Anaerobic sessions and VLa Max

In the past I have not been limited by my anaerobic power, I was limited by aerobic power. Greatly improved aerobic power and seeing good results after base and build, is it a good idea to do a 8 week block focused on anaerobic power, given that it has the potential to negatively impact my aerobic power which I think is more important for the race I do.

I have my first properly anaerobic session tonight, Striped+1. One of the benefits of this is raising my anaerobic capacity, the other result of this session is that my VLa Max is going to increase, given the very high intensity of the intervals and the long rest periods relative to the work, ensuring I am fully anaerobic for most of the intervals.

Here is my dilemma, my top end has never been a limiter for me, my 1 minute power has always been good. However, my 10 minute+ power has always been a limiter which is driven by FTP and aerobic power. After a winter of a ton of volume and high volume SSB, followed by high volume general build my FTP and muscular endurance is much improved and after a couple of early season races I am getting in moves and riding with guys I never would have been able to ride with last year, plus my top end still seems quite good despite not doing any specific work on it, i might not be quite as snappy as last year but I think at the moment, that is a good trade for the longer road races that I do.

So my question is can i raise my anaerobic power without increasing my VLa Max a lot, my general feeling on this is probably not since the two seem quite dependent on each other, but I don’t fully understand that relationship myself.

What I was planning to do to potentially stop a large increase of Vla Max was to add half an hour zone 2 to the end of these sessions when I am glycogen depleted, which should help. From other papers I have read, it seems that anaerobic gains mainly come in a 2-3 week period quite quickly. So I am also thinking for the first 4 weeks of specialty, instead of doing an anaerobic session on Tuesday and Thursday, just doing an anaerobic session on the Tuesday and doing a supra threshold or VO2 session on the Thursday, like pisgah+6, Matthes+3 or Dicks-1. And then only starting 2 anaerobic sessions a week in the second half of specialty. The weekends for me, are either long 2-4 hour road races or long endurance rides, generally 3+ hours, and I ride on both Saturday and Sunday.

Any thoughts appreciated, that is a lot of info and I have tried my best to include everything but I may have missed a couple of details. Potentially an interesting discussion to be had anyway.

Interested in this as well. VLAmax is a new concept to me, but very interesting. I am targeting a race series of 2,5-3+ hour road races (mainly flat w/ short, sharp hills), that challenge both my aerobic fitness, as well as the anaerobic side.
As far as I understand VLAmax, you cannot really train for improving both aerobic and anaerobic fitness at the same time, but I hope to learn more from this discussion.

(I have been targeting my anaerobic fitness for the past month, mostly using custom workouts. I feel like my aerobic capabilities have improved as well during this time. Link to my career )

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I think the main takeaway i got from the vla max talks is that increasing vo2max is almost always beneficial. Increasing vla max won’t happen quite as quickly as vo2. Tightly packed anaerobic intervals will stress your glycolytic pathway, while also demanding more from your aerobic system.

Bird and the + variations of it are good examples, mixed in with some traditional vo2 sessions of 3 to 5 min repeats.

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Being in the sport for 3 decades, it is always nice to welcome a new metric.

In my humble opinion VLa Max is being viewed by most of the people like a direct competitor of FTP in the sense of having to sacrifice speed for endurance and vice versa.

From my personal experience it is not only possible but also normal to move the power-duration curve up simultaneously in all the sections.

Maybe for a pro doing 30000km a year there is a more direct relationship between those metrics and specialized performance but for us mortals it is more about working our weaknesses and trying to improve by consistency, volume and some structured specialization.

That is why @chad frequently says that there is a lot of value for us to, as an example, dedicate one season to train and race as a climber or maybe a sprinter or a TTer, etc…

Take Laurent Jalabert example. Tour green jersey. GC Vuelta winner. KOM jersey in the Tour. TT World Champion. Several wins in the spring classics.
Either his VLa Max was all over the place during his career or the relationship between the metric and performance is not that deterministic.

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I think you have to be wary comparing things to known dopers, it’s hard to say what things like EPO overcome in terms of physiology. Agree?

Partially agree. Let’s look at Sagan then… Would you say he had an average FTP (not in w/kg but absolute) because he must have a high VLa Max.
Another current example. Geraint Thomas used to be a leadout guy and still wins all the small group sprints with ease. Valverde is another case of strength in the two extremes of the curve.
I guess epo is not fully extinct in the pro peloton but these 3 guys are very high profile to get away with something more that a doubtful TUE.

