Hard start VO2max intervals

Should this be a thing with high RPM intervals? :man_shrugging:t2:

I just asked my legs. They said “yes”. Mainly the final 90seconds when I’m trying for dear life to hold 400w.

How many of you vary the style of VO2 workouts you do? I typically only do things like 4x4, 5x5, 4x6, and don’t do 30/15 or 40/20’s, but I’m looking to mix it up.

Why do you prefer one over the other? Or do you like them both?

All. The. Time. You can go shorter then 3 minutes, just up the power and drop the recovery time.

More data…

Personally, I’m just following the science. Right or wrong, it seems to work for me. Maybe other versions would be better. I just hate the idea of being a Guinea Pig when this is the most important and most difficult training I do per year.

I just aim at minutes of quality. I start at 3x3 and build to something like 5x5 or even a 6x5 for the final V02 of a build. I also begin to up the power once I can handle the same power at 5x5 that I started with at 3x3. In context, it’s a massive increase in performance over a relatively short period of time.

I don’t bother with hard start, short short or anything too complex. I’ve found that old school sustained V02Max training is the most powerful stimulus for me. It’s without doubt the most valuable minutes of training an endurance athlete can engage in.

I absolutely go fully polarized for my V02 build. Everything else is secondary. Virtually all other riding is Z2. Easy Z2 at that. Sometimes, I’ll add in a threshold effort or two on one day to keep things running. I usually only do 2 V02 sessions per week, with as much separation as possible in the week. This year I’m going to attempt 3 V02 sessions per week for the final or final 2 weeks.

I’m also going to attempt doing it for longer than I’ve ever tried it. If I don’t crack (a big if), I may try 6 to 8 weeks total. It seems, if you can tolerate it, you really will continue to make gains for a long time. These gains will be smaller the more advanced your training history.

I try to do all of my V02 work outside, I generate more power, gather more minutes and I’m forced to generate power over varied terrain. I feel this is far superior in regards to race specificity than a robotic ERG controlled effort. Generally, I think indoor training is incredibly powerful, and vastly more time efficient. However, for V02 work, I feel it could actually be significantly detrimental.

Finally, I think the huge additional value of sustained effort V02 training over other short short options is the mental training. It very much simulates actual bike racing. These repeated 2 to 6min efforts are very often the selection points, in many forms of bike racing.

Being able to tolerate more minutes of this level of suffering will only reap rewards come race day.


Probably a bad idea. Density > block length.

I won’t post how many I did in 2 weeks, but it was super effective but also required a really long recovery period.

Longest I’ve ever had in terms of an extended block is 3 weeks and I was dead at the end.


I mean, Hickson tried to kill people by doing this, so… :man_shrugging:t2:

You’re probably right…

I’m going full scientist. If I see any cracking, I’ll obviously bail. I am in a slightly different situation to many others. I have more time than most to recover, I average 8.5hrs sleep per night and I’m pretty good with intensity discipline. I guess many riders think they have good intensity discipline, but really, if you pull up the weekly data. Miles from it.

I’m guessing that if you can continue to recover adequately a longer build is hypothetically possible. The data seems to support doing the longest, hardest block you can recover from adequately.

Interestingly, after I read the Hickson study, I realized I’d simply never trained hard in my life :thinking:

:+1: I was curious if folks here also incorporate Rønnestad-like workouts to mix it up between the longer, steady state 4,5,6 minute intervals. With cyclocross just around the corner it’s got me thinking. A 30/15 workout is very applicable to cyclocross racing.

You are speaking my language. I too like 2x per week with a good 3 days of Z2 between them and I totally agree about doing work outdoors. I’m kicking my current block off with 4 consecutive workouts, and will then transition into 1x per week for the next 3 weeks (instead of workouts, these will be local pre-season cyclocross races). I want to front load the hell out of this block so that I don’t feel obligated to do 2x per week while in the race season.

I’m always amazed at how out of shape I feel when CX season starts, even when I’ve come into it with great form. It’s truly humbling how underprepared you can be even when you think you’re prepared.

I don’t respond well to the short-short vo2 work, so my coach has me primarily doing vo2 work from 1-min to 8-min. I’ve done all-out 30/30s this year, and I can’t exactly recall the discussion but seem to remember it was done more to build up anaerobic capacity (along with some all-out 1-min jobbers).

