In the newest episode of FitPro Foundations Podcast with host @karynsilenzi we have the pioneer of power in cycling, Hunter Allen (@hunterpeaks). Widely known as one of the top experts in the world in coaching endurance athletes using power meters, Hunter Allen’s goal has always been to teach athletes how to maximize their training and racing potential through analysis of power data. Hunter guides listeners through the history of the power revolution within cycling and ideas to spark the inspiration as to how fitpros can pursue new and exciting business models within the industry.

FitPro Foundations, hosted by Karyn Silenzi, presents: Back in 1990 Hunter Allen was presented with an opportunity that would change the face of cycling on a global scale. Through collaboration and innovation with other cycling coaches and exercise physiologists, the methodologies of racing and training in cycling was forever changed. Popular cycling training programs like USA Cycling, Zwift, and ICG are based off of training concepts from the work that Hunter Allen was instrumental in bringing to the public.

Learn More about Peaks Coaching Group – CLICK HERE. 

Topics Discussed in this Episode

  • The history of power data in cycling
  • Training and Racing with a Power Meter
  • Innovation & collaboration in the world of cycling
  • Opportunities for fitpros
  • Can training methodologies used with Pro-cyclists work with indoor cycling classes?
  • Commonly seen errors in completing FTP tests
  • Balancing physiological demands through cadence
  • What training with power will look like in 10 years
  • Opportunities to work with Hunter Allen

Karyn Silenzi 0:07  

Welcome to FitPro Foundations, the podcast where you’ll hear fitness professionals provide the ideas and the inspiration behind their success. My name is Karyn Silenzi, and today it is my pleasure to introduce the pioneer of power, Hunter Alan, legendary cycling coach, co-author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter, which has sold over 100,000 copies and is translated into eight languages, also co-developer of Training Peaks WKO software and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. Widely known as one of the top experts in the world in coaching endurance athletes using power meters Hunter Allen’s goal has always been to teach athletes how to maximize their training and racing potential through analysis of power data. This goes hand in hand with his philosophy, that power meters help athletes discover their true strengths and weaknesses, quantitatively assess their training improvements, and, ultimately, refine, and maximize the focus of their training, Hunter, welcome.

Hunter Allen  1:22  

Hey Karyn, I’m really glad to be here, thank you so much for having me on your podcast,

Karyn  1:28  

Yes! You know this is just such a thrill because I have to say that I have been reading your research, listening to your interviews, and applying your concepts for years. I see you being here today as a wonderful bridge between coaches that work with athletes in road racing and formalized training and bringing it into the indoor cycling world. So, can we start off with you providing a broad overview exactly of what it is that you do now?

Hunter  2:06  

Right now, I mean, the big piece of the puzzle for me is continuing to share my knowledge. And that’s has been my mission ever since I retired from Pro Cycling – was just to share all of the knowledge and experience that I’ve had over the years and hard-fought gains, and then make as many people as possible fast, fitter, and healthier and help them achieve their goals that I could. And, I continue with that. That’s definitely my mission, and, for me, that is wrapped into the cycling world. 

Now I’m doing a bunch of different things from coaching my own personal clients, we’ve got about eight personal clients, we’ve got 300 or so clients, with the Peaks Coaching Group and 50 coaches that work for us here. We also do cycling camps triathlon camps and we did a gravel cycling camp to the spring all the way to those just getting started in cycling. So it’s just the whole gamut from the world of coaching, which is incredibly satisfying.

Karyn  3:24  

So now the 50 coaches that you have, that are working with your Peaks Coaching Group, are you in direct oversight of them, or is it you give them the tools, you help assist in their knowledge, and then you let them go and build their business? how does that work?

Hunter  3:42  

Yeah, so what we’ve done is basically one of the things that I wanted to do when I created the Peaks Coaching Group was to create a collegial group of coaches, a place where coaches can come and ask questions and we can mentor each other, we can work together. And then at the same time also allow them to be coaches and not deal with the business right? So my coaches don’t really want to have to update their blogs or update their websites or figure out how to do Facebook ads, and all that stuff. They want to coach- that’s their passion. So we really handle all that admin, the back end marketing, and everything, and then even bring them clients. And so along the way they go through a very rigorous training process that I put them through. They have to become power certified to begin with. Through USA Cycling which myself and one of my coaches, Dr. Steven McGregor. McGregor, he and I teach for USA Cycling, but once they’ve done that, then they get through another eight-week class with me. And then I mentor them all along. After the first year or two, most coaches, they’re dialed in right. They know how to coach and so my goal has never been to create a bunch of mini me’s. My goal has been to empower them so that they can fly, principles of power training, but then also bring all their knowledge and their own expertise and their own personality to the table for their athletes and so that’s really how we work together,

Karyn  5:23  

That is so powerful. I love that you say this because I am a big believer that there is an exercise class and an exercise coach for every single individual out there – we don’t all want the same thing. So the fact that you are advocating that coaches don’t have to become mini Hunter Allens is wonderful. I mean, we’re all working on the basis of power, how to improve fitness, and how to grow our abilities over time but I think that there are individual ways to do that. 

So before we dive into what you have to offer coaches per se, let’s talk about the history behind why you’re called the Pioneer of Power.

Hunter  6:13  

Absolutely. It’s been a really fun, interesting journey. Back in 1999, one of my clients came to me and said “hey I’ve got a power meter, this newfangled training device, would you coach me with it?” And I said well “ I’ll try. You know, we never had power meters when I was a pro cyclist so I don’t really know but I’ll give it a shot”. 

