletes to ride at endurance pace. It’s a rich and varied show, so settle in—and let’s make you fast! 

Episode Transcript

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