Episode 44 – Should you Assign TSS for Strength Sessions AND Process Oriented Fitness

The strong savvy cyclist & triathlete podcast


Menachem Brodie:

Hi everybody and welcome to episode 44 of the Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast. Today, we’re going to get into the details of, if and how you should be assigning a Training Stress Score for your strength training sessions. This is a very popular topic the last couple of weeks here, it’s getting into spring we’re getting riders who… Well, granted we’re in lockdown here in 2020, but they’re starting to increase their ride volume, trying to stay on track as best as they can, even though a lot of the events that they’ve signed up for have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. They still are looking at building their fitness over the course of the next couple of weeks because they’re process oriented. And we’re going to start off there first with today’s podcast episode.

Now, before we dive into making it a process oriented goal, as opposed to a fitness oriented goal, and we’ll talk about the difference of those two. I just want to kind of mention a couple of things. Here on the HV Training Newsletter, we’re starting to get a lot more frequent, we’re giving summaries. So if you’re interested in learning more about strength training and I’m not talking about, “Oh, well, cyclists only need these three movements.” Or, “These three exercises.” Or, “The only five exercises triathletes ever need.”

If you’re actually looking for really good information about strength training for cyclists and triathletes, not the fluff you’re going to get out there that’s recycled from 1992 from muscle and fiction magazine or anything of that nature. If you’re looking for real insights for strength training and how to train better as a cyclist or a triathlete, make sure that you’re on the Human Vortex Training Newsletter every Friday, roughly every Friday. Sometimes it’s every other Friday, depending on how busy we are producing content and putting stuff out for you, you’re going to get really, really, really in-depth insights into how to best strength, train, and train for cyclists and triathletes.

Now, the thing is that, there seems to be a cycle of we’ll get eight to 10 new subscribers and then six or seven of them will drop off. Well, as a entrepreneur and just somebody who’s genuinely curious about this, I started emailing those two or three people every so often who dropped off. And what I found was, “Well, nothing here is new.” Or, “It’s not fancy.” Or, “I already know how to do this.” Well, that’s the thing. Is a lot of cyclists and triathletes and people in general think that they understand how to do an exercise, a squat is a squat, a deadlift a deadlift. But how you execute it and what you’re looking to get out of that exercise and where it is in your training program is really what’s going to determine your outcomes. So that’s what you’re getting on the Human Vortex Training newsletter.

If you’re liking and subscribing the videos over on the YouTube channel, you’re getting taught. Essentially, it’s like a free, prolonged one-on-one training of how to make exercises useful and impactful for cyclists and triathletes. So make sure you’re heading over to the humanvortextraining.com website, sign up for the newsletter. It’s not going to be fancy. It’s just not. We are talking…

This is 23 and a half years of experience. I’m giving you and teaching you how to actually get results. So yeah, if you’re looking for the fancy, like Spitfire and juggle knives on a Bosu ball, while you’re doing squats and it looks awesome on Instagram and people are going to come up to you and tell you how cool that was, don’t sign up for the newsletter. Please. Just don’t come on, save yourself the time don’t even bother going over to the website because the newsletter and the information I’m putting out, isn’t for Instagram.

This isn’t like, “Oh, this is so cool and novel.” No, we’re talking about stuff that actually works. So if you’re just looking for cool stuff, that’s a talking point. Don’t go to the website, don’t sign up for the newsletter, because if you’re not all about getting results and learning how to do things for cyclists and triathletes to get you better, faster, stronger, and you just want cool stuff, don’t waste your time.

Now, what’s really nice about this is as you sign up, if you have a question about something, then email me. I’m super responsive. And that is in part why today we’re going to be talking about the process of going through strength, training, and training, as opposed to working for fitness, specific goals or event specific goals. This is a topic that’s come up the last couple of weeks as we’ve been in lockdown. And I’m certain it’s going to happen that a number of more events here, as we roll into may and June are going to get delayed or postponed or canceled completely. And that means that a lot of people, especially triathletes who are very goal oriented, as far as, “I need to be in shape for this event,” are going to kind of lose their way.

And that’s okay. I lost my way. Also. I had my injury, I lost my way for my fitness. I’m very open about it. If you look at the almost daily coaching blog, the early renditions it, I talk about that. How I lost my drive because I didn’t have a goal. I was just, “Okay, great. I have this injury. Oh, well, I have to have the other one fixed also.” So, processed oriented fitness is what leads to true lifelong success and “fitness prosperity”.