And so he started sending me these spreadsheets of 300 Watts 1000 Watts 10 Watts, I had no idea, is this bad? What does this mean? So I realized really quickly that I better buy one of these myself and start training. So I bought a power meter and it was one of the original Power Tap hubs – this big, gray hub weighed about two pounds, and started training and started doing intervals and started even to race again because in order to really grasp and understand training with a power meter you really have to have that personal relationship with it. You need to know what it means for yourself so then you can relate, from your experiences to what your clients, athletes are doing as well. So we kind of fuddled along there for a little while and then USA Cycling had the first-ever power training course. It was really just a one-day clinic and Dr. Andy Coggan was there and Dr. Alan Lim was there and another coach, Dean Golich was there and they presented on what they knew about training with a power meter. The theme at the end of the day was kind of like, well, you got these amazing tools but there’s no good software to analyze this data. And so, my client, Kevin Williams, he said over lunch, “Hey you know what, I’m a computer programmer, we should just build the software”, and I was like, Really, he’s like “yeah that’s what I do, I can build software we can do this”. Wow, let’s do that.

So, we started building the software, we called it Cycling Peaks. We launched that on the world in 2003 thinking, well you know we’ll sell 100 copies or whatever and you know it’ll be fun and you know, people will like it, nice to know something. Well, we sold a lot of copies. They were like “wow, this was cool. I like this software thing.” 

And then along the way, Dr. Coggan had been helping us, really advising us on how to understand the data. And so, I had seen so many things in these trends and different pieces of the puzzle. And so I was asking him these questions. And saying “hey, is there a physiological reason behind what I’m seeing?” and he’d say yes or no or whatever. And so we came up with lots of really great concepts during that time like, training stress score normalized power, performance manager chart, all these principles that we use now, every day, Then we met with Joe Friel and Dirk Friel, his son, and they had a company called, after Joe Friel’s Cyclist’s Training Bible. And so we end up merging those two companies together. and Cycling Peaks ended up becoming Training Peaks Software. So that’s how the birth of Training Peaks came along. 

And then, Dr. Coggan and I just got tired of writing the same email and answering the same questions over and over so we said – well, let’s write a book. Answer these once and for all. Say go read the book, it’s on this page. So we wrote Training and Racing with a Power Meter and it was wildly successful and the second and third editions. And it’s become kind of the go-to book if you have a power meter.

Karyn 10:30  

I love this you are answering so many questions that I have wondered about for so long, I love this insight that you’re able to provide. So you and I have had this conversation before – you don’t get rich writing a book, and it’s a lot of work. And it’s an interesting process. So I really do see the fact that you and Dr. Coggan and working with Joe Friel, I see this as a service to the public. You gathered all of this information, you spent hours and hours of analysis on the data, and you come to this power training levels, I’ll call it. I won’t use zones because I know that there’s a lot of things that can impact your power during the day or during the training session or, etc. I see this as a real service that you’ve provided, to all of us enthusiasts that want to get better on the bike. So is that what inspired you to create the Peaks Coaching Group? Was just gathering all of this information and saying – we can help people become stronger, more efficient, and faster on the bike?

Hunter  11:50  

Absolutely, I mean, when I was a Pro and aspiring Pro, there were no coaches back in the 80s and early 90s. And so I really wanted a coach. I always thought, “Wow, this would be amazing to have somebody take me under their wing, who’s done this been there, learn the hard lessons, knows what to do, when to do it, and help me along”  and I felt like, personally I lost two years of just trial and error, hit and miss, and making this mistake and starting over again kind of training. And so when I retired from cycling, I felt like I really had an obligation to share that knowledge. I had been coaching a couple of local clients, even when I was a pro, and they’d been very successful, it was really exciting, and so I realized like, wow, you know, this knowledge isn’t out there and there’s nobody really sharing that. So for me, that’s really been the whole goal all along. I mean, I’m very fortunate to make a living from cycling and doing my passion. Not everybody can make a living from their passion. So I’m very, very thankful and fortunate. From that perspective, at the same time that’s a byproduct of feeling I want to just get the knowledge out there, share and help as many people as I can become better athletes, more successful, and hopefully that all translates to, happier lives and more successful in their own life, the rest of their life too.

Karyn 13:31  

I love this, and it’s really interesting that you found a way to balance serving others, and also being able to create a career and a legacy. I will say that you’ve created a legacy here because I teach on ICG bikes and we’ve got Coach by Color. When I first started teaching on ICG bikes – it was the ability to be able to speak to power targets and understand your efforts was just electrifying because in the past, working with other bikes, we’d have to be doing the mental math. You know, add on 10% of your FTP, drop 20% of your FTP, and it was really overwhelming.  So to be able to combine the physiological training with the visuals and the data capture is brilliant. I believe that this is how cycling training should be going forth because it is a very easy way of measuring your fitness, what were you able to do today compared to what you were able to do a year ago even.

Okay can we just go back, I’d like to address something you said just moments ago about not having a coach or mentor. You have achieved amazing results in cycling. So are you telling me that you were able to do this without someone guiding you? That there just weren’t any coaches available for individuals that perhaps weren’t a Tour rider?

