TSS 53 | Strength Program For Cyclists

Tony Horton Is BACK! Plus Our Interview With Coach Ash Wilking

TSS 53 | Strength Program For Cyclists


  • Custom Workout Sharing is now available.
  • Custom By Tonal is coming out of beta.
  • Tony Horton is back!
  • New Content – Tag Team: Drop Sets and Sweat, 3×3 Circuit: HIIT, Cardio with a Kick, and more!

All this plus our interview with Coach Ash Wilking.

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


Tony Horton Is BACK! Plus Our Interview With Coach Ash Wilking

Welcome to episode 53.

We are recording this over the July 4th, 2023 weekend, but we have done no fireworks. I saw a thing that said a lot of different area municipalities, governments or counties are switching to drone shows instead of fireworks shows. Have you seen when people take all the drones, do them remote control and sync and they can create images in the sky? It’s cool.

Are they loud?

No. That’s the thing. They’re drones so they don’t make any noise at all but they still light up the sky. A lot of places are probably switching to them because they don’t have to worry about upsetting animals, people with PTSD or what have you but you still get the effect of lighting up the sky. My guess is it’s probably maybe cheaper. Maybe not in the short-term but I bet you long-term it’s cheaper. Fireworks are expensive and certainly safer.

I would be interested to know why Disney hasn’t started doing it.

I didn’t mention this when we were at Disney but I wonder when Disney will incorporate drones instead of fireworks. It has to save them a ton of money because the cost of a drone show every day versus a fireworks display every day, I would think would almost have to save the money.

Do they do fireworks in all the parks or is it just Magic Kingdom and Epcot?

Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Animal Kingdom is normally closed by the time it gets dark so I don’t think they have anything. Hollywood Studios sometimes does. Remember, we watched the thing where they projected The Great Movie at the time. They also have Fantasmic. That’s baked in pyro to the show. I don’t think it’s actual fireworks but that would be a great addition for Hollywood Studios. It’s a great differentiator. Instead of fireworks, come see the drone show. Disney is looking to hire anyone. People are like, “I thought this was about Tonal. What are they talking about?” We’ll also talk about Tonal. Both of us are doing Sculpt & Shred.

You’re doing the upper body.

You are doing lower.

It’s been fascinating how some of our workouts are similar, first of all. Second of all, how they are so incredibly painful.

I had one. I’m bad. I’ve talked before about how I don’t pay attention. I like Tonal because I don’t have to think about it. When people are on day twelve, I have no idea what day it was so don’t ask me. There was a thing where it had me doing a Rack Squat To a bench. You do a rack squat but you don’t go down. You hit the bench and pop back up. That’s the first time I’ve ever been given that move in my few years of Tonal. I saw it pop up and I was like, “That looks lame. That looks like the old lady version of a rack squat.”

It’s because you don’t sit down as deeply.

You don’t go down as far and then you’re sitting down. You can sit down. I did it. My apologies to old ladies everywhere.

I tell you what. You’re just supposed to tap it with your tushy. You’re not supposed to stay there and hang out.

The thing is if you stay there, it’s its own punishment because it’s harder to get up.

The rack squat makes it hard because it’s pushing down on you.

If you get in your mind like, “I can sit here for a second,” you just made things even worse. It’s like, “I bet you I can finish this paper in the morning.”

The thing I love about this is first of all, I’ve been taking progress photos and I can tell that my booty is getting lifted. The peaches truly be peaching. Also, I have noticed that I feel all over and my pictures showed this. It’s getting leaner, even though my food hasn’t changed. I eat pretty clean. I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s pretty good. It’s incredibly effective for people who are looking for a good summer program. It’s hard. I have not felt like running on other days. It takes a lot out of your legs.

I’ve had some days doing upper because like on the lower, you still are going to do some upper. I’ve had some days after lower body where the next day, it’s a woof. I’m like, “What would this be like if I was doing the lower body stuff?” If that’s what I feel after a lower body on an upper body-focused program, I can’t even imagine what it would feel like on the lower body version.

It is intense because my hamstrings are still yelling and barking at me. I also went on a hike. There were some pretty hilly portions so my hamstrings were not happy every step of that as well. That’s probably why they’re so sore still. I feel like it’s super effective. I don’t like when I do a workout and I don’t feel it’s worth my time. All workouts suck to a degree. You still got to do the work and feel nothing. If you’re sore the next day, the good sore, not the, “I can’t move sore,” and we’re not talking about that, it’s the sore that’s like, “Accomplished.”

I’m starting the third week and I’m still feeling sore after these workouts. I love that because I feel like, “Checkmark, getting things done.” If you guys haven’t tried it, I highly recommend that you do. It is good. I’m going to do the upper body after this but I don’t know, they keep coming out with new content that catches my eye. I could see flipping and doing the upper body too.

Who are we talking to in this episode?

We are talking to Coach Ash Wilking. What a fabulous interview. It was so great to get to know her and talk to her about the different programs she’s done and her whole backstory.

We have other things to discuss.

We’ve got some new features that hit too.

Tony Horton is back. People will be very excited about that. Before we get into all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google. Wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. If you have other friends who love their Tonal and can’t get enough of it, maybe let them know that we’re out there. Share an episode on your feed, timeline or Instagram panel. I don’t know. Also, your snapchatter or something like that so people can check it out.

It’s also probably a great way if you have friends who are on the fence and feel like they don’t know enough before pulling the trigger on an item like Tonal. We’re also a good introduction for them. You can also find us on Facebook, Facebook.com/SupersetPodcast. We also have a YouTube channel, YouTube.com/TheClipOut, the name of our other show but these are there as well. There’s all that. Let’s dig in, shall we?

We shall.

Custom Workout Sharing. People love building their custom workouts but they weren’t able to share them with people and now, they can.

Before you go and say, “I don’t have it yet,” please go to your app store and make sure you have the newest update. Look to see if you have the latest download of Tonal. They’re rolling it out and they do that slowly because they’ve got so many users. You have to do these things slowly. This is something that people have been asking for since day one when we got the Tonal back in 2018.

