Empirical Cycling Podcast

Empirical Cycling

Do you want to know how training makes you faster? Listen in. Kolie is a leading expert in endurance, sprint, and strength training for cyclists. Kyle is a NASA scientist and national champion sprinter on the track.

Empirical Cycling is a coaching company specializing in individualized training plans for all cycling disciplines. If you like the podcast, please consider a donation at http://www.empiricalcycling.com/donate.html

All Episodes

Kolie and new Empirical Cycling coach Cory sit down for a discussion on previous coaching relationships, cultivating new ones, training and racing experience, and coaching red flags. They also get into Cory's motocross experience, technical aspects of criterium bike setup, and the difficulties of Zwift racing while living in a car.

Nov 30

1 hr 18 min

This episode takes a bird's eye view on periodizing strength training in your season including adaptation, hypertrophy, strength, maintenance if needed, and even more specific periodization suggestions for lifting into the season. How and when one might plan these phases, how long they would last, and other tangents such as single leg specific phases, deadlift choice, and a bonus rant on whether or not you should do plyometrics for cycling.

Nov 25

1 hr 17 min

Podcast listeners voted on our topic to celebrate 200k listens! In this purely editorial episode, we list our top 5 best and worst workouts, discuss what makes them good or bad, and how one might fix them. On the lists are ramp tests, group rides, using FTP as an anchor intensity, all out efforts, and many more.

Nov 22

1 hr 8 min

If you've ever thought about using the ketogenic diet for cycling, you may want to listen in. We look at a pair of modern classic studies that compare traditional high carbohydrate diets to periodized low carb and keto. This includes a study with, and a study without a carbohydrate re-adaptation period.​

Nov 15

53 min 40 sec

Wonder how many reps to do in the gym? How many sets? This episode will help. We discuss typical set and rep ranges, how good they are for strength, hypertrophy, or maintenance, as well as in the context of periodization.

Nov 10

55 min 58 sec

This discussion focuses on cyclists choosing exercises for strength training, and the hosts mostly stay on track. Topics included are high and low bar back squats vs front squat, lifting shoes, injury concerns, weight belts, and the bilateral deficit.

Nov 3

1 hr 3 min

Kolie and Kyle let their quads out in this wide ranging discussion of pointers for cyclists going into the gym for strength training. Topics touched on are gym basics, the importance of technique, weight progression, range of motion, functional training, RPE, 1 rep max testing, and easy gym days (deloading).

Oct 26

1 hr 15 min

Patrick Smith joins Kolie for a conversation about how to not accidentally rickroll yourself. Included are the usefulness of rigid rules in training and racing, goals vs. values, dealing with disappointment, and why common psychological evaluations don't work with athletes.

Oct 19

1 hr 46 min

In this episode Kolie asks Empirical Cycling coach Alex Carmona and coach Taylor Warren about their first full season racing USA Crits. We discuss highs and lows, the importance of cornering and positioning, and working up the USA Crits team pecking order. Alex and Taylor also put on their coach hats and go in depth about managing fitness and fatigue in a season, having a "fitness reservoir," hot takes on warmups, and tire widths and pressures.

Oct 9

1 hr 15 min

We look deeper into how the body chooses to use carbohydrates and fats, and specifically when and how carbohydrates inhibit fat oxidation. This serves as a jumping off point to take a critical look at VLamax and how it may, or may not, affect your FTP.

Sep 27

1 hr 11 min

What does it really mean to burn something aerobically? This episode concludes the first phase of this series by looking at both the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain, and putting them in perspective. In what way is burning fats or carbs aerobic, and how aerobically different are they from each other?

Aug 3

48 min 41 sec

In this episode we answer questions asked on Instagram and r/velo. The podcast isn't dead!

Jul 14

55 min 19 sec

This is a wide ranging conversation with Empirical Cycling coach Dr. Fabiano Araujo. We discuss the immune system, inflammation, when you can and can't train when sick, nutrition strategies, and much more.

May 10

1 hr 3 min

This episode starts by looking at the chemical mechanisms of glycolysis, the stepwise dismantling of glucose for energy, and finishes with some big picture learnings about this deceptively simple pathway.

Mar 2

57 min 36 sec

This episode is Kolie's practical view on integrating physiology into a pragmatic training philosophy. Focused on coaches and self-coached athletes who are applying scientific learning to their coaching.

Feb 24

30 min 27 sec

In the first episode of the Perspectives series, Empirical Cycling coaches Kolie and Alex discuss self coaching, the challenges of training and motivation during COVID, the value of knowing thyself, among many other topics.

Feb 14

40 min 23 sec

This episode takes a wide angle view of the chain of events between starting exercise and successfully burning fat, and where the main bottlenecks are in that process. Nuances discussed are the differences between adipose tissue and intramuscular fats, energy demand rates, diet, and potential training strategies to improve fat utilization at most exercise intensities.

