Strength training endurance athletes podcast

Strength Training For Endurance Athletes With Erin Carson

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About this episode:

In this week’s episode, Adam Pulford interviews Erin Carson, strength coach and owner of RallySport in Boulder, Colorado. Adam and Erin find similarities in their strength approach for endurance athletes and talk about making athletes more durable, helping athletes do their sport stronger and longer, adding strength training to your toolbox, and why it doesn’t take as much time as you think.

Episode Highlights: 

  • How to properly target your strength training
  • Why and how to include strength training even if you’re short on time
  • Becoming a more durable athlete
  • Achieving proper muscle activation

Guest Bio – Erin Carson:

Erin Carson is co-owner and operator of RallySport, a Boulder, Colorado training facility and health club. As the head coach for ECFIT she provides strength training programs for endurance athletes seeking to perform at their very best in triathlons, marathons, and cycling events. Her clients include world champions and Olympians as well as everyday athletes seeking excellence.

Erin is the strength coach for many current and former world championship athletes including Mirinda Carfrae – 3x Ironman World Champion and Timothy O’Donnell – Long Course Triathlon World Champion. Her commitment to continuing education plus her proven track record of success with professional athletes has made her one of the most knowledgeable and accessible strength coaches in the world.

Erin has also found success as a triathlete, highlighted by her 6th place age group finish at the 2016 70.3 World Championships in Maloolooba, Australia, as well as multiple podium finishes over the last 5 years. Erin is a life-long athlete who attended The University of Colorado on a basketball scholarship where she was one of the top NCAA D1 basketball players. Post-graduation, she played professionally in Europe before returned to the US to coach Division 1 basketball at both Tulane University and The University of Nebraska.

Erin’s Credentials:

  • B.S. Kinesiology, University of Colorado
  • M.S. Administration,  University of Nebraska
  • Masters Studies, Tulane University
  • NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
  • EXOS Performance Coach (pending)
  • Titleist Performance Coach L2
  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer
  • NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist
  • NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist
  • PTA Global Certified Personal Trainer
  • PTA Global Advanced Personal Trainer
  • Foundations Instructor L2

 

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Read More About Erin Carson:

Erin references ViPR equipment for home: https://www.viprfit.com/

Website: https://ecfitstrength.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ecfit_strength/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/ecfitstrength/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecfitstrength

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform


Thanks To This Week’s Sponsor:

Stages Cycling

This episode of the TrainRight Podcast is brought to you by Stages Cycling, the industry leader in accurate, reliable and proven power meters and training devices.

Stages Cycling offers the widest range of power meter makes and models to fit any bike, any drivetrain and any rider, all manufactured in their Boulder, Colorado facility. They’ve expanded their offerings to include the Stages Dash line of innovative and intuitive GPS cycling computers covering a full range of training and workout-specific features to make your workouts go as smooth as possible.

And now, Stages is applying its decade of indoor cycling studio expertise to the new StagesBike smart trainer. Check out their latest at www.stagescycling.com


Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Adam Pulford (00:00):

Strength training has had its criticism in certain pockets of the endurance athlete community for a number of years, from not even being a thing to becoming a thing adopted first by triathlon and then running communities a little bit, and then eventually into mountain biking and other cycling disciplines. But it’s still not widely accepted as a method of training that will improve performance for everyone in the endurance community. Some for rational reasons and some for very irrational reasons. In today’s episode, I turned to an expert Mack on the front range of Colorado, where I lived for 10 years as well, uh, to help answer some of these questions, we’ll discuss the valuable aspects of strength training, who should do it, who shouldn’t, if that exists and how best to use it for the sport that you participate in and time you have available now, without any further ado, let’s get into this week’s episode with Erin Carson, C S C S, and our guest today is a fellow N S C a certified strength and conditioning specialist business owner, and coach Aaron Carson.

Erin Carson (01:13):

It’s great to be here. Thanks, Adam.

Adam Pulford (01:16):

Yeah. Uh, well, I know that we have some birds chirping in the background. Um, where are those birds in Boulder or w where are you sitting up there?

Erin Carson (01:25):

Oh, it is the sacred training grounds of the big Island. So we’re halfway down the queen K at the Monell Lonnie. I’m just taking some time to rejuvenate and rest and, uh, get ready to go back to Boulder, um, to prepare for whatever comes next, because, uh, who knows when that’s going to happen. I just got word this morning that a challenge Roth has been put off until September, which puts it perhaps in too much in the window for the kind of world championships. So, you know, change is probably the one constant we all have in our lives right now

Adam Pulford (02:06):

That that is true. The, the ever moving bullseye that, uh, all of us are throwing our training darts at these days is it’s, it’s an elusive one. Um, well, before we, uh, before we get into kind of more of that, can you tell our audience a bit more about yourself, what you do and athletes you’ve worked with?

Erin Carson (02:25):

You know, I am a certified strength and conditioning specialist and that’s who I love being. So I do own a pretty snappy, uh, gym health club in Boulder, Colorado named rally sport. Um, we have the opportunity to work and host, um, some of the world’s finest endurance athletes at our club in Boulder. Um, so I get to be around them, but my passion and what I really, really love, um, is, is helping people get stronger to do the things that they love for longer and, uh, in a better, more efficient way. And I come from a coaching background, but it was from college basketball. I played a little, um, hoops when I was growing up and played at the university of Colorado and coached at two lane, coached at the university of Nebraska. And all of those things just kind of came together. Um, when I had the opportunity to work and meet, uh, Boyd Epley, who started the NSCA at the university of Nebraska. And I’m sure he doesn’t remember me the way I remember him, but I remember being completely inspired, um, with the work that they were doing for the football program at the mercy and the university of Nebraska, and just seeing the beauty of a weight room. So to find, find beauty in that organization and the straight lines and, and the inspiration and the athletes. Um, it really pushed me to, to wanna, to want to know more and go deeper and expand how I could make an impact.

