Asking for someone else about SSB and the VO2 max sessions in SSB2

I’m 53 and generally I follow the SSB1 and SSB2 base plans. My friend who is 56 is interested in joining TR. He’s pretty fit and cycles about 5000 miles a year but he is concerned about the VO2 max sessions in SSB2 as he feels he’s going to be putting too much stress on his (oldish) heart. He asked me my thoughts but I’m afraid I’m no coach.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what I can say to either reassure him or otherwise?


My dad is 65 and doing TR.
He’s worked his way through SSB1 & 2,
All of the VO2max work is FTP dependent, so while it raises HR it shouldn’t be doing anything overly arduous or you wouldn’t have been able to get that FTP in a test (which would have jacked up your HR).

That said, Rule#1 of anything is listen to your body, and then your doctor. So if its causing issues or you have pre-existing conditions, pay attention to those and consult experts.

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There was a good thread related to this: Taylor-2 VO2 Max workout

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He can easily dial down the Workout Intensity if he finds the VO2 Max (or any other workout) too much to handle. It is a great tool and is something that should be considered by more riders.

The 120% VO2 Max value used in many of the workouts is a find approximation that works for many rider. But many others (especially Masters+ riders) can find them too taxing. I recommend rolling down to around 95% Workout Intensity if there are concerns.

Here is a chart that shows VO2 Max is around 105%-15% of FTP.

Here is a chart I made that shows the impact of changing Workout Intensity, and how it relates to the 120% default for VO2 Max.

As long as a person keeps Workout Intensity around 90% or higher, they are still in the VO2 Max realm. So it is an easy thing to adjust on the fly and then increase over time as he gets more capability.


Excellent responses from you all. These are very much appreciated thank you. I’ll let him see this.

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Haven’t read it yet myself - I’ve still got 1.5 years before I fully qualify :rofl: - but isn’t the idea that you shouldn’t do higher intensity as you age directly opposite of the conventional wisdom espoused in Friel’s well-regarded “Fast After 50” book?

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That workout intensity adjustment chart is an excellent little chart Chad. Thanks for sharing it.

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Now I haven’t read that book either.

Does Friel advise doing VO2 max work as you get older?

Here is a link to my file.

Go to the “General Calcs” tab for the VO2 Chart, and the “Power Zones” tab for the zones.

You can even follow the instructions on the “Power Zones” tab to copy the sheet and update it with your own info for fast reference.


I haven’t finished the book, but like strength training being important as we age, keeping VO2 Max work in the playlist is also recommended. It is meant to slow the decline in VO2 Max that is inevitable, but we can impact and improve those results with proper work.

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I’m part way through the book, and the general message is that high intensity has the greatest impact on maintaining fitness as we age not what he calls LSD or Long Slow Duration, which contributes little or nothing to maintaining fitness. The caveat is that as an older athlete overdoing it and not allowing for appropriate recovery is what will cause issues. There is a similar chart to what @mcneese.chad posted and guidelines on how to work into it. FWIW, at 51, diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation, family history of heart disease, my cardiologist has repeatedly responded when asked that I can go as hard as I want.


No expert, but I’m 66. It wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t find them to be a push in his self-confidence. I myself find some of the others tougher and get a little mental kick out of the VO2 max sessions. He can always take a longer break in the “valleys” to get his pulse and heart back down out of his throat.

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mid 40s rider here.

I know I’m in VO2max range when I’m taking huge, deep belly breaths. Don’t need any numbers to tell me this.

I can find this place with lower watts but higher cadence.

In my experience higher watts with lower cadence leads to knee problems.

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@GeorgeAnderson All the responses have been great but I want to add something that I think others have not touched on. I think your question has been answered but in order to further reassure him, I would say it’s always an option to go through those two training phases and just substitute VO2max workouts with threshold or supra-threshold (105%-108%) sessions.

If you look at those plans, SSB1 and SSB2, you’ll notice that with a minor exception SSB1 doesn’t have any VO2max work. So he should be good there. As for SSB2, VO2max is the Tuesday workout. Even if he substituted another type of workout he would likely make tremendous progress.

Now, before everybody jumps on me, :smile: I’m not saying a threshold or SS workout is the same thing as, for example, Taylor -2 or Bluebell. They’re not. But you’re still doing the bread and butter workouts, namely Sweet Spot, Threshold, and Over-unders. Although cookie cutter in some ways, these plans are very flexible. And I’d hate to see someone put off just because of one, arguably less important, type of workout.



That’s a very good suggestion Tim. Thanks!

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