Hunter 15:05  

Yeah, I mean, there really weren’t in the US there was really only Eddie B, who coached and directed a team at the time, So unless you were on the team you didn’t have the ability to talk to him. Joe Friel was doing a little coaching, but again he was kind of unreachable at the time and that was really it. I mean, it just, we just didn’t have, and we don’t, here in the United States and Canada, we just don’t have that incredible history of cycling that they have in Europe that comes from the club system. And so in Europe, I think that’s one of the reasons why European cyclists are so good is because a lot of them start when they’re five, six years old in a cycling club that has like a little racing aspect of it, and I was in Italy, two years ago and visiting the in Lake Como which is a beautiful place and went to the church of the cyclists which was incredible and then there’s museum up there on top of this mountain too as well, all the cycling paraphernalia over the years. It was on a Saturday morning and in the parking lot, there was a bike race for kids below the age of 10, and they all had these little bikes, and they’re all like crazy Pinarellos and Colnagos, and they’re racing their bicycles and girls and boys and it’s like, this is amazing. They had the dads out there and they have their club coaches and so I think that’s really the thing that we just don’t have here in North America, is that theater system. We don’t have a way of bringing people into cycling so much or triathlon or whatever it is, like, like Europe does or like the way we do with soccer or American football or basketball or hockey, you can start playing ice hockey when you’re three!

Karyn 17:14  

It’s true. So do you see a way of changing that? I mean, obviously what you’ve already done has changed the face of cycling globally. How do you see a way of bringing in younger athletes at a younger age here in North America? Because I agree with you. I’ve cycled over in Spain and in France, and throughout Europe. It’s just a different field, Number one, they’re much more accepting of cyclists there, and number two, you’re right, it starts at a much younger age, and it’s part of their culture.

Hunter  17:51  

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that the biggest thing that we can do – and I was on the committee at USA Cycling for many years as a representative of coaches, and one of the things that I really pushed hard was, is how do we create a beginner racer program? And how do we bring people through the process of learning how to become a racer, or learning how to improve in a way that makes them a safer cyclist, that makes them have more fun, it keeps them in it. 

And I think cycling, here in North America, we even joke about it. Well, the CEO at USA Cycling at the time, we talked about it and he said It’s the one and done. They come to a bicycle race, and then they go get registered nobody says hello to them. They pin their number on, and then they go back to their car, and still, nobody says hello to them. They go to the race, and then they’re in the race and everybody’s yelling at them “Hold your line you, blah blah blah”, and then they get dropped, and they’re like “I’m going to go home and never come back to a bike race ever again”. Because that’s where if you had to you know like – okay well I’ve never done a bike race before, we have to come to three clinics and learn how to become a bike racer or learn how to become a triathlete. And I think that would be really powerful because then you could take people in a parking lot, teach them cornering skills and teach them what it’s like to bump elbows, and teach them where and how to go around a turn safely and all these different aspects of cycling that they just kind of have to learn on your own. So we still have a lot of work to do in this area to really bring more people into the sport, from that perspective is so

Karyn 19:55  

So powerful. And, you know, I’m just seeing all of these business ideas and opportunities coming out of this discussion, I want to jump back into something that you said which is very near and dear to my heart. So, first of all, way back in the 90s you were presented with an opportunity, and through your work and collaboration with others, you were able to create a system that cyclists across the globe use now. So, this is so powerful to me because I am all about collaboration and innovation. And I love the fact that it’s leaders like yourself that identified opportunities like this and created something – so first of all, thank you. 

Secondly, you continue to talk about the fact that, I mean, our physiology is as unique as our fingerprints. And I love the fact that whether you’re having a good day or a bad day when you’re looking at the data you’re talking about perceived rates of exertion, you’re talking about heart rate, you’re talking about power numbers, and realizing that that information can change on a daily basis depending on if you’re getting sick, or how well you ate that week, or how much sleep you got over the past few nights. I think that this is really important to help people understand that, everything is always shifting. Nothing is absolutely set in stone. But through proper coaching and information and education, you can help them get to their target so that’s the second thing I want to say. 

And the fact that you’ve mentioned you felt you had an obligation to give this information out to people, and again I come back to this serving the public because I think that you’ve done an amazing job of this. I mean, we look at the Zwift right now. Zwift is based on the concepts that you and Dr. Coggan brought to the public, so many years ago. I don’t quite know that people thoroughly understand the impact that you had on the industry. I’m just getting all fan girl here because I love the work that you do and I just want to spread it to the world. 

So, this is amazing, the way that you’re shaping ideas for others and I do say that you’re shaping ideas for others because if we look at – you’ve worked with Tour de France winners and gold medalists in the Olympics. You have literally helped riders achieve national and world championships. Do you see that there is a way that current indoor cycling instructors can take even snippets of the work that you’ve done with these world-class riders and apply them in indoor cycling classes?

Hunter  23:04  

Yeah, Well, one of the things that I think that has come out of these principles of power training and again it wasn’t really our intention to create this system, so to speak. It was like, how do you use the power meter and, it was like “Okay, well step one, step two, step three, step four, step five”, and all of a sudden, wrote a book on all those steps and what to do and that ended up becoming this system. And at the same time, it became very effective because it can be repeatable. It was very objective that, as you mentioned earlier, we have a way to quantify our fitness improvements. It’s not just like, well here’s your heart rate, and your heart rate on this class went up to 155 and it stayed there for 40 minutes. And then the next class it hit 157 and stayed there for 40 minutes. Well, does that make you better, fitter, what does that mean? 

No, that means your heart just pumped a little faster the second time than it did the first time. It doesn’t have anything to do with how much work you did, how much sweat, or, anything like that. So quantifying the data and really understanding like okay, here’s where I am. If I start out and my functional threshold power is 200 Watts and after six to eight weeks of training moves to 20, you’re fitter.  I don’t care what your heart rate is, I don’t care how much you sweat or any of that stuff – you can do more work now. 