Adam Pulford (03:56):

Well, that’s, uh, I mean, in you’ve, you’ve played in, in coached on high levels. I didn’t know you, you knew and were mentored by bullying. Um, that’s really cool.

Erin Carson (04:06):

I would say don’t use that word lightly. I was not mentored, but I got to be around him. I was with the women’s basketball team, you know, so they’re like, Oh yeah, put the girls over in the corner, get them out of the way. So I, I have a way of, uh, finding the smartest guy or smartest female in the room and picking their brain and trying to learn, you know, lifelong student, for sure.

Adam Pulford (04:29):

Yeah. Well, when you’re, when you’re close to people or know of people that have big brains, um, you know, the power of diffusion by picking those brains is let’s call it mentorship. So

Erin Carson (04:41):

Exactly. I’m good with that.

Adam Pulford (04:45):

Yeah. Well, that’s great. Well, uh, you know, I, I’m excited because, uh, I, as well as our listeners get to pick your brain today on the topic of strength training in endurance athletes, and this topic is kind of close to my heart because I’m at a pretty unique, um, I had a pretty unique upbringing in, in college to be around some pretty big brained and, and, um, well influential, uh, strength and conditioning specialist as well. And I, and I talked about that on our last episode, just a little bit, and, uh, you don’t university of Wisconsin in lacrosse and they had a strength and conditioning program there that really groomed, I think the way that I think about coaching, um, gave me a kind of a platform to go deeper into the physiology. And also it accelerated me in terms of, um, being, uh, kind of accelerated my knowledge through the NSCA, which then led to, uh, coaching at Carmichael chain systems and kind of where I’m at now.

Adam Pulford (05:54):

And so through that, I did, uh, a strength and conditioning, uh, research project, looking at the effects of, uh, strength, training, and plan metrics in endurance athletes. And so kind of a long winded way of saying, I am passionate about this and to find someone who is equally passionate, um, it, it’s a great pleasure. So, uh, with that, I’d say the, the, the list is long in terms of what the benefits are to athletes, but could you rattle off some of those benefits that you see working with the athletes you work with and, and why our listeners should be curious and then pursue some of the strength training stuff?

Erin Carson (06:36):

You know, I think that the most important thing to recognize is that as a strength coach, my greatest passion is to make swim, bike and run coaches look really, really good through the performance of their athletes. Um, I stay in my lane. Um, I do my job as far as presenting a, the most well balanced, healthy, um, hormonally, strong endurance athlete. I can to those, those coaches, because I’ve, I’ve, I’m an athlete. I love endurance sports. I’m a runner, I’m a triathlete, but recognizing that probably the coaches who coach us, um, their biggest frustration is when we get injured and it’s so difficult and so challenging to be the athlete who is injured to be the coach coaching and injured athlete, or to be an athlete who isn’t progressing, um, for different limitations within their, their own physical ecosystem. And so from a number one standpoint, um, I am very proud to say that my athletes, um, can train harder.

Erin Carson (07:55):

They can train longer, they’re more durable, they’re more resilient. Um, their tissue is healthier. They have a greater appreciation perhaps for the quality of the time that they spend resting. So that it’s, it’s not just so that they can go run again because they have this full gamut, um, of things that they, they do. Um, and planes that they move in. They don’t just move in straight lines. Um, you know, so, so I think that there are so many benefits, but, you know, longevity, um, Timothy O’Donnell, um, currently holds the, the American record for the, for the Ironman world championships here in Kona. Um, Tim has been my athlete for, for 10 years. Um, I’m proud to say that he at 40, um, you know, this year we’ll be competitive for that podium position. Um, because you know, you’re, you’re in your prime when you’re in your twenties and can make a lot of mistakes and get away with it. You get into your thirties, you make those same mistakes. You may not progress you get into your forties or towards the end of your thirties. Um, you, you’re not doing strength training and taking care of the balance within the body of the hormonal profile within the body. Um, you’re not just not progressing, you’re probably losing ground. And so it’s pretty easy from my perspective to draw pretty strong lines towards people. Getting curious about how to approach adding some strength, work, specific strength, work into their world.

Adam Pulford (09:37):

That’s that’s fantastic question or a fantastic answer to the question and making the athlete more durable. I love that phrase. Actually. I love that a lot. And then, uh, uh, we’ll, we’ll go a little deeper into that, but bef, okay, so we talked about the benefits. We talked about, uh, what people will gain from this. What are the deterrents, what are the cons behind adding strength training in for those who are curious?

Erin Carson (10:03):

You know, I, the biggest one that I hear is time. Um, you know, I don’t have time for that. Well, it’s amazing how, how you have to make time for it. If you get injured, you don’t have a choice. Um, the other thing, I think that’s a little bit misrepresented is that you always need an hour. You don’t need an hour, three or four times a week to add strength training. That’s actually, perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that endurance athletes make is they do too much, uh, strength training. So, so I think time is a big, big deterrent. Um, I think knowledge, I think there’s a lot of bad information out there, um, for, for how an endurance athlete can, can bring in strength, work into their, into their world. They’re used to playing at such a high intensity and a high level of function that they think they need to lift weights to the same level that they would go ride their bike or climb a mountain. If they’re an ultra runner, you know, we’re not, we’re not football players. We don’t need all this armor, uh, per se. So I really feel like, um, there’s a lot of people overdoing it and, uh, and that’s just, you know, of course they don’t think they have time and I wouldn’t want to carry around a bunch of muscle either if I was a high level cyclist. So I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there on how to do it and what to do and how much you need to do. Okay.

