Doing vo2 workouts outside. Tips and tricks?

I’ve got some vo2 workouts coming up. Normally I would do these on the turbo because I can just go super hard and not worry about anything like potholes, cars, joggers etc.

I’m considering doing them outside.

What’s everyone’s experience with that? Suggestions, tips, tricks?

I don’t have any hills nearby for sustained gradients. More rolling road.

I don’t find the terrain matters too much if I just up the cadence and gearing. TR simplifies the workout so it’s not required to be precise like indoors.

Edit. I also don’t worry about being precise so much on them. More about creating the general intent. So maybe that’s my error.


I find I go deeper outside than on the trainer, but many of my athletes prefer to do them inside so they don’t have to worry about anything else. So it’s personal preference.

Some other considerations:

  • Allergies or dry air? If so, you might end up with a hacking cough if you do them outside, might be better inside. If you’re doing it right, you’re just opening up a straight airway pipe into your lungs…
  • Hill or flat? If you struggle climbing and maintaining a high cadence, you probably want to do them on a flat. If you’re ok staying on top of gears, these are a good chance to improve your climbing and gear management by doing them on a hill, something like 6% grade is good, don’t go too steep.
  • I love doing mine on a hill, and then seeing if I can get back to (or close to) the same spot each time. Almost never do, but it gives you a bit of a carrot to aim for.
  • Rest intervals. This can be tricky outside. You need to make sure you have areas to safely turn around, etc., if you’re doing hill or flat repeats.
  • Traffic - you want a dedicated bike lane or minimal traffic here, because again, doing these right you may end up wobbly.

Rollers are less than ideal IMO, but as mentioned above you don’t have to be perfect.

Depending on your rollers, you might be able to do some really quality 30/15s-like workouts on them?

Just some thoughts.


Don’t be aero (in fact don your most dragging kit and take your slowest bike/wheel/tyre combo),
warm up doing the entire stretch checking for dangers,
stick to 1 gear and cadence as much as possible, don’t chase power to much
aim 15-20W higher than your indented target
make sure you can see the interval average power on the workout page (wahoo doesn’t show that by default but instead shows speed)
do your work intervals as much as possible up hill and/or with a head wind

today I tried to do threshold for as long as I could outside, I am really content with how it turned out, some drops because of doing turns but really nice and steady power


Much prefer doing them outside. I nearly always do them on hills, as the gradient makes it easier to hold high watts without a lot of shifting or spinning out, the speed is slower so it’s safer to go deep, and there are hills near me with not too much traffic. Flat roads are ok if quiet. I personally avoid rolling roads as speeds can get pretty high on the downhill sections and I simply don’t think it’s safe to be hitting those sort of speeds on open roads while also pushing myself to my limits and inevitably with at least a little bit of distraction from checking the head unit for power and/or time. If rolling roads were my only option I’d probably use my gravel bike as at least it would slow things down a bit, maybe do them into the wind as well if possible.

I do almost all of my workouts outside. My top requirement for VO2 max workouts is to find a long enough uninterrupted road with no stops and as little traffic as possible. I go back-and-forth on the road. I use my warm up and cooldown to get to the road.


Find a quiet stretch of road with no junctions, turns or other obstacles that will interrupt the duration of your intervals. Find a stretch of road that is fairly flat, so you can do the intervals both ways. Don’t worry about trying to hold an exact power, that’s not necessary to get the benefit.

For the 2’ interwalls I have a 1,5 km long totally flat stretch with high quality asphalt on it.
I turn around on both ends. My session here is 4x 2’/30"

For 60/30 you only need 900m :smiley:

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