It’s been a long time coming. This is something so many people have asked for. I love that Tonal is still putting out features that the members are asking for. This is very exciting. This is a big deal because you can create any workout you want and share it with other people. This is so huge. Tom, I could truly make you miserable by sharing workouts that I create just for you.

I’ve already had a wife who made me miserable. Don’t do that.

I won’t. I’ll have somebody else do it. I’m just teasing. You can hone in on your specific trouble areas or maybe you have to avoid certain muscles so you can make your own workout. Let’s say that you have ankle straps and you want to use that and be able to create Tonal moves and things that aren’t included in the Tonal library. You can do that. There are all these options for you and I love it.

Speaking of custom, Custom By Tonal is coming out of beta.

I am so happy to see that this is coming out of beta. People have been so ecstatic about this one. It’s all on trainer experience that combines custom-built workouts but it has the ease and the expertise of coach-led pre-programmed content. You get to focus on putting your time into the muscle and not your workout. These are also good add-ons to existing programs. For a lot of people out there who say, “I want to be in two programs at once,” this is a way to add a tough workout to an existing program very easily. I love it.

Are these the platinum thing?


I was doing some of those and they came in handy for me. When we were getting ready to go out of town for a week, I was like, “I don’t want to start a program, do a week and then take a week off.” That feels weird. You come back and hit week two. You don’t feel like you’re geared up for it because you have “missed” week one. I found myself looking for one-offs, which I don’t typically do. I stumbled into these by accident and was doing the platinum ones.

They were tough. It was the Platinum Six, I believe.

Yes, that’s what it was. Those were no joke.

If you want to find all the Custom By Tonal workouts, you can go to your trainer and go to Explore filter format and Custom By Tonal. It’s very easy to find.

If you want to do the one I did, look for Platinum. Tony Horton is back.

People are so excited about this.

They love some Tony Horton.

This one is called the Triple Threat: Dynamic Gains. You’re going to boost strength muscle and stamina. This is cool because you’re going to do heavyweight but mix in eccentric mode and chains mode for building power. You also are going to have 2 upper-body workouts and 1 lower-body workout. Each session is going to last between 35 and 40 minutes. I’m glad it’s only 3 because when you’re adding eccentric and chains, I feel like 4 might be a bit much for this one. Three is a good number of days.

For the people that like Tony Horton, it has to be very exciting because you have a Tonal moved on from Tony Horton stuff but then to still have him pop up on the new thing that you’re on, that has to be blunt. I never worked out before Tonal so I know the name Tony Horton mainly because of his coffee and donut shop in Canada.

No. That’s Tim Horton.

His brother Tim. I get them mixed up. They went different ways.

Remember the one time we ate there and you tried those weird potatoes and you loved them? The French fries?

Poutine, which sounds like the noise you make when an old-timey person spits in a cartoon. I was like, “That sounds disgusting.” It then was like, “Canada has it figured out. First socialized medicine, now this? I guess you need it.” Shoving all that poutine down people’s throats.

Isn’t it like gravy?

It’s gravy on your French fries. I’m like, “I like gravy on mashed potatoes so this isn’t a radical turn of events, except you’ve turned it into a fast food delight.”

You sure loved it.

I did love it. Remember how I was invisible in Canada?

I do remember that.

I’ve never experienced anything like that before or since.

That was weird. Everybody talks about how nice Canadians are.

We were walking through the airport in Canada. We were staying there overnight to catch a cruise. We kept going back and forth in the airport because our hotel was at the airport. We were like, “Why make it harder than it needs to be?” We were walking around in the little shopping area and the restaurants. People kept walking right into me.

Not like bumping his shoulder but a full-on body slam. This occurred no less than 3 times in 20 minutes.

I think it might have been more. I was like, “What is happening? I don’t understand.”

You would make a comment and they wouldn’t even address it. They didn’t even hear you.

I’m like, “I don’t understand why no one can see me in Canada.” It’s not like I was wearing some anti-Canadian propaganda.

Not at all. We were so happy to be there. We had the most beautiful room and the view. It was amazing.

We walked on the runway. I was wearing my Robin Sparkles t-shirt so Canada should have loved me. I don’t understand what was happening but it was crazy. Speaking of the new content room, there’s a tag team Drop Sets and Sweat.

This is going to be with Coaches Tim and Tanysha. It’s going to be compound lifts and plyometrics and you’re going to have two coaches. This is a full-body workout and it has everything you need to build lean muscle and burn fat. When we talk to Tim Landicho in a very short time, you’re going to know all about this workout and how it went down with Coach Tanysha.

If you’re like me saying, “What is plyometric,” we’ll learn all about them in the next episode so stay tuned. Also, we have the 3×3 Circuit: HIIT.

Tom, this is a good one for you on the days when you’re not lifting and you want to get a break and do some cardio. This is a HIIT fix. It’s 25 minutes so in-out. It’s perfect for all users, whether you’re a beginner to advance. It’s 3 exercises in 3 rounds. It sounds easy but they’re duration-based sets so you can scale it to your fitness level. You can work at a pace that makes you a little breathless right out of the gate and then activate burnout mode if you need assistance on the final kneeling overhead press. That’s Coach Kristina. That one’s tough.

They pretty much all make me breathless right out of the gate.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m female but my upper body strength is always where it’s the hardest. Whenever I have to do those overhead lifts, I hate them so much. What’s next?

Cardio with a Kick.

This is Coach Ash so we’re going to be talking to her in this episode. This is a kickboxing-inspired cardio session. You get to practice squat jacks and bounds along with kicks and punches to add some flavor. This is another good one for you when you’re looking for cardio, Tom.

It’s great if you’re in a bad mood. I don’t like the things where I’m punching and kicking. Whenever I throw a punch, I am reminded of how poorly I throw a punch.

I have my punching bag and I like to use that. I feel like it’s a good way to feel like I’m kicking or punching something. Air is not good for me.

I get that. I’ve never done the bag. I just punch the air but it feels silly.