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I do two vo2 workouts per week, every week. I don’t actually do different ‘phases of training’. Used to but other than taking a recovery week or block of days, I don’t see much point since no races around me have a 25+ min climb I would need to be LT fit for.

I basically do a 30/30 on Tuesday and longer efforts on Saturday (3x5min, 2x7, 10min & 5min). Sometimes I put a SS interval of 20-45min in between. Pace is like 400-450w - tho I specifically target pace given interval length. (I have a 475w max 5min). I will spread these within my weekend long ride (3-4hr) - for example one rep at the end of each hour (trying to hold the pace w more kj into the legs. I also do the Tuesday 30/30 in the first hour of a 3hr ride that is my workout in the first hour and the local bike club ride for the following 2 hrs.

I do 30/30 regularly and I am a cross rider. Mix sets up like 10min straight, 3x5min w 2.5 recovery in between; just did 18min straight. Plan is to work up to 30min straight.

Sometimes I swap the 30/30 for ‘power intervals’, which are 600w for 30sec and 200-225w for 90sec continuously repeated for 20-25min. This gets you breathing heavy later into it. (Stole this workout idea following David Van der Poel on Strava)

For me, IMO being good at cross is huge 1min, 30/30 repeatability, and being able to tap out tempo pace inbetween. Few courses allow you to stay on the pedals for more than 1 min straight without reprieve.


Ok, I gave up on the vo2max block plan…I did 4 sessions, then life happened and I couldn’t do one for a week. Then I decided it was now too close to cross season and have now switched to short/shorts.

Short/short is likely not a good vo2max workout, it is better for building anaerobic capacity. However for two reasons I pulled the plug on the steady vo2max intervals - a) I realised that I was so bad at long vo2max intervals that I’d need to spend a bit more time doing them, and more time recovering, and more time bedding it in with SST/FTP, and b), higher FRC is more race specific for me at this point. And it’s more fun. Actually there is a third reason, while short/shorts aren’t pure vo2max workouts for properly trained people, I think I might be so unfit in that regard that they’ll still help me.

I have this vague idea that I’ll try a proper vo2 block after cx season, in the hope that the races will have made me improve a little bit. During the season, I found that more HIIT isn’t good for me, I’ll try and do some sweetspot work instead.

unless you start doing those on really short rest – like 15 seconds. then 4 x 2.5min at, say, 110% of FTP get interesting.

I know recovery is just as individual as the amount of hard work. But could you give me an idea of what recovery looked like for you after these blocks?

For the hardest and densest 2-week block, I had around 2.5 weeks of recovery before a slow ramp back into SS/threshold training.

From the end of the block, for me it takes between 1-3 months before I “see” the results of the work, sometimes longer.

In 2020, my last VO2 workout ended on Jan 18th, and I retested in April and picked up 26w on the 5’, and retested in December 2020 with no VO2 work and picked up another 11w


Individuality is definitely where the art part of coaching & training comes into play.

Do you bother to test any durations after resting or just let things shake out naturally?

I try. Sometimes I can get a good test in, sometimes not, but improvements will show up in other areas even if I whiff the 5’.

That’s some damn solid year round training KW.

You’re definitely made of tougher stuff than me. I only do structured training leading into my few primary races, then I revert back to slacker.

That’s obviously why I get such a big bump. I am attempting to do a ‘better’ job this year. I’ve also found that keeping my volume high year round allows me a little more wiggle room with structure.

If someone is only riding 8hrs a week, one would need to be pretty structured. On 16+hrs a week, you definitely get the benefit of a bit more freedom to just ride.

I last did 30/15’s well over a year ago and recall that my time in Z6+ HR was very low. It just never got there. I figured I’d give 40/20’s a shot today just to see, and again, very little time spent in Z6 or above. However, power above Z6 was significant. I still think this was a very effective VO2max workout, despite the fact that HR doesn’t tell the story. The ironic thing is that I probably wrote of the 30/15 workout because obsessing about HR and using HR @ 90% max or above as the primary qualifier for a “good” VO2max workout.

Workout was Rundle @ 120% for the 40’s

I personally go 150-155% ftp for the 30/30s. I wouldn’t think 120% is sufficient so I’m not surprised you didn’t get HR up there.