In the fasttalk podcast they mention Sagan and say that year round VLa Max is an objective of workouts. To lower it for the spring classics and to raise it for the tour so he has a more competitive sprint.

Weber mentioned that stacking anaerobic workouts with short recoveries will lower your VLa max as it is moving away from an anaerobic effort to an aerobic one. The example he gave was that a 10 second sprint has to have a minute of rest to ensure it is anaerobic. And then, a 20 second sprint would require 4 minutes of recovery to ensure that it was fully anaerobic, I imagine this is because lactate production is roughly to the power of 4 relative to increase in power above threshold power.

I struggle with this, my current view is that aerobic power is just more important that anaerobic power for the events I am targeting, and over the course of a race any big power efforts are going to become increasingly aerobic anyway. So I think it in the mean time I am going to continue to concentrate on aerobic power with long rides, VO2 and supra threshold sessions, and move to fully anaerobic sessions closer to the event.

From your career, while you are doing a lot of anaerobic sessions, you are also doing quite a few micro burst or supra threshold sessions, Ainsle and the 4x10min VO2 session with a lot of outdoor ride (I can’t see your power form the outdoor rides (assuming they are mainly aerobic). So i imagine that this would stagnate your VLa Max as you are doing some sessions that should raise it and also lower it, but again that is just a hunch.

It would be interesting to see how this will influence your FTP, and also your ability to ride just below ftp for a long period of time, or how it would impact your ability to ride above FTP.

Same as you, it is a new concept to me and I am trying to get my head around how it works and how it will influence my training going forward.

Quite possibly, but the whiteboard posted in another one of these threads listed it as neutral for VLa max.

As a counterpoint to your comment… 130% repeats, are nowhere near the power required to do a maximal 20-30s effort,(which is like ~200% give or take) but are still considered “anaerobic”

True, then a 130% interval is a more aerobic effort anyway, and surely stacking a lot of 130% repeats will lead to an increasing emphasis on the aerobic system and thus reduce VLa max, that was how I understood it.

Why not do just a 2-3 week anaerobic block instead of 8 weeks?

Movement in VLaMax apparently is pretty slow, so this approach might allow you to get the best of both worlds?

For clarity, I am betting you meant to tag @chad. He is Coach Chad Timmerman, the head coach at TR.

I am Chad McNeese, just an active forum member/moderator.

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You are right. Sorry for the confusion. I will edit it.

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Raising the whole curve simply requires VO2max to increase. That’s the easy part to model. It gets harder to optimize once you’re not seeing further gains in VO2max given the amount of time you’re able to spend training.

I don’t think this is quite correct. Training for both at the same time would mean you have an increase in VLamax, and an increase in VO2max. You can absolutely do that. You may or may not see an increase in FTP, depending on the amount that each has increased. But you can absolutely have a monster aerobic engine to pair with huge anaerobic power. Doing so will make it a lot easier to recover from hard efforts, as that function is heavily influenced by the aerobic system.

According to the VLamax theory, the answer is mostly no. I say mostly, both because the VLamax/VO2max relationship is only supposed to model MOST but not all of FTP, and because there are a lot of variables in anaerobic energy production, and only the rate of lactate of production is relevant in calculating VLamax. Specifically, you have both lactic and alactic energy contributions, as well as a variable amount of glycolotic capacity, which isn’t necessarily (but may be) related to your lactate production rates.

If you really want to know how your training is affecting VLamax, test it. Preferably after each training block, so you can measure the effect of the training you’ve done.

Alternatively, you can simply do a field test and use your real world power profile to determine where you’re improving, and where you need to improve. You can use the knowledge of which types of training will raise or lower VLamax to help decide what type of training to do next, without having to actually measure it.


Great answer. In here benchmarking vs the famous A Coggan tables looks like a good starting point.

You are correct in that I usually have 1 VO2max maintenance session pr week, usually microbursts - actually supposed to maintain a specific HR, which is weird after a long time of power based training. The training as a whole is planned by my coach, who I have discussed VLAmax with, but it is not a concept he has specifically incorporated in my training thus far.

I feel like the short/hard intervals (20-60 seconds) that I have been doing are raising to my power curve in general, but that is just my guess. For example the steady outdoor rides i have been doing lately feel great.
I would like to retest soon, to determine if FTP is improving, although my coach usually does not ask me to test, but rather looks at the harder sessions and determine if there is progress or not.

The goal of all this is to be able to sustain repeated hard efforts of 30 to 90 seconds (letting my 82kg hang with uphill attacks).