And that means your fitness is higher. Cardiovascular fitness, your metabolic fitness, your muscular, everything in your body. You are fitter, and as consequence, I would argue healthier. So part of that, and bringing that into the indoor world, and bringing all these principles to the indoor world is basically the same thing that we do in the outdoor world where we have to understand what is our baseline, where do we start from, so we have to do testing. And once we do that testing, and that’s where we establish our functional threshold power is our number one is the direct determinant of performance, once we establish that then we can build the training levels or zones around that. I love how you said training levels earlier in the conversation. 

And I’ll just kind of clarify that the idea of training zones, is that zones are very discrete. It’s like, okay from exactly 75% and below of your FTP, you’re in endurance. But at 76%, you now are in this whole different Zone. You know, there’s really no switch, right? It’s kind of a rainbow. It’s a continuum of colors here. And that’s why we call them levels, You can call them zones or levels, whatever you feel comfortable with. But really levels imply the fact that it changes, and it’s not the discreet thing. So I love that. So understanding where your functional threshold power is and then defining those training levels from that is really incredibly helpful for you to understand, how do I improve and where should I train to improve. Right? 

So, that was the thing that’s really changed Karyn, over the years is that we used to train before we had a power meter and we didn’t really know, are we training our aerobic capacity system? Or are we training our functional threshold power? Or the lactate threshold in our blood, is that increasing or not increasing? And now, having this quantifiable power meter on your bike indoor bike, outdoor bike wherever it is, and understanding where your FTP is, you can almost guarantee that like, Well, gosh, if you ride at 115% of your FTP, your training your VO2 max. You’re going to improve the volume of oxygen that you can take in and get that into your working muscles. And so that is really exciting because we’ve never had that before. So taking that into the indoor world is really the magic, because then it allows anybody on an indoor bike whether you’re on Zwift, whether you’re in a class with ICG bikes or whatever, wherever you are, your home on your other indoor bike – whatever, you can train, in a way that you guarantee, I’m doing the right thing if that makes sense.

Karyn  28:22  

Profound! And you’re preaching to the choir with me, definitely. 

There’s a bit of a debate in the world of indoor cycling as it relates to fitness clubs and facilities right now. In one camp there are riders that base intensity by feel alone. They want to have fun, and they have no interest in any of the data. Whereas on the other hand, you have riders that want to be able to measure and track their efforts and consistently are showing up to improve their abilities on the bike. They have fun but it’s a very different kind of fun. The belief by some is that indoor cycling is either fun or driven by data. And my response is always the same. Why can’t it be both? 

When people create these dichotomies, where it can only be one without elements of the other. That’s where we run into trouble with all of the tools and the incredible bikes that we have with the hundreds, if not 1000s of hours of research that you and others have done, we can have both fun and performance. This book that we are working on together, yourself, me, and Brian, to bring the two worlds of fun and functional indoor training together will hopefully serve both camps and put to rest this debate. As I believe we are doing our members and ourselves a disservice by suggesting that people are coming to the gym just for fun. They want fitness in one form or another. 

Do you see that there are any concepts that wouldn’t translate well from the work that you do with racers or individuals looking to improve their fitness and the indoor world?

Hunter  30:11  

Right. Um, that’s a great question, because when you train for racing or let’s say you’re doing a grand fondo or doing something else, you’re trained for a variety of conditions. Both environmental, also terrain, and then you’re dealing with all kinds of being on a bicycle out in the world. You got to pedal, balance, etc, eat, drink. When we bring that indoors, one, there aren’t quite as many demands on the body from that perspective. You’re typically not riding as long. I mean, you’re probably not doing a five-hour indoor session. Some people do. 

So when you think of it from that perspective, riding outdoors we need to have a larger overall or encompassing level of fitness, then is not as necessary for indoors. So for example, sprinting. I mean, we do all kinds of sprints outside, it’s just something we do. We sprint for town lines, we sprint against each other, we sprint. You know, maximal efforts for five to 15 seconds thrashing your bike back and forth, etc. And we just don’t do that indoors, right? We just don’t end up doing that indoors. So, do you need to do that to be fit? I would argue that you need to be a great sprinter to fit. It’s just not part of what I would consider fitness and health and etc. I mean, it’s just some additional fun. 

Now coming to FTP, you know outdoors it’s not easy. It’s easier for me to get on that bike and just go for it for an hour. It is way easier to do that on a bicycle outdoors, to go at your limit for an hour than is indoors. I mean, it just is. And I mean, it’s still not easy – and that’s why I came up with that shortcut of a 20-minute test, and really that’s all that is. The 20-minute test is just a shortcut. And you have to do the five-minute test before it because that fatigues you a little bit to help make your 20-minute more realistic to what you would do for an hour. A lot of people forget that. “Oh gosh, I gotta do the five-minute test first” Yes you have to do the five-minute test first.

Karyn 32:58  

Or they really don’t go as hard as they should, in the five minutes prior to the 20-minute test. They might do it but they’re not going all out.

Hunter  33:08  

Right, exactly, exactly. But I think that’s why I get asked a lot from people who are riding indoors. Like, “do I HAVE to do the 20-minute test? Can I do a five-minute test and we figure out what my FTP is? 

