2: Matt Wilpers’ Power Zones

TCO 2 | Power Zone Training


Power Zone Training might just seem like another newfangled, short-lived fitness fad, but if you look closely, it’s much more sensible than you might imagine. Could this be the new workout plan for you? Fitness coach Matt Wilpers joins Tom and Crystal O’Keefe to break down exactly what Power Zones are, and how to make full use of this kind of training. Rooted in other similar training styles, Power Zone training seems difficult to master, but there’s a rhyme and reason to it all. It might just be right for you!

Listen to the podcast here:

Matt Wilpers’ Power Zones

They said we’d never make it.

We made it to episode two. 

On this episode, we’re going to have part two of our interview with Matt Wilpers, where he talks about Power Zones. We’re going to have Peloton in the news. Ellen DeGeneres apparently is a fan of the bike. It was very exciting and she’s always funny. 

We have a new recipe to share with all of you. I would like to also share with you something inspirational that I found on the Facebook page.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Big news, Ellen got a bike. 

I’m trying to do my celebrity math. I’m like, “Is she the biggest celebrity that has a bike now?” 

Part of this is interesting because we don’t know all the celebrities that have a bike. They have a Leaderboard name.

That’s fair. Is she the biggest confirmed celebrity that has a bike?

She might be.

Neil Patrick Harris is pretty big but he’s not Laurie. 

Alyssa Milano has one but she’s not as famous these days. It’s not like she was in a movie this week or this month or something like that and has her own talk show. 

She’s on a TV daily in the same way that Ellen is. We’re not trying to be mean if she’s reading.

She’s probably not. It’s episode two.

In my head, I was trying to do the celebrity math on, “Is Ellen bigger than Neil Patrick Harris?” 

That’s a pretty tough one. They’re both hilarious. 

They’re both very funny.

They both have lots of stuff going on.

It is exciting when you see it makes you feel like, “I’m not crazy for liking this thing as much as I do.” When clearly Ellen and her wife also like it.

I don’t think they just like it. They love it because she spent her entire opening monologue talking about the Peloton.

She spent 2 or 3 minutes. That’s a lot on a show like that. If you missed it, here it is.

“I have been doing this show for fourteen years. That’s a long time. It’s almost fifteen years. It’s more than thirteen. I’ll tell you how long it is. Since I’ve been doing the show, they’ve made 45 Fast and Furious movies. That’s how many we’ve had that much time. It takes a lot of energy to host this show and it’s very important to stay in shape. I do a lot of different things to take care of myself. I do yoga, I play tennis and I do yo-yo. Portia and I have gotten into spinning. Anybody here likes spinning? We’ve got a spin bike at the house. It’s just one, I’m not made of money. It’s the Peloton bike. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the Peloton, but Peloton is a French word that means sore bottom. Before I got the Peloton, I’d never taken a spin class before, but I figured it’s like riding a bike. How hard can it be? The first time I got out, it was almost impossible for me to peddle. I couldn’t balance, there was nothing to hold on to. I realized I’m sitting backwards. I know how to ride a bike. I ride a bike here on the lot and I rode a bike all the time when I was a kid because of the DUIs.

As a kid, I literally ride my bike everywhere but on the spin bike, 45 seconds, I’m about to die. It’s really hard. I’m sweating in places I didn’t know I had. It’s two words: ear sweat. I don’t know if you know ear sweat, it exists. You have to have a tiny little towel to get in there. It’s hard, but I keep doing it because it’s addictive and because I don’t know how to turn it off quite frankly. To get my feet out of those shoes, I don’t know how to do that either. The Peloton bike has a tablet built into it, you can do live spin classes at your house and they play great music and sometimes they have a live DJ. You get into it. It’s a fantastic way to exercise. I have one suggestion. Mr. Peloton, if you’re watching, this is a $1 million idea, I believe. A tandem spin bike, how about that? That way Portia could be in the front and I could be in the back. She’s pedaling as hard as she can. I’ve got a wine spritzer I’m sipping on, “Good job, Baby.” I understand how people get obsessed with spinning. I like to ride and I would like to ride more, but I have to save energy because then if I came here and I didn’t have the energy, I would not have energy to dance with all of you.”

That was awesome. 

It was very enjoyable. She is adorable. 

She’s a-Dory-ble. 