Adam Pulford (11:31):

Yeah. And in time that’s an important one and we will get into that to see how much time this actually takes, uh, before we do, though, I want to, I want to get into, like, in your opinion, who can and who should live. So in terms of, so for most of our listeners who are doing this, these are busy people trying to squeeze in, um, be the best triathlete, be the best cyclist that, um, they possibly can have a family CEO position try and juggle everything. Can they still do the strength, train

Erin Carson (12:07):

Without question? It’s, you know, it’s, it’s just one of my greatest passions to see people have longevity in sport. And, and, uh, yes, I mean, I have created, I have two apps currently, um, and I don’t want to turn this into a big commercial for my apps, but it’ll show people exactly how much and the dosage that they can and should do, um, from a global perspective. And then over time, they figure out what they can cut out. Um, but I give them a pretty good blueprint, just do this. Like most people just say, just tell me what to do, because they are busy. They are dads, their brain powers being, um, you know, really utilized in other productive ways. That’s why they have coaches. That’s why they have, you know, just tell me what to do and I’ll go do it. And I’ve set up a pretty good ecosystem for that.

Erin Carson (12:57):

And, um, it’s not as in depth as, as you would think. I, I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago, um, with Stacy Sims, Dr. Stacy Sims, and we were talking about CrossFit and I never say anything bad about CrossFit, but it is a cert, it is its own sport anymore. So if you love doing CrossFit, then, then do CrossFit. But if you want to be a really high functioning cyclist, or you want to be a really high functioning triathlete, then, then you’re putting yourself at risk by doing CrossFit. Um, because it’s just, it deserves your full attention if you want to do that. So I believe in Olympic lifting, um, at the right time for the right athlete in different places throughout the year. Um, but I also believe in really well managed risk and reward.

Adam Pulford (13:45):

Yeah. Well, let’s take some time to talk about those apps just real quick. I mean, if people are to just, just became curious about that, what are your, the apps that you’ve created and where can they find

Erin Carson (13:58):

They’re, they’re both easy fit apps, so endurance community fitness, performance strength. And so one is you see fit on demand, which is long form video. And just put me up on the TV and I take you through a session. The other one is easy fit Boulder, and that is short form video. Um, so three to five second snippets of, of demonstration sets and reps, um, and that kind of stuff. So they just present a little bit different. One is that long form is my new app. Um, that’s been really successful. I’m very excited about that. Um, and it just gives people the chance to hear my voice and hear the explanation of foot position and hip position and an arm position and, and a little bit more of the why behind what we’re doing. So education of, of, uh, my athletes is really important to me to give people much depth in the meaning of why we’re doing it. So that long form video has given me that opportunity.

Adam Pulford (14:57):

Those are great resources to all of our listeners out there. And I think not only during a pandemic time period where you may not be able to work with your, um, personal trainer strength and conditioning specialist or coach, uh, the form is actually really important on this. So when you can get some feedback immediately like that, I think it’s, I think it’s really important. Meanwhile, if you can’t make it to Boulder orally, um, um, it’s a great resource. So we’ll put those on our landing page for this episode as well. But I did want to make sure that we mentioned that. So who shouldn’t,

Erin Carson (15:35):

Who shouldn’t strength, train, sorry. I think everyone should have it in their, in their toolbox, you know, to an extent it, I, I’m very lucky to work with some of the top performing athletes on the planet. Uh, CEP Coose, um, was one of my athletes sips over in Europe now working with some very good people over there, but you know, you look at step’s performance. He doesn’t need to be in the gym every day, or doesn’t need to be in the gym three times a week by any means. And he’s a very, very strong man. And so for the sport he’s doing, um, we’re not lifting a lot of weights, we’re repositioning his body constantly so that he maintains balance in his pelvis balance and mobility in his upper back strength in his upper body. Um, obviously, um, movement that way. Um, I’m working with some wonderful young Olympic hopefuls this year, um, who they want to do more strength training, and I keep telling them no.

Erin Carson (16:41):

And it’s no, because they’re putting so much focus in so much intensity into their sport and they are proving to be durable enough to handle the training loads that their coaches are giving them. And so again, I’m going to pull them back a little bit from getting under load so that they can recover well enough to do the work that they’re being asked to do. And hopefully that will pay off for them in, uh, in metals, you know? So, so it’s, it’s maybe not that there’s people who shouldn’t strength train, but there are times throughout the year when it doesn’t need to be a priority.

Adam Pulford (17:18):

Wonderful answer. Yeah. And so it kind of led you into those and then clearly I’m unbiased here as well. And I do think that knowing when to use the tools in the toolbox and we want to make that analogy, I think it’s very applicable analogy knowing when to use the tool, how much of the tool to apply and then dialing it back. So, um, before we get into some of those timing aspects, um, do you want to take a dive into some quick physiology and neurophysiology with me? Sure. Okay. So what’s happening the benefits of strength training, what is happening at the neuro physiological level while we do some of the strength work what’s going on?

Erin Carson (18:00):

Well, without going too deep, because, you know, I don’t know that I can go dive deep right now. I haven’t been asked about

Adam Pulford (18:09):

Hanging out with

Erin Carson (18:10):

The most important thing is my muscle activation. I mean, the body will take the path of least resistance to, to achieve the desired outcome. And, and because we are doing repetitive motion, um, there is a certain amount of, of dormancy that comes in some of the outlying muscle fibers around the constantly utilized muscle fibers. So muscle activation, and as, uh, switching on muscles, muscle activation has become a really, really important part of, uh, of my world building the supporting cast around the star athlete or the star muscle fibers.