You should try the bag sometime.

I know people love it. I’m not disparaging it. It’s just not my jam. I feel silly.

That’s the nice thing about Tonal. If that’s not your jam, you go to the next one. What’s next?

Custom By Tonal so you can customize to your jam’s delight.

I know you like these. These are some new ones they added to the lineup. These are all 15 minutes so 15-Minute Muscle. It’s a whole series of them. You have one for your chest and biceps, one for your back and triceps, one for your legs and shoulder and one for your abs. This is perfect. If you’re a person who likes a 4-day breakout of all the muscle groups, 15 minutes in and out. This is fabulous.

This is probably good if you feel like you’re in a spot where you’re happy. You’re not looking to add a bunch of muscle but you don’t want to lose any ground either. You can have fifteen minutes a day.

This is a good pump and it’s strength-building. You can add these on.

Joining us from the magical country of Tonalvania is Ash Wilking.

Ash, welcome to the show.

Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

We are so excited to have you here. It is so nice to meet you. I want to get right into this because you launched a new program, Strength for Cyclists and I am pumped about it. Tell us more about it.

Is this the one I already did? Cycle strength?

No. That was Cycle Sync Strength.

You ladies and your cycles. There are so many of them.

I’m very proud of you for becoming informed about everything we have to deal with every single month. Strength for Cyclists, if I could have named it anything, it wouldn’t have fit all in one sentence. It was a strength for cyclists, triathletes, runners, humans who want to move better and my avid spinners, whether it be in the studio, out in the studio or on the road. I was super excited about this mostly because I get to talk about being on my bike. I’m sure you were both well aware. What did we call it again, Tom? The Tonalverse.

I said Tonalvania.

I love that. I am going to bring it up in class.

Also, I need you to say that the little guy front and back, the little muscle, which is what we call him, you need to work that one in too and Bavarian split squats. That’s when you got to do the little twist.

I did hear that one. We did hear that.

What else do I have?

Those are your three. You only get three.

Unless something else comes out, we’ll save it. We’ll write it down. This is my opportunity to be like, “Let’s talk about some bikes while we get to workout.”’ As you and the Tonalverse and Tonalvania already know, most movements and workouts are relatively basic and simple. You follow a few, like are you looking to build muscle? Are you looking to get lean? It’s all pretty basic in the best way.

I like to keep things simple. I’m like, “Let’s move in the way that we know we’re going to be on a bike a lot and be moving in one plane of motion a lot. Let’s try to gear this to how can we hit some of those movements. Also, how can we add variety and add a little bit of fun?” I always love to add core work in because who doesn’t love to get some core work in on our workouts?

The breakdown of Strength for Cyclists is it’s a 2-week program and a 4-day split. The biggest thing about this one and I’ve talked about it so much in class and also messaging with tons of folks in the OTC and via the DMs, is it’s not an in-season program even though it is only two weeks. There’s still quite a bit of volume.

Truly, you become a cyclist by just riding a little further. Eventually, a little further means you get to bring more snacks. Eventually, a little further means that you get to stop and have snacks. Share on X

I was doing this while also starting to tri-train. I was like, “She’s tired.” That’s a big thing to remember. When you’re adding this into your cycling, whether you’re riding on the weekends or you are starting to train for something, it’s like preseason training. We’ll go for 2 weeks and 4 days a week. You could do this once, twice or three times.

It works well if you add it on one after the next if you don’t get tired of me talking in class. The breakdown for each week is going to go upper body, full body, core day and then we have another full body to end the week. I loved day one. I was like, “We’re going to do strength for cyclists. This is your upper body workout.” Everybody’s like, “What?”

That was my question. I was like, “Is this going to be all lower-body stuff if it’s for your bike?”


You do a lot of leaning with your upper body.

You got to get the bike up in your car.

You have to change your tires. There are all kinds of stuff you have to do when you cycle. That was the biggest thing that I wanted to talk about in the program. We might be runners or cyclists but our legs aren’t the only thing doing the work. Specifically in cycling, much like we look at our computers or over our phones all day, we’re hunched over. We’re locked short on our front. We’re stretched out long in our back. We’re in that seated position. Our glutes are on a stretch. The front side or our anterior side and our hips are all tight and everything. It mimics a lot of what we do every day.

The reality of the program is how do we get out of that? How do we fight against the movements that we’re going to be in for 2, 3 or 7 days at a time? Who knows? That was the goal. That’s why when I thought about breaking it out, I was like, “How can we add in some upper body movements that are going to counteract our cycling position and also that are going to help us and force us to stretch?” It is what I like to call strength training. It’s forced stretching, let’s be honest. The best way to stretch your hamstrings is to do a deadlift. The best way to stretch your shoulders is to get into a lap pole. Do that straight-arm pull. Put tension on the muscle and get into that stretch.

In a sneaky coach way, I’m like, “Let’s strength train but also do a lot of stretching while we’re at it.” It’s a fun program. I love that it’s bite-sized and that it’s two weeks. I mentioned it also but if you want to take this into your season if you are training for something, you can break it out and do two workouts a week even though they say you get upper full and then a core full. You get a little of everything regardless if you do it 2 days a week or 4 days a week.

It sounds like it’s good even if you’re not a person who bikes a lot or you’re a person that sits at a desk a lot.

We talk a lot about positioning. It’s that position of if you are sitting at a desk, hunched over your computer or even riding in a car if you’re a big commuter, the reality is we start to fall forward. The muscles on the front side of our body are going to be short, which means that we need to open those. The muscles on our back are stretched, which means that we need to strength train those. That’s why anytime we do posterior work, it’s pulling through the back.

We’re like, “This feels great,” because it’s counteracting that movement that we’re always in. It’s the same thing with our glutes. We love to hate to train them but they need it. They need strength training. They’re a massive piece of our core. It’s good for anyone who has 2 arms, 2 legs, a body and a brain and wants to work out and feel good.

You mentioned how much you love to ride your bike. What’s your athletic background? Have you been a bike rider your whole athletic life? How does that work?