That is way better and she can keep spinning after the monologue. It started posting on the Peloton page. A few people started talking about the fact that Ellen has a DJ on her show. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but we have a DJ for Peloton and his name is DJ John Michael. They started tweeting, trying to get him on the Ellen show. I don’t believe it was successful, but it was awesome. 

Does Ellen rotate through DJs or is the Peloton community trying to get a dude fired? 

They were thinking, “Let’s have him visit.” They weren’t trying to get him fired. 

Maybe the guy needs a day off. He’s got some PTO he’s got to burn through or something?

Power Zone Training a method of knowing how hard to work and when to work that hard. Click To Tweet

He can’t be there every day. DJ John Michael is awesome. He’s funny and he has great energy. You would know that if you ever took a DJ ride.

No, it’s still a ride.

I hope that it works out and potentially maybe later, DJ John Michael will get to Ellen. 

One of the things you want to do on the show is to give people some tips of quick, easy things to eat, food to consume that will help keep you on your path to “healthynessaucity.” 

That was great. You invented a new word. 

I can do that. 

My thought process is that I have heard you not only have to exercise, but you also have to eat well. Apparently, eating is actually a big part of this equation. I was a little sad to find that out. 

I thought getting the bike, I could eat more junk. 

It turns out no. It turns out that if you want to lose weight and get real muscle tone, you can actually see the definition. It turns out you have to eat better too. You also don’t feel good and you don’t enjoy the rides as much if you eat junky food.

I’m not going to get on the bike. I thought it was a way for me to eat even crappier food. That was going to invent crappy like deep-fried pizza.

It would allow you to have more calories to enjoy more food.

Ice cream on a stick. That’s a fudge bar. 

That’s a whole different podcast. 

That’s already a thing. I was all excited. Ice cream on a stick. 

That’s already been done. Anyway, one of the things that I have been reading about is that I should try to reduce my sugar intake because apparently I am addicted to sugar. A lot of people are addicted to sugar. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of yuck that I’m eating and try to eat more whole foods as a result. I’ve started doing a lot of research on easy clean eating recipes. One of the ones that I came across, keep in mind, I know you know because you live with me, I have a busy life and I’m not so much into the cooking. The simpler the better. I wanted to share with you guys an easy one. It’s only four ingredients, which is right up my alley. The best part is it only takes ten minutes to cook. It’s called Clean Eating, Super Food Quesadillas. You want to eat it because it sounds fun.

TCO 2 | Power Zone Training

Power Zone Training: Power Zone training is based on output, which is that middle number on the Peloton tablet. It’s a combination of cadence and resistance, which effectively also is a measure of effort.


How is that not sweeping America? What if it was clean eating, super food quesadillas on a stick? 

It’s not.

I don’t want it.

For anyone who is interested, again only four ingredients. You need a tortilla and preferably a whole grain tortilla, some chopped mango and a little bit of cilantro and some Jack cheese. Go ahead. Get your joke out. I’m sure you have one. 

I don’t think this is the appropriate setting for that joke.

All you have to do is take those ingredients, put them together in a quesadilla format, and then you throw it in the oven or maybe even your toaster oven, like me. Throw it in there for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. You have dinner. 

I thought it had exploded.

No, I’m ready to eat. 

I was like, “Why are you making people explode their toaster ovens? We’re going to get sued.”

No, the recipe is done. That’s how easy it was. You didn’t even know that’s how easy it was.

Now we eat. By we, I mean you. 

You would never eat anything with mango in it. This is for anyone out there who might like it.

For any normal people who might like it. You like to find things on the Peloton community and the social media web?

I do whenever I am looking at the Facebook page for Peloton, one of the things that makes me so happy is all the people posting all of their milestones or all the challenges that they have come up against and they found a way to beat them. 

It’s like Pirates because people could ever beat pirates. That would be fun.

The goal of Power Zone training is to eliminate guesswork from your training. Click To Tweet

If anyone out there has beaten a pirate, please post on the Facebook page and tag Tom O’Keefe because he would like to hear about your story. The story that I read that I thought was amazing is that there was a gentleman named Eric Tostrud. He posted about April being Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Eric’s mom was actually diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008. Every year, he does something to celebrate or honor her and to raise awareness. This year, he decided to put a ride together for Parkinson’s research, which happened at the end of April. People rode from all over the country with the #PelotonForParkinsons. Many of them rode all twelve live rides that day. You can’t get on there for 45 minutes. These people were on there for eleven hours. They managed to raise over $8,000 for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research. I was very inspired by that. I thought it was very touching and I would like to say congrats to Eric and his mom, job well done. 