And this is where a lot of endurance athletes tend to kind of roll in and out where we all know or have been guilty ourselves. I know I have. Where in Pittsburgh, when I lived, once I got past the dirty dozen ride, it was kind of like I was doing just maintenance. I’m just going to do enough riding. So I don’t feel like crap when the spring starts and then I’ll start training. And I would do a couple here and there short-steady state workouts during the winter enough to keep my fitness slowly building, but nothing that really impacted anything. Let’s be honest.

And when the spring came around, it was that process of everybody else of, “Oh, wow. So-and-so is in such good shape.” Well, what did you do? Well, they actually stuck to a process and stayed consistent and listened to their body. They were process-oriented. Well, what were you averaging or what you looking to hit for Watts per kilo? “I don’t know. I was just looking to ride my bike with structured to 60 minute rides a week on the trainer. That’s it. And each week had a little bit better or maintain or listen to my body.” That’s what we’re looking for out of our process oriented goals.

So if you listen to some of the other Strong Savvy Cyclists and Triathlete Podcast, I mentioned what Dan John refers to as, and by the way if you haven’t picked up any of his books, please do. He’s a fantastic author, just a great guy, follow him on social media. He’s got great information and it reveals the simple, not the novel that really gets you where you need. But Dan John has this principle that he talks about park bench versus bus bench or bus stop bench.

What is the difference? A park bench just to recap is fitness where you go to the park, you there’s a bench there. There’s going to be a bench in the park and you’re going to sit down and you want to see some type of birds. You don’t have a specific timeline or specific bird that you want to go to and see, but you know that there is a bench and you would like to see some birds. You want to have your coffee. Maybe you’re having a morning croissant. You want to sit down and see some birds. So that’s a park bench, is you’re going to go and birds or fitness. So the park bench is your training and you want fitness.

What type of fitness? “Well, you know, I want to be in shape to be able to ride with so-and-so or to be able to do X, Y, and Z. And I don’t have a specific end right result, but I know that I want to finish it and not feel crushed.” So that’s the park bench. You want to be in shape. You know you want to be able to handle some hills, whatever route or whatever event you have has a couple of 7% for two miles. So you know you want to be able to handle that. But aside from that, you’re not so worried about specific Watts per kilo. You’re not so worried about a specific finishing time. You just want to get better and improve as you go along.

Then, you have the bus stop bench. And this is where a lot of professional athletes will be. And that is as you go through, you know that on this date at this time, if you show up to that bench, that a bus or in this case, a result is going to most likely present itself. The likelihood of that bus coming that’s heading to the North side is going to be extremely high, as long as you’re at the right bus stop. That is what a lot of triathlete lights do, is they’re looking for bus stop fitness.

The challenge with this is, life gets in the way, and now the world and a virus gets in the way. So what do you do? How do you keep yourself healthy and well and progressing through this? The first answer is you don’t. You don’t necessarily need to make progress every single day. Now some of you are going to sit there and throw the phone against the wall or go, “What?” And hopefully you’re not pulling all over the road and the car screeching, and you’re hitting the brakes, hopefully not. But this is going to be… Well, there are a bunch of you.

What do you mean that we don’t need to make progress? Sometimes the act of consistency and simply going through the motions and remaining in a normal state can be progress in and of itself because you’re not going. Let me say that again. There are times when showing up and just doing something, anything, even if it’s for a third of the time that you’ve done before, that action of going through the motion and showing up and doing a little bit of work, even if it’s not super high intensity or super high quality is going to be enough to allow you to progress. Here’s how.

There are times when things in our life get shaken. Loss of a job, loss of a loved one, moving, high stress period at work. A lot of people now are working from home. The number of work from home people, are people that are now working from home, I should say, that are contacting me and asking if I work with people who aren’t competitive is extremely high. This is the most I’ve ever had because a lot of people are finding working from home, their work-life balance is completely screwed. Your nine to five is now eight o’clock in the morning until nine o’clock at night and you’re still answering and receiving emails and phone calls and all this other stuff throughout the night. Plus you have the kids, plus you have your significant other, plus you have your neighbors. Plus you have the neighbor’s dog. You have all this stuff going on.

I believe there is a number of pieces that are starting to come out to talk about how a lot of people thought they wanted to work from home and now they can’t wait to go back to the office, but that whole paradigm may shift. We’ll save that for another time.