If you include riding a bike barefoot and jumping off of wooden-built ramps in your front yard and down the street when you were a kid, then yes. I am a lifelong cyclist. I was always, more so as a kid, the “athlete.” I was always the one that was like, “Can I go swimming? Can I ride my bike? Can I climb the tree?” It was always doing something and moving.

That transitioned into being on the swim team and my parents putting me in karate. They were like, “You need a little bit of discipline. You need to calm down.” Those were my two big things as a young athlete. I was a swimmer and a martial artist for almost twelve years. Getting into high school, it was that same idea. I was like, “What sports can I play?”

When I started a new school in seventh grade, the first sport, first season and first thing I could try out for was cross country. I jumped into cross country to meet people in my new school. That led to track and I went to LSU for college. If you’re unfamiliar with Louisiana State University and its athletics, they’re number one in almost everything so becoming a collegiate athlete there was pretty tough. I went more on like, “Let’s tailgate and then play intramurals during college.”

With that, it was more so having fun, going for bike rides and going for longer-ish runs for fun to get out. Once I moved to New York from New Orleans, my graduation gift was my first official road bike. It was a steel Surly so it was not a fancy bike at all. It was pretty heavy. That was my first bike. It was before we had a city bike in New York. I used to ride around the city when it was wildly dangerous several years ago to ride my bike downtown and on any of the avenues. I loved it.

When you tag along with really great riders, your whole goal is to not get dropped. Share on X

We’ve seen bike people. It’s crazy.

It is crazy in New York. I know it’s better because they have bike lanes but when you try to get in your car, you can get run over by a bike. It’s insane.

It used to be that the cyclists were always scared of the cars. This time, it is the opposite. You have to look out for all the cyclists, to be honest. I’m starting to age myself because I’m officially entering the era of, “When I moved to New York back in my day, there weren’t bike lanes. You guys are enjoying these bike lanes. They weren’t always there.” When I moved to New York was when I leaned into cycling. I used it to not have to pay for cabs.

That was my only bike. When I first signed up for a triathlon with a friend at my corporate job, it was like, “Get me out of this cubicle. What can I do to have fun?” We started training for a sprint tri. My first sprint tri and my first Olympic tri were all on that steel bike. Even racing, I was like, “This has two wheels. This works.”

I’ll never forget riding 13 miles for the first time. I was like, “Double digits. That was a ride.” I went all the way to the top of Manhattan and then eventually, I had to come back. Truly, that is how you become a cyclist. You start riding a little further. Eventually, a little further means you get to stop and have snacks. That’s how I started doing it. When I’m training, I’m like, “I’m here for the snacks in between.” I ride more miles so that I get to have more snacks.

How many snacks are in a 450-mile race or ride?

That is a lot of snacks.

It’s like a three-course meal.

With my first road bike and that was when the first time that I ventured over one of the bridges, that’s when I went over to New Jersey, did the GW and hit the market. I’ll never forget my first ride coming back was the first time I went 20-plus miles. I don’t think I slept for four days. I was exhausted. My tank was so empty. A lot of people are like, “How did you become this crazy endurance athlete?” I’m like, “I started going a little further. That’s all it was.”

There’s a big difference between 20 and 450. Tell us about this ride because you went through New York State. I’m curious how you went from a little bit to 450 miles. That’s a big jump.

I’ll take it back a tiny bit before we jump into Niagara Falls. I’ve met a few friends that are relatively big cyclists. The nice thing is I tag along. When you tag along with great riders, your whole goal is to not get dropped. You are fighting for your life on those rides trying to stay with great riders. When they say iron sharpens iron, truly, that’s how you push yourself.

It was coming out of the pandemic. It was right when things were starting to open back up a little bit. One of my good friends, Matt, is that rider that I always try to stick with. One day, I messaged him. I was like, “I want to do a day ride. I’ve done little trips here and there but I’ve never gone anywhere.” He’s like, “Let’s do it.” I’m like, “Do you want to go to Montauk?” He was like, “Sure.” I was like, “Do you want to go this weekend?” He’s like, “Sure.”

It truly was like, “Let’s meet at 5:00 AM by the Manhattan Bridge,” and we took off. That was my first century ride. It was the first time I hit 100 miles and I have the video. I was in tears. I was so happy. I learned a lot even on that day trip from New York to Montauk. We took the train back that night. I learned so much about nutrition, hydration and wanting to lay on the side of the road but keeping my feet going every time I wanted to stop.

Also, that was the first time I noticed the breakdown of, “I’ve been hunched over this bike for six hours. My wrists are feeling the pressure of the handlebars.” You start noticing all the little things. That was before I did my first Half Ironman. That was before I did racing in that sense. It led to a lot of my understanding of longer endurance riding and the conversations we had in our program. That was the first time I broke 100. That gave me this confidence of like, “I can do this. I know what I’m doing.” My long-term goal is I want to ride my bike cross-country. It’s going to happen. I got to give it some time before that happens. I was planning on doing it in April of 2020 and then that didn’t happen.

It seems like the best time to do it. There were no cars on the road. You had to be outside all the time.

However, there was also nowhere to buy snacks. I made this decision that I still wanted to have this extravagant goal when it came to cycling. I’d always wanted to do it. I had done my first Half Ironman. I was in that phase of both my parents got sick in the same year. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It was one of those life moments where you’re like, “I need to get to enjoy this body while it’s able to do these things.”

One of the challenges that I’ve always wanted is touring on my bike. It was like, “I want to ride my bike, pitch a tent, sleep and get back on my bike.” I came up with the idea of riding from New York City to Niagara Falls mostly because I’ve never been to Canada. There are so many people that are like, “Don’t say out loud that you’ve never been to Canada.” I was like, “How cool would that be to go to a place that I’ve never been, get my passport stamped and go into a new country?

On a bike, that’s awesome. I love it.

I started researching it. There was a lot that went into it but I did it. I rode my bike from New York to Albany over to Niagara Falls. I then put my feet up on the dashboard and catch a ride back home.

How long did it take to go 450 miles?