Matt Wilpers was on the last episode and was kind enough to come on our first official interview, and we got an instructor in the last. That’s awesome. He was kind and spent a lot of time with us. He was chatty. 

Could he be any nicer? 

He could have given his money or something but beyond that, no, he couldn’t be any nicer at all. 

What a fantastic guy. 

He was really nice. Not nice enough for me to want to go on one of his rides, but it was still nice. He talked and we had a great conversation. It was great of a conversation that we decided to break it up into two chunks. In the previous episode, if you missed it, he talked a lot about his clothing line and how we got into all of this. On this portion of the interview, he talks about Power Zones. 

I’m curious to hear your explanation about what Power Zones are? How you would say it an overall explanation?

I’m glad you bring that up. Power Zone training, the easiest analogy is to think of heart rate zone training. Heart rate zone training is you’re working and it’s all a way of figuring out how intense to work. The more intense that you work, the higher your heart rate is. You use a scale of 1 to 5 for heart rate zone training. A zone in heart rate training is a range of beats per minute of your heart rate. That’s Heart Rate Zone Training. Power Zone training is based on output, which is that middle number on the Peloton tablet. It is a combination of cadence and resistance, which effectively also is a measure of effort. Similar to Heart Rate Zone training, it’s also a measure of effort.

The difference between a watt versus a beat per minute output, which is measured in watts is a measure of external strain. It’s how much pressure, force, torque that you’re putting on the pedal stroke. Whereas beat per minute is internal. You have internal strain, which is your heart rate, you have external strain, which is the power that you’re producing. In Power Zone training, each zone is a range of output. The next question is, how do you figure out what your Power Zones are? We all know that Heart Rate Zone training is based off your max heart rate or an estimate of your max heart rate. In Power Zone training, they have essentially a max effort, but over a period of time and that period of time is one hour. No one wants to do a test for one hour. You could find your heart rate max by doing a test for one hour and giving it everything you’ve got and finding out what your max heart rate is, but you’d rather estimate it.

I can tell you at the end of that hour, my heart rate would be zero.

In Power Zone training, we do a test as well. There are a few different tests you can do, but the gold standard test is what’s called the FTP test, which stands for Functional Threshold Power. That sounds uber complicated and ridiculous. It’s much easier to say FTP test. What a FTP test is you get on the bike and you do a twenty-minute effort. Over the course of twenty minutes, you’re trying to keep a pretty consistent output. At the end of twenty minutes, you want to have left getting off the bike, feeling like you’ve given it everything you’ve got. It’s a max effort effectively over twenty minutes and there’s a certain way of doing it. That’s why on the Peloton app, I’ve coached it out, I coach a warm-up and then FTP test of how to do it properly. You figure out what your highest average output is over twenty minutes.

It’s your highest average output over twenty minutes. We’re going to go back to the test, which is supposed to be an hour long. You take that twenty-minute average. I did not create any of this that I’m talking about. Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan and these famous coaches that have spent days and months in the lab, they designed all this. I’m just using the program. We didn’t create Heart Rate Zone training either. It’s the same thing. What you do is take the highest twenty-minute average output that you did on the FTP test. Say it’s 200 or whatever, you multiply it by 95%, which means you’re taking out 5% away from that output number. You’re decreasing the output number and the result is a lower number. That’s an estimate of what you could hold an output for over an hour at max. FTP, your twenty-minute highest average output possible minus 5% is the estimate of the highest average you could hold for one hour. You don’t have to do the hour test.

Basically, you can estimate your average output for an hour by doing FTP test, taking that twenty-minute average and decreasing it by 5%. If you want to figure out your zones from that number, from that output, that average output has been decreased by 5%. If you look at my Cadence article, you basically apply a low percentage and a high percentage for each zone. These are set percentages that were figured out by doctors in a lab doing all these tests. You do these, you apply these percentages and you figure out what your zones are. We have seven zones. Each zone is very important, separate and distinct. There’s a rhyme and a reason why you would keep your output and train in those zones. The next step is why would you train in seven zones? The first zone is talking about the purpose of each sound. Why would we hold our output in each zone? The first zone is zone one, which is easiest. That’s when your output is between zeros in a relatively easy output number for you.

