Any marathon MTB’ers out there that love sweet spot and threshold workouts and neglect Vo2 Max work?

So as per the title, I neglect my Vo2 max work but relish sweet spot and threshold work. My FTP continues to rise with this pattern (current 305 and 4.1 w/kg). I struggle with Vo2 max work and quite often fail workouts at the prescribed intensity. I’m aware working on this weakness will improve my ability to complete Vo2 max workouts but then worry I’m neglecting the steady state stuff that will be most used in my A race. My A race is a 150km MTB race in 8 weeks. I’m aiming to go sub 8 hours which would mean taking 17 mins off last years time.

I’m curious to hear any other riders thoughts who are perhaps in a similar position or who can give me some insight that I might be neglecting.

Hi fellow endurance MTBiker. I know what you’re talking about.

If you fail your vo2max work, reduce the intensity. Ignore any power zones or so. Figure out what you can do 4x4min. See that you get an equal power output for each interval. Start conservatively. It does not matter what the percentage of a hypthothetial threshold you train. Actual power output matters.

Have you improved your Vo2 max ability? If so, have you found it has benefited you during long events?

Hehehe, I am the other way around. I quite enjoy VO2 Max and SweetSpot work, but really struggle with Threshold work…My A-Race is a 3 day MTB Stage Race in 13 Weeks… I am in General Build now, but finding the Threshold work absolute torture!


I don’t know if I have improved my vo2max ability. I train this intensity to support by long distance capabilities and to keep it variied I do different vo2max workouts all the time. Hence, I can’t compare power output.

All I can say, season 2017. Lot’s of “real” vo2max work, best 6min poweroutput 435W. Season 2018 not a lot of vo2max output, best 6min 390 W.

vo2max intensity trains your fast-fast-twitch fibres. These will help you when your slow-twitch and not-so-fast-fast-twitch fibres fibres tire. And of course, this intensity raises your aerobic ceiling, bigger engine! RAAM winner Strasser does a lot of intensity. But of course, vo2max work and frequency will be different compared to a XCO rider.

Back in 2016 I was training for a 12 hour time trial (road) and managed to get fit enough for that off the back of loads of sweet spot on the turbo. I didn’t do any specific VO2 max stuff although I did have a session which was an hour at sweet spot broken into 4x15 min sections, 10 mins at sweet spot and 5 mins in the VO2 max zone, repeat x4 - no rest interval. That was a really tough session to add in but I think it did help mix things up a bit.
I have since done a 12 hour MTB event and think something a bit more specific to VO2 max would be useful, like a block of slightly lower volume and proper VO2 max rather than what I was doing, which was basically throwing a bit of VO2 max into my normal sweet spot ride.

The MTB event was far harder than the road event since the terrain dictates your effort so much. Anything that gives a bit of flexibility in what power you can sustain/recover at is bound to be helpful

Exactly the same for me - sweet spot and VO2 are quite good but threshold sucks… A race on 10 June - 100km MTB marathon, starting General Build on Monday. Good luck!