Jan 26

1 hr 13 min

This episode begins a series on metabolism with the process of oxidizing fatty acids for energy, and why the process is anaerobic. We also discuss fats vs lipids, different types of fatty acids, and take a deep dive into the periodic table to explain why oxygen loves electrons so much.

Jan 13

58 min 37 sec

To wrap up 2020, we went through all the questions asked for Kolie's weekend story AMAs and picked our favorites to expand on. The list of questions are in the show notes at empiricalcycling.com, in order of appearance.

Dec 2020

1 hr 17 min

In this first extended Ten Minute Tips, Kyle uses the extra time well to review his strategies to effectively read, digest, and understand any scientific paper. If you read papers along with us for the Watts Doc episodes, this may be a good playbook to pull from. Cover art on this is an example of "data massage" as mentioned in the episode.

Dec 2020

18 min 42 sec

This episode looks at some cellular mechanisms of how HIT training leads to adaptation, or maybe doesn't. Ryanodine receptors, free radicals, calcium, the size principle, fluorescent mouse muscles, and more!

Dec 2020

1 hr 20 min

This episode compares several types of steady state endurance training to the ability to perform repeated efforts above threshold and sprints. It outlines some of the science behind the different adaptations, training strategies to improve your ability, and suggested methods to track this specific type of fitness.

Nov 2020

1 hr 16 min

To celebrate 100k podcast listens, we asked for questions on r/velo and we got some great ones! This is a wide ranging and fun episode that covers how Kolie and Kyle feel about steady z3 rides, whether anaerobic capacity or FTP is the limiter, a few controversial training opinions, lifting, sprinting, the indoor equivalent to outdoor, and many other things.

Oct 2020

1 hr 53 min

In this extra long episode of Ten Minute Tips, Kolie shares the why and how of his two favorite technique drills to perfect your sprint. Newton's third law and learning to relax means big gears, little gears, and big power!

Oct 2020

13 min 2 sec

In the next installment of what is definitely not Squatober, Kyle discusses bar placement in he back squat, and finding the right foot position and stance for your squat.

Oct 2020

10 min 58 sec

In this Ten Minute Tips series that we will not call Squatober, Kyle shares his wisdom from many decades of lifting heavy weights. This episode focuses on proper breathing technique to move big weights, and why.

Oct 2020

10 min 3 sec

This episode revisits FTP testing. We look at the progressions outlined in the 2018 FTP testing article, intensity domains, FTP, heart rate, and critical power, ramp tests, and defining terms in the sciences. We also look at "training ruts" and their effects on open-ended FTP tests, and methods to avoid those ruts. The podcast concludes with discussing definitions of various thresholds in the scientific literature.

Sep 2020

55 min 2 sec

In this episode we discuss preparations for successfully Everesting. With training we discuss periodization, cadence, and bike fit, and logistic preparations include picking the right road, nutrition, gearing, and dealing with mechanical and accident risks.

Sep 2020

59 min 25 sec

We answer your questions from the last episode on VO2max training, and, also at listener request, we look at some of last episode's Rønnestad material that got cut out. VO2max questions include: Aspects of position like standing and TT bikes. Transfer of heart adaptations to normal cadence riding. The right cadence, pacing, and terrain for intervals, rest intervals. How Kolie would structure VO2max training for thousands of cyclists at a time. What 30/15s (and other intermittent intervals) do better than raise VO2max. Periodizing VO2max through a season. What does it take to make your training adaptations your "new normal"?

Aug 2020

1 hr 12 min

This episode is the focal point of the previous VO2max episodes. We take the physiology from the previous episodes and use it to find easy ways to improve the effectiveness of any VO2max interval set. Ways to change your cadence, interval times, rest times, and interval intensities are discussed. Then we take apart a Ronnestad study on 30/15s and put it in context of VO2max and other fitness adaptations. We conclude with a training philosophy discussion on the physiology of true long term VO2max improvements.​​

Jul 2020

1 hr 38 min

In the penultimate episode of the VO2max series, we dive deep into how the heart pumps and adapts, how this stress leads to increased VO2max, and why cyclists may not want to take training cues from cross-country skiing.

Jul 2020

1 hr 14 min

Three collegiate conference directors and a board president walk into a bar... hypothetically. This is what it would sound like if it were at all safe to go to a bar. We talk about our fall season cancellations, challenges faced by race promoters, predictions for spring 2021, and reactions to rumors of a Zwift nationals. In the discussion are conference directors Nick Luther of SECCC, Kyle Helson of ACCC, Kolie Moore of ECCC, and ACCC board president Laura Ann Leaton.

