Fast Talk, ep. 68: The Big Picture

I just finished listening to the podcast [Fast Talk, ep. 68: The big picture — the three types of ride you should do] and always find there is some interesting things there. The latest one raised a few questions I thought I’d put up and see what others thought.

  • They were saying that 2 hard workouts per week was optimal and I’m wondering what you guys think?
  • Also what do you consider ‘hard’? Is it anything over threshold? Or anything outside zone 2? (In a trainingpeaks model). Seems like most TR plans have 3 ‘key’ sessions per week.
  • My second question is that they bring up what the pros are doing a lot. But are we comparing apples and oranges?
  • I train 8-10 hours a week with 2 rest days as opposed to 20-30 hours so will I get more benefits from relatively higher intensity than a pro who is doing 6 hour rides. Not to mention the average racer will generally only race for 1-2 hours max vs 6 hours. I know there will be principles that cross over but I wonder if it is a bit irrelevant to make too many direct comparisons.

Sorry for the long post, but there are a lot more knowledgeable people than me on here and would love to know other’s thoughts.


How much intensity one can handle is quite individual. I’d say this is something every aspiring athlete has to figure out for himself. Through trial and error. If you can’t complete your intensity sessions you’re doing too much. It’s actually quite straightforward, listen to your body, put it into context of your training and goals, and train/rest accordingly.

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In reference to your 1st question: They reference the 3 zone model so hard is zone 3 or anaerobic threshold and above. So generally above FTP.


Generally I adhere to this principle as well but the message I got from the pod was that even if you can do more than two hard sessions a week it isn’t any more productive.
Where I feel comparing to pros may be apples and oranges is that on the days between hard rides I generally do 1-2hrs or have a rest day vs them doing a 4-6hr ride.

I believe this all has to do with muscle fiber recruitment. Pros ride longer duration because it takes longer for muscle (type 2 maybe) fibers to fatigue. We get the same effect in 2 hours compared to their 6 for example.


The podcast refers to the polarized approach in contrast to TrainerRoad with its sweet spot approach for the more time crunched athletes. So yes to your question.

There are some very detailed threads on the polarized model in the forum:

As @Landis said it uses 3 zones. Here is an image taken from


Generally, 2/week works for me, but I agree with what @sryke says. You really have to figure it out. I consider hard any workout targeting near threshold or above or any sub-threshold (Zone 2 FastTalk zone, Zone 3, Coggan/TR) of sufficient length. So if I ride 2 hrs of endurance and then I progress that ride to finish with long tempo (>30-45mins), I consider that “medium hard”. I picked that up from my running days where progression long runs are fairly common. When talking about “hard” rides, intensity isn’t the only thing to consider (a mistake they often make on that podcast). Long tempo (80-83% FTP) can be hard too, if you do it long enough.

I like to do endurance work by HR, as Trevor Connor preaches about incessantly. Even though I don’t subscribe to anything Maffetone says, I do find his HR trick comes very close to what my endurance “HR cap” is (139bpm, 185bpm is my max). So I’ll do 2 workouts per week in the 130s with some tempo blocks in the middle if I feel up to it. One day of strict 130s HR or b.elow. (like Pettit or Collins on Wednesday). The other two days (out of 5) are “hard” or “med-hard”.

A few things I wish they would stop doing on Fast Talk:

  1. obsess about the pros
  2. preach to the audience
  3. use a non-standard (and not very popular) zone system when discussing training
  4. continue to perpetuate “gray area” type advice. Every single intensity that an athlete can produce is potentially useful. ALL OF THEM. So tired of this gray zone bullshit. Maybe we could get Trevor to interview Steve Magness
  5. only scratch the surface after promising a deep-dive

@sryke actually posted something in another thread (and I know @stevemz has as well) where they show some weeks by various pros. And I have listened to enough Tim Cusick and some other pro coaches to convince me that yes, professional cyclists ride tempo. Sometimes it might be what we call “sweet spot” or it might just be a long mid tempo interval (up a climb) in the middle of a longer endurance ride. This grey zone riding doesn’t seem to poison their bloodstream any.


adding to the list: “be clearer what a hard workout is”. They keep on saying these have to be really hard. Really hard. But then they say (in one of the interviews with Seiler), one should hold back, not kill one self. At the end there should always be enough gas in the tank to complete another interval. Which is not done. Not the session is important, the block of sessions is important.

So 100% hard or ‘only’ 90% hard?

However, while I’m quite critical of what they say, I credit them for educating me not to do too much. Overall.