Adam Pulford (18:54):

Yeah. In, in the reason why I wanted to start with that is because I think oftentimes my athletes in, in athletes out there, they think that it’s like, Hey, I need to develop more muscle in order to do this thing. When really it is about activating, waking up, whatever, whatever term you want to use. And that’s as simple as doing the right movement, say in the right way, in order to make the brain fire that muscle, which can go, like you said, dormant when we’re just doing a bunch of repetitive things, but it happens at that, uh, the, the brain level. And that’s what a lot of people don’t really realize.

Erin Carson (19:36):

Well, and, and the, the concept of reciprocal inhibition has been debated a lot tightness on one side of the body causes neurological inhibition on the other side of the body or on the joint side. So, you know, we can look at the adductor complex and the AB ductors, the glute Mead. And, uh, I was referred to our current women’s, uh, road national championship champion, Ruth winder, who rides for Trek Segafredo. Um, her coach has been day and I was talking a lot in cyclists about glute activation, specifically with glute Mead, as it relates to the function of ad doctors. And he was like, let’s talk more about this because these world tour teams have so much access to research the European research, the research coming out of the UK, um, and they show how much inhibition there is in cyclists in that glute Mead. And so when he was like, tell me more about that. I want you to work with Ruth and Ruth, and I’ve been together now for two seasons. She’s riding great. She feels really good. Um, and we do a lot of work specifically on glute meat because we found that it does doesn’t work. EMG studies are showing, I can’t quote the study right now. It wouldn’t be hard for me to pull it up, but, um, we need in cyclist to work those lateral stabilizers.

Adam Pulford (21:02):

Yes, yes. It is a very well known thing. Clearly the proof is in the pudding with Ruth over the past couple of years as well. Um, and so, you know, activating the right muscles at the right time is really important. What about when athletes start with strength training for coming the first time flip, so newbies getting into the gym and they start in on the training and they start to make these gains, is that at the muscle level, is that the, the neuro

Erin Carson (21:29):

It’ll be neuromuscular, but it’s, you know, the interesting thing is, and the sad thing is, is just going and lifting a bunch of weights, probably won’t have the impact that people want it to have. Um, so when we look at the nervous system and we look at the fascial system and we look at the muscular system and the skeletal system, we have to look at all of it in, in its entirety. So people wish that it was just muscle development that made us better athletes. And it’s just not the truth. So, um, I can use Tim O’Donnell as another example because he’s, he’s a swimmer turned into a triathlete and doesn’t interact with gravity in a really effective way, or at least he didn’t use to when I first met him. So we really have to have that little bit of ability and make that little bit of investment in time to make sure that the individual athlete, um, has technique in place has, has postural integrity in place.

Erin Carson (22:28):

Um, with Tim O’Donnell. I wanted to get him under heavy load as quickly as I possibly could. And it took me seven and a half months to get him under heavy load, because he has extremely long arms. He did not interact with gravity while he runs beautifully, but when it came to loading his body, in my opinion, he just wasn’t ready to support the kind of load that he could. He’s a strong man. It just wasn’t, it didn’t look right. It didn’t feel right. And I didn’t think it would be effective. So it, it takes time, different people under different circumstances. And you have to look at it globally. It’s not just muscle development.

Adam Pulford (23:05):

Yes. So that is a great point. And I think when trying to break down the, the complexity of this and starting first with the near of neurophysio physiological and the then down to the muscle, um, you can’t separate the face facial. He can’t separate the, the bone is a huge part of the process of being able to handle those loads as well. Not a lot of people don’t realize, I mean, you put yourself under heavy load, the bone moves and is get to get stressed. And that is actually what causes an increased bone density, which then leads to better movement patterns and better durability for the performance of the athletes. So I’m really glad that you brought it up in that way. That’s a far better way of explaining it and saying it than I did or could have.

Erin Carson (23:54):

I just think it, I just think it needs to be a lifelong commitment. Um, I th I think intellectually anyone who’s probably listening to this podcast has a desire to do this, to do sport well, whatever their sport is, and to do sport for a long time, you know, it we’re, we’re in the prime of our working years, you know? And so we hope that when we have more time later in life, we’re still in, in the best physical opportunity to where we can go enjoy, you know, riding in Europe or doing an iron man or whatever it is, is the dream. Um, we’ve got to just accept the fact that this is going to be part of our world and therefore we don’t have to solve it in a month. We have to start to figure out if we like it or that we like it, or how we’re going to like it and enjoy it as part of the process.

Adam Pulford (24:47):

Yeah. That’s, that’s it entirely. And I tell my athletes, oftentimes the ones who complain about doing the strength training, or doing the indoor training or whatever, it’s w we do the stuff that we don’t really like to do. So that allows us to do stuff that we love to do. And I think for endurance athletes, I think that’s where strength training is because I don’t know too many endurance athletes that love strength training, but when they do it and they do it in and they, it becomes part of their habits, they realize the benefits of it. And they love the benefits. Yes. Well said. Uh, so that being said, coming back to some of the structural training changes that do occur both short-term long-term listeners, can we talk about people who are concerned about gaining weight and there’s probably little climb time’s coming down. Does that happen?