But these individuals, if you are in that, you need to get moving. In these periods of high stress like this, if you don’t do some type of movement and get your body moving, those stress hormones, and the mental stress are going to wear you down. And you’re going to D train faster because you’re not able to give a healthy outlet for that. Especially nowadays being stuck at home. Now, generally, 99.9% of the time I hate burpees. Okay. But if you are strong enough, and that is all you have motivation to do, you know what? I can do 10 burpees right now? Now is the only time in my history up until this point where I will say, “Go ahead and do a burpee.” Go ahead and do 10 burpees to get yourself moving. If that’s all you feel like doing right now.

If you’re not familiar with the burpee, it’s essentially a pushup jumping up into jumping Jack. And then going back down to the floor without smashing your head off the floor or creating pain in your back. It’s a very highly advanced exercise that a lot of people treat like, “No, it’s a beginner.” It’s not and I just hate them. I hate burpees. And this is the only time I will ever go on record saying that burpees are acceptable because it will get you moving and help give you a healthy outlet for that stress.

That is where the process oriented training will help you progress. No race is coming up. We don’t know what the heck is going on in the world. We don’t know if and when we’re going to be able to ride outside with masks. Who knows by the time this is released in May, maybe you will be able to. Maybe not. Maybe you’ll laugh at me and say, “Huh, I can’t. It wasn’t that serious after all.” But the reason we’re releasing this in May, well after it was recorded is because I have a feeling that that’s not going to be the case.

It is going to be one of those things where once you go through, we’re going to see a lot of events canceled this year. I don’t think that the professional cycling calendar is going to come back, or if it does, it’ll be in the late fall or late summer, early fall. And it’ll probably be the [Judah Italia 00:12:16], the tour de France, shortened abbreviated, probably two weeks for each of them, and that’s it. If that, and that’s going to depend if we have a second wave of this, which if you look at the Spanish flu epidemic or pandemic rather, of 1918, 1919, there were two waves. So likelihood is we’re not going to have anything.

So what are those athletes doing? They’re really good ones. Think about Chris Froome. He’s very process oriented, but he’s also very event focused. So he understands the process. He gets lost in the process and allows himself to progress that way. Michael Jordan, process-oriented. He doesn’t care. If you’re watching the last dance, if you haven’t, I strongly recommend starting. They just started releasing it here this week. It’s a fantastic series about the knife. 1994, ’95, Chicago Bulls. Really it’s a documentary about Michael’s last season, essentially. That’s where I’m looking at it.

I wonder how much they’re actually going to talk about the rest of the team. But you’re going to see that this guy is very process oriented. He wants to be the best. He wanted to be the best. And if you’ve listened to his interviews in the past, you’ve read the book about him, he is process oriented. He doesn’t care about the end goal in as much as becoming better through the processes. He understands that he commits to that. I strongly recommend you read, Tim Grover’s book, Relentless. He was Michael Jordan’s personal trainer for a number of years, and he talks about how relentless Michael was with just the process of getting better. He didn’t fear failure. He embraced failure. He embraced failure and was excited for it because you knew he was going to get better from that. He didn’t want to fail, but he knew he was going to learn from it.

Think about it. The dude got cut from his 10th grade basketball team. And now he is the best basketball player of all time. I don’t care what you think about LeBron or Magic. Michael Jordan juggled a lot more things than either of them did. And did it in a time where he was setting the pace for it.

So that’s the process oriented. Get moving, screw a training plan. I have two athletes right now. After about three weeks, “I said, look, screw the training plan. We’re just going to ride. You tell me what days you want to ride and we’re going to make up a workout.” And it wasn’t me saying that and then giving them workout that had been planned. We just made stuff up because the important thing was for them to move. And sometimes it was a 10 minute workout because that’s all they had well energy for. And then we just did two days. But keeping that physical movement is extremely important to help manage the stress now.

So in short, change to become process oriented. Focus on the consistency you need. Go back and listen to episodes eight and nine with Tony Gentilcore here, and listen about how it’s RPE of five sixes and sevens. And it’s the process that you want to focus on because by focusing on the process and doing the best you can on that day, at that time with the resources you have and the energy you have at that time, is what’s going to get you to be able to progress. It’s not, “Oh, I have to work out three days a week. I have to work out and ride four days a week.” That’s not how it works. You’ve got to be able to roll with the waves and stay consistent. That is the key.