I took off an entire week. That was my vacation in October 2022. I did it for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I raised money while I was doing it. I took off on Saturday morning. Initially, during the trip, I was supposed to have some friends do it with me but like all great plans, it fell apart right before it happened. People were like, “I can’t do the entire week. Something came up.” I was like, “It’s fine. Maybe you can ride with me until here.”

The reality is I was like, “That’s cool.” It’s because I wanted to do the trip by myself but my mom, dad and no one at Tonal wanted me to do it by myself. I understood the dangers of being alone when you’re on a bike but it was this thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to have everything go wrong and have to figure it out.

I have questions though. Logistically, doing that, there are so many things from a safety perspective that you have to think about. You’re a woman. You’re out there alone in the dark. That is dangerous. I don’t know another way to say that. It doesn’t have to be and it’s other people that make it dangerous. What did you do to protect yourself, if I may ask? If you don’t want to talk about that here, that is okay.

Let’s talk about it because honestly, there have to be other women that want to do these types of things but don’t feel very comfortable doing it.

Her next class is called Strength for Gun Owners.

My knuckles or fists are considered lethal weapons.

She’s like, “I got my guns.”

That’s true. She did twelve years of karate.

When I moved to New York, my dad said it. He’s like, “I’m not worried about you. I’m worried about anybody who tries to mess with you,” so I’m okay. There are a few things. One of the biggest things was I wanted to feel comfortable and confident in myself by understanding my surroundings, knowing my surroundings and choosing the right places to stay, which I did. All of my stops were planned out. All of my mileage was planned out. I knew exactly where I was going to be relatively when I should get there. I had some backup plans just in case.

Also, I was in constant communication. The wonderful thing about technology is that every single person in my life that I’m very close to had my location service. I had friends call me. They’re like, “You’re already in Albany. I noticed you were going across the bridge.” They could follow me. They had all that information so they knew where I was staying. They had contact information.

I did have a friend join me on day one. It was wonderful because I was a little nervous about camping. I found this cool vineyard that allowed you to camp on-site while they were closed in the evenings. They had a little back plot where they had bathrooms. You could connect to a few things and sleep under the stars. I found a few campsites that were like that. I felt comfortable because they were a bit more protected than if you were sleeping on the side of the road. I wasn’t getting off my bike and setting up camp there.

That’s what I was picturing. “I’m tired.” I’m like, “Whoa.”

Honestly, that probably would’ve been nice because there were so many times that I was like, “I’m done,” but I was like, “I have to get 20 more miles in before I get to this campsite.” It also gave me the motivation to keep going.

How far off the path were these places? Did they add 10 miles each way to get to them?

A few of them. What I did and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, is called the Empire State Trail. What New York State did is they reclaimed old railways and made them these beautiful paths so that hikers, cyclists, runners, walkers, locals and anyone can access this. It goes through beautiful historic parts of New York that in the industrial age were a very big deal. Especially along the Erie Canal, there were towns that had so much history behind them because they were the booming part of the industry that are closed. It brought me through some pretty cool stuff.

The Empire Trail goes from New York. You can see the signs when you’re here in the city along the river. I see them when I run. It gets me excited to go cycling again. It goes up to Albany and then it splits. It goes over to Buffalo and then it goes up towards Montreal. I did the first part of it. I would camp. I had somebody camping with me on day one.

I had everything go wrong and I was by myself when it happened. I had my tire burst. It was not just the tube but the tire itself that burst the morning of day two. That was when I had 110 miles on my legs and I had to do another 86. I changed the tube and duct-taped the tire. I rode 70 miles on a duct-taped tire. I have some crazy stories.

The wonderful thing about technology is that every single person you’re close with can have your location service. Share on X

Finally, I got that changed because somebody saw that. When I stopped, they were like, “I noticed you had duct tape on the tire. I have an extra tire if you’d like one.” I’m like, “Sure.” You’d be surprised by the people that come out to help you when you tell them what you’re doing. I ran into this person in a diner. I got a new tire.

On riding day two, I got another flat. I’m giving you a very short story. I ended up having to dismantle my bike, put it in the back of a cop car and get a ride 2 to 3 miles up the road to my campsite because I couldn’t change it at that point. Everything went wrong but everything went exactly how it was supposed to, which I loved. It was a lot of days in my head and a lot of snacks. I had a bungee cord on the front of my bike. You name it.

Did you have to put a pack on to have all your supplies on your back while you ride? I’m trying to picture how you would have enough.

The Surly bike that I mentioned, the first bike that I got, was the bike I rode. I kept it with me all these years. It was the perfect bike to take with me. I had two panniers on the back. That’s when you get that gate that goes over the back tire. You have the two big bags on your back tire. That kept a lot of my basic supplies, some food and parts of my tent.

On the front of my handlebars, I had what looked like a Tootsie roll. It rolls up on both ends and you connect it on the front. I had two water bottle cages that I was able to fill those water bottles. I wore a hydration pack on my back so that way, I could drink as I was riding. That housed either Snickers or something. They were in the front pockets. They were readily available. I had my sleeping bag, my tent, all my gear and some replacement tubes that I went through very quickly, unfortunately. I’m a history nerd so I loved stopping, reading and getting the research.

When we go visit other places, we do something historical even if it’s something that other people might not think is touristy. We always read about all the interesting things that happen. We always find that interesting. Tom read mostly pop culture-related because Tom relates everything to pop culture.

I’m like, “This is where this movie was filmed.”

It’s interesting to learn stuff along the way.

I’m always like, “This is where they shot the opening credits for Facts of Life.”

This is a typical day in the household. I’m curious though. That’s a long time to spend by yourself. Maybe this comes naturally to you. With so many miles and hours of potential doubt of yourself, how did you talk yourself through those dark times? That’s hard.

