Quality over Quantity vs. 80/20 (or Chad vs. Matt ;))

In college I’d use a recumbent bike and read physical books. Can’t see it on an upright, comfort wise (but I’ve been wrong about other things so who knows).

Stream episode The Watts Doc #12: Can Fiber Type Predict Carb or Fat Use? by Empirical Cycling Podcast podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

The above the triathlon show podcast does a really good job of going through it, and the empirical cycling podcast discusses the relationship between fibre type and energy production.

The jist is that an athlete with a high VLa Max will rely more on glucose, which intuitively makes sense because a higher Vla Max means you produce more lactate which requires glucose.

In terms of fighting adaptations, think of it this way. If rider A and B both have the same V02 max they then have the same ability to utilise and clear lactate.

So if rider A has the higher VLa Max, they will produce a larger amount of lactate than rider B for the same watts. Therefore, while rider B might be at their MLSS at say 300 watts, rider A will be producing significantly more lactate at 300 watts, and because they both have the same capacity to clear lactate it means that rider A will be working above their MLSS and therefore have a lower MLSS than rider B, despite having the same V02 max.

That is my understanding of it, the triathlon show podcast does a good deep dive into it all.

1 Like

It’s related to muscle fiber composition. Fast twitch produce more lactate. Slow twitch less. Training that shifts muscle fiber composition changes rate of lactate production (and also aerobic performance, as slow twitch can better utilize oxygen vs fast twitch).

The TTS episode linked to by @janerney is worth listening to.

1 Like

lol it’s definitely extreme shorthand, but it’s a concept i remember from reading portions of Jan Olbrecht’s (sp?) book about swimming. That MLSS was not independent of the lactate-producing system(s) but rather partially determined by them. That every athlete has a lactate curve, and that it would be possible for an athlete’s curve to be “too high” for their event, in other words, they are too fast, and their resulting steady state is lower because they are making too much lactate; meaning, all else equal, if VlaMax goes up, FTP goes down. And that you might prescribe strategic workouts intended to lower Vlamax in preparation for an event with appropriate demands.

The INCSyd guys seem to be viewing it through the same lens. This is a podcast and transcript that explains their view: FTP, VO2max and VLaMax: what triathletes need to know with Sebastian Weber | EP#169

it’s partially a plug for the INCSyd software but i think the science stands on its own.

Your weightlifting example just jogged my memory. I remember reading a study taht basically determined, muscle confusion does not really do anything to advance your gains on specific lifts. But, beginner to intermediate lifters who followed the “muscle confusion” principle were more likely to consistently work out. Not because of some physiological voodoo, but just because they stayed more engaged.

So there WAS a benefit to it, for some people, you just had to look at it through the right lens.

That doesn’t seem like the explanation to me. Everything I have ever read/been taught says that you can’t easily change your fiber type, if at all.

I guess theoretically, at least if the only fate of lactate is oxidation?

If you buy that, though, then the only difference between riders A and B is in their rate of lactate production - but then what about Brooks’ lactate shuttle idea?

Well in Brook’s paper it says that above 75% of lactate production is dealt with via oxidisation and I imagine that this is a similar value between people. So the amount of lactate you produce and capacity to oxidise it still seem pretty critical to me in determining MLSS and performance.

Weber says in that podcast that the combination of V02 and VLa max determine 97% of your MLSS, not sure of his source but I think the basic takeaway is that these metrics matter a ton to performance.


it’s less an issue of changing fiber type in 8 or 12 or 16 weeks of training than it is of changing how the fibers respond – particularly the fast twitch ii a fibers. The ii a fibers can adapt to endurance or they can adapt to sprinting.

Sweet spot and threshold training is the key here – a lot of it lowers the VLAMax of the ii a fibers, which could be good if you’re Tony Martin, but bad if you’re Peter Sagan.

The short of it is train for the demands of your event. Too much sweet spot or threshold would reduce a MTB racers “punch” for 1-3 minute efforts. Not enough would get you dropped on a mountain climb.