So let’s take a very short break here and then we’re going to come back and we are going to talk about, you got it. Training Stress Score. And should you assign a Training Stress Score to your strength training program?

Speaker 2:

Okay. Fasten your seat belts.

Speaker 3:

You’re listening to the Strong Savvy Cyclists and Triathletes Podcast with coach Menachem Brodie. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Menachem Brodie:

Welcome back. I have had just a sip of coffee, got some wonderful [Congo 00:15:54] just a light roast. I think it’s a light roast here from my favorite café. It’s the small things and enjoying the small things. And that’s one of the things about the process oriented athlete that allows them to succeed so well. And so frequently and so often, and to have fun while they do it. They’re just enjoying the small things along the way.

Now, let’s pivot here and talk about Training Stress Score for cyclists and triathletes for your strength training sessions. Now this is a topic that’s come up. We’re rerecording part two here. It is the end of May so whatever references we had before. I don’t remember. So if I contradict myself, I apologize, we’re recording this a couple of weeks later. And the reason I’m rerecording it is because we’re now seven weeks into the 60 day, home, body weight, strength training exercise program for cyclists, as well as week number two for the 60 day program for triathlete which both of them are going really well.

The athletes and the riders in the cycling program are seeing fantastic results. Joshua has just completely changed how he’s working, how he’s going. The dude is flying just to make note of one. Another, Tom is going through and rebalancing everything that he’s doing. His group has done a great job of having these swift events and now he’s trying to figure out how to rebalance things and he’s seeing progress as well. There’s so much value in the program for him that he’s coming back. We had our conversation yesterday, we spoke and he is restarting back from week three to allow him to get the best possible results out of it.

So the program is full of a lot of great information and really the number one question we’ve had over our group calls has been, how do I assign, or should I assign Training Stress Score to my strength training? Now, here is where we kind of get into very high level of complexity and I’m going to try and keep it simple as possible. For those of you there who are exercise physiologists or exercise scientists. I know that I’m not getting it a hundred percent correct, but we just want to get the 80% picture here for most of you to be able to understand. So if you’d like to continue this conversation and get into the details, more than happy to. You can email me Brodie, B as in boy, R-O-D, as in dog, I-E@humanvortextraining.com. And we can continue this conversation.

Now, as we go through and we look at essentially what a strength training session is. I kind of break this down in the Vortex Method, my book, which is available on Kindle and Paperback over on Amazon. I talk about the two different ends of the spectrum for strength training. And we really need to take this into account if we are going to start the conversation or open the conversation of if and how to assign Training Stress Score to your strength training program.

So let’s start first with understanding the spectrum. So, what is it that you’re actually looking to get out of your strength training? Well, if you treat it like most endurance athletes, you treat it like interval work, where you’re trying to go in and you’re trying to “be sport-specific” and go in and get your heart rate up. And you’re doing very short rest periods, 90 seconds or less between your sets and you’re moving the weight. And you’re not really thinking too much about technique. You just kind of going through the motions. Maybe your technique doesn’t suck, but it could be improved. That is going to be on the right side of the spectrum.The right side of the spectrum is metabolic. That is the energy systems.

If you’re doing strength training with short rest periods, less than 90 seconds, you are going to get primarily energy system adaptations. So you’re making the localized musculature, the localized for that movement be able to increase the mitochondria size, possibly. It depends. The production of the energy enzymes, you’re going to increase enzyme activity. You’re going to affect a cascade of different energy system adaptations by going through these movements relatively quickly, as well as having the short rest. So that is one type of strength training.

On the other side, we have the neural muscular. That’s the left side of the spectrum. We have the neuromuscular adaptations. This is where you’re a lot more technique focused. You are focused on getting the right muscles to fire at the right time, creating the appropriate tension and stiffness in the body, especially between the rib cage and the pelvis, the core. And remember the core is everything. All the muscles between your neck, your elbows and your knees. So you’re getting the proper co coordination, co contraction. You’re getting great breathing patterns. You’re creating stiffness and you’re taking between two and a half and seven minutes of rest between your sets.

Depending on the type of exercise that you’re doing, and then if you’re doing strength, strength, speed, speed, strength, power, power, strength, there’s five inter related or interacting different edges to the star and they have different types of adaptations. And that’s what we mean by specific adaptation to impose demand. Strength-power, strength-speed, strength-endurance. These are the specific adaptations we’re talking about.

