Heart rate @ VO2 max

Hi all.

Question about what heart rate should be at around v02 max power?

Yes I know all the caveats about heart rate, eg, weather I’ve had coffee and temperature and all that.
But there is obviously a certain range of norm for what is expected, eg- I’ve heard should be 90-95%.
What I’m wondering is , is that range % ofmax HR or of what’s determined as ones threshold HR??
From the Steve Neil podcast on flow I remember him saying it was a % of max hr.
Reason for asking is when I do a workout like gendarme+9 my HR generally sits around 80-85% of max.
But then that is probably pretty close to the 90-95% of threshold heart rate.

Cheers for input.

If it’s a vo2max workout, your HR will be over your threshold HR.

My Max HR is 186 and in the final of Vo2 intervals it is above 180 without a doubt so from my experience especially in the latter intervals of say Spencer ( which is 6×3 mins interval at vo2) your HR should definitely be no more than 10 beats off your max HR.

Don’t you have to reach Max HR to reach VO2 Max?

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No. It’s a zone, and most (repeatable) intervals are too short to reach max HR.

I’d be suprised if you could reach your max HR regularly in a workout.


Seiler proposed that 90% hr was a sustainable and repeatable target for vo2 work, allowing you to collect a lot of “time in zone”

Yes, you can go higher but interval duration decreases and physiological stress increases. I think he stated once you start getting to 94%+

Personally my “threshold” heartrate is about 87% for context.

I guess I’m trying to figure out if I’m working hard enough or if I’m to fatigued. Gendarme+9 is 3 x20 sets of 30/20s, in theory should be a killer workout I would imagine. But my heart rate never gets over 90% of max.

So then I could maybe assume my FTP is set to low, but if I was to bump it up to a level that may get me up to 90% it would t be a sustainable FTP for all other workouts.

Your power at vo2 max could be higher (as a % of FTP) than average. It’s fairly individual and 120% seems to be a common default. You could try that workout at a higher % and see if that works.

That workout looks terrible.


I’d be surprised if most people could repeatedly reach their VO2max during a workout.

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Take a look at this article from Training Peaks. In short, HR is not a good indicator of VO2 max work, as the intervals are quite short, and your heart’s response to stress is somewhat delayed. So, by the time you finish a 3 min VO2 max interval, your heart rate may not even be at threshold yet.

Dont think gendarme is a good representation…maybe think about it the other way, try sets of 4 minutes at 105%-120% with 3/4min rest between sets and see what your HR is that way.

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VO2max is a physiological state, not a power target.

Everyone can reach VO2max. It’s just a matter of how long can you stay at VO2max, and at what power level.


Sure, if you go hard for 3 minutes it is very unlikely that you spend much time at VO2max anyway; most of the energy contribution will be anaerobic until the end. However, if you do 10x3 minutes with 90s recovery periods, then I would wager your HR will spend a good amount of time above 90% maxHR (and you will also spend a good amount of time at VO2max).

In my experience, if a VO2max workout is designed correctly, you shouldn’t have to worry about your FTP, or your HR, or anything other than picking a power target that can be repeated throughout all the intervals, if not trailing off slightly near the end. The relationship between your VO2max and your FTP is highly individual and is mostly dependent on the rate at which you produce lactate. That’s one of the reasons the classic Seiler 4x8 and the Ronnestad 30/15 intervals are so popular; as long as you “solve the equation” correctly and pick a repeatable (but still difficult) power target, you will spend a good amount of time at VO2max, regardless of your oxygen utilization at threshold.

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I’m not talking about zones. I’m talking about hitting VO2max itself. It’s painful to reach it once, or at least it was during the tests I did way back in the day. You’d have to be really motivated to do it over and over again.

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So I dug out my old class notes. This is the equation:

VO2max = max HR x max SV x max O2 extraction

It therefore seems to me that you have to hit max HR to reach VO2max, or at the very least get awfully close to it.

For me, 90% of max HR is what I’d see in TTs and breakaways, so it would mean going harder than that.




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Your point is?

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Point is…regardless of the textbook equation, everyone can reach their VO2max

Except maybe people with heart disease.

What does that have to do with hitting max VO2 repeatedly?

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I dunno, go look up some VO2max workout ride histories and make your own assumptions. :v: