Empirical Cycling Podcast

Apologies if this is a dumb question … how was the benchmark value of HR Max arrived at, and how often - if at all - would it be re-benchmarked?

Incremental exercise test before (and after) 12 wk of training.

Max HR tends to decrease a bit with training, but since it was just a rule-of-thumb/carrot, we didn’t torture the participants further by doing any intermediate tests.

Couldn’t quite top the original Hickson paper this way, but came close (and the focus was on metabolic adaptations anyway, so all training was cycling, so likely smaller central stimulus) - see Fig. 2:


Thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

My 2H easy endurance / filler workout pace is around 50% of yours.

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I’m averaging 7-8 hours/week, and a few years ago tried lower intensity (~60%) for 6+ months and I lost performance. However when I string together a block or two above 10 hours then the power/intensity comes down. And FWIW I can’t call those workouts “filler” because they are important conditioning workouts.

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Great questions - I have always wondered these as well. I ride 5-8 hours a week and do not considered myself “well trained”. Sure I am better trained than a lot of people, but not well trained by any means. Also I am for sure “time crunched” as really no way to get more in without impacting family life. As it is 5am rides for me to get my time in before work.

I think each coach has their own definitions of these two things which makes listening or reading multiple perspectives without specifics hard to do.

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@empiricalcycling i’m a bit confused with the endurance riding message. so i plan to expand my totally weekly hours via endurance. this is, for the next few weeks, going to involve mostly endurance with increased Threshold efforts over time. however i work a job, and many of the week day sessions will be 2 hrs at endurance with longer weekend rides, aiming for 20hrs a week total (eventually from 12hrs ish now). you seem to suggest that these Z2 2 hr rides wont be so important and they act as more recovery/ maintenance rides.

Q. is the total hours the driver for adaption here, or does each ride need an element of stretch. i’m very guilty of riding low tempo for my endurance rides, so knocking off 30 watts and expanding total volume is my idea. i could continue with the low tempo rides but only increase total volume to 15 -16 hrs. obviously this may impact the threshold days.

here is this weeks plan, and it isn’t my 1st rodeo

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I’m interested in this answer as well…I’m looking to do something similar, though there’s no way I’m approaching 20hrs…

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The quesion appeared many times in podcast and weekly AMA on instagram. As far as I remember the answer will be … it depends :slight_smile:

I am a simple man but my take is:
The main driver is total volume (example of a client of his who cut daily commute to work during pandemic, that has lead to low performance). I follow couple of his athletes (world level) and their z2 rides are sometimes extremely low wattage, but always quite long. Time pushing the pedals matters. Is single 4h ride better than 2x2h rides? Probably a little bit as long as 4h ride is not messing your life and you can do this consitently. In this case 2x2h rides will also be good as long as you push the pedals.

Then of course is the aspect of progressive overload as your body adapts to stimulus. So chosen workouts should follow this rule. But it’s impossible to push every ride to the limits as we have recovery side. So choose key workouts and progress through them (for example threshold workouts or key, long ride) and supplement rest of the week with volume that you can recover from.

No single ride can improve your fitness but consistency can. So bevare of “training camp effect” where people log big hours for 1-2 weeks but stimuli is so big that your body cannot cope, you get infections and waste 4 weeks for recovery. So build volume gradually (progressive overload) and pay a lot of attention for recovery.


I think I asked it on an AMA, but I wonder if it’s a function of a 380 rider riding at 200W is a low % but decent stimulus, whereas a 280W FTP rider riding the same % is a less useful stimulus.

It doesn’t work that way. The fitter you become, the smaller the stimulus for adaptation that results from a given absolute “dose” (duration or intensity) of training. You therefore have to do progressively more - not only in an absolute sense, but even in a relative sense - to drive further adaptation.


As a 280 rider who very much wants to not ride hard right now I appreciate this :joy:

Total volume is the primary thing you’re looking at here, so while a 2h endurance ride itself would seem not worth the time, in the big scheme of things it absolutely is. A secondary consideration would be duration of the longest ride, but I would also ask how long your events are. You’ll necessarily have to knock some watts off to ride longer or you won’t last long with this approach. Your schedule seems to only have one recovery day. Add at least one more or you’ll have to do some experimenting with rest week frequency.


@empiricalcycling that’s merely this weeks “plan” btw. my events are typically 2.5 - 3 hrs road races. at 52 yrs and 65kg, i’m recently upgraded to cat 2 and with an ftp in the 270-290 range. that’s an overall level i need to break through over the next 6 months. typically i’m 5- 6 days per week, every 3 weeks (5 days) recovery type. i’m finding that level of endurance effort as easy, but coming back from 8 days off, last nights SS effort was a shock lol

the podcast is 100% btw. Q. for a consultation, i only really have TR data, not TP. is that an issue?