Best training program for VO2 Max

What’s the best training program for VO2 Max workouts? Ideally want to improve my VO2 Max capacity, prior to locking in with sweetspot work.

Personally I do it the other way around - Winter - SS/over under threshold work/endurance rides to build a base - especially if I have been doing some running. Then a VO2 block of 6 weeks before moving to super threshold/threshold intervals pre season…Anyhow there isn’t really a VO2 program - I would look at the workouts and specify 60-75mins. Then start at the lower level versions with 30-60s intervals e.g Baird/Bluebell, then move to 2mins - Mills/Dade and then 3mins versions of Spencer - do 2 sessions a week with 2-3 zone 2 rides as well and you should make progress…mind you it will hurt - Spencer+2 hurts :grin:

I think I have quite a decent base from the summer cycling (lots of 100km rides, and a good few 160km rides as well), which I am recovering from much faster than last year. Mostly with at least 1.5% elevation (eg. 1500m on 100km rides, 2400m on 160km rides).

Where I am a bit short are on the 3-8 minute efforts (local hill climbs) so really want to work on those and then focus on more sweetspot.

With the exception of the polarized plans VO2max work starts in earnest after the base phase — with good reason. What are you trying to accomplish?

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Climbing road race specialty plan probably your best option of the TR plans.

It is difficult to determine the best plan for you as each person responds to training differently. VO2max training is usually considered to be performed at a heart rate between 90 to 95% of max HR. Som would claim that VO2max training should be all out but I think you should pace yourself so you don’t overdo it; training to hard will delay recovery and hamper future training. Helgerud and Hoff made 4x4 minutes famous some years ago and Stephen Seiler pushed longer intervals.

In addition to the above you can look into this suggestion by Jesper Bondo Medhus.

Thanks all. I was really looking for like a 6 week block of VO2 Max sessions which will hopefully boost my VO2Max, then wanted to do base related work.

@oero - Really want to boost my 3-10 minute power outputs for local climbs, which are short and steep rather than long and gradual.

If for some reason you have to use tr ready plan speciality → enthusiast → maintenance → low volume. Change one anaerobic to any vo2 max workout and fill rest you week with easy z2 riding.

If you want to custom (what I would prefer) this topic contains almost every information you would need:

Basically vo2 max 2-3 per week, if you can day after day, rest easy. Do 2-3 weeks, A LOT of rest and you are golden. Type of interval does not matter as long it’s at least 2 min (or better 3) min long and you are gasping for air like a fish out of water or being waterboarded. Go as hard as you can, forget about anything else. Repeat. And eat A TON of food during.


I have structured VO2 as follows:

2 days of VO2 per week. Trying to spend at least 18 minutes there.

So 5x3.5 or 6x3.5, working up to 5x4 and 6x4 if I have time, 5x5 etc… - going up to what you can tolerate and what mimics the hills you have around you. I disagree with the person above - these should be all out. Get your HR up as much as you can - do not look at power - and NOT done in ERG mode inside. Get your cadence high, and just go balls to the wall - you should be breathing like a dead fish at the end.

I would not do 6 weeks of this - you will flame out. I would do 3 weeks on, recover, then another 3 weeks at most. But you will see signs of fatigue - if you can’t push your heart rate up despite pushing as hard as you can - it’s time to back off and recover more.

30/30 and those type of workouts I believe will serve a different purpose for you - because you want to work on hill climbing

Just my 2 cents and from my (recent) experience.


@cartsman This looks very good for what I’m after!

Yes, especially regarding low heart rate. I used to mistake it for a sign of increased fitness when it would stay low with effort. Then when I’d be rested it would shoot back up, and I’d mistake THAT for a sign of decreased fitness.

It’s a trap to look out for. Good post.


Good post @jreinfeld

I’ve overexerted enough previously to know I need to do a 3-1 work:rest week routine.

These type of workouts are so taxing mentally and physically. I dread them - just knowing you are going to push yourself that hard (I am NOT an anaerobic athlete at all - probably have 7 fast twitch muscle fibers in total…) so to me they’re taxing both mentally and physically. By the last one in a 3 weeks block I was so happy to be done with them.

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For just straight-up FTP raising, the Sustained Power Build program is hardcore. VO2 max and threshold all over the place :melting_face:

For what you asked, I’d recommend scheduling the rolling road race low volume plan. It will progress you through two different types of V02 max work. Swap the anaerobic workout with endurance, tempo, or moderate sweet spot. You can use workout levels to do AT’s work on that part.

Two hours of weekly V02 max intensity shouldn’t burn you out. Yes, maybe it’s not ideal for this time of the season, but who cares, we’re not pro cyclists here. Plenty of time to rest and reset to base after this experimental block. I’d be curious about how it goes.

Some athletes, like ultra distance, Ironman, etc. might do VO2max work earlier in the base phase as general prep, with more race specific work being long hours at .6-.7IF with increasing EF.

Additionally, Masters athletes 50 or 60+ benefit from year round VO2max workouts as well. Helps maintain against the natural decline of VO2max as we age.


I’m 46 so not that far off 50 :scream:

From the comments here, seems like the vast preference is longer intervals - does this mean that the 30/30 sessions aren’t nearly as effective?
How about workouts like Peters? (Log In to TrainerRoad)

Let me preface this with the fact that I 100% do not know the answer to this question - I think the best VO2 max intervals are the ones that get you to using your aerobic system maximally. So if you do 30/30 (or another short/short variation) and you are gasping for air by the end of the set (regardless of the HR or power) than they were effective.

I think asking a person new to structured training to go out and do 4x4 is a recipe for disaster. They’re so tough off the block. That’s why TR starts people at 30/30 or 1-2 minute efforts to get them used to pushing the pedals like that - but these do not elicit the necessary adaptions (in my opinion).

But there is research out there. I just don’t know it. My background is physical therapy, not exercise phys.

Usual perception (mine also) of 30/30 or any intermittent vo2 is lack of vo2 max breathing. They are good for power, repetability and overall race specificity - no doubt about this. But if your goal is improving vo2 max value, longer intervals works usually better and you need heavy breathing and sv improvement. Of course you have to try it yourself. My personal experience is that those short/short works for me as “leg primer” but do nothing to my vo2 max values. Longer intervals, especially blocked together in 2-3 weeks - work always.

Beside typical recommendation of empiricial cycling podcast and whole vo2 max anthology, read also