We’ll call that the Tom zone. 

We call that recovery. That’s a good zone, recovering. After a hard workout or if you’re in between intervals, you come down to zone one and recover. You spin your legs out very little resistance. It’s flushing the legs up. Zone two is more of what we call the all-day pace or the all-day intensity. It’s an intensity. In running, you call it the conversational pace. It’s a pace where you can feel the road. You’re sweating, you’re working, but it’s comfortable. You can hold it for quite a while, even hold a conversation at it and that’s more of an endurance pace. An endurance output range that you could hold for a long time. You go to zone three which is what we call tempo. It is a little bit harder than zone two. That’s more what we call the endurance area but you’re also starting to work a little harder.

TCO 2 | Power Zone Training

Power Zone Training: Each Zone is very important, separate, and distinct. There’s a rhyme and a reason why you would keep your output and train in those zones.


You go to zone four is where you’re starting to look at what you could hold for about an hour and that’s right what’s called Lactate Threshold. That’s the point between anaerobic orbit. The point between where you’re feeling like you can hold it for a while and you’re like, “I’m going to die soon.” Zone four is the borderline. Zone five, which is something you could probably hold like an output range. You could probably hold for say 10 to 15 minutes. That’s where you’re working on what’s called your VO2 max, which is your maximum oxygen uptake. It is a test that many people know, taking a VO2 max test. Of course, we’re talking about something different here, but that’s when you’re working at what’s called your VO2 max range where you’re improving your VO2 max.

Zone six is a step above your VO2 max, where you’re working on your what’s called Anaerobic Capacity, which is your ability to hold essentially a prolonged sprint. That’s highly anaerobic, which means you’re not using a whole lot of oxygen up there because the energy demands of your muscles is much greater than what you can supply. Usually typical zone six effort, you can hold that max for five minutes. Zone seven, which is like everything.

Let me see if I can guess zone seven. Zone seven is being chased by zombies. 

Zone seven is you’re chased by zombies, but you can only hang onto it for maybe 10 to 15 seconds, maybe 20 seconds at max.

Zone eight is being a zombie.

Those are the seven zones. Those are the reasons why you would hold your output in each one of the zones and what you’re improving when you hold your output in these zones. All Power Zone class, like a Heart Rate Zone class, is taking you through different zones to design an effective workout, to achieve specific results.

Is there an optimal number of classes a week for Power Zone training classes that you should take so that you get the maximum benefit?

A lot of it depends on what the goals are of the individual but for general fitness, 2 to 3 difficult classes, I say difficult where you’re working in zones four and above. You have classes where you hit intervals in zones four and above. It’s 2 and 3 difficult classes where you’re pushing hard and giving everything you’ve got. That suffices for one week. Two to three of those a week is good. It’s also good to have one longer class where every weekend I do a 60-minute endurance ride where we stay in zones 1 through 4. Two to three difficult classes where I say no more Power Zone classes. I even do a Power Zone max ride on Monday mornings where we reached the higher end of the spectrum. On Saturdays, we do an endurance ride where you’re zones 1 through 4. Two to three hard workouts a week and then one endurance rides usually suffices for a good training plan.

It seems like there are a lot of different theories and different ways that you can approach riding the bike. This seems like a little bit more of an intense one. This probably isn’t the best way to say it. Is there a hierarchy like, “If you’ve never ridden a bike, maybe start with some baby steps and don’t go straight for Power Zone?” Is this the deep-end of the pool?

I’m glad you bring that up. There will be a beginner class out for Power Zone training coming out, but we also have stepping into endurance rides, which is a great thing to do first to get into Power Zone training. Power Zone training sounds intense, tough and difficult.

I’m sweating, just listening to it. 