Erin Carson (25:45):

Yeah. I mean, let’s, let’s be real. We’re going to increase that cross section fiber a little bit, um, in the, in the early stages of training, but I think then the muscle and body adapts to the, to the time under tension that you spend the most time. So if you happen to put on a little bit of, of muscle, um, early in the process, um, I try to reassure, especially cyclists and, and some of my triathletes, you know, they want to stay as lean and carry as little as possible, but, you know, in the off season, we’re going to try, I, I tried to get everybody to put on five to seven pounds of muscle in the winter, especially my boys. Um, because as soon as we remove the strength training and put them more on their bike outside, especially, um, they, they just go back to being lean and now they’re stronger. So it’s, it’s a little bit of a, an early risk, but once you’ve seen it happen over and over again, you can rest assured as a coach, you can say, don’t don’t, if your weight goes up a little bit, maybe don’t weigh yourself for a couple of months. Um, but it’ll come back. All we have to do is stop doing it a little bit.

Adam Pulford (26:52):

Yeah. It is it’s functional mess. And I think it goes to when you are coaching or mentoring someone with the long-term vision of where we’re going with it, um, and take them away from that short term, uh, you know, a weight gain or a time sake then going uphill, they can then see the longterm play with it. And in kind of the benefits, um, that far exceed, you know, that short-term loss, so to speak.

Erin Carson (27:23):

Absolutely. I can remember being in a, in a, in a, uh, education seminar with Andy Pruitt and, uh, Neil Henderson at the Boulder center for sports medicine. And Andy just stood up there and he goes, look, everybody’s championships are at the end of the season. And he or she who arrives at that start line, the healthiest and the strongest at the end of the season is going to do the best. And so is it worth having, carrying a little bit more muscle maybe in April, um, so that you have this resiliency through the entire summer of hardcore training here in North America, that’s our summer. Um, so, so I think that that never left me. It’s like, I need to deliver the strongest athlete I possibly can in September and October. And that seems to have played well and this year, hopefully August at the Olympics.

Adam Pulford (28:16):

Hmm. Yeah. And, uh, I do agree with Andy on that one, for sure. So can we talk, uh, let’s talk about kind of a common man. Not really, even controversy, I don’t think is a controversy anymore, but it comments neem. That’s a little popular right now in endurance. Uh, athletics is it’s, it’s lifting heavy versus lifting light. A lot of people are going these days. And why is that?

Erin Carson (28:43):

Well, I think it, I, I couldn’t tell you for, for everybody, for sure. I know why I go heavy. Um, you know, I want to get, I want to get athletes underload specifically for a hormonal response. Um, the human growth hormone testosterone response to, to being able to get under heavy load so that they can recover, uh, better, um, and that they have just maintaining a healthy hormonal profile. And this is both for men and for women. I’m also a big fan of polarized training. So I, you know, we’re spending a lot of time in zone one and zone two. It’s, that’s difficult sometimes, uh, with a hormonal profile. And I’ll say sometimes, cause everybody’s different. But I, I know that I, I really am a big advocate for my athletes coming in after a five or a six hour zone to ride, um, which is quite often in the summer in Boulder, um, and doing a heavy lift for 20 minutes and then going home and they come in dragon and they leave smiling and they just feel better.

Erin Carson (29:50):

So, you know, how they, how we approach getting them under load we’ve I want to find every single one of us, there’s going to be some kind of lift that we enjoy, that we like that we’re good at, and it’s not the same lift for every athlete. So from a strength coaches perspective, is there one or two really massively popular lifts? Yes, but from my perspective, I just want to find the lifts, um, that my athletes enjoy something that they, they feel really good at. So I think, I think trying out different lifts, uh, I’m not a big back squatter. Um, I’m a big Mike Boyle fan. I know you probably know exactly who Mike is. Um, he’s like, he’s like he has seen more people get injured back squatting, um, then, then, you know, falling off their bikes. I it’s it’s even the NFL, they’re not back squatting to the extent that they were more, more football players were getting hurt, uh, squatting heavy than they were playing football.

Erin Carson (30:54):

Um, so, so I, I really, I have a few athletes that are very, very good at back squatting. They’ve done it their whole lives and we’ve back squat because they enjoy it. Um, but I, I’m a big fan of front squatting. I’m a big fan of hex bar deadlift. Um, I like a straight bar deadlift, but it worries me a little bit just because of some of the postural concerns with endurance athletes. We’re not as mobile in our app or backs or through our, our pelvic positioning as maybe we should be, uh, because of the sports that we do. So getting somebody with a straight bar deadlift, um, can take quite a while to get that spine and those hips in a good spot.

Adam Pulford (31:36):

Yeah, yeah. In a, I completely agree with you on that one. And in particular to kind of go a little deeper on St. Let’s, just go with the dead lift, the straight barbers to X-bar and getting your athletes to, um, getting your athletes loaded and more of what that means as well. And I think it’s getting the athlete to produce more force in, in, in therefore more power. And if you can load them up in a healthy way to get, let’s just say, get all the muscles firing and therefore increase that force production, and then leads to all the benefits that we were just talking about. And that hex bar deadlift seems to be a really effective way for a lot of athletes.

Erin Carson (32:18):

People like X-bar dead lifting that makes them feel powerful. And, and, and it does bring about good growth in lower body strength. And I think there, I will quote Mike Boyle, I think as close as I possibly can, but we don’t care how much weight you lift. How strong are you? Those are two things. And, um, specific to the sport, even how much wattage can you push? How fast can you run up the Hill? Those are the things, those are really the measurement, the true measurement of whether or not the program is good.

Adam Pulford (32:55):

That’s it? That’s it. So, so the benefits of going, let’s just say heavier versus lighter, but is there a time and place to go a little late?

