A drop in VO2 Max test in three months - 66 to 57 :(

I’m doing a clinical trial (99% sure I have placebo, and supplement was meant to increase, not decrease performance), did a VO2 test in June, and another today (3 months apart). I went from 66 down to 57. This was despite an increase in training and weight training.

8 weeks prior to test 1, I averaged 225 TSS (stdev 110) per week. So pretty low and irregular. Ramp test a few days before showed 219.

After test 1, I started resistance training at the gym (all over, but with a focus on squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg press). I did this for 6-8 weeks before a lockdown meant the gyms closed. I put on about 1.5kg in muscle I reckon.

8 weeks prior to test 2, I averaged 350 TSS (stdev 80). So more TSS and more regular. Also a greater reliance on sweet spot and using TrainNow more often (mostly sweet spot, threshold and vo2). Ramp test prior showed 238 (8% increase).

So yeah. A little perplexed/disappointed with the results. Physio suggested that my oxygen uptake was much lower this time. My lactate was higher than last time as well. Going to focus on more VO2 max work instead of sweet spot and try again in a few months.

Anyhow, thought some of you may be interested.

A few things stand out for me:

  1. did your overall weight fluctuate between tests (you mention a gain of some lean tissue);
  2. your FTP (from Ramp Test) went from 219 to 238 between tests…is that right? If so, could be more fast twitch contribution from type II development in the gym;
  3. a FTP of low 200s, with a VO2 max of 66 sounds a little odd. I would expect FTP to be higher (e.g., my FTP hovers around 350W with a VO2 of ~70). I’m assuming this was conducted at a reputable place?

Nice to see you have had a proper lab test, Ive not much faith in the Garmin calculation. Even during my chemo a couple of years ago t don’t think it fell below 50. It’s at 67 now and my all time high 4 or 5 years ago was 74. I don’t think I have ever been that good. It aso seems to fluctuate when I have a comfortable group ride it’ll go down but if I hard ride it’ll up, I doubt if it fluctuates exactly to easy/hard ride.

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Sure, good points -

  1. I put on about 1kg (66kg-67kg) during that time. I’d like to think it was lean mass, the body-composition machines at the gym seemed to suggest that was the case (inBody - dont know how accurate they are though).
  2. Yeah, put about 20w onto my FTP. Also got a number of other PB’s (around some local tracks, best 60 min power etc).
  3. I wish I had a FTP of 350 (is you weight similar to mine?). Yeah place is pretty reputable. The protocol was start @ 60watts, then 3 mins at that before moving to the next level. So 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, 240, 270 and 300. I ended about 30 seconds in 300w.

Did have pfizer shot 3 weeks ago, but dont think that would do much. Was pretty well hydrated and took the same caffeine/gel mix that i took last time. I did have some slight DOMS (6/10 pain). Maybe i was just having an off day. Once i get some more info back from the physio then i’ll post it here.

I guess its just an interesting result - was expecting an increase! And kind of gutted that i didnt get one!

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Yeah, as it was a trial i got these two for free, but i reckon i’ll go back and give it another go and maybe some performance coaching. #datanerd

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Agree with this. 66 is very high for a 3.3Wkg FTP. 57 seems much more reasonable for current 3.55W/kg. Maybe just a bad first test… they want the placebo group to look bad :wink:

Congrats on the FTP bump, sounds like you’re doing the right training.

FWIW I’m usually 72-73kg and have seen my trained vo2max in 55-62 range. When it was 62, my FTP was 280 and my 5min power was 395.


I’m curious about the 8 weeks between your FTP tests and the lab tests. 8 weeks is enough to de-train a bit. Or, if you didn’t do any long vo2max type efforts, to simply become not used to them anymore.

Also could be the vaccine, some people say they lose performance for a couple of weeks. Before you said vaccine, I was going to ask if you had been ill?

If you’ve increased your training you could possibly see a decline in lactate clearance ability due to fatigue. Mikael Flockhart did a recently published study on overtraining. It is a possible explanation to difficulty in performing above FTP.

Errrr…that would be a generous interpretation :grinning:

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Don’t underestimate the impact of that shot. Many of us have noticed minor heart rate discrepancies following the shot for weeks after. I did for a month. Probably didn’t affect me normally, but “may” have an impact to your tippy top end.


haha dont tell me that - i felt a million bucks coming out of that first one with 66! :rofl:

Without much details but lifting can cause your Vlamax to increase. Vlamax increase has a impact on vo2max numbers, not always but possible.
In off season commonly, among many types of athletes, there is an increase of their vlamax and decrease in vo2max and ftp numbers.
And like already said, 57 fits better to your FTP number.

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@splash - Nah I upped my training by about 50%. I wasnt following a strict plan, mostly using TrainNow and usually opting for a SS or a Vo2/Threshold workout over endurance. Nearly all on TR as we have pretty strict lockdowns here.

Vaccine didnt really impact me at all i felt. I did get a new set of dumbbells on Monday and this evening the DOMS are starting to kick-in. Probably up to 7-8/10. So maybe that also has something to do with that.

Thanks all for your suggestions and comments. I’ll chase down the lactate for each session and the oxygen expired and see what the physio says. I suspect some overtraining, DOMS, a good/lucky test1, some extra muscle weight on my top half, etc etc have all conspired against me.

Was just a bit bummed as i havent had much to focus on for the last few months and was expecting a bump. Ill hit more VO2 workouts and try to bring it up over the next few months.

Thanks again ya’ll!

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Agree with others that the VO2max of 57 seems accurate based on your FTP. I’ve been noting a drop in VO2max from not addressing it with enough intensity the last couple of months manifesting with a slow decay in overall performance. (Generally 64-65 VO2max, FTP 305 4.3W/kg). If you don’t specifically touch it up, it can go down quickly especially as we age. I’m OK with it right now… one more race then my normal season break. Fitness comes and goes.

The drop was 13%. Even if not touching top end and lower power but training you maintain blood volume so no chance for drop like this. For reference 15% drop in vo2 max it’s equal to around 50 days of no training in any way. I would suspect the first test to be off.

I agree 100%, that’s why I said I suspect the 57 is accurate. That large of a drop isn’t due to training, fatigue, etc., IMO.

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My Vo2max is ~46-48 for a 3.45w/kg(non ramp test) as another datapoint.

FWIW my coach appears to be a master at manipulating intensity to slowly build out vo2max. Assuming weekly time >85% vo2max correlates with increasing/maintaining/losing vo2max, from WKO5 it appears that about 30 minutes a week above 85% vo2max is my minimum effective dose. I’ve seen supporting data from this year, and from 2017 when late winter / early spring I built out >85% time to 90 minutes, hit my personal best vo2max, and then settled into a lot less riding but with roughly 30 minutes of weekly intensity and basically kept my vo2max level for the majority of the year (I recall still feeling great on some really hard rides in Sept and Nov). No idea how individual that 30 minutes is, so take it with a grain of salt.


As you said, maintenance isn’t all that hard. Generally one hard day can do it for quite a while… I was doing well at maintaining for most of the season, but then I’ve kind of hit a wall of training motivation lately. Been a long time holding high fitness with a never-ending race season thanks to COVID. I drew this weekend as my line in the sand (and I also had a crash recently) so I’ve had less training intensity, hence the high end probably isn’t as sharp as it was in June. And that’s OK.