At the end of the day, here’s why it’s great. It’s a method of training similar to Heart Rate Zone training. It’s simply a method of training. It’s a method of knowing how hard to work and when to work that hard. Forget everything I’ve said so far. The goal of Power Zone training is to eliminate guesswork from your training. If you want results quickly, I highly suggest Power Zone training actually, because you can talk to anyone that’s been in the classes. You’re going to get great results in your fitness quickly, no matter what your goals are. The other thing is that the zones, by doing that test, no matter how you perform, no matter how great or terrible you think you’re performing that test, those zones are customized to your fitness level, not to anybody else. There’s no more guessing of how high your output should be. As an instructor, I can’t give you an output number during class that’s appropriate for everybody. By doing this test, you’re fine-tuning and tweaking your training exactly to you. In fact, it’s great for beginners because you know how hard to work. There’s no guessing. That’s why it’s good for everybody.

When you talk about Power Zone training and you talk about how quickly you can get results, why is it that it works so quickly? What is the mechanism that’s happening there? Anybody who takes spin classes, they feel like, “I worked my butt off for 45 minutes, 60 minutes regardless.” I am hearing that people are having these amazing results using the Power Zone. What is specifically happening there? 

That’s great because it’s the method, which is fantastic. One, you have to talk about measuring results. How do you measure results normally in a class? It’s difficult to measure results. The great thing about Peloton is that you have total output after class, but with Power Zone training, you have your FTP test, you have your zones. The zones are customized to your fitness level. You dictate what those zones are based on your test results. During class, it’s my job to design effective workouts to get people to results. There’s a rhyme and reason to everything we do in class. We talked about why would you hold your output in those different zones? From what I’ve seen at Peloton so far, a lot of people are fixed on total output. They want their total output to be as high as possible. What that results is that you’re good at endurance, you’re good at it sustaining one output for a long period of time. What happens is as we know through fitness in general, your body acclimates to stresses. Their bodies acclimate to moderate stress but never do they take themselves to stress themselves harder.

By giving yourself seven zones that are based on your fitness level, you’re able to step outside your comfort level more easily. Science has shown us that when you’re putting in some harder intervals in there and stretching ourselves to reach new outputs and being able to quantify how hard you need to work. One, it makes you more invested in your training. Two, you’re going to seek bigger results faster. Doing some intense workouts, 2, 3 tough workouts a week where you’re working at those higher zones that are right for you. I’m not pushing people beyond what’s right for them. I’m pushing people enough based on the method, which has been scientifically proven that’s right for them. It gets optimal results quickly because it’s all customized to the person and the workouts are designed effectively.

If you think of a race, you might be the strongest person in the world, but if you're weak mentally, then you're not going to perform. Click To Tweet

Are these classes the same? How long are these classes?

We have for Power Zone training we have the twenty-minute FTP test, which is the test. Then we have the 30-minute Power Zone class, which I did one for us. We have 45 and then we have 60-minute classes. For newer riders, I highly suggest first off my beginner rides, but then going into my endurance rides for Power Zone training and then get a feel. You don’t even have to do the FTP test. At the beginning of every one of my workouts, I run through a process where we estimate your zone. You don’t have to take the FTP test. Come in and estimate your zones with me. You’ll do that in warm-up and then you’ll see exactly what to do during the class.

Do you recommend the people retake this FTP test every once in a while? I would assume if you get better, your max rate would change.

Yeah. This is the beauty of the test. It’s hard to see results through Heart Rates Zone training. It’s a very effective way of training. However, how do you see results? How do you quantify improvements? It’s very hard to quantify improvements with Heart Rate Zone training. However, it is an effective way of training. With Power Zone training, your test results are your test results. Let’s say your average is 200 Watts in twenty minutes. I did that training program of effectively 2 to 3 hard workouts a week, one endurance and one long-distance workout a week for 4 to 6 weeks. I retook the FTP test in six weeks. You should be able to reach a higher average output for twenty minutes. Your results are in your face. There they are, you can tell that your average output is higher. The great thing is that it’s you. This is all you. This is no one else. That’s it.

I took the FTP twenty-minute test, but I did not do it right because I took it after another class, which I should have not done. I’ve got a little bit lower score than I would be excited about. I was looking at my Strava data because I use Strava to track all my workouts and it said I had a higher number. I thought, “To do my zones then, I could use Strava to start with,” but I wasn’t sure how to flip it over into the zones that you’re using. I wasn’t sure if I take the 5% off and start there or if I use that full number and use the multipliers for the zones. I wasn’t sure what to do there.

