Time at VO2max discussion

A quick question, I remember the guys discussed in the podcast about the importance of time at vo2max in the last months. But I don’t seem to find the podcast anymore. Maybe I remember it wrong?

Can anybody help?

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Try #189/190 maybe…? :man_shrugging:

What exactly are you looking for? What questions do you have?

Make it a group discussion. I know I am in. @Captain_Doughnutman is always in for anything VO2 related :smile:

I’m interested in this too. if i concentrate my indoor workouts around v02 max for the next 3 weeks while keeping endurance workouts outdoors, with a saturday road race or two.

I plan on doing 3 x 1 hour v02 per week. I’m heading to a 4 day xc mountain bike even each day 50 odd km with 1200-1500m of climbing. current ftp of around 3.8-4 watts per kg, but im on the heavier side 85kg and i climb well for my weight on the road but i find the short punchy climbs in XC riding harder to recover from.

is 3 weeks with 3 workouts a week enough to improve the short punchy recovery for my upcoming race? I am thinking baird variations and gendarme variations?

Sorry the post is a bit all over the show. :laughing:

I think in three weeks you’ll start to see improvement as it’s my understanding that the top end, VO2 max zones are quicker to adapt. The biggest improvement might actually be on the mental side of things. Just knowing that you can put the power down.

I’d recommend looking at workouts like Basin. The ramp sections see you getting out of the saddle for 30 seconds so you’re recruiting a different muscle group.

Hi @AFowler18 and welcome to the forum.

You say you will do an hour VO2 session but the key questions are the length of the interval, the recovery period and the overall minutes spent at VO2

I think periods of 5-6 minutes are at the optimum end , with the same amount of recovery and perhaps a total of 18-24 minutes total VO2 work initially in that hour period building up to 30-36 minutes eventually.

A good workout once you are into the sessions might be Seilers 4 * 8 minutes at 106% but prior to that 5 * 4 minutes @ 110% as an hour workout allowing you to build up.

By all accounts twice a week seems to be optimal


3wks of VO2 should yield some adaptations.

@PusherMan recommendtion of Basin, while not what I think of for VO2, will def yield some time at VO2 if you do it right. That is one of my favorite workouts, specifically Basin +1. The last 1.5min of each interval is :moneybag:

Having done Gendarme and it’s variants 24x now. I recommend you pass on Gendarme. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing Gendarme. It’s easy, but not VO2. More specifically, intervals are too short, rest too long to get any substantial VO2 time. RPE, HR, breathing are all low/easy. Baird would definitely be more effective than Gendarme, but I would still pass. I would recommend at least the 3min efforts (e.g., Kaiser, Charybdis, Spencer and their variants). If you can do longer efforts like 5x4min @ ~115% or the more classic 5min efforts (i.e., 3x5min, 4x5min, 5x5min @110-120%) even better. In the past, I have done the following: Tue and Thurs of week1, start with 3x5min and then 4x5min for week2 and 5x5min for week3.

In any of these VO2 workouts, you have to feel out the correct power, that is both sustainable, and gets you the most time at VO2. Your HR and breathing should be extremely elevated. This is not about max power.

Two VO2 workouts is enough for me, especially if wanting to go outside on the weekends and do a long ride w/any efforts. Key is to make sure that you are adequately rested on Tue and Thurs to really hit those VO2 workouts hard.


You might find this useful: Short intense period before starting base? Chad's short FTP boost plan - #5 by chad


Actually, I’m doing this FTP boost plan now. I got bored doing what I was doing and figured I would experiment on myself for a few weeks :smile:I am doing 2xVO2/wk, Tue and Thurs. Week 2 is complete. Week 3 starts w/Baird +2 next Tue.

I will eventually write up my findings to share and discuss.


I think I split the 3 weeks over 4 by doing both options when presented. And maybe a rest day or two. It felt well worth it at the time though didnt do much for my ability to express a higher FTP in a ramp test :smiley:

I also typically add the first half of taku before all of the workouts to give me some more warmup time.