Erin Carson (33:04):

Oh, absolutely. I will use light and moderate load, a lot to enhance movement. Um, so fire up the nervous system a little bit re reposition and re restructure it to the best extent that we can make an influence on the fascial system. Um, you know, must dehydration of tissue is a big, big part of, uh, the risk that we pose to our bodies. Um, just by being endurance athletes, we live most of our life in a pretty de hydrated state. And people don’t think about that’s their tissue. So when you’re dehydrated, it’s not just that you get a headache and you’re not pinging, right? It’s your tissue is very much at risk. And so when we can move tissue, um, using lighter loads or moderate loads to pull us into different positions or, or, or use, uh, more of the muscle activation technique of a push, um, we’re waking that tissue up, we’re moving that tissue, we’re mobilizing that tissue and that tissue then becomes more able to accept hydration and nutrition. So that gliding of the body, um, is really, really important. So that’s, that’s when I’ll use it for the most part. I don’t need to do a bunch of strength endurance with my athletes. I, you know, I’m not, I don’t think about it that way. Um, I probably achieve it, but I don’t think about it that way. I think it more about movement. How am I going to get this position that I want?

Adam Pulford (34:39):

I love it. And so it’s not, it’s not heavy versus light. It is heavy and light and white.

Erin Carson (34:44):

Exactly. Yeah. Okay.

Adam Pulford (34:47):

So I’m sure we’re probably confusing. A few people listen to this cause they’re like, Oh, I just want to do some strength training. So, so let’s,

Erin Carson (34:56):

It’s worth digging in, right? It’s not it’s, you know, any, anything worth having is worth digging in a little bit. Um, but there are, you know, I’m sure there’s people beyond my community that are providing really good leadership. Um, so,

Adam Pulford (35:13):

Well, no, that’s it. And I, and I think that, um, the leadership, that’s probably a good word for it because those who want say a strength training program, they can go onto the internet and find one, but it is the ones leading in a, in a good, healthy way with a focus on performance. That’s the one that we want to steer.

Erin Carson (35:34):

I agree. Yep. Yep. Yeah. Some, the saddest stories I’ve heard is people who do what we do as strength, coaches, getting a hold of some of these really high caliber athletes, and then just taking advantage of them in the weight room. I’m just like, I get that. You look really good doing that, but how, tell me how that’s making you ride your bike better. Tell me how that is making you a better triathlete. Um, just a quick divergence into a story in April, a triathlete, pretty high functioning, uh, male from South Africa reached out to me and he says, okay, I’m in lockdown, we’re all in lockdown. I want to start working with you. So I’d get up early in the morning. And I go, what have, what have you been doing? And he showed me his Instagram and I was like, Oh my God, you could win CrossFit world championships because that is awesome.

Erin Carson (36:27):

And, and I was like, but why did you reach out to me? Because that looks like an amazing program. And he goes, I am just dying on the back half of the marathon over and over and over. And I was like, okay, you’re a 35 year old boy dying in the back half of your marathon doing high-functioning strength and conditioning work in the weight room and trying to train as much as you need to train to win an Ironman. I think you might just be doing a little bit too much. So here’s my job. Let’s pull everything off the table. We did a two week movement detox. We used, um, uh, uh, beautiful, uh, form that I, I use with Dr. Eric Goodman foundation training. Um, and so we, we did nothing but foundation training for two weeks. And then we started in with some endurance, community fitness, some of my stuff you see fit. And he has just been training. I can’t wait till the guy can race, but nobody’s really racing yet. So he feels way better. His numbers are better, his coaches happy. So just by pulling some stuff off the table, we did, I think we did him a really good service to his career.

Adam Pulford (37:41):

That’s a, that’s a fantastic example right there of, of how to look at someone’s training. Didn’t just reevaluate for not only better performance, but is probably, I mean, the guy’s probably just happier as more joints. Yeah. Trashed all the time. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, let’s, let’s make some of this applicable and, and I’d say for, let’s get back to like this time crunched athlete, the person, the person who says Aaron, I, I don’t have time for this. If they’re training six to eight, maybe 10 hours a week, um, Monday through Friday, where, and when should they incorporate strength training? Just from a timing standpoint,

Erin Carson (38:28):

You know, I’m going to, there’s, there’s two things. Um, one of my first, one of my first tenants that I really want people to understand is that the key areas of mobility in the body, and I did not invent this, uh, Greg cook did super smart and generous, uh, physical therapist. Um, and he might not have been, he might’ve gotten it from somebody else. I’m sure he did. Um, ankles need to move really, really well. Um, the hips need to move really, really well. And the thoracic spine needs to move really, really well. So even if we don’t have time for specific going to the gym strength work, we need to be doing things that will specifically mobilize the ankles, mobilize and open the hips mobilize and strengthen the upper back. And if we can keep those three areas moving really well and not lose our postural, postural and integrity, then we’re going to perform way better.

Erin Carson (39:33):

So I think I I’m with you. I get that there’s time issues. I think everybody should have, uh, I, I call them my number one, two, and three of a set of light dumbbells, moderate dumbbells, and heavy dumbbells or kettlebells. Um, and if you have, you don’t need the big giant home gym. Uh, you know, it’d be great if we could all have that, but I don’t think that’s the case for most people. Um, I’m a big advocate of training with a Viper, which if people want to check that out, it’s, uh, www www.viper.com, um, which is just a very small tube that’s weighted, um, so that we can move that around a little bit, um, to, to get stronger.

Adam Pulford (40:18):

You’ve got a quick video of it on your latest Instagram post. Yeah.