Strava, anytime you see the term FTP and cycling, that usually means they’ve taken the 5% away to give you the hour estimate. You should be able to take that number and apply the percentages. I put this all out in a Cadence article, which I’m hopefully going to get up on my website and apply those percentages to any FTP number for you. You raised a great point. You do not want to take the FTP test fatigued or you’re tired. You want to take it when you’re feeling fresh and you’ll hear me say this in the test, is that this is a representation of your fitness. If you’re coming into the test tired and fatigued, this is not a true representation of your fitness. Strava, there are formulas out there for estimating your output, but starting your FTP. I’m not the biggest fan of it because they don’t incorporate when you need it. Testing is the best indicator of where you’re at. Two, there’s a psychological aspect that I don’t think it’s pulling in. One of the great things about FTP testing is that it captures both your psychological strength and endurance as well as your physical strength and endurance. Those are very important because if you think of a race, you might be the strongest person in the world, but if you’re weak mentally, then you’re not going to perform. It measures both.

I’m going to have to try that again and do it fresh. 

You’ll see a big pop. You’ll get higher than your Strava FTP.

I’m going to try that out and we’ll find out. 

I hope that helped.

That was incredibly helpful and I appreciate how you differentiated between Heart Rate training and Power Zone training. I have been following Heart Rate training for several months and I definitely can tell a difference. I feel stronger and better fit overall. If I do too many endurance classes per week and I don’t do the hard classes, then I don’t feel I’m making any improvements. Because I haven’t done my FTP test, I can’t tell if that’s in my head or not. That’s interesting.

There’s a huge misunderstanding in the fitness community and I’ve seen it actually quite a bit here and a lot of people think that we can go. There’s this fat-burning zone and called zone two. That you’re going to burn fat all day long like crazy if you stay in zone two. That’s true if you think about calories burn for a workout. Let’s say you did a workout for an hour and you stayed in zone two. The calories burn for zone two, you compare it to a workout where you did half zone two to half zone four. You did one workout for an hour in zone two, you did one workout half an hour in zone two, half an hour in zone four. The workout, what you did in zone two, if you compare the percentages of calories burned from fat would be higher than the workout that you did from a half zone two, half zone four. However, the amount that the total quantity of calories burned would be much greater in the half-half class where you’re half zone two, half zone four. If you multiply the smaller percentage of calories burned from fat, the total quantity of calories burned from fat would be greater in the second class, the half-half class, than the first class.

Effectively, to get the same workout or even remotely similar, you’re going to have to stay on the bike for much longer in zone two to get a similar workout, than you would if you actually pushed it for 30 minutes for that zone four of effort. However, I will qualify that statement by saying every time you raise the intensity, you also have to raise the amount of time it takes to recover from something like that. It’s good to have those more intense workouts, but you need to sprinkle them in lightly 2 to 3 times a week max.

That brings up a great question. Is there this perfect balance types of exercise you should do every week and recovery? I know you run as well and I have no idea. I would love to add running to my exercise routine. I always feel, “If I have a day off from the bike, then I need to rest. Then if I rest and then I’m too exhausted to run and then if I run, I’m sore and then I don’t get back on the bike. I go around in the circle.” Is there some, “This is what you should be doing when you want to take it to the next level but not hurt yourself?”

That’s a great and complicated question to put an answer on to be honest. I am about to push out some training plans that incorporate, that are for runners to use Peloton to train for marathons. That will be coming out. Peloton has got so many great things to offer. It connects it all together and shows you how you can use Peloton check sheet trained for a marathon, incorporate Peloton into your training for a marathon. I put a ton of work into it. I’m excited and I’ve coached a lot of runners, a lot of cyclists and in the running community. You’re always looking for ways to get the benefits from added volume but with added volume of running comes the risk of injury. Cycling is a great way to add volume to your training with a limited risk of injury. I’m happy to push that out for everybody.

TCO 2 | Power Zone Training

Power Zone Training: Two to three hard workouts a week and then one endurance ride usually suffices for a good training plan.