My notes/transcription below:

Coach Chad VO2max Deep Dive, Part 1
Podcast 189

Training implications discussion starts at 29:30s

  • estimate: final steps of a ramp test
  • estimate: 5-min best effort, from a recent race efforts where you went really hard
  • Power-VO2max (5-min or from ramp)
  • Fractional Utilization, ftp/vo2max
  • Frac Util ceiling is 90% is the ceiling where you hold 90% of VO2max power in steady state. Most of us fall in 78-85%
  • for instance you can do 300W 5-min vo2max effort, at a higher 85% fractional utilization puts your ftp at 255W
  • But what if you have 230W ftp? Shift to doing ftp growth via sweet spot, threshold, over/unders
  • But what if you are at 280W ftp? Then you need to do more vo2max work, either higher power, or more time at vo2max
  • difference between power at VO2max, and time at VO2max, will save discussion for future podcast

Coach Chad VO2max Deep Dive, Part 2
Podcast 191
starts at 43:19

  • time at VO2max versus VO2max power
  • power at VO2max is duration specific, there is no specific “power at VO2max”
  • you can achieve vo2max at 102% of ftp, it will just take you longer than at 125% ftp
  • there is no single VO2max power
  • thing to understand, a term you’ve probably heard before, is “VO2 slow component”
  • “VO2 slow component” says if you ride above ftp, eventually you will hit VO2max
  • VO2 work is really subjective, this is why 2-3 min interval workouts at 120% don’t work for everyone, and we say it may not work for you and some people can work above 120%, some people below 120%
  • not trying to hit a particular power
  • want to accumulate time at really high oxygen uptake
  • really stress aerobic energy system
  • want to accumulate time, not a specific power
  • for this reason, there are a whole bunch of different workouts that focus on time (not power)
  • warmups getting reshaped to
  • lift uptake rate, and keep it there
  • peak and fades are good for that, start at 120% and decline to 110% (e.g. Mills)
  • you may think “I’m not at my proper power, this is not an effective workout” but it is because uptake is really high
  • peak and fades reduce the power so you can spend more time
  • short intervals are the same, trying to accumulate time at high oxygen uptake
  • breathing and heart rate stay ramped up
  • with vo2max work, the bailouts are almost always 5-15 second back pedal breaks where breathing and heart rate don’t come down much, but it helps clear off acidic accumulation in muscle that is slowing you down
  • avoid letting your breathing and heart rate come down


  • vo2 kinetics: how quickly does your oxygen uptake respond to changes in effort?
  • improves with training
  • its why 30/30s become 30/20s and 30/10s
  • again, its about time at vo2max, and not a particular power
  • just because you can do more power, doesn’t mean its better
  • more power isn’t always better
  • the risk of more power is longer recovery
  • more time is the goal

power vs capacity

  • trajectory over base, build, specialty
  • balance between power and capacity, or max power versus repeatability
  • increase time at, instead of power
  • base phase is familiarization, up to 2 minutes
  • build phase is longer intervals, and more power
  • specialty phase is about repeatability

Summary 59:40

  • not about big power, its about a lot of time at a high work level

IIRC Dr. Seiler emphasized time at or above 90% MHR is the goal.

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How old are you? (I’m 44)

Three Vo2 workouts per week is A LOT – you definitely wouldn’t want to do 4. I do two Vo2 sessions per week – as a mid-masters athlete, that’s what my recovery needs allow.


While Basin looks like an excellent workout for a particular purpose, to me it’s almost the opposite of what a vo2 workout should look like. The first 3 minutes are below threshold, and the ramp up to 150% is so sudden and sharp that you’re only ever going to spend a few seconds at maximum aerobic uptake.

Far better in my book is to start at 150% to get your heart rate and oxygen uptake up quickly to near vo2 max, then reduce the power over the course of the interval to keep you at that level. Rattlesnake - Log In to TrainerRoad - combines this concept with some classic 30/15s.

I think there’s a case for doing vo2 workouts on heart rate only. I did some 3 minute hill repeats the other day. I didn’t look at my powermeter much at all, I just went hard until I reached 90% maxHR and then tried to hold it there (but not blow up). Did 7 of them, and when I got home and checked my numbers, I found I’d pretty much matched exactly the IF I’d have reached doing something like Spencer +2.


I like Mills for the harder start option, and then it tapers a bit mid way to make the finish more manageable. But you likely have a decent oxygen load by that time, so the decrease is not detrimental to the overall goal. If it leads to more compliance and completion of the full interval, I see that as a VO2 Max win.


Hi @batwood14, I’m 31 and currently spend 10ish hours on the bike a week on average. With bigger outdoor rides.

This is the sole reason I suggested Basin. Those 30 second ramps would, IMO, really help with this sort of challenge. Plus the nature of the workout will help break up a three week block.

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Burn that candle, sir! 31 is a great age to fire shots :fire:

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3 vo2max a week might totally crush you before the event; be careful, that’s dosing a serious load!

and i’m sure you’d even agree that you can feel 2 vo2max workouts a week! great comment above