Now, if you’re on the left side, and you’re doing the neuromuscular adaptations, so this would be where we’re doing three sets of A, with  an RPE of six to seven for bench press, and then we’re matching that with, let’s say a stick standing band pull apart. And if you’re not familiar with a standing band pull apart is, head on over to the H V Training Instagram. It’s an Instagram TV that we posted here, I think last week of May. And you can see how to properly do the standing band pull apart.

So we’re matching these two exercises together. And essentially when I’m doing my strength training, the primary movement, which would be, B1, let’s say for this, which is the bench press. As soon as I’m done with that exercise, if we’re getting into May and June here, I’m going to start the stopwatch. I’m going to start my rest time as soon as I’m done with that bench press. And then I’m going to move into my B2, which is the standing band pull apart. Which is a corrective or a accompanying or complimentary exercise, depending on how you’d like to term it.

So I would go through my working time for my band pull aparts is going to be part of my rest period. So now I’m being time efficient. I’m allowing myself to get the neural adaptations because I’m taking, let’s say three and a half minutes rest between my sets of bench press. And I’m also firing up the muscles that help build a better fitter, stronger pressing movement. Horizontal pressing movement. That is going to be a neuromuscular adaptation. In that case, I’m not really, really, really, really stressing the energy systems. I am allowing full rest. So it’s essentially the proper rest time plus another minute, in short, is how we would do it off the cuff. So once you feel ready, you rest another minute.

Then, those types of strength training sessions, we can count for some training stress. Now, I’d like to learn Training Stress Score for strength training from zero to a hundred, just like we would for a ride. Your strength training should not take you longer than 75 minutes. Unless you’re doing super heavy weights, you’re really working on power or explosive strength, and you’re taking long rest periods closer to six to seven minutes, you’re working on Olympic lifts, in that case maybe 90 minutes, but that’s really going to depend on where you are in your cycling or triathlon lifeline. If that makes sense.

When you’re doing these neuromuscular efforts, and this is where a lot of people make the mistake of in season, they try and ramp up their strength training. So it’s even more energy system oriented. Well, that’s going to completely drain your ability to recover from your bike, run, swim sessions, and decrease your abilities out in those activities, which is what we don’t want. This is one of the reasons why so many cyclists and triathletes and endurance athletes are pulling the plug on their strength training during the season, because they don’t have the energy or the ability to recover because they’re pushing themselves too much. They’re doing too much energy work.

You’re already getting at least six to eight hours of metabolic specific work, in your specific sport at this time. Don’t you think we should kind of look at strength training as a training for a different way to allow you to be able to get better, differently? To compliment your training as opposed to crushing your soul? I do. That means the neuromuscular strength training, usually what we’ll do is what I call low volume. And this is just where we take a step back and we look at. So I have a rider right now actually in Florida. He’s in his mid to late 50s, fantastic rider. He has smashed or hit within two to four Watts of his all time personal record, and he’s been riding with the power meter, I think for about five years at this point, I may be mistaken. So correct me if I’m wrong on that. And you know who you are.

Yeah, no, it’s been five years. So he has smashed or hit his PRS or hit second best times in the last three weeks. And all of it happened as we came into his devoting week and he was just like, “Wow, I feel amazing. I’m flying. The decrease and training stress has definitely helped.” We kind of have that conversation of, is it training stress or is it we’re allowing the nervous system to recover, to be able to produce that force? So for him, with how we were doing the strength training, it was the release of some of the training stress or the decrease of the training stress, I should say, off of the nervous system that allowed them to see the results. Now, here’s what happened when we introduced new strength training program for him, he got really sore and then he had to kick it and just cut short to really tough bike workouts.

Now that is not ideal. So he, myself and his cycling coach had a conversation and we figured out, “Okay, we’re going to give this two weeks.” This tends to be his personal response to new strength training program is, the first week he gets really sore, see a decrease in performance and then after that, we tend to see it climbs right back up. And this is the nervous system. This is where he is. This is his life stress. This is how he’s riding. This is what’s going on for him personally.

So for him, the Training Stress Score for most of his strength training up until where we changed the programming, I’d put it at a 40. He goes through. He’s not getting super sore after the exercises, except for the first one to two times through a new training program. So we would put a Training Stress Score in training peaks or today’s plan at 50. So we’re putting a Training Stress Score at 50. I want to repeat that three times. You guys all heard that? Fourth time, 50. Scale of one to 100. 100 is a time trial.

