First VO2 intervals in 5 months 🤢

So, in the spirit of misery loving company, I thought I’d see if anyone else has recently picked up Vo2 work again lately (and also almost died :rofl:).

Last night was 4 x 4 min @110% with 2 minute rest periods. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. The last minute of the last one was genuinely flat out to complete: HR hit 97% of max.

Please remind me they are always horrible to start with!!


this is where I really like the progression approach of AT. I just got into build, so starting v02 work for the first time since last july really. 30/30’s are such a manageable way to ease back into v02 work. 45/45 was this week. one good thing about v02 is that you can get a decent response without killing yourself to start. Yeah, you eventually have to get to the tougher workouts if you want to push the adaptations, but you don’t need to go there in your first week of build to see adaptations.


That’s also a particularly difficult workout to start back with. I’d have got back on the VO2 horse with 30/30s or something. At the very least I think I’d have started back into sustained VO2 work with something like 2min on, 30 sec rest, 2min on, 2 min rest rather than going straight to uninterrupted 4 minute blocks!

I’m gonna guess you’re not using TrainerRoad.



That was my reaction, as well…wondering if that was from a plan or if you just selected it yourself?

Allocated by my coach, who has since suggested it was actually a bit too hard for week 1!

In fairness, historically 3-6 minute intervals have been a real strength, and that workout would have been an 8/10 in the run up to the cx season.

Yeah, I haven’t done VO2 since September of 2022. For my first VO2 in Build TR gave me 9 x 2 mins at 110%. It sucked but wasn’t too bad and was a good introduction back in to hard efforts.

Excuse the dumb question here.

Can someone explain what the benefits of VO2 work are? I dont get it. I know there is talk of floors and ceilings…I dont get the analogies and metaphors being thrown around. What does V02 work actually accomplish? Is it just improving power at that range? Is there some other benefits? Would there be advantages for substituting Vo2 for threshold?

I ask mostly because I actually LIKE vo2, and wonder if perhaps this could be a substitute for threshold efforts haha

Ok right but…well let me rephrase my question into some more specific - why do you want a higher VO2 max? Why is it beneficial? Would someone with a V02 max double that of someone else be faster? In what circumstances? That isnt answered in their article.

Ok, my layman’s understanding:

VO2 max is a measure of maximum oxygen uptake. The ability you have to take in oxygen, and supply it to working muscles, is one of the main determinants of athletic performance. In illustration, a healthy and not overweight but sedentary 18-30 year old man will likely have a VO2 max of around 40 mL/kg/min (that’s very much an average, but you get the idea). For a fit club cyclist, that’s likely around 55; a high-level amateur racer, say 65, and a pro will be 75+. Greg Lemond was apparently ~90.

If you improve your VO2 maximum, you’re raising your ceiling; think of it like the max revs on a car. In theory, working at lower power levels/efforts are then a lower percentage of that, and hence lower revs - i.e. easier.

1 Like

The main driver of the improvements that will come from doing VO2 Max intervals is an increase in cardiac stroke volume. This means every heart beat will deliver more blood (and more oxygen)

Effectively, you’re swapping out your engine for a bigger one, which has benefits for all your aerobic work.


Again…excuse the ignorance…I get lost in these analogies.

Would Vo2 work make you faster is what I’m ultimately getting at. Is that what you mean when you say ‘benefits aerobic work?’ And when you say aerobic work…would this mean just zone 2?

I very gently eased into it then promptly got sick the next day.

If done well, definitely. Aerobic work is everything except pure all-out sprints, although as you recover from those aerobically a higher VO2 Max will help there too.

I’m not convinced that the spiky VO2 efforts are as helpful (to me, anyway). Under a coach, I would work up to 5x5s, (we probably didn’t start with 4x4’s, probably 4x3’s IIRC) and if I got the 5x5s, even if I sometimes could only handle 4 out of 5 - they really did help with climbing outside! These broken-up, spiky (30-30’s, etc.) VO2 intervals are easier to complete, but I don’t get that “invincible climbing legs” feeling from that work.

And yes, the steady-state VO2 intervals are very :nauseated_face:-worthy. :slight_smile:

Did my first proper VO2 session in a couple of years yesterday, 3 x 12 sets of 30secs, with 30 second recoveries.

Hard but pretty doable, especially on the mental side. I think a longer session would have me beat before I got on the bike at the moment

Since mid January I’ve been slowly pushing up the power on some 5 and 10 minute above threshold work, these were prescribed as above threshold and not vo2max.

Some weeks ago was hitting 109% on 5 minutes, steady threshold HR, steady breathing, felt a little like riding at ftp and not too hard. It was a week after setting an all-time 20-minute power PR on a field test. That was a pleasant surprise.

My personal best from Sept 2017, a CTS/Strava climbing repeat workout of 4x5-min (3-min rests). Those were 110-113%. Feels like my 3-6 minute fitness is back to where I was six years ago :+1: except I’ve had some unplanned downtime from a allergies/cold/flu and top-end fitness is definitely going backwards right now :frowning: Easy come, easy go.

To put is as simple as possible…

The harder you work, the faster you get. VO2 is hard intervals. You get better by doing them.


Yeah…the IRL analogy is obviously something like hammering over short rollers that only take 2-4 minutes to climb. You are basically pegged the whole time…that is where VO2 max work helps.

Or trying to chase down (or initiate) a break, etc.