Ansel Adams +5 VO2 Max workout is actually anaerobic? (Actually not as it turns out)

I completed Ansel Adams +5, which is a V02 Max 8.2 PL workout, with intervals at 125-135% FTP. But I noticed Strava labeled all the intervals as anaerobic, as VO2 Max’s ceiling is 120% FTP. TR also follows that same category, so there is an error in TR’s workout. I’ve sent a support ticket but wondered if others have found similar issues. And heck, shouldn’t I get credit toward anaerobic PL’s?

About 5 or 6 years ago Dr Coggan explained that his classic power zones needed updating, because above threshold there is a lot of variation. For example someone might be able to hold 150% FTP for 3-5 minutes, while another might only be able to hold 110% FTP. One way to think of it, is that TR is ‘catching up’ to that fact.


Every workout over FTP is also anaerobic workout. As @bbarrera said over FTP there is a huge variation. For someone 120% would be barely touching aerobic side (for people who have huge anaerobic capacity) for other wouldn’t be even doable, if their anaerobic capacity is poor and FTP is high percentage of vo2 max. So labelling work over FTP by zones is a little bit murky.

You have to think what is main objective of the workout.

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Some do, pull up the workout Log In to TrainerRoad and scroll down. Click on All Rides and then here is one that got some credit toward anaerobic PL:


while this one only got VO2 PL credit:


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vo2 max is not a % of FTP from a standpoint of determining how hard to pedal. If you’re trying to train vo2max you want to elicit vo2max when performing those intervals. Depending on your anaerobic capacity and lactate buffering capacity you may need to pedal harder or at a higher cadence than someone else to actually elicit vo2max. So the power your pedaling is not what you’re actually going for. You are going for vo2max which is a measure of oxygen utilization not power.

edit: This is why not all workouts should be based on percentages of FTP. It isn’t the same number for all athletes. Higher anaerobic capacity will mean higher percentages when doing vo2 work. A triathlete might do the vo2 work at a lower percentage than a crit rider.

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This above.

Vo2 max is a state of breathing. Certain power levels sustained are shown to induce this rate of breathing. Doing some very high % ftp repetitively with short rest can put your breathing into vo2 max just the same as a much lower % ftp but for a longer duration.

The goal of the different schemes to train vo2max breathing are to try to give you more time at vo2max breathing.

For example, some studies show short on off intervals at high % ftp give more minutes in the vo2max breathing zones than longer intervals at lower %ftp. Other studies show just the opposite. It’s all up for debate.

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More precisely, VO2 max is a state where you reach maximum rate of oxygen consumption during exercise of increasing intensity. It is influenced by:

  • lungs/heart/blood working together to deliver oxygen to working muscles
  • muscles demand for oxygen, and the ability of muscles to effectively use oxygen

Muscles generating high power output creates demand for oxygen, and the lungs/heart/blood (cardio) system responds. Oxygen demand can remain at max levels even when power drops below threshold. Thats why 50/30 second intervals like Ansel Adams +5 can elicit working at high levels of vo2max.

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Based on the response from TR, there is a revision in the works to address this issue:

Regarding Strava’s classification of this workout, Strava is essentially pulling the power data and classifying the ride according to the overall time you spent in each specific zone. This doesn’t account for the wider range of the Workout Levels which TR has, and that Ansel Adams +5 is classified as a more challenging workout.

We understand that this can be confusing and are currently working on a new and improved way to classify workouts that address the fact that workouts can target more than one specific training zone. So, in short, a solution is in the pipeline!

I appreciate the clarification that V02 Max is not perfectly aligned with FTP but is, as the name states, a measure of maximum oxygen. I’ve just purchased a new book from High North Performance entitled The Cycling Physiology And Training Science Guide, which looks very good, and has this on point explanation that V02 Max workouts are an exception to relying on power data:

When completing V̇O2max intervals, it can be good to look at heart rate
as your primary metric; aiming to accumulate time above 90-95% of Max
HR. This is because heart rate correlates closely with oxygen
consumption, so for these particular types of intervals, heart rate
can give you a good indication of whether you’re accumulating time
close to V̇O2max.

The book (including a excellent sample chapter on periodisation) can be found at: The Cycling Physiology and Training Science Guide — High North Performance.

The heart rate in my intervals in AA+5 all fell in this 90-95% max HR.

Both TR and Strava analytics are still using Coggan Classic zones. The new Coggan iLevel zones can show a very different amount of time at the equivalent of Classic VO2max zone. For example on Taylor -3 in Classic VO2max it shows 10 minutes, while iLevels shows 13.5 minutes of work at the equivalent level.

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