And I’m like, No, not really, that 20 minutes is kind of the minimum you need to do. I mean, because five minutes is so short that if you’re very talented anaerobically, meaning that you can produce a lot of power for a short period of time, one to two minutes or so, and you kill it for two minutes anaerobically, that is going to skew your five-minute number, really, really, high. And if you took a percentage off that – 85% off of five minutes, but then you really tried to go for an hour, you’d be, pretty shocked at how low the actual power number held was. So I think that you just have to say, “You know what, I’m going to do it. I’ve got to do the 20-minute test, and I’m going to do it, and I just need to do it.” 

That’s tough for beginners. That’s really tough for beginners. So I think that concept is a challenge for people who are new to fitness.

Karyn  34:39  

It’s funny that you say that. So there’s a couple of things. Yes, fractional utilization. When we’re looking at individuals that do a lot of indoor cycling classes, I always say that people in indoor cycling classes are really good at going hard for about three and a half minutes, because that is the length of the typical radio play song. When you’ve got instructors that are like “Alright we’re just going to totally kill it for the next song”, well, yeah, we’re training our people to go really hard for a short period of time. 

Whereas, if this concept of training with FTP and sub-threshold or even at threshold, where you can extend those periods out, this takes time to teach the body. If all you’ve ever done is go really hard for three and a half minutes, take a break, go really hard for three and a half minutes, take a break, etc. I love that you’re saying this. And whenever I do FTP testing in my classes, everyone’s really excited to do the five-minute test. The 20-minute test – oh, there are so many excuses and people not showing up. Because it IS harder. 

You have to teach them about different pacing styles and teach them about finding that ‘just over FTP’ that you can hold. It’s fascinating. And I love that you recognize that this is a challenge as well. And yeah, when I try to do the five-minute all-out before the 20-minute test in my classes, I can tell people are not going all out. They’re holding back because they want that FTP number to be higher, it’s a point of pride or ego, right? “What’s your FTP?” so funny, this mindset that we get. 

So would you say that, and this is going into some of the questions that some of our indoor cycling instructors had asked me to ask you, would you say that that’s one of the common mistakes that you see when people are testing their FTP is that they fail to do that five-minute test before the 20-minute test or that they’re not going all out?

Hunter  36:50  

Yeah, absolutely, and like you said, you really have to go all out. What does that mean? So let’s make that really clear so people understand what that means. So, we’ll just back up just a little bit. FTP is important, and then what we do is we came up with this thing called the power profile. And that was a test of four different time periods in order to assess all of your four major energy systems. So we did the 60-minute test, for the FTP, we did five minutes test to test your VO2 Max ability. We did a one-minute test to test your anaerobic capacity, and we do a 15-second sprint to figure out what’s called your neuromuscular power. That has been ubiquitous, since we came out with our book and started talking about the power profile. And then 2000 to 2003 everybody does that. And that’s a really important thing, because you need to know, what are my strengths and weaknesses. Not just like “where’s my FTP and where’s my baseline?”, but WHAT are my strengths and weaknesses. Is my anaerobic capacity a weakness, strength, etc? So you got to figure that out. 

In that process, we do the five-minute test, and you have to pace yourself when you’re doing your power profile five-minute test, meaning you go and ride above your FTP, you need to prove yourself so you don’t just explode at minute three, and end up barely finishing your test or having to stop pedaling. 

Now, that is very different than when you do a standalone I’m going to test my 20 minutes, and I need to do this five-minute all-out effort beforehand to reduce your anaerobic work capacity, your ability to work really hard for a short period of time. We’re just trying to get rid of some of the freshness out of your legs and fatigue you. So, that five minute needs to be much harder than you would do in your power profile five-minute tests. But what does that mean, I’m going to go as hard as I can, and then I’m going to die 1000 deaths in the last minute.

Karyn  39:24  

I love the descriptive, yes, it’s true if you’ve ever been there, you know, you just know. Yeah,

Hunter  39:31  

Yeah, so that’s critical because then you’ve completely exhausted the anaerobic capacity system, which was the goal of the five-minute blowout, all-out effort before the 20 minutes. You need to take not a lot of rest between the five minutes test and the 20-minute test. Absolutely not. 

And people are complaining all the time. “I’m not recovered from the five-minute effort”. GOOD. You shouldn’t be. So that means it works in that and the reason we do again is because we need to pre-fatigue the muscles. Pre fatigue the anaerobic system so it doesn’t play so much of a role in a 20-minute test. At the end of the 20-minute test, when you’ve got your number, say 200 Watts, you subtract 5% from that number. Okay, What’s 5% of 200 watts? My FTP is 190 watts. That’s about what you would probably do for 60 minutes. 

It’s a point of triangulation if you really want to know what you do for 60 minutes, you just got to do 60 minutes.

Karyn  40:51  

And I have done a few 60-minute tests inside on my bike on the trainer – and those last seven minutes are hell, they’re horrible. You’re just hanging on because you can just see the finish line, it’s like, “I can do this, but I don’t want to do this”. Oh, yes. and it’s interesting because my 60-minute results were very closely related to my 20-minute factor calculation – not so close to my five-minute FTP number because I am one of those people where, yeah I would rather go hard for shorter. As you say, it was really good because it helped me to identify the areas that I needed to work on and I was like, “Yep, I need to do a little bit more aerobic development, because, obviously, I enjoy going hard for short periods of time, not so much longer, right?

Hunter 41:49  

But that also probably speaks to your strengths too. You might just have a really strong anaerobic ability.

Karyn  41:58  

And this is really interesting as well because, in your book, 

 You’ve got outlines of what people can do for training for the short events, the prologues, the long events, the centuries. I mean, there are cycling activities for every single person once they’re able to identify what their unique powers are. 