HOW are we defining our max heart rate? Are we looking at the maximum that our heart rate achieved during the last 365 days? or during the last 30 days? are we doing a specific HRmax test every month? I’ve read that there are multiple protocols for measuring HRmax. I mean I did a crit back on a VERY HOT day in june of 2019. I had a nice performance but i got a scary high HR of 192…

but inside… even the most brutal TR workout hasn’t given me a HR above 185…

Based off a well rested ramp test where i always go to almost blacking out…which is the same number as 220-age (not accurate but good indicator) for me personally. I’m a heavy dude so for me whether it’s the exact number is less relevant out on the road as the terrain makes it vary ±5/10 beats around that 125 mark

1 Like

I go by my highest heart rate achieved in the year. Last time I hit it was during a race simulation group ride where I basically did an hour near threshold followed by a sprint at the end.

1 Like

The highest HR I’ve ever ( = last 35 years…) recorded was during a workout from SPB, cant remember which one. I support AJS914’s approach, maybe I’ll add one or two additional beats due to the Thunderstorm- or chased-by-a-rabid-dog-factor.

1 Like

I’ve finally started a block of Seiler style intervals. I picked 8 minute ones. I did three yesterday. That left me buzzing and energized yesterday evening and fatigued/sore today. My HRV was still high this morning.

I’m cutting base short. I did 7 weeks of high volume plus I did two months of easy riding in November/December. I think my base is pretty broad.

I’m going to do a block of these intervals and see what is does for my fitness. I’ll probably be a lower overall volume than usual. I’m also going to do maybe 3 weeks on “on” / 1 week of off and see how that goes.


For those that have done blocks of Seiler type intervals, I’m wondering if you had good results. What kind of gains?

I’ve done a few weeks of 3x8s - 3x10s. They are often working out to 10 minute intervals because of terrain. I’m going to take a rest week next and then bump it up to 4x8s.

These intervals have definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone but the more I do them the more I find it easier getting to 90%+ of HRmax and staying there. Even if they don’t push up my FTP, I do think they will help me pace these efforts better on group rides and in events.

I’ve also been debating whether I should try some Kolie Moore type FTP intervals. They would be easier and more doable. I could put more time in zone at a little lower intensity. The ultimate adaptations are probably very similar.

Could you translate that to standard interval speak?

Basically intervals at the power you could do for an hour. They are going to be just under threshold or right at it. Seiler 4x8s should be above threshold as they are all you can muster for 8 minutes.

Depends on your goals, and also the relationship between your MLSS and your “hour of power” test.

Do you have a specific plan and reason for each block of training, are you just doing polarized? Doing polarized represents a simple approach to raising vo2max (aerobic capacity). If you wanted to lower intensity a bit, and the work is really at threshold and a bit above, you might target say 3x12 or 4x12 for a total of 30-50 minutes work as opposed to the 16-24 minutes of work at much higher intensities (e.g. classic 3-5 minute vo2 intervals). Assuming you have 10 minute climbs, and want to stay focused on raising aerobic capacity, I’d be inclined to go shorter and do hard start intervals.

Taking the intensity below threshold (sweet spot and tempo) shifts the focus away from aerobic capacity and really works on reducing your glycolytic/anaerobic capacity. You can raise FTP via sweet spot just by lowering glycolytic capacity. Going long and increasing time-in-zone to hours is definitely something to target when doing sweet spot / tempo work.

Just a few ideas to consider.



Minimum duration stated on that podcast is “no less than 10 minutes.”

So if your terrain is turning your 4x8-min suprathreshold into 10 minutes, then I’m going back to what I said earlier:

on the assumption 10 minutes at a little lower intensity (and possibly gearing) would come out to 12 minutes.

And if your goal is to stay polarized (= work on aerobic capacity) then:

which I was thinking along the lines of 2x3-min hard start intervals per climb, again assuming your terrain involves a 10-minute climb.