There were some very strange conversations that happened. There were some odd songs that got stuck on a loop in my head. I did listen to some audiobooks and podcasts. I had a lot of time to call people. I’m sure I had friends that were like, “Are you good?” I’m like “Yeah. What are you doing? I got 20 miles. Do you want to talk?” They’re like, “No. I’m good.” Truly, it was all waves and phases of a mental battle. It was, “This is awesome. This is so cool. I can’t believe I’m doing this.” In the next thought and then in the next breath, it was like, “What am I doing? This is terrible. It’s uncomfortable. It’s about to rain. I’m hungry. My tire went flat.” It was all those things.

I’m very grateful that I’m healthy enough to do this. I did it to celebrate my mom being free of breast cancer. I did it to raise money. I’m a Pisces. I’m a very emotional person. It was reminding me of the conversations. When my mom would call me and she was on her way to treatment, she was like, “I can’t do this anymore.” I’m like, “You can. Here’s how we’re going to do it. Put the key in the ignition. You’re going to turn on the car, put on your seatbelt, talk to me as you drive out and call me when you get into the parking lot.”

It was taking me through that exact moment that she had to go through, something that was hard, uncomfortable and challenging, coming out the other side and learning a lot going through all of that challenge. It was beautiful. Anyone who is like, “I could never do that,” my response to you is you don’t have to but you could. You could ride 100 miles or 30 miles. You could do your first triathlon. Anything that you could be like, “I don’t know if I can,” the response is you can. You have to break through a little bit of doubt. You have to be willing to learn a little bit, fail a little bit and find the silver lining in it.

Recognize you didn’t start with 450 miles. That’s where you ended up. People see that if they haven’t done things like that and this is not to take away from your achievement but it sounds a lot more daunting because you haven’t done 2 miles yet.

Every marathoner will tell you, “You have to go 1 mile at a time.” To someone who hasn’t done it, you’re like, “That’s a lot of miles you have to do at a time.” You have to start somewhere. I’ll never forget breaking 10 miles and 30 miles. I’ll never forget going 100 miles. You do get there eventually but you have to give yourself credit, first and foremost, for those little small steps, the little small miles and the little gains that you get. You have to be a little comfortable with getting uncomfortable sometimes.

In some ways, hitting 10 miles for the first time was probably harder than doing 450 from a psychological standpoint.

I’ll never forget going across the GW and back for the first time. I got back and I was nauseous. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t eat and drink enough. I didn’t even bring snacks on that trip. Unfortunately, you have to learn by making the mistake. I will say even based on this bike ride, you only make mistakes once, hopefully, and make sure you won’t do that again. Part of the process is learning.

You absolutely can ride a hundred miles or do your first triathlon. You just have to break through a little bit of doubt and be willing to learn a little bit and fail a little bit. Share on X

Do you consider yourself a mechanical person? Out of all the things, I can handle the rain. I could probably handle camping on my own. When it’s changing a tire, I don’t know.

I can’t help her.

I took a video when I had to change it for the first time by myself. I was like, “I did it.” Any other time my tire had to be changed, I wasn’t alone. It was like, “Could you help me change this tire or bring it to the bicycle store on the corner?” It was that force like, “You’re going to have to figure this out.” Whether you’re YouTubing it or calling somebody, you’re doing whatever you have to do to figure it out but it gets done. One of the things to remember is that sometimes, we’re forced to learn those things and sometimes, that’s the best option. If we have the option to have help, we lean into that. We’re like, “The path of least resistance.” At the end of the day, if you’re like, “This tire gets changed on the side of the road.”

I’m curious. All the things that you’ve done, all the places you’ve been and your 450-mile adventure, how does all that inform how you put together Strength for Cyclists? How do those two translate and come together?

I say this in class a lot when I sit down to do programming. The first thing I remind myself is to keep it super simple. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. It can. We can get into the nitty-gritty but there are a few things to follow. One is the basic movement patterns. How can we do things that are going to make us stronger? How can we do things that are going to help us with hypertrophy? How can we do things that are going to our heart rate up?

The other thing is adding variety. It’s thinking about all of your joints as a cyclist but also as a human. What do we all need? We can all use a little bit more mobility and strength at the end of the day. When I broke it down, that was just, “If I’m riding my bike, what do I want to do? Strength training. Do I want to do a ton of legs? Probably not. Do I need to do a few legs? Yes. Do I want to stretch and do shoulder mobility? Probably not. If Ash forces me to do it by adding a single-arm lap pull-down, then cool. I got that benefit.”

Thinking of little things like wrist, I talk a little bit about it. When you do a bend-over row and you’re on the bench, a lot of times, having your hand flex like you’re giving a high five but it is bent, that position is tough on the wrist, especially when you’re cycling. If you’re on your hands a lot, having that extra pressure is not fun. It is learning how to adjust when you’re strength training if you’re overusing certain positions.

For triathletes that are locked into arrow bars, how can we work through some of the shoulder joints? You don’t have to be a triathlete to need to work through that shoulder joint. It is keeping it simple and having a little bit of fun. Getting to talk a lot about applications in the program is the biggest thing. When people ask me, a lot of times, they’re like, “I love this program. Can I do it on my own?”

I’m like, “Absolutely, but you’re going to miss all of my fun, nerdy jokes and all of my stories about riding my bike. You’re also going to lose that little light bulb moment of, ‘I didn’t think about that. I didn’t realize that this is going to help me in this way.’” That’s where taking the classes with coaches live gives you a little bit of that application. It takes it from a workout to actual functioning movement.

I have noticed that there’s been an increase in the direction that you, coaches, give tips for how to do things, make sure you’re in the right position and feel if it feels right. You give little tips and tricks. I’ve noticed that you guys have increased the amount of those and I greatly appreciate them.

I love to hear that. I love to know that people somewhat notice. I can speak for myself but I hope that I can speak for the other coaches. A lot of us have been doing this for a long time and that does come from the experience of I’ve trained clients one-on-one, couples one-on-one and group fitness classes with young athletes in their 20s that can do 1,000 burpees. I’ve also trained clients that are like my mom and dad who have limited mobility or don’t want to be hurt or injured. I’ve trained moms who are like, “I need to raise kids. I can’t hurt myself.”