Well put. You’re a much more level-headed man that me :grinning:

And yeah, do we “crawl out of the gym”, so to speak, or do we leave a bit in the tank for our other sessions? Very good point.

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I will be listening to this episode today. But based on my prior experience of their casts, and the comments here already, I expect to be underwhelmed by the final results.

Trevor seems to be too much of the old guard and fixated on pros. He continues to fail in offering really actionable info to the broader audience. I expect having him as a coach is a more direct experience (obviously), but he just falls short in giving enough help to their listeners in the form of directly useful info.

Oddly, I may have gotten more from the TR crew (via the casts and some direct comments from Nate in the forum) during my POL experiments. That and the super helpful discussion from the participants here have been more valuable and applicable for my use.

The FT podcast was a fine spark, but took some real work to get anything approaching useful info when I started down this road.


depends on what you have the next day. Although we can’t argue with sryke’s results. This he’s in the 5w/kg club.

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“The 3 zone model is so simple!”

“Zone 3 is usually FTP, but also might be in Sweetspot range depending on the day”

“Well, you can’t really get VT1 except in a lab, but its somewhat around 65-75% of MHR but could be as high as 85%”



Soooo simple… :exploding_head:

Well played, @stevemz. :+1: :crown:

I think you’ve both just summaried exactly the way I feel listening to them (only in a much clearer way). There are a lot of very vague terms used and it is annoying they don’t reference things in relation to the Coggan model which seems to be the most commonly used.

I find the TR guys and also That Triathlon Show much more effective at applying principles in day to day training. Trevor seems very intent on constantly reminding everyone how many studies he’s read.

I find ‘hard’ to be an annoying term because it could mean so many different things. For example two workouts with the same TSS could leave you feeling completely different depending on how you got there. And does ‘physiological’ hard differ from ‘percieved’ Hard?

I guess that is why it is useful in the TR pods when the guys relate a lot of the stuff they talk about to their own training and experience as it provides clarity.

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In future please put specific Academic references to these statements. Means nothing if you can’t quote the study, author and p value! :smirk:

I think part of the reason I get so tilted by the Fast Talk guys is that the concepts are good concepts, but they are just explained in such an awful way that it renders them useless for the average person.

The whole TL;DR of that episode:

  • Recovery rides should actually be easy and super slow
  • Hard interval sessions should be of sufficient quality and intensity to drive adaptation
  • Long rides have their place for creating aerobic adaptation in all of the muscle fiber types and you have to limit the intensity in order to get to hour 4, 5, 6
  • Sweetspot and threshold work is important but comes at a higher metabolic cost so use it in a focused way
  • High zone 2 (Coggan) and tempo (Coggan) aren’t really worth the stress you accumulate compared to the other types of workouts
  • You need to balance your intensity and riding in order to maximize the gains with the time that you have while still creating overload in a particular area

You don’t even need a zone model to understand the above.



In other news Joe Friel always settles my blood pressure. I wish that guy was my dad. No offense to my dad.


Too true!

This podcast (below) is one of the best I’ve listened to in a long time. I think I finally have a clear view of the physiological underpinnings of what specific adaptations different training sessions elicit in your body. Well worth a listen.

The velonews guys had the same guest on one of their podcasts also, but the scientific triathlon podcast was so much better.


Yep, I think this was a great comparison pod. I listened to it after the FastTalk one and remember thinking at the time that Mikael was great at bringing Sebastian back to the practical applications. He was continually asking for examples of what the science behind the model looked like in day to day training sessions.


This pretty well sums it up regarding intensity and training in general.

I frankly enjoy the FT podcast because they don’t offer up black and white prescriptions or make the latest greatest breakthrough claims. Both hosts are solid, experienced athletes and they regularly bring on guests with conflicting approaches and methodologies to that of Coach Connor.

I don’t think they’re geared for the rank newbie or the tech nerd that wants to spend money on equipment or jump on the newest fad training craze. The TR podcast is full of that stuff if it’s your thing.

The TR podcast is entertaining and I enjoy the product, but it’s not for the same audience. The type of question the FT guys joked about at the beginning of the episode is half the questions on the TR forum. I’m not at all surprised to hear on TR about a new user, age 45 with 8 weeks of training agonizing over whether his/her skin suit will generate aero gains to compensate for a slightly low VLaMax and low w/kg in the sprint of their first unsanctioned Tuesday night crit. That’s not a bad question, just not for the FT crowd.

Joe Friel is the man, and while I did a SS workout today, I do love some Dr. Seiler. Ride your bike more, get adequate rest, get faster.