Getting really pissed off (VO2 Max Difficulty)

Done my SSB1 and 2 at 204 ftp and went well for my first time at structured indoor training. Then started Sustained build then and have really struggled with the v02 max stuff and really anything above threshold. Took a while off the trainer and done some outside cycling. Tried a v02 max session today with 2.5 mins at 120% with 4 min recovery dips and just couldn’t finish it. I done 6 out of the 9 intervals just dropping it by 5% a couple of times when I was struggling. The SS stuff is manageable but these 3 mins at 120% and 8 mins intervals just above threshold are just too hard and yes I do dig deep. It’s totally putting me off my trainer . What should I do???


Do Mills. Peak and fade. Give that a try… go from there. Put the chain in the big ring.

Keep at it.


Try them at 110% instead. Get used to completing the VO2 max sessions at whatever you can and then gradually extend it if you can. Try to match effort time with rest time.


Those are simply just very hard efforts, it’s not just you. Question:

  • On the times you went -5%, do you think that’s repeatable throughout the entire workout for you? 3+mins at VO2 are something to work up towards generally, and you may fall more in the 115% range… no shame in that, adjust as needed and see if you can get back in and get the work done.

When I have a daunting VO2 workout ahead of me, I find it’s better to start off at a decreased intensity and work my way up into the workout if I can. It’s hard to start at 100% intensity, have that bury you, and THEN try and get through the rest of the workout.
Once the workout gets moving, you often find that “this is really really hard, but I can just barely get it done, then repeat it” - look for that feeling.

Might be worth resting a bit and repeating the previous week(s) if you want to, start out at 110-115% and then dial up the intensity as the workout progresses and as you can. Like I said, 115% might be your upper end right now, and that’s ok.

I don’t do a lot of the just over threshold efforts, so I can’t really speak on those.


Just turn them down until the point where you can get through them.
Some people struggle with VO2Max workouts (myself very definitely included!), some struggle with Sweetspot, some struggle with multi-hour endurance rides. Don’t sweat it - just set them at a level you can achieve and gradually nudge that level upwards. I had the same problem last season - it sucks, but it will get easier!


While generally speaking, any training if you’re new will improve all aspects of your cycling fitness, one can not expect that X weeks of doing work near, but below threshold is going to automatically mean you can jump right in and nail repeats at 120% of threshold. (experienced seasoned riders can do this but it is not unusual for newbies to structured training to have the issue you describe). You have some (new) work to do. The power curve is not a continuum of just simply going harder. The systems you use as you move up the curve change and you need to develop them to make progress.

So, don’t get discouraged. And pay attention to the workout instructions when they state that it is better for a particular workout to dial back and find a pace that lets you complete the whole workout rather than blindly stick to a target and have to bail early.


Repeat your ramp test and verify your FTP, with the same setup the same room and conditions you do your vo2 max workouts.

Fuel your workouts properly.

Expect them to be hard. They ARE hard. But if you do the first two steps right, you can do them.

Worst thing you can do is be put of your trainer !!! Do what makes you want to stay on it

The FTP test ESTIMATES. as best it can, your FTP, you should always question "if it’s correct’, and if the protocol does not work, try a different test.

When the original “Training with Power” was written, it did several tests to work out your zones (bit like the sufferfest 4DP does) but it’s really really hard, and the 20 min test to calculate FTP became the shortcut to calculating you zones, based on the average person … but it’s a bit like the average children per family = 3.25, find the average person, the 120% works for most people, but V02 is a range > 110% to 130%, if you are in that range … hurrah benefit.

Me personalty, I really struggled with 120% (riding 20 years, 15 racing so I’m not a noob) so dropped it to 116% (97% in TR) for intervals >= 3mins, find my breathing to be loads better, get through the intervals and recover better … it’s hard, but I don’t fail, if I’m feeling good for the last couple, ease it up a little

Question everything … but do what works for you, TR training plans are a guide, not a law


Just posting to say you’re not alone in struggling with those longer VO2 efforts at 120%


I have my VO2max set to 115%. I’ve tried it at 120% but can’t manage it. I think it’s because I’m getting old at 53 :muscle:

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Another here who struggles with VO2 max work. I have found sessions I can complete (Baird and it’s variants) and I do those and will work up to the longer intervals when I can. As others have said, the plans are guidelines, change as you see fit. I believe the TR crew encourage this strategy. Good luck in the future.

Did you mean to post that here:




Perhaps you missed the :muscle: sarcasm :wink:


I’m one of those who really struggles with 120% stuff, I haven’t really tried outdoors to see if 3min stuff like that would be easier, would love to once the weather gets nicer and see how it feels vs riding the trainer.

For me, I think I struggle when I’m forced to adopt a lower cadence on the trainer, it starts to feel unnatural for me (although I need to work on it, I really cramped hard at a fondo this past summer because I was pedaling <70 for a really long time!). So the other day I made sure to not let my legs stop during 5mins at 108% and it worked mostly well (I did crack on the last of 7 intervals).

And while frustrating, just remember you are getting stronger. I raced CX and even though I had a tough time with some intervals during training, I was in really good shape for all the races and didn’t struggle with fatigued legs at all, so the tough trainer work does translate to real life improvements!

Which version of SSB did you do??

Doing a mini vo2 block between base and build is an excellent way to get you used to those efforts after SSB. If you have a quick search it’s easy to find a progression list Coach Chad posted here before.

Coach Chad has said numerous times on the podcasts that not everyone Vo2 is at +120%. I to struggle with Vo2 Hence why i struggle with the Ramp test because it mimics a Vo2 interval. You are looking for the highest repeatable effort for the whole workout to stress and strengthen that system. However don’t drop it more then 10% or you change the effect of the whole interval. If you have to drop it 10% or more its time to re think your FTP. If you do a few and blow up you are not stressing the system in a way that will be beneficial. As people have said Start throwing in the Shorter versions of the Vo2 workouts to get your body used to this type of effort.

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I think this starts getting to the crux of it - we don’t know when the OP last tested their FTP, or what method they used.

My belief is that the because the ramp test mimics a vo2 interval like you say, the result is actually very good for setting your level for vo2 intervals. I think the more common problem could be people doing 95% of 20 minutes and getting a higher number at which 120% intervals are an impossibility.

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I am 62 and I find 120% for more than 2 minutes difficult. I don’t put it down to age though as I suspect I have always been the same. More of an endurance athlete than a sprinter. Which is fine with me.


In Joe Friels book “fast after 50”. He states that your VO2max level is the biggest thing to take a hit year after year as you get older.

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Definitely a case of using it or losing it. Doing the efforts just delays the eventual loss.

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