So this is really good because this ties in with one of the questions that was asked, ‘what’s another mistake that you might see when people are testing their FTP?’. So we’ve got, they’re not doing that five minute all out, what else do you see as a common mistake?

Hunter 42:43  

So cadence is a big deal. So a lot of people will go to the extremes in cadence, and I think that’s on either side, like okay, they’ll pedal at 120 RPM or they pedal it 60 rpm. So let’s kind of talk about what the difference is, and why people gravitate towards those different areas, and why we need to kind of take the middle road as well. 

So 60 RPM is going to stress your muscular system more. You’re going to use your strength, pure strength like, okay I’m lifting weights, You know the strength of the muscles to help push on the pedals, so it takes away from the stress of the cardiovascular system. And so there are times when you might want to do that – let’s say for example if you’re a bike racer. I used to coach really, one of the best pro cyclists in the United States, and he would, in the last five to six laps of a criterium, he would pedal at a really slow RPM. Because he reduced his cardiovascular load, and he had big strong muscles to do it, and it didn’t take away from his sprint in the end, very smart tactic. 

But for most of us, where they pedal at 60 RPM especially indoors, we’re putting a lot of stress on your knees, which is just not good long term, and then you’re not really testing the stuff that we need to see, we want to see. Where is your cardiovascular function, how good is this energy system work? Because that again, that’s back to kind of like why I’m doing this. Because I want to be fitter, healthier and lose weight, feel better, do whatever those goals are for you. You know, that’s a big part of it. 

So let’s go to the other extreme, 120 rpm. These people typically don’t have a lot of strength. Yeah, they may already be really thin, and they may have very thin muscles, and so they can’t push on the pedals hard because they don’t have the strength to do that, but they have the cardiovascular ability to do it. And so, they sit, they shift the system away from the muscular side over to the cardiovascular side and say ‘okay I’m going to let my heart and lungs take this load, and I’m going to be here and pedal like crazy, so I can keep going here’. So that’s okay but then that doesn’t help us with kind of what can we see what the muscular piece is doing as well. 

So read back to the middle. And I would say anywhere between 85 and 95 RPM is a fine place to be. And that is a really great test of both, because now you’re balancing the load on your cardiovascular system, you’re balancing the load on your muscular system, you’re taking the stress off your knees, instead of pushing up the gear, and you’re not going to kind of extreme stress in your cardiovascular system by pedaling 120 RPM. 

So see if you can find that place, be there, and maybe especially if you’re new to indoor cycling. See if you can find that place. It will take a little time to get there, but your natural tendency is to kind of probably pedal 75-80. Let’s get you up to 85. What can get you to 90? And then you’re now balanced mechanically and cardiovascularly, which is really critical.

Karyn 46:52  

I hold the exact same opinion I call it the Goldilocks, of cadence because you want to balance that musculoskeletal issue and the cardiovascular issue. And also when you’re going at those really slow powerful pedal strokes you, you’ve got that high torque on all of the joints, and you’re also utilizing those fast-twitch muscles, even though your legs are moving slow, it is fast-twitch and you’re burning up a lot more glycogen than if you were simply to balance out that load. 

Oh, I love it and I’m so glad that you address that. Thank you, nice. Let’s jump into the differences between warming up for long, outdoor training sessions and warming up for a short 45-minute indoor cycling session. Obviously, we can’t spend 10-15 minutes in the lower levels below 60% FTP, what would your recommendations be for indoor cycling instructors, as to how that they should format, their warm-ups? And I know I’m kind of putting you on the spot here, because it’s tricky, right, because depending on the type of profile that you have planned for that day – I mean if we’re doing high-intensity interval training, we need to create some of those, I call them primers, fairly soon into the workout, so that we can actually get the work done, and be ready for it.

Hunter 48:35  

Yeah, that’s a challenge because you don’t have a lot of time for an hour class, you need to get two systems warmed up your cardiovascular system, and your muscular system. And then you need to get into the work and just go. And then you need to cool down really quickly as well so I think that, ideally, okay, that five or 10 minutes before you would get to class early and you would do a little stretching first. Okay, and basic stuff, I mean, stretch your quads, touch your toes, stretch the hamstrings out, stretch your calf muscles, stretch the hips a little bit, open up the legs a little bit – from just that perspective if you can do that, that would be really great. 

Now if you’re rushed and you run into class and you’re there right at start time and boom it’s GO, then from an instructor standpoint, we’re there. And I think that if all you had was 10 minutes to warm up, then it really is the first three or four minutes, just pedaling, and then I would, I mean this is kind of the warm-up that I give for my athletes preparing for a race or preparing for her intervals. I have them do fast pedaling first. I have them pedal at 110 to 120 RPM for a minute, with low force. So don’t dial the knob down too much, and the reason being is because now we’re putting a load cardiovascularly on the system. So we’re raising the heart rate. We’re not putting a load muscularly, so we’re not taking away from the strength of the muscle that needs to be used in the workout itself. And then at the same time, it warms the muscle up, and it gets the cardiovascular system going. So I decided to do three of them, three times one minute. 

One minute 120 RPM, one minute 80 RPM  low force. And then if you have a little more time, then I would say what you should do a ramp for three minutes. Where you start for minutes zero to one, is at tempo pace let’s say 80% of FTP, then minute one to two is now at about 90% what we call your sweet spot. And then minutes two to three are right at your FTP. And so it’s an easy ramp to do, it’s three minutes. It gets both the heart rate up and it also gets some work on the muscles, take a minute break and easier, minute, minute or two break, and then boom, go into the workout. Because that way you’ve got both the muscular side and the cardiovascular side, they’re warmed up ready to go.

