Addressing my weaknesses- VO2 and Sprint

I’ve just finished SSB LV2 and am now moving on to general build LV. What I seem to be learning very quickly is that sprint and VO2 work are definitely weaknesses for me. Whilst I seem to have no problem bashing out the prescribed sweetspot, threshold and even over-under intervals in the plans at 100% with no breaks or backpedals I’ve really struggled with the first few VO2 and sprint workouts.

To give some examples, Spencer and Kaiser at the end of SSB2 I had to turn down by 10% and still needed some backpedals to make it through the later intervals. Spanish Needle last night was torture, even with an 8-10% downturn and skipping some intervals.

My question is what is the best way to address this weakness? I am hoping that by turning things down to make them achievable and toughing it out I should be able to strengthen these aspects of my physiology but if anyone has other suggestions I’d be keen to hear them!

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I think you are taking the right approach. While most people have similar zones as a percent if ftp below threshold, zones above threshold vary. One thing you could try is turning it down by 10 percent next workout and then 9 percent the following one, repeating this until you find the max percentage you can complete them at.


Captain VO2 the rescue! :boom::biking_man::grimacing:

I’m the opposite – no probs bashing out Vmax efforts (and usually sprint efforts) but struggle with all your strengths – threshold, over/unders…

VO2 and sprints are very different. Think of VO2 like your very maximum threshold power, you can only do short durations because you eventually run out of oxygen. Sprints you can only do for even shorter durations because you run out of muscle.

Your VO2max zone might be anywhere in between 105-130% FTP – that’s a huge range!
As @Saganoky said, you’ll have to do some trial & error to find your limit and then adjust your workouts from there.
You can also look at how TR organizes their VO2 workouts within a plan. It’s usually short and lower intensity intervals at the beginning and ending with things like Kaiser w/ 3min chunks. If you can’t work through guys like Spencer, then maybe swap it out for a workout with similar TSS/IF but shorter or less % intervals.

As for sprints…same deal, dial it back a little. What you’re trying to achieve in sprint workouts is not hitting power spot on, it’s more of a triggering the body type mechanism. So not to worry if you can only hit 3/5 interval blocks or only drive a max 135% power. That’s why it’s called training. :wink: You might also have to wait until you start riding outside to do proper sprint training, which you might find easier/more successful than trainer sprinting (which is kind of bogus anyway).

Good luck!

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I had similar issues when starting short power build earlier in the year - I could not complete the VO2 efforts.

I made up a few easier workouts on the workout creator - started with 3 sets of x 5 x 1 mins @ 120% FTP with 5 minutes between sets, then progressed to 1.15 minute intervals with equal rest, then 1.30 minute intervals and so on until I worked up to 5 x 3 mins with 3 minutes recovery between. I adjusted the interval numbers so never did more than 15 minutes maximum VO2.

Its still a limiter for me, (one of many) but the above made a big difference to how I get on with the VO2 workouts I’ve done since - its generally cramp that is now my biggest issue.

I’ve also read that it can take between 8-18 months of training to max out your maximum VO2max, you can’t train it to go any higher (but you can keep training your lower limits to go higher). So if you’ve only been doing these kind of workouts once a week for only a couple of weeks…bad news – you have a lot of work ahead of you; good news – you have a lot of gains ahead of you!

As for your sprint…it might help to hit the gym and pump some leg iron.

@pirnie I loaned out two books called “Training and Racing With A Power Meter” vol 1 and 2 by Coggan and Allen to friends so this is from memory. I can’t find the books right now! Verify is what I’m saying…They recommend that during the 3rd interval if your VO2max power drops by 15% then stop the session. In other words if you can stay in the zone (105-120%) then press on.

Edit: also wanted to write “work on limiters and keep your strengths” or something like that is a hard lesson to learn but, you’ve identified a limiter and that’s half the battle!