Jul 2020

1 hr 31 min

This episode explores how and why hemoglobin's function emerges from its structure, which makes it a critical component in the oxygen distribution chain. We also discuss the lungs, why VO2max isn't related to hematocrit, and vascular capacity for blood storage before diving into a classic phlebotomy study that ends with a question mark that hints at the central importance of the heart.

Jul 2020

1 hr 12 min

Continuing the VO2max series, we take such a close look into the Fick equation we only cover one of its terms: the arterial-venous O2 difference. We break apart the factors that affect diffusion of oxygen into our muscles, limiters of oxygen utilization, and whether these factors are trainable to potentially improve VO2max.

Jun 2020

1 hr 5 min

The slow component of vo2max is often mentioned but seldom discussed. We take a deep dive into the nature of the slow component, including thermodynamics, fiber type, and the size principle.

May 2020

47 min 20 sec

In the first episode in a VO2max series, we take a deep dive into why VO2max power, or maximal aerobic power (MAP), is not a simple number that can be found in a simple test. We discuss the history, physiological, and methodological underpinnings of ramp tests and what makes them flawed, and what some people have done to try and account for these. Additional methods of MAP testing and tracking and their drawbacks are discussed. We conclude with some practical advice for ways to monitor improvements your own VO2max.

Apr 2020

1 hr

Lactate remains a misunderstood molecule, and most popular experts still don't have a full understanding of where it comes from or why. In this episode, Kolie explains the basic biochemical context of lactate, where it really comes from, and why we make it at rest and during exercise. You will come away from this episode with a good understanding of how enzymes catalyze reactions, the importance of always making lactate, and the kinds of things that cause demand on glycolysis.

Apr 2020

35 min 22 sec

Today we discuss the global COVID-19 pandemic. We start with basic virology and why it's through this understanding that we recommend even healthy people take extreme precautions. Then address group rides, and things to consider for your current training or re-planning your 2020 season for races that may or may not happen. We have links to additional studies in the show notes on the website.

Mar 2020

33 min 36 sec

We asked for questions, and we got them. Kolie and Kyle answer eleven excellent questions on FTP training.

Mar 2020

47 min 20 sec

Delving into the biochemical depths of all life, Kolie discusses chemical equilibrium, or disequilibrium, and how ATP's high energy phosphate bonds aren't really what give it the energetic potential it's known for.

Feb 2020

9 min 52 sec

Today Dr. Helson runs the numbers on how much rotating weight matters when accelerating. The answer may (or may not) surprise you.

Jan 2020

9 min 36 sec

Whether we should pace endurance rides by heart rate or power is a training question where the usual answers lack sufficient depth. In this episode we provide enough context, and an alternative, that you might find the right style of riding for yourself.

Dec 2019

45 min 56 sec

In this highly anticipated episode, a scientific paper and some metabolic logic show us a simple, effective way to make your FTP training better.

Dec 2019

32 min 53 sec

This episode takes a look at things like power output and when we might find differences in training response. Most energy systems are touched on along with quick insights that will be expanded on in upcoming podcast episodes.

Nov 2019

10 min 3 sec

Are your friends using bro science? Do you know someone with a magic solution, who thinks they put together the whole puzzle with only half the pieces? Learn the warning signs! Kyle hosts this episode on how to recognize bro science, its rhetoric, and typical warning signs.

Nov 2019

10 min 28 sec

Oxygen is corrosive, but we need it for life and exercise. This episode looks at how free radicals are made in the body, their role in adaptation to endurance exercise, and the body's natural defense mechanisms.

Oct 2019

59 min 28 sec

The episode starts off with a primer on parts of muscle needed for contraction and how these relate to different methods of fiber typing (there's more than one!). We finish our look at a classic paper on cycling physiology and its sections on fiber type and substrate use. Then a paper on cross country skiers throws a bag of monkey wrenches into decades of established fiber type paradigms.

Oct 2019

42 min 1 sec

Do companies really make the best hydration mixes? They do, kind of, but they're expensive. It's difficult to adjust their mixes to flavor and your unique needs. This episode goes through a homemade drink mix that will probably hydrate you better, and definitely for cheaper, than anything on the market today. The recipe can be found on the website show notes at http://www.empiricalcycling.com/podcast-episodes/ten-minute-tips-2-homemade-hydration-mix

Sep 2019

9 min 6 sec

Kolie and Kyle look at the relationship between FTP and VO2max. We use data from a classic paper that calls into question the validity of a long-standing testing protocol in the scientific literature, which is still in use today.

Aug 2019

27 min 55 sec

The last month before your cyclocross season is a crucial one. In the new Ten Minute Tips series, Kolie looks at the elements of training you may want to incorporate to get a strong start to your season. Included are key workout types, how to manage intensity, incorporating running, and mixing technique work into training rides. Includes three example workouts.

Aug 2019

10 min 16 sec