It comes from that experience and getting to picture who’s on the other side of Tonal. That’s the biggest thing, one that I miss. I miss getting to see people and talk about what’s going on with them in person but I’m sure it has helped me and the other coaches as well. When we’re standing on set and talking about a specific movement that we’ve done 1,000 times, there is someone who’s walking up to Tonal like, “What the hell is a neutral grip deadlift? What are you talking about?”

That’s me.

The first thing you see is us doing a deadlift. We’re like, “Pull your shoulders back.” How can we take something that can feel complicated, water it down and give you the tiniest little nugget of a cue and you’re like, “I get it?” You never forget it. It’s something that sticks with you. That is truly what I love, which is helping people have those light bulb moments. That’s why I love the live classes and being able to teach classes rather than give programs.

I’m also curious since you’re an endurance athlete yourself. How do you feel strength training for endurance athletes is different from strength training for someone who’s focused on maybe trying to get bigger muscles? I feel like it’s different.

It’s different. The biggest thing that differentiates when it comes to training is what your goal is. At the end of the day, do you want to put it on muscle mass? Do you want to run faster? Do you want to get good at pushups or do you want to swim faster? Are you someone who’s like, “I know I need to work out. Everyone tells me. My doctor tells me I need to work out. It’s all over social media. I should do this. It’s good for me?”

It’s trending.

Keep it super simple. It doesn't have to be rocket science. Share on X

Apparently, the Explore page has all these people in fitness. There are all these digitally connected things that make me work out. The biggest thing is to ask yourself what your goal is. That goal can change. That can be, “I am doing a marathon this year and I am going to be a couch potato next.” That is okay to make that decision. That’s the biggest thing.

You have to prioritize your goals. You have to say, “Am I performing or am I preserving?” It’s maybe when it comes to endurance athletes with muscle. When it comes specifically to endurance athletes, doing hypertrophy and strength training preseason is a great idea. The more muscle mass you have, the more you’re able to work with when you’re in the sport.

I say it a lot in class when we do hypertrophy about the best way to think about muscle fibers. My dad loves minions. I don’t know why. He loves those. He thinks they’re hysterical. I always think about the minions. Do you know that one where he is like, “Ah,” and all their eyes light up? I think about that as muscles. When we do hypertrophy, we’re adding minions and creating a bigger army of like, “Let’s lift.” As an athlete, that’s a good thing. You want to show up on race day and have all these minions that are like, “Let’s ride this bicycle.”

For endurance athletes, that’s a big thing to remember when it comes to programming and choosing what program to do and choosing the goal and how you want to mix your strength training into your endurance training. The reality is the longer you go and the further you go, the more efficient your body has to be at giving you energy.

The further you go and the more expansive that energy is, you get more tired. Whether that’s refueling with snacks or that’s your body being a little bit more efficient with the energy that you have that you’re working with or working with carbs, you are going to have a little bit of breakdown in muscle mass. It’s going to happen.

However, it’s what you prioritize. If you are like, “I want to win this race,” that’s fantastic. Strength training is not going to be your goal in-season. If you’re like, “I want to survive this marathon because my wife made me sign up for it. Apparently, I’m raising money for an organization. I’m supposed to be the nice guy. I don’t want to lose any of my gains,” that’s a real thing. It’s like “Let’s do the bare minimum of endurance training and maybe add in an extra day of strength and hypertrophy focus.” It depends. That’s where you have to make that decision.

The rule of thumb and a safe way to put it is to strength train at least twice if you’re endurance training, which is what I try to do. There are some days when I’m swimming, I know I can maybe add in a strength workout. If I have a speed workout, I can maybe do a strength workout later. You always want to prioritize what’s most important. Is it the running or is it the lifting? Is it the biking or is it the lifting? That can change. Those can flip-flop depending on what your goals are.

It gets complicated because people think that you can slap one label on it and be like, “This one workout will do whatever I want it to do. We’re all created equal. All of our things are the same.”

I say it all the time. I’m like, “The perfect pants are not the perfect pants if they don’t zip.” If they don’t fit, they’re not perfect. They’re not for you. The best way to remember it is it has to be realistic for you. If strength training 3 days a week isn’t working, 2 days is perfect. That’s the biggest thing. We do get caught up. Even all of the coaches and I start having these blinders on. We are trying to make this perfect workout routine and the perfect amount of reps. The reality is if we’re moving and going with those basics, we’re going to get there. It’s prioritizing what you want to do a little bit more.

There are no magic bullets.

Amen to that.

Spice up curls and deadlifts.

Speaking of things that take a lot of mental energy, that is recovery. You suffered a ski accident that you had to work yourself back from. Tell us about that.

I was snowboarding. I was in Utah. It was my birthday weekend. It was also the weekend that I was like, “I’m hanging with my friends.” I wasn’t going hard. I wasn’t doing a ton of powder. I was like, “Let’s do these groomers, have fun and enjoy the beautiful weather.” When I first started snowboarding, the one rule that I learned was never to say, “Last run,” ever. You always say, “Two more, skip the last.” Unfortunately, even though I said, “Two more, skip the last,” it was my last run.

I was three minutes maybe from the bottom of the mountain, finishing it out. I was having a hot toddy and enjoying my birthday dinner. I was in a hazard zone so everyone was supposed to slow down. Unfortunately, there was a skier who decided they did not want to slow down. I was blindsided by a skier straight lining down the mountain. I never saw him coming. I woke up in a toboggan with a neck brace, going down the mountain. I spun, flew backward and landed on the back of my head.

Wear your helmets. I was knocked out. I was talking on the mountain but I don’t remember talking on the mountain. I was cleared. The beautiful thing was three of my best friends are doctors. Those three best friends were also on the trip with me so I felt comfortable leaving the hospital and being cleared. I’ve never had a concussion before. I didn’t play any contact sports so I, thankfully, had never had a concussion. The one thing I will say is it’s no joke. I will go into watching football in 2023 differently.

I had my first concussion in 2023 too. It’s awful.