Now, some of you out there are going to say, “Well, if this guy is recovering really well, why are you putting it at 50? That’s like a temple ride. Essentially low tempo or upper endurance. Why would you give him such a high Training Stress Score?” Because we want to err on the side of caution. So even though we’re programming him neuromuscularly, and we’re not giving him short rest periods, we’re not challenging the energy systems as much. We want to err, on the side of caution, I would much rather overestimate the Training Stress Score for somebody and have them be fresher than to have it underestimated and have them a lot staler.

And this is where a lot of people get lost is, well, as they think that the higher the training stress mounds or the Training Stress Score the better. So I have a triathlete down in Louisiana, won’t mention by name, but you know who you are. We went back and we completely rebuilt her from the ground up for strength training. And we pulled a lot of Training Stress Score down because we had to get that nervous system to be fresh enough, to focus and execute what she needed to get out of her strength training program. And with the training stress that we were getting with her swim, bike, run, it was just too much for the body to be able to actually get stronger.

Now, we’re getting to the other side. So we spent about 15 months now, completely rebuilt her movements up from zero this past week. And actually she just completed her first century ride and she said she felt great. No issues at all, aside from the heat the last 30 miles. And even then she said, “I don’t think this is an actual, but it’s like a top 10 time essentially or top five for a century ride.” So she’s done, maybe eight or 10. So it’s not saying a lot, but the fact of the matter is she felt great the next day, aside from the heat issues.

That is a huge win. That is where we pull back the Training Stress Score from her swim, bike, run and we were very consistent with her strength training because we needed to build her up. So her strength training sessions, we never put a Training Stress Score on it, ever. Because we were 100% focused on the nervous system and getting it to respond better, to create better stiffness, better co contraction, better coordination. And that’s what we were looking for out of it. So what happened with her is, we pulled her down below her CTL, where she tends to do best below 60, 65 or 70 actually. We pulled her down to 60. She didn’t feel as fresh, now that we’re building back up to that because we have the neuromuscular recruitment that we need, and the strength that we need, and the strength endurance that we need, and the power endurance that we need, she’s now starting to feel a lot better because we’re bringing that Training Stress Score back. And we’re going to start labeling some of her strength training sessions with a TSS.

Why is that? Why did we not label anything and now we’re bringing it back. And this is a half iron man and Olympic distance triathlete. This is why we did this. Is because we were focused on the nervous system. So bringing down her chronic training load allows her to be a little bit fresher for the strength training sessions. And she can tell you herself. It took about three and a half, four months to be able to turn that page and be able to recover from them and feel good enough on her runs or her bikes, where she was actually able to put power down.

So by not labeling it with the TSS, we didn’t allow her to go down the, “Oh, well, I’m so tired from my strength training,” or, “It’s affecting me.” It allowed her to get lost in the process of getting better. And that’s why we talked about process oriented fitness for the first half of this podcast. So for her, now we’re going to start sprinkling in some of the TSS. We’re going to get her RPEs of seven and eight, every three to five lifts. And that’s going to have a Training Stress Score of roughly a 75.

So coming back to, why 50? And now we’re going up to 75. Why are we labeling different strength training at different TSS? When you come in and you look at the neuromuscular, five is zero, 50 is a good point to start at as long as you’re not trying to do everything. So we’re talking about a total of three to four main movements. The strength session does not take longer than 75 minutes that we talked about previously. And you’re feeling leaving the gym, most days, it’s a five or six and occasionally you’re getting a seven. The 50 TSS is going to be a great way for us to keep you on point. It will allow us to kind of guide your on bike or swim or bike or run training to be able to be a bit better, to get higher quality, not just quantity. And this is where we begin to see the athlete progress.

When we start labeling Training Stress Score on strength training, that can be a downward slide for a lot of endurance athletes who are very data oriented and that’s way more people than we’d like to see nowadays, to be honest. So if you find yourself to be super data oriented, don’t label with TSS, unless you’re doing that right side of the spectrum, which is the metabolic.

So on the other side of this equation here, we have the 60 day body weight home workout program, right? We have the cycling group and we have the triathlon group. For these guys and gals, we are going to label each and every one of these strength training workouts, at least number one and two, the ones that are musts in the week, with TSS, usually between 50 and 70. Why is that? We’re going to label these because part of that program inherently through the use of specific tempos, as well as shorter rest periods, 90 seconds or less, and in many cases one minute is going to lead them to have a metabolic response. So there we can label it based off of perceived exertion, not just heart rate.

