1st threshold to increase VO2 max?

Comments? How ‘Trainable’ Is VO2 Max Really? – A Case Study - SimpliFaster

It’s real.

My first real block of long/slow culminating in 12-13 hour weeks netted me a 20 point increase in FTP.

My problem it seems is that I could never make the jump to 15 hours, 18 hours, or 20 hours per week.

Excellent article, thanks for posting.

What I find interesting is that he says there are central adaptations from high volume low intensity work. So far, I thought (in my very limited understanding) that low intensity work leads to peripheral adaptations, but high intensity work is needed for central ones.

Two other things to note though: high volume means actual high volume - the graph about stroke volume starts at 13.6h/week and goes up to 20h/week.

And he doesn’t say that traditional high intensity vo2max intervals are useless - he calls them “the icing of the cake”. But that implies you should get the cake first, and not only have icing. And that icing is also nice to have once other venues are maxed out (likely you can’t increase volume anymore for whatever reason).

Very interesting. However, be careful how you interpret the following chart from the article.

If you extrapolate to the left, you see that anybody that trains less than 10 hours per week must be dead (0 heart volume). :thinking:

So clearly the trend must change as you drop training volume. But then the whole thing becomes suspect because it’s very rare to see a trend where some variable has essentially no effect, then a sudden steep, linear slope. That’s a very discontinuous function, which shouldn’t be trusted without figuring out the cause.

Also, I suspect that this is a n=1 data set. It’s important to see whether this person is an exception or typical.


Thanks for posting a link to the article. It kinda reminds me of something what Coach Fascat said: that coaches are often ahead of the science.

However, I’d be cautious to draw simple conclusions from studies or observations on elite, semiprofessional or professional athletes. The heart volume curve starts at a training volume of 13.6 hours and stops at 20, hardly the time most of us have. Moreover, we should definitely not take an outlier as the measure for ourself (the case where the athlete improved by about 40 %, far above the claimed average of 22 %). I think this is precisely the gap I find in the research so far, because AFAIK it is entirely uncontroversial that the more time you spend training, the more you need to spend at Z1–Z2. Because at a certain point you can’t take more intensity. But Z1–Z2 requires a lot more stimulus to get an adaptation. What is the optimal balance point :man_shrugging:

The second thing that I think needs emphasis is that the article talks about VO2max as it is actually defined as max oxygen uptake, whereas cyclists usually think of it as a power level relative to FTP. While I do not doubt the correlation, it seems there are plenty of world class cyclists with “unremarkable” VO2max (as compared with their peers, of course). I wasn’t able to find some names off the top of my hand, but I remember that this precise topic was covered several times in the podcast and they gave specific examples. There are plenty of other factors (e. g. apart from physiological factors like efficiency other factors like race smarts and bike handling) that can make up for a shortcoming in VO2max.

The big perennial question is what that means for people like us (= the vast majority of TR users) who can typically dedicate 3–12 hours per week to structured training. I reckon (= just my uneducated conjecture) that at this training volume consistency trumps most other factors. Before you worry about drive train efficiency, you should have the strength and flexibility to stay aero for a long time. So if you prefer more Z2 work, if that’s what keeps you on the bike, great, do that. If you like suffering and can recover, do more of the harder stuff.

That is such a good point: curves can be fairly linear in certain regimes even though typically they often take S shape with saturation plateaux to the left and the right.

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I thought it was four different people maybe. If it was one, and progress over time, that at least would show how stroke volume is trainable. But that would be a pretty big increase? Trippling your heart volume with a 50% increase in training time?

I was also wondering about causality: maybe because someone has a larger stroke volume, they can sustain a higher training volume…

If it’s not for the same person, then the graph is utterly useless and the conclusions of the article highly suspect. The whole point of the article is that VO2max is dependent in part on heart volume and high volume of low intensity training increases heart volume and therefore VO2max. This is put forward as not just a theory but something that has been quantified in the athletes he coached.

It still appears to be based on a single athlete, otherwise it should be specified as being an average of n athletes within a certain criteria. For all we know this graph may be only data from that abnormal 40% VO2max athlete.

The author strongly implies, if not actually states, that “Cardiac Volume vs Training Volume” graph data comes from the study he cites, Berbalk.

“Data from Berbalk study (2)”

Except it can’t be taken directly from there, because that study isn’t in English (looks like German). Even the citation isn’t English. Also, somebody in the article comments says that they didn’t find that graph when they looked at the study. I’m not going to buy the paper, but that seems fishy

He says the "data’, not the graph itself.