When it comes to finding the perfect balance, it’s highly individual. I cringe at trying to say there’s one size fits all, because you have beginner, intermediate and advanced athletes. What it comes down to is you’ve got to listen to your body because most of us are professionals. We have lives outside of our fitness and those lives affect our fitness. For example, you are a corporate lawyer and you can’t get that much sleep at night. If your training volume goes up and you’re still not able to sleep, you’re sleeping maybe 4, 5 or 6 hours max, you’re going to find your ability to recover, it takes much longer for you to recover from a workout. Maybe someone else that can get to bed and get plenty of sleep, eight-plus hours and increase their sleep if they need to with their training. It comes down to listening to your body. In general, you want to allocate enough time to recover from those harder workouts. I always say at least 1 to 2 days to recover from a hard workout where you push it. I usually instruct my athletes to avoid putting two hard days back-to-back. If your body can’t heal from a workout, you’ll never see the gains of what you did.

This is hypothetical, but if someone were to ride their bike for 2 or 3 days in a row and then miss 1 or 2 days and that person were to beat themselves up over, that would be not the best tack to take. I’m not pointing any fingers because I would hate to embarrass my wife. 

We had a 48-hour rule in college and it was like, after 48 hours from a workout, the gains you’ve made start to fade a little bit. The slope of your gains fading right after a workout is relatively flat. It doesn’t start to fall off until you start looking at 1, 2 or 3 weeks actually. You’ll start to see pretty steep slope off in your fitness. Taking 1, 2, 3 days, it’s not going to kill you. What will kill you is your diet during those days. People always forget about that.

The problem is if I don’t work out, I’m then eating. 

You do 2 or 3 days on the bike, then you take 1 or 2 days off, which is totally fine. You’re going to get back on the bike, you’re going to feel fresh and you’re going to feel amazing. A great way to add insult to injury is to let your diet go and to put on excess weight, etc. That makes you feel worse than you actually are.

Don’t take two days off and go to Hometown Buffet.

If you take two days off, it’s fine but keep your diet in check. Remember you’re not burning a million calories in that day. You should probably diet down a little bit but then you’ll get back on the bike feeling fantastic. You’ll notice this in your training. I’m sure that you’ve done this already where you’ve taken two days off, you get back on the bike and be like, “I feel amazing.” That’s because your body has had a chance to heal and recover, which is great.

Those are usually the days I hit a PR, which is exciting.

All those little micro terrorists in the workout have healed up and your muscles come back stronger, which is great. That’s why I say, when you sprinkle in those 2 to 3 hard workouts a week, leave at least 1 to 2 days in between each. Feel free to take out to ride as many classes as you like but don’t push it, take it easy, dial it back, have some fun. Do that thing.

As we wind down, would you like to tell us something about yourself that we don’t know that’s not bike or exercise-related, maybe a hobby?

There is not much in my life that is not bike or exercise-related, to be honest.

A favorite band perhaps?

If you’d been in my class, you know that I like pretty much every type of music that exists.

I love that you play Country rides.

Pretty much everything I do is athletic for fun. I love reading. I used to work as a CPA actually. That’s what I did before I got here to Peloton. I would call it a quarter-life crisis. I realized that I did not belong in the financial and accounting world despite my best efforts. I left that and got into coaching and never thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I decided to pursue medical school and I did a post-doc degree at NYU while I was coaching. That’s where I met Peloton while I was doing all of that. I got accepted to med school. I gave up going to med school to come to Peloton. I felt it was the right decision and the best way to help as many people as I can to do something good for the world. Great intentions are coming here, great intentions of helping people because that’s what makes me tick. Any feedback I get from riders, I love hearing it. I love hearing about the performance improvements and also the negative stuff. Give it all to me. I want to hear it. At the end of the day, I’m here for you guys and to better everybody, to share what I think is my gift. That’s what it comes down to.

That’s great background information because you were talking about all the different Power Zones and how you’re like, “I didn’t invent this stuff, but I executed it.” Hearing your background, it says that you do have a strong knowledge base. You didn’t just print something out off the internet and start a following along. You have a background that says you know numbers and health. It would seem like sometimes you wonder, “How much of this do they know or fully grasp?” It sounds like based on where you came from to arrive at where you’re at, the answer would be a whole lot.

Cycling is a great way to add volume to your training with limited risk of injury. Click To Tweet

That’s the thing, it’s been a gift to be honest. Going through school, I was constantly in organic chemistry and chemistry, I’m like, “What does this mean from a fitness perspective?” I’d always ask those questions of like, “When you’re doing this, why is it?” Understanding things all the way down to electrons popping off, an ATP or whatever. It’s great to have that depth of knowledge and it helps me understand when I pick up these books written by these coaches, why these things are happening and what’s actually happening at a chemical level on the inner side of your body? Why does it feel the way it’s feeling? It’s important to understand these things, the answers of why. It helps people invest a bigger effort into the workouts when they understand, “Doing this is going to give me this result. That’s great. Let’s do this.” It’s important as a coach to understand these things because when I designed workouts, I designed them for what I think is going to help people the most. Having that knowledge background helps me design effective workouts.