Why do we do that? Because a lot of you as endurance athletes, especially for the lower body stuff are going to be relatively metabolically efficient. Maybe your technique is not very good. You’re not getting the right muscles to fire the right times, or you can’t keep the correct postures because the joint position is out, you’re not getting the muscle function as we needed it to. So that’s a whole separate, but you’re metabolically efficient overall, right? So we can label it based off perceived exertion. So just for example, right before I jumped on to record this, I was going through some of the videos for one of the strength training for a cyclist, 60 day body weight program, and [Kristoff 00:32:56], he finished his four zero, four zero split squats, and he’s hitting his thighs because they’re on fire.

That’s clearly a metabolic result that we’re getting. So in that case for that specific day two week seven that he had, I put the Training Stress Score anywhere between 60 and 75, depending on how he felt on a perceived exertion. And if I remember correctly, he had mostly seven eights and nines. The nines, by the way, like we talked about with Tony, again, referring back to episodes eight and nine here with Tony Gentilcore, you want five sixes and sevens overall for your strength training program when you leave the gym. So you shouldn’t be crawling out of the gym.

Well, for Kristoff, we’re getting to the end of the 60 day program. He’s in week seven, this was day two. So we have essentially six more lifts and then the program’s done. So now we’re looking for a total RP of about seven and he’s hitting that. Even though he had a nine for that last set of split squats and the metabolic stress was significant, he’s getting great postures, great movements. So we look at the overall RPE for the session and that’s how we come up with our number. We can also match it with heart rate.

So let’s say Kristoff rated it as a seven, which he did for day two week seven. The whole thing as a whole, he rated as an RPE of seven. So great. We’re going to put 70 TSS for that days strength session, which took him, I think somewhere around 40 minutes, 45. Okay. So that’s going to be his Training Stress Score is based off of the RPE. Now, if we had heart rate data and we saw that his heart rate spiked at the beginning of the workout with the tempo work he was doing in the middle with the tempo work he was doing. And again, at the end with those split squats, if we see him spike into upper tempo, so let’s say 140 to 150 beats per minute, we might push that up to 75 or 80 TSS, depending on how fresh he feels later today and tomorrow.

And this is where that training log is so important. So you can look back and see. Now, looking back and seeing is really, really pivotal because if you have an athlete who is very fit before, but it’s coming back in and hasn’t really done much for the last couple of years, there are perceived exertion for a given workload is going to be very different. So I’ll use myself as example. I’m now going through the process of rebuilding my fitness. This is the most out of shape that I have been since the age of 13. Not kidding you, not embellishing, literally looking at my training logs, I guarantee you, this is the most out of shape I’ve been since I was 13.

So that means all of my workload, my work capacity from being broken for eight months and working on finishing the Vortex Method book and finishing the Strength Train for Certification and the Foundations of Strength Training course and all these other things that I’ve had on the back burner so long and decided, you know what? I’m going to let my fitness drop and I need to get these projects out because they’re going to help more people.

That decision has cost me 20 years of fitness. I’m telling you. You know my wife came in yesterday and she’s like, “Are you okay?” I was sitting in my chair. I actually uploaded, I think on Instagram. And I’m just leaning back and I’m pale white. I’m not sweating. She’s like, “You’re not sweating. Did you work out?” I’m like, “Yes, not sweating is not a good thing.” Because the air conditioner is on 18 degrees. So it’s on 50 or 62 degrees Fahrenheit, I’m pale white and I’m cross-eyed and trying to chew a piece of chocolate to get my blood sugar to come back up. Whereas nine months ago, the exact same workout was my warmup. Think about that. So you can’t…

And this is part of the reason why year round strength training is so important. And the reason that is important is because it’s building your work capacity and that’s where we’re going to wrap up today. So we kind of covered a lot and I know a lot of you have a lot of questions on this. But we are going to continue to progress this as a kind of a series and we’re going to speckle in the next couple of individual or solo podcasts here about the TSS and how it’s affecting throughout the season from the strength training.

But essentially, in short, if you were doing on the left side side of the spectrum, which is neuromuscular, you’re working on technique, getting what you need to out of that exercise, meaning you’re getting the right muscles to fire at the right time. You’re working on posture, there’s positions and breathing, and you’re taking at least three minutes of rest, three to six, maybe seven minutes in between sets of working sets, for the main exercise. Like we talked about, bench press paired with the standing band pull apart. So the stopwatch starts for my recovery time at the end of my bench press set, and then goes through my supporting or corrective exercise.