Karyn  51:48  

Oh, fantastic so, I was doing the mental math in my head about how long it would take to get through that. So you could accomplish that in Seven minutes where you’re doing the alternating fast feet the soft quick spin, and then ending with a ramp, where you’re hitting, I mean, you talked about hitting threshold. 

Now if you were going to be doing a training session where you’re focused on doing VO2 Max repeats, would you then include at the end of that ramp, a couple of short primers where they’re hitting those power targets but just for short periods of time just to get the body ready?

Hunter 52:29  

I think you can definitely do that, I don’t think it would be absolutely necessary. I think that you can certainly do that – it might be less of a shock to the system. By doing those little short primers. 

Karyn 52:51  

You know because it’s always going to be a shock right and…

Hunter 52:53  

I mean, both of us, we’ve been riding bicycles, indoors now for many years it’s still a shock. Yeah, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it, it’s still gonna feel the same way. And I think, Karyn, the other thing is we expect it and we know that it’s going to feel that way. And so maybe that’s kind of the expectation – that maybe it’s an indoor instructor, you ought to set it and say “hey look, you know, we’re going to these first couple intervals, they’re gonna hurt. That’s normal. That’s okay. They hurt, they do for everybody”, it’s going to be a shock, and let people know that it’s not just like, “oh wow, I feel like I’m about to fall over here, just because it’s me and I’m having a bad day”. No, it’s just normal.

Karyn 53:44  

I love this Hunter I’m going to have to send this recording to all of the people in my classes because they always joke, they’re like, “You’re the worst pep talker ever because you say this is gonna hurt, and that’s just how it feels, get over it”. Gosh, you are making me feel so validated right now. I love it I love it I love it. It’s great. That’s great. So, quick question, where do you see the area of training with power in 10 years’ time.

Hunter 54:12  

Oh wow, that’s a good one too. Don’t take this wrong and certainly, people are listening, don’t take this wrong either. I hope it’s not about training with power, you know? I’m incredibly flattered, or incredibly excited that when we started this journey – that was 21 years ago. If you’d asked me 21 years later, would I still be talking about this stuff, I ‘d think you were nuts.

I didn’t anticipate the revolution that came, and how it completely changed the whole world of cycling. I did not think that that was going to occur. I’m incredibly pleased, I’m very, very happy that it has – not just because I need that validation or whatever. It’s because it means that it’s really helped a lot of people and it works! And that to me is really exciting.

In 10 years from now, if we’re still talking about power training, I’m sure I probably will be anyways. But I hope there’s other cool stuff coming out. I hope that this tech continues to evolve. I hope that we’re seeing new things. I mean, I’m doing work with a company right now – we’re looking at a bunch of different respiration rate metrics, we’ve got a really cool prototype strap that measures all kinds of things that happen from a respiratory perspective, that nobody else is doing. I worked with Leomo, a company in Japan for four years to start working on motion analysis and what’s happening with your body as you move through space on a bicycle or even in running. So, I’m really hopeful that we’ll see other things that come about, that are, just as exciting. I don’t know, is there another revolution out there in training? Maybe so, hopefully so, I don’t know, maybe not.

Karyn 56:32  

Well, I have confidence that if there is, you are going to be a part of it. And keep up this collaboration and this innovation because this is what changes things on a global scale. And if you can be part of that, I will follow it till the day I die, because I absolutely am just so pleased with what you have brought to fitness enthusiasts and cyclists and people that have been racing for years. 

It’s funny, because my husband used to race – back, way back, way, way back. And he had never had a power meter.  I bought a power meter and I said “you should try out my power meter” and he was like, “I don’t want to know. I spent so many years of my life, focused on getting to certain levels of achievement. I just want to ride my bike, and have fun”. 

And then he started taking my bike out. And then he started taking my pedals off of my bike. I mean I would come home some days and my pedals would be off my bike and his bike would be gone, so I just ended up buying him his own. Once he saw how amazing this data was, he wanted to know more, and I think that’s what’s so powerful about what you’ve done. 

You’ve created a system that people can actually visually see that they’re getting fitter or the areas that they have to work on, and I just love that because I see that fitting in so nicely with indoor cyclists and being able to become better. I would like to be able to show indoor cycling instructors that there are options for them. They have got more options than just sitting and teaching the same 50 people every week after week after week. 

Tell us a little bit about the power training certification program that you have designed and I think you’ve got one coming up, don’t you?

Hunter 58:35  

I do. I have one June coming up and it’s, it is a really fun course to teach. It’s eight sessions, and then you do two one on one meetings with me afterward, and each session takes you through the steps of power training, all the way from the beginning all the way to the end. We even have a class just on the different power meters themselves and how they measure, so you understand the mechanics of what your tool is doing. 

And then we go in-depth in the analysis piece as well. We have two sessions where we just look at data, and I explained what does this mean, what does the shape of this squiggly line mean,  ‘oh this shape has a meaning’. Yes, it does. 

Then we have a whole session on some of the latest advancements that have come out, with some new things here in the past few years, that continue to push it forward – which is a lot of fun. And as we learn more as software gets better. We have more computing power, so that’s allowed us to come up with some other new exciting metrics, and, and then in the end, you leave you’d have to prove that you can analyze data, and you understand power.

To me, that’s part of the task of your certification course, so you’ve got to really understand what is what, how to use this computer program, what am I doing here, what just happened, what is happening with this athlete, what should I do with them. 