Erin Carson (40:24):

I use Vipers all the time, but they’re great to have at home. And so I said, and I’d keep my Viper. A lot of times I put a YouTube up the other day about why I keep my Viper by my bike, you know, so, so I think there’s ways that we can make our lives pretty easy by just keeping a few things around the house. Most of my techniques don’t don’t need a full gym, which is ironic because I own one, but it’s, um, it’s just even, I am so busy, so we need to have a few things in the house, but we need to commit to moving well before we get strong. Um, and if we did nothing else, if we’d never lifted weights, um, but we kept paying attention to mobility, um, and how we move, we would do way better than if we got under-load, um, in a not mobile way. If that makes sense,

Adam Pulford (41:16):

It makes complete sense to me, for listeners without going through and in verbally describing, uh, in for those who are more visually, uh, motivated like myself, I need to see something that I can do it versus here’s something. Um, where would you drive our listeners to you to find some of those?

Erin Carson (41:37):

Well, I think the most important thing let’s do this for all the listeners, we’ll create a code and they can get 30 days of free access to my on-demand, uh, program. And if they email me, I can put them into what I call my premium membership, which is me telling you exactly what to do using both of my apps every 30 days. So I put together a monthly outline. Um, we’re right now everybody’s training. Uh, I would say we’re all kind of moderately training. We’re not doing a race lead-up, but there’s going to be tracks that people can go on. So they can go into the lead-up of, uh, of, uh, race lead-up. They can go into a strength track, they can go into a mobility track. Um, and so let’s just give them a little taste of, of my world and it can be a gift and I’m happy to do that. Cause I, I really feel good about what we’re doing and how it’s positively impacting people for sure. Of all different levels.

Adam Pulford (42:36):

That is so cool. And for the listeners here, like w w what we try to do on the train ride podcast is give you cool information from grant people like Erin, but also provide the resources in what Aaron’s doing right there. That’s a big thing. So for those listening right now, like, man, like stop walking your dog, or pull off to the side of the road if you’re riding in like type this in anyway. Uh, so that that’s great. And I think for the busy time crunched person, like they should start there. That’s

Erin Carson (43:12):

My workouts are less than 30 minutes. And so the people, when they do have more time, they just stack them, they might do a hip opener, uh, that takes 10 minutes. They’ll do a foundation class that takes 25 minutes. And then maybe later in the day, they’ll do a lift, but everything, everything I offered, there’s everything from 10 minutes to 20 minutes to, you can stack them and make it an hour if you want. So,

Adam Pulford (43:35):

So yeah. So stacking them, meaning like you take one of the workouts right after the other retrofit. Yeah, exactly. Excellent. Um, and even if you’re a super time crunch, you got 20 minutes. I mean, do you need to go into one of those 20 minute movement based workouts warmed up and ready? Or can you just kind of go for it?

Erin Carson (43:56):

You can just kind of go for it. Perfect. Okay. We use a breath, we use a lot of breath work as well. So I know that that’s a big topic right now, and we’re using a lot of expansion of the rib cage where a lot of elevation of the rib cage. I mean, most people don’t know, you can even stretch your psoas just by breathing. So that’s kind of exciting.

Adam Pulford (44:17):

Yeah. I mean, yogis have been talking about this for 2000 years. The endurance world is now catching on. I’m just kidding self yet. We’re catching on it’s good stuff. Yeah. It is good stuff. Uh, so 20, so 20 minutes, I feel like anybody can do 20 minutes, but, um, how many days per week are we talking for the busy folk?

Erin Carson (44:38):

You know, in the schedule, I always put six or seven days a week, not for lifting, but for hip openers, um, for T spine mobility, for some foundation training for some recovery work, it’s all part of the, you know, we’re not just strength coaches, we’re, we’re physical. We need you, you to be set up well to train well. So I’m going to put on a schedule, I’m going to put six to seven things on a schedule. Um, but for a specific lift, it can be two to two and a half is what my pros do. Usually two and a half

Adam Pulford (45:15):

And a little. So if people are freaking out about the like six days a week of doing like something movement related, uh, quick life hack, and I know not everybody can do that

Erin Carson (45:27):

While you’re drinking your coffee. Perfect. This is really easy stuff. It’s just like, get on one knee, put two hands over your head and breathe it and then take a sip of coffee. You know, it’s stuff you can do standing in the kitchen. It’s stuff that we want to be able to use stuff. Actually, if you did it cumulatively, you’ll find the movements that feel good to you. I embarrass the heck out of my partner, but I’ll do them at whole foods while I’m waiting in line. You know, there’s, there’s so many movements that we can do that just open our bodies up. Um, you know, putting don’t underestimate, putting both arms over your head and reaching as high as you can. And just side bending. If you’re a cyclist, like that’s, that’s one of the best feeling movements you can do.

Adam Pulford (46:15):

I tell that to my wife, like all the time that you tell me that like every week, um, but yeah, you take these little movement breaks anywhere, you know, drinking coffee, talking on the phone on zoom, just kill the camera or whatever.

Erin Carson (46:30):

It’ll make you a better business person. I would, I would stake money on it. You know, if anybody that doesn’t think they have time to become a better Mo movement person, I would challenge that you, you walk into a room to sell something or to, to present something, an idea, and you stand like a bad-ass people are going to listen to you. So I, I, yeah, I think it, I think it’s, it’s very, very much worth it.