You’re clearly doing a great job of it. Everybody loves your workouts.

Thank you. That’s great. I don’t know everything, there’s a ton I need to learn. I’m reading books every day on this stuff. I love it. This is just the beginning.

When somebody takes your class and they do well, it’s almost like they got a PR with the DR. I invented a new hashtag.

It was tough for me to give up that, pursuing that life, but at the same time, I knew that even if I did pursue that life, it would come back to this. That’s helping people and helping as many people as I can and doing something good. That’s what I want to do.

Has teaching at Peloton been what you expected it to be?

I can’t even say that expectations coming here because Peloton is nothing like anything else out there. This is a dream job. I keep telling people, I pinch myself because it’s anything I want to do and of course, the company is all for it. They’re there to help me, support me, push me and it’s driven me to be a better instructor than I ever thought I could ever be. It’s been fantastic and working with the company is great. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

We’re all very glad you’re here and that you’ve joined the team. Matt, we have to ask, what would your leaderboard name be if you had one?

It’s funny you say that because I just bought a bike for my dad and he’s signed in under my account.

He’s totally destroying your statistics. 

Apparently, he does own a Mazda MX-5. He changed my leaderboard name to MX-5. If you see MX-5, that’s me or my dad wanted to. As an accountant, I’m not exactly the most creative individual there. I like to dress in black and white. I would say Wilpers is plenty. My last name is pretty unique, I go with that.

It’s fascinating that your background is Accounting CPA and you like to have all your colors be very black and white. It’s like numbers would be because there’s no gray area. It’s plus or minus. 

I don’t like guessing. I like knowing. I like hardcore results, hardcore evidence. That’s how I train. Otherwise, it’s a mystery. We’ve been to the moon, we should know this stuff.

That explains your love of Power Zones. Where can people find you? Is there a Twitter? Is there a Facebook? Where can they go to get all your stuff, buy your book, subscribe to your newsletter, your home address, your Social Security number?

I do hope to have a book one day, but now it’s a little too early. I feel I don’t know enough yet. My Peloton Facebook page is always a fantastic place to go for updates. Instagram is great, but mostly the Peloton Facebook page, I’d say go there. Twitter, I still don’t fully understand.

We’re right there with you. Don’t even get me started on Snapchat. 

Snapchat is like a giant black hole to me. I will keep trying on those platforms, Twitter and Snapchat. I keep my Peloton Facebook page and Instagram pretty up-to-date. Check me out there and my website is MattWilpers.com. If you want to email me, I can’t promise you I’ll respond within a month, but I’ll get there.

It will definitely be faster than you respond on Snapchat. 

That’s the dark hole where nothing comes out.

Thank you very much for taking the time to join us. 

Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks for doing this.

Our first interview is officially in the books. I think though if we’re doing our podcasts in a book, we’re probably not going about it properly. We did it. Thanks to Matt for coming on and spending so much time with us. He was great to talk to. That’s it for episode two. If you want to find us on the social media, you can do that at Facebook.com/theclipout. You can find me on Facebook, Facebook.com/tomokeefe.

I’m at Facebook.com/crystaldokeefe or you can find me on the bike. My leaderboard name is Clip Out Crystal.

That’s it for this episode. Coming up on the next episode we will speak to Scott Farr

It’s about fast times at Peloton High.

If you don’t know what that is, you can find it on the next episode. If you do know what that is, you can be excited waiting for the next episode. Thanks for tuning in and keep pedaling.

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About Matt Wilpers

TCO 2 | Power Zone TrainingMatt has been coaching runners and cyclists of all ability levels since June of 2008. As a former CPA and pre-med student, he believes that a technical and hands-on coaching approach in combination with a fun and positive training atmosphere brings out the best performances in his athletes.

Matt has taught group fitness classes for various companies including Equinox and Mile High Run Club. More recently, he has been able to pursue his passion by teaching at Peloton.


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