So resting three and a half to five minutes in between your working sets for the primary exercises is going to put you on the neuromuscular side. I don’t really bother putting any Training Stress Score and that’s where, like the rider I mentioned who gets really sore for those two weeks, in which case for those two weeks when he is sore, we will add a Training Stress Score, usually depending on how sore he is the next day and two days after. And this is one of the many reasons why being sore is not a good indicator of a good workout. So a lot of the times he finishes those first two workouts. He was like, “Yeah, that was pretty easy.” And then he’s like, “wow, I’m, I’m sore.” It’s just the body is going through and learning new motions, new movements, new co contractions, new ways of loading new lever, arms, and how to deal with those forces. And so the muscles are having a little bit more damage than the body figures it out, repairs it, boom, there you go, feel way better.

On the other side of things, we have those metabolic efforts like I did on Instagram the other day where you’re going through tempo or you’re going through these exercises and you’re putting a lot of energy systems stress on the body. For those, we do the RPE as a whole for that set. And then we do an RPE as a whole for the day. And we go with the daily RPE on a scale of one to 10. And again, your RPE perceived exertion for most of your strength training should be five, sixes and sevens, occasionally an eight. And we would just add a zero to the end of that. Unless you say 6.5, so it would be 65, not 650.

So if you say 7.5 and usually I just try and steer people away from saying 0.5, just choose a number. It’s either a seven or an eight. Then, “Okay, great.” It’s an RPE of seven. That is a Training Stress Score of 70. And you can plug that into training peaks or today’s plan and allow you to appropriately adjust your training for the next couple of days. And this is the last point that I’m going to wrap up today’s podcast on. When you go through this, we’re not talking about just plugging the TSS and keep going with your head down and just keep the plan the way as it is. You’re using this TSS after you’ve done the program, after you’d done the strength training session, and confirming or denying that the day and two days after. So if you feel more sore two days after, that Training Stress Score, at 20.

So if it was a seven and you’re really sore two days out, much more than you were the day after, that’s now a 90. Because that means it took more of a toll on the systems. That’s going to be the determiner of how you’re going to train the next couple of days. So if you had a three hour endurance ride with pegged at 68% of your FTP, you’re going to have to dial that back. Either, you’re going to have to go 63 to 65% of FTP for that ride, or you’re going to have to dial back the time. And this is going to be an individual consideration, but simply plugging in a TSS for a strength training program is not going to allow you to get the benefits you want or need out of your riding as well during riding season.

But we’re going to stop there because now we’re getting into a lot more of the murky details where it depends, and that’s going to require a whole nother episode here. So we’re going to wrap up for today here. If you liked this episode, please make sure you like the podcast. Subscribe, give us a five star rating being on iTunes or whatever platform you are listening on. Please make sure to share this with your coach, fellow riders and fellow triathletes to help them get more high quality strength training, and training information, allowing them to cut the fluff. Nobody cares if you can juggle and spit fire. They care how quickly you can recover and adapt. It’s not about recovery. It’s about adaptation that we are after, and your ability to keep going.

So that’s it for today. I’m looking forward to seeing you over on the HVT YouTube channel. When you will watch one of our videos, make sure you smash the like button, subscribe, hit the little bell icon so you get updated every time we either do a YouTube live right upload a new video, as well as over on the Facebook page. Make sure you hit like, comment. Let me know your questions. Brodie boy, R-O-D as in dog, I-E@humanvortextraining.com. That’s it. And remember, until next time Train Smarter, Not Harder because it is all about you.

Speaker 3:

Human cortex training, and Menachem Brodie, present the Strong Savvy Cyclist and Triathlete Podcast, where we talk strength training, physiology, psychology, check and much more, to help you get fitter faster and stronger in and out of your sport. Giving you expert insights, talking with other leading experts. And now your host world-leading strength coach where cyclists and triathletes Menachem Brodie.

That’s it for this episode of the Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete Podcast with world-leading strength coach for cyclists and triathletes, Menachem Brodie. Don’t miss an episode. Hit that subscribe button and give us a review. For more exclusive content, visit humanvortextraining.com or get the latest expert videos from coach Brodie on the HVT YouTube channel, at HV Training. Until next time, remember to Train Smarter, Not Harder because it is all about you.


Picture of Menachem Brodie

Menachem Brodie

Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports.


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