Adam Pulford (46:56):

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that it’s like, when, okay, well, if you’re getting sleepy in the afternoon, then that’s, that’s when you do it, as opposed to the other cup of coffee or whatever, and it’s really any time, but that is one cue that I’ve told my athletes too. It’s like, I want you to do, it’s like, well, you’re feeling sleepy like in the afternoon where you take a little movement break. Yeah. Yep. Um, excellent. Okay. So those are all wonderful resources, really good advice for the busy folk. How about the athletes who they’re pretty on it? Like they’ve got, let’s just say like, whatever time is necessary, but they don’t want to like waste their time either. Um, how much movement things should they do per week and how much like true strength training are we talking?

Erin Carson (47:44):

You know, those people are fun because, you know, when you, when you’re not under, under duress for time, I got to be really honest. Um, I’m stick, I’m sticking with my two and a half, uh, two and a half sessions a week and 40 minutes per session. Um, and then use the rest of that time to be the best recovering person you can be. You know, if you have a good coach who is pushing your buttons and pushing you to be the best physical you, you can be, then you need more time recovering. Then you’re going to need more than extra time in the gym is gonna help you. Um, so, so might not be the answer that, that you thought I might give, but I know if we, I know if we do it well, and we do exactly what that athlete needs. Um, the recovery time will be more valuable than additional time in the gym.

Adam Pulford (48:42):

I was just sitting here like smiling. And I was like, how do I, how do I say this to our listeners? We did not like rehearse this or any or anything beforehand, but I was like, man, I would probably do like the same frequency, uh, for those type of people in, in, in focus on recovery, focus on doing other things as well. But like, that’s really funny actually. I

Erin Carson (49:04):

Knew we were going to like each other. Yeah,

Adam Pulford (49:06):

This is great to clarify one thing. Cause I, cause when I’m building stuff, it’s really, it is really two and a half days. Can you tell me or our listeners what that like half days for you? Like what does that, what does that

Erin Carson (49:19):

Half day typically comes at the end of a long training session, whether it’s a long run or a long ride? Um, I don’t do a lot of ultra swimmers, um, but it would probably come at the end of a long swim or even I do. I train a lot of golfers as well. I’m a timeless performance person and, and uh, I, I would probably have them come in off the, off the range or off of, uh, around a golf. And so when you’re in a more fatigued state, um, that’s, you know, you know, the biggest thing is when, when an athlete, when races are won or lost is really at the end of the race. When the, when the golf, the golf matches, one is in the final few holes. And so putting an athlete in a position of having to focus physically, um, at the end of the, a long ride or a long run, um, you’re gonna probably get a lot of good output, um, just from a brain standpoint, just from somebody’s focus ability to focus. And I think it can be a real game changer.

Adam Pulford (50:23):

Yeah. In, in it’s it’s not to say that, you know, those other two sessions throughout the week. I mean, those are focused on high quality movements in a, probably a non pre fatigued scenario. And, but those have days that you’re talking about, you also want to make sure that you’re, you’re feeling properly. You know, it’s just like totally strung out before you get into the gym. And, but when that happens, I think when you’re working with that athlete that has the time there, they really listen to everything that you do, you can do that half day session, do it well in, in really maximize that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Um, and it’s both cognitive as well as physical. And when you can get athletes to do that, I, I always, I always have my athletes kind of repeat back to, it’s just like, you know what we did.

Adam Pulford (51:17):

We went harder in training that it’s, it’s be easy. Exactly. Well, we’re, we’re coming up to the top of the hour and really, you know, we, we covered, we covered a lot, we got into some muscle physiology neurophysiology, but more importantly, we got into which I didn’t also fully plan for, but resources for free that people can, can tap into of what you’re doing here. And I really respect everything that you’ve done. I mean, we, we haven’t met, um, personally I’ve known OPU for a while in Boulder and I was in Colorado Springs for a number of years, but having the CSCs certification and kind of knowing of you and the athletes you’ve worked with, I mean, for our listeners, she really is, uh, the criminal crim when it comes to strength training. And she’s worked with some of the top athletes not to say just because she works with or has been around top athletes. She, she does it with every type of athlete. So this is definitely somebody that you can trust in terms of, you know, the, the content, the knowledge. Um, and I really, for those looking to add in strength training to their pandemic training program, I don’t, I can’t think of a better way to do it than this. So, um, kind of in summary here, I mean, th the number one question I like to, to end with is what’s, what’s the number one thing that you hope our listeners take away conversation we had today?

Erin Carson (52:43):

You know, I think the biggest thing is that the older we get, whether it’s, whether we’re 25, 35 or 55, the wiser we get. And so, you know, there’s that, uh, saying, uh, if I had only known then what I know now, and I think that we have done a good job, and I just want to say thank you again for, including me in your podcast, because being able to share, um, the kind of knowledge and passion that I have to help people become very wise athletes, um, is something that’s really, really important to my story with, with sport and performance. And, and I just really want to become wise athletes and have the bodies that they, they want to be performance people. They’re not, you know, I’m, I’m not a participant, I’m a competitor, and anyone that’s listening to this podcast and taking the time to become a better athlete, I’m going to put them in that same category.

Erin Carson (53:45):

You know, we want to maybe not compete against other people, but we want to be the best version of ourselves. And it, we know, we know that the strength training is going to play a big role in that. I think doing it in a really organized well-designed fashion is, is really going to add meaning to that time. So I’m thankful to be in the position that I’m in. And, um, uh, it’s an honor and a privilege to serve people with those kinds of dreams and, you know, nothing makes us happier as coaches than, than helping people live those dreams.

Adam Pulford (54:23):

I couldn’t agree more, Aaron. So thank you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your life today, to talk to us on the train ride podcast and help make all of us wiser athletes.

Erin Carson (54:36):

I love that. Thanks. Thanks Adam. Take care.


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