The biggest thing that differentiates when it comes to training is your goal at the end of the day. Share on X

It’s the worst thing you could ever have to deal with. I’ve almost broken my hip. I’ve had sports injuries and all those things. I’m like, “Give me any of those.” They have a clear and precise way of returning to sport and recovery. When you get a concussion, you throw everything out the window and they’re like, “Let’s see what happens.”

Are you going to remember your coworkers’ names? Let’s see what happens. Is that headache ever going away? Not sure. That’s exactly what it was. I lost my vision. My vision was pretty blurry. I lost my ability to walk, which is terrifying. For two weeks, I sat in bed with an eye mask and earplugs. I needed help getting up and walking to the bathroom. I ate every meal in my bed. It was terrifying, truly.

I am so sorry.

It is one of those where they said the first thing I asked when I got into the ambulance was if somebody could call work and let them know I couldn’t teach on Tuesday. That was my biggest concern. I was like, “My life is movement and I can’t move.” It felt like forever. It felt like I was never going to get back. It felt like that dark room and the quiet was never going to be loud and bright enough but it did, eventually. A month felt like a year. When I look back, already, that month didn’t exist. It flew by. It’s in the rear review. I don’t even think about it anymore.

Recovery from a concussion was wildly different. It was giving my body and brain an opportunity to rest. Being smart about how I came back was the biggest thing. It’s the silver lining with everything. I have a different respect when people are in the OTC and they’re like, “I had this injury. How do I come back?” My response is, “Let’s talk about it because I get this.”

Kristina is going to do the same thing coming back from surgery with her knee. They are different injuries but also still have to recover. It is taking your time, understanding how to come back slowly, which is very hard when you’re not used to going at a slow pace and then having the right support system around you to remind you of that.

I don’t know about you but I feel like the brain being slow is the hardest part. It’s very clear-cut what you need to do for your muscles and bones but when it comes to, “I don’t know when you’ll remember things again.” There are a whole bunch of things in front of you and you can’t see some. Maybe you’ll get that back. You probably will.

It is like your brain is working on parallel tracks. When you don’t have a concussion, there are things you don’t know but you don’t know that you don’t know them. When you have a concussion, you’re like, “I don’t know a thing. I know I should know it but I don’t know what it is I’m not knowing.”

I had moments I’ll never forget. One of my coworkers, I needed to send her a message about something. I could not for the life of me remember her name. I sat and had a Post-it note. It was something my doctor told me to do. I started writing out clues. I was like, “Blonde hair. Utah.” I had to start writing it out. I’m like, “It’s right there but I can’t think about it.”

You’re right. I had the realization that no one fully understands the brain, truly. We can talk about knee joints, tendons, ligaments and how every organ in your body should function and exactly how it should function. When it comes to your brain, it’s amazing to me. I have a whole new appreciation for taking care of my head. Even thinking about all the things that we eat and how they affect our brains is everything I think about. When I’m on my city bike, I’ve got a helmet. You name it. I’m like, “The brain is super important.” It feels good to be back.

One of my favorite jokes in the world is from Emo Philips. He’s got a weird voice. If you ever see him, he does this weird character. He’s a great joke writer. He says, “I used to think the brain was the most fascinating of all the human organs.” I thought, “Look what’s telling me that.”

It tricks you. It’s got your number always.

I wanted to ask about your upcoming program, Maintain Your Gains. We’ve talked a lot about that muscle and the need to maintain it. It sounds pretty straightforward.

With Maintain Your Gains, we named it exactly what it should be. It is, “How can I do the bare minimum?” It is, “I don’t want to lose my gains and any progress that I’ve made.” This can be for the, “I’m in a phase where I need a little bit of a break. I’ve been going hard with certain programs.” Let’s say, “I’m traveling. I don’t have the effort to give. I’ve got a busy time at work.” It can be something as simple as, “I’m starting to put a little more focus on cardio or endurance training but I don’t want to lose the muscle that I’ve already built or any of those gains.” That’s what it is.

It’s nice how it’s broken out because you’ll always have a main lift. You’ll have one big compound lift and then we’ll add some accessory work in, which we’re stretching. I love it. You always have some accessory work and a little bit of core work. It gives you all the basics but you always get your main lift in one block. We’ll then do a quick accessory and then that’s it. It’s a nice one to keep in your back pocket.

When I was thinking about this, it’s one to always have. We’ve got a lot of challenges coming up. There are so many great programs that are out there. This is a nice one to add in if you’re looking to do a bit more maintenance. You want to sweat, lift and check the box. You don’t want to lose your streak. I know how hard it is to lose your streak. I’ve lost mine. It is checking all the bare minimum boxes, which is nice. It will still be fine. We’ll use the barbell, which I love. It’s a good time.

When will that be available for people?

The reality is the longer you go, the further you go, and the more efficient your body has to be at giving you energy. Share on X

We’ll do it live first. You’ll see it live on the schedule and that’s going to be coming up in June 2023. After we’re done filming, we’ll put a cute bow on it. We’ll take a nice little picture and be like, “Here you go. Maintain Your Gains.” You can save it and put it in your back pocket for 1 week or 2 weeks that you’re ready to maintain.

I love it. That’s perfect.

Thank you so much for joining us. Before we let you go, let everybody know where they can find you on the internet.

There are so many places where you can connect. I’m like, “There are too many. I can’t do all those things.” You guys can catch me on Tonal. My classes are there sometimes. I’m back full-time. Ash is back. In classes, I’ll see you guys on Tonal in the OTC. I am mostly on Instagram. That’s the best way to get ahold of me always. Connect with me at @AshWilking. This was lovely, truly. I’m so excited that we got to connect. I hope this is one of many because it was so much fun.

Thank you. I appreciate your fun sense of humor. It’s been a blast.

Thank you so much.

That brings this episode to a close. Until next time. Where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/CrystalDOKeefe. You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and the Tonal leaderboard, @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/TomOKeefe. You can find the show online at Facebook.com/SupersetPodcast. Don’t forget, you can also watch all of these episodes on YouTube. That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading. Until next time. Keep lifting.


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