And then we have the last session, it’s just another one on one with me, and we go over whatever you want to go over any, any topic in the whole class, we go over. That way you get all the answers to all your questions. And so it’s a lot of fun. 

I’ve been teaching it for years now and still really really enjoyed teaching it ends up being a small class probably anywhere from six to 15 Folks, and we find a mutual time that everybody can be on there, and it just depends on the class. I just finished teaching taught on a Friday morning at 7am, but because I had eight people from Hong Kong in there, and that would be Friday evening it’s 7pm for them and they’re like, “We want to be Friday evening at 7pm”. Okay, I’ll teach you 7am Friday morning.

Karyn 1:01:17  

Fantastic. So, this is 7 90-minute training webinars but the webinars are not pre-recorded, they’re live. Oh that’s so powerful. Now, have you ever run these types of certification programs in person, and has this shift to virtual delivery, is it in response to people being global or COVID? Or is it just always the way it’s been?

Hunter 1:01:46  

No I’m teaching in person. So, again, my coaches, Dr. McGregor, he and I – Well, Dr. Coggan and I used to teach it. I mean, we started teaching these together back in 2005 for USA Cycling and USA Triathlon. And then he doesn’t travel so much anymore, so then Steve started doing it. Steven, I’ve taught with him for years, for USA Cycling, all around the country, and around the world. We have taught this class in South Africa, New Zealand. I’ve been to Canada a few times I’ve ended up all over the place, teaching the same exact class, so yeah, I’m happy to go and teach it, anywhere in the world. And I can do it, we can basically get everything done in two days, around two and a half days, it’s kind of a half-day Friday afternoon thing. And then Saturday, Sunday. But yeah, absolutely.

Karyn 1:02:53  

What a wonderful opportunity. And so, you would get a CECs for USA Cycling. And do you see that there’s a potential to get ACE or ACSM credits? Appealing to individuals that perhaps have those fitness certifications.

Hunter 1:03:15  

I think that would be a really great thing. I’ve never done that before, but you know I think that shouldn’t be too hard, I’m going to figure out exactly what needs to be done to make that happen, and, and do it. 

Karyn 1:03:31  

Yeah, well come talk to me about Canada because I do that with the National Certification Program here in Canada. I’m one of their PRO TRAINERS so when it comes to getting courses, accredited in Canada, we can tick all of the boxes – we get to learn from you, we get to go really in-depth into the WTO software, advanced analysis tracking, and then get a one on one session get two one on one sessions with you. This is wonderful. What is the date of the next one you said June 10? 


Ah, gosh, I don’t know to be honest. Let me, let me look at my…

Karyn 103:54

It’s spring riding. I’m the same way. It’s like my calendar goes out the door as soon as it’s warm enough to start riding outside, everything else gets put on hold. It’s like it’s good weather, I’m going out today! 

So it is June 10. Okay what I’ll do is I’ll put the links into the show notes so that anyone who’s listening has an opportunity to read up on that, and also see how it is that they could register for this course. 

Gosh, I feel so fortunate to spend all this time chatting with you and I recognize that your time is incredibly precious, so I don’t want to take up too much more time, but could you leave us with one final piece of advice that you have for individuals that love indoor cycling, and that want to take their own personal business forward into new opportunities?

Hunter 1:05:12  

I think that the number one thing that I would share with those folks is that sticking to a system and believing in it from a perspective of, it’s an endurance sport – and there’s nothing about the word endurance that it isn’t. It is. It takes time to get fit. It takes the workouts, the intervals are long, the workouts can be long. It takes perseverance in your business too, to make them happen as well. 

So, remind yourself and instructors that, we’re definitely an endurance sport. So don’t expect like “wow, all of my students are going to be fit overnight”, and then “My business is going to take off overnight”. You have to remember that it just takes time. And take that into your classes too, and let your students know that. “Okay, look, if you show up here once a week, you’re not going to really gain the benefits that you need to gain. You need to be here and then it’s going to take six to eight weeks for it to really make a difference for you. It’s not going to happen overnight”. It’s an endurance sport so hopefully, that helps.

Karyn 1:06:59  

Oh, brilliant I absolutely agree. And, you know the good things do take time. I think people are willing to put in the time and the effort, as long as they know that it will eventually get somewhere, and consistency compounds. 

So I absolutely agree. And your Endurance Summit? I just want to drop a little note about your Endurance Summit. So every year you gather a number of brilliant speakers, and physiologists, and coaches, and you come together to provide education for the masses. Will you be doing that again in 20, what year are we in? 2021?

Hunter 1:07:44  

You know it’s not on this calendar for this year. 2022 is definitely where we’re planning for. So that’s the goal.

Karyn 1:07:52  

Excellent. I look forward to that because I love attending and listening to that. Keep doing all of the amazing things that you are doing because it is paying off. 

So, with that I would just like to say, you’ve talked about the importance of being a mentor and having a mentor, you’ve talked about the ability and the impact that coaches can have on athletes lives and getting them started early, and also getting them just exposed to the opportunities that there are out there for cyclists or people that are interested in becoming outdoor cyclists. You’ve shown a great service to the world of indoor and outdoor cyclists, for which we want to thank you, for spreading that information. And there’s an opportunity to do more with you, June 10 is your next course. So I’m going to put those notes up, then the links up in the notes. And again, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to continue to spread this amazing information. 

Hunter 1:08:26

Thank you, glad to be here, so so fun to share. Excellent. 

Karyn 1:08:30

And, you know, Maybe they’ll be a part two in the future. 

Hunter 1:08:32

Good. Wonderful.

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