Help decode my kind-of failed workout

I have been having similar problems when hitting 120% VO2 workouts after weeks of sweetspot base work.
Basically I need to adjust myself to get into the VO2 work by both ensuring I am well rested and also doing some over/unders or something above threshold. I have had about 9 weeks of sub-threshold work and I cannot be expected to suddenly be good at VO2 efforts.

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I wouldn’t sweat it too much. Not everyone can complete these intervals at 120% - just play around with the intensity until you can do the full set.



for me, Palisade is an over/under threshold workout, where the over-threshold part @105% is used to load up the aerobic system to 100% - in the recovery breaks @95%.
Spencer is a VO2max workout at 120%, so we are talking different energy systems.
Conclusion - train VO2max with a progression in VO2max interval duration and/or intensity…?

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Just saying that Palisade is a tough workout with plenty of trips above FTP. I know its not 120% but it’s still something. Was using it as a reference and comparison to the kind of suffering I’ve recently handled.

I do not understand. Threshold (suffering) is different from VO2max (suffering), sure thing.
I validate my workouts using my personal heartrate ranges & cardiac drift for the different zones. While I cannot confirm these for you, not knowing your HR ranges, the relation of your HRs and cardiac drift look plausible. In fact, our numbers are not so far apart.
Just give yourself more time (and some workouts) to get used to VO2max work.


Don’t worry about it. Spencer is a really tough workout. It’s hard to compare over-unders with decent length VO2 max intervals. Keep on it.

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I don’t see this as a kind-of-failure. You spent 17:03 at VO2Max and above during a 60 min workout. You can feel confident that you got from this workout what was intended and you will get the adaptations that will make you stronger.

Since you say:

I’m assuming that means that VO2Max workouts are new for you. I think whenever you start working new facets of your fitness you struggle initially until you adapt. Have confidence that each new workout in the VO2Max range will improve your ability to work there and in only a few weeks you’ll be able to complete them as ‘easily’ as you do Sweet Spot Work. Micro-bursts absolutely shredded me the first time I started workouts with them, in fact I still struggle. If you don’t know what micro-bursts are, you have that pain to look forward to too :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I’m no expert but this could be the main issue, if I’ve understood the meaning?

I love the VO2 max sessions. They hurt and I know that each session is testing me both physically and mentally.

My advice is simple. Don’t make these intervals any harder than they need to be. Staring at the working before you even attempt it will only make those blue blocks seem even bigger. You absolutely CAN do VO2 max. You just need to accept that it almost certainly will take you to the ragged edge and you might need to knock the session down by 5% towards the end.

Don’t sell yourself short and don’t worry before you’ve even attacked that first block. Control the mind and you’ll be amazed what you can do.

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I think that there’s enough VO2 haters/sufferers out there that I could make a decent living being a Vmax coach. :stuck_out_tongue:

(I’ll accept in-kind payment from an over-under coach :tired_face:)


This is almost exactly the same experience I’ve had lately, so it’s good to see I’m not alone here. I think there’s an older post on the blog that talks about time it takes to build anaerobic fitness (and how long it takes to lose it). When I get on the computer I’ll share the link, but if I recall, it takes several (3-6?) weeks to build good anaerobic fitness, possibly longer. So I’ve struggled through SSB II’s VO2 intervals, turning them down 5% pretty much every time knowing that after almost no VO2 max work, it will take more than a few sessions to build up to a “perfect” anaerobic workout (complete all intervals without lowering intensity and without backpedals.

VO2max are :sunglasses:, as long it is not like Bashful +6 :crazy_face:
Any tabata haters here (spanish needle & friends) ?


The relevant blog post: How to Recover, Maintain and Build Fitness After Completing a Full Training Cycle

But the most pertinent information is here:

"But higher-level forms of fitness like sprint capacity fade much more quickly; so will the magnitude of your highly anaerobic bursts. To get a good sense of how long your fitness sticks around, consider Vladimir Issurin’s data on Training Residuals:

  • Aerobic Endurance – Establishment: 25-35 days; Residuals: 25-35 days
  • Anaerobic Power – Establishment: 14-22 days; Residuals 14-22 days
  • Muscle Endurance/Threshold – Establishment: 10-20 days; Residuals: 10-20 days
  • Sprint Power – Establishment: 2-8 days; Residuals: 2-8 days"

So the way I understand it, it should take 14-22 days to ESTABLISH anaerobic power - that doesn’t mean you’ll be smashing out VO2 work, but rather your body will begin to adapt to it some time within 3 weeks and then progress to higher levels.

I know when I’ve moved onto build phases the first few weeks are absolute torture, and often not just due to a bump in FTP - sweet spot and threshold is hard, but manageable, but any VO2 work is still extremely difficult, requiring regular back spins in the rest intervals. It’s usually only after the first recovery week that they start to feel achievable.

On another note, there was another discussion about VO2 max work where it was said that short (10 second max) backspins in the middle of the VO2 max interval allows some flushing of the legs, but doesn’t allow your aerobic system to catch up, which can allow you to finish the rest of the interval stronger with minimal loss of effectiveness.

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Your workout is not a failure – nobody nails every workout 100% without a backpedal here or there, or a lowering of intensity from time to time. If you are not accustomed to VO2 work, it will take a bit to get re-acclimated.

But seriously – you nailed 3 intervals before you had a problem.

Keep at it. Good luck!


Spencer is much harder than palisade. As other’s have said, I wouldn’t worry about it.

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how have you done on an easier VO2max workout like Huffaker? I.e. are all VO2max workouts hard for you, or just the ones with repeated intervals of 120% (which are pretty brutal)?

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I’d have another crack at Spencer, knowing you know more about it than you did before and you are likely a touch stronger too. Maybe take 1-2% off if that gives you a mental boost. I think you’ll get more from ‘beating’ Spencer than you will by tackling Kaiser with a weeks worth of fear baked into it.

As others have noted, Spencer and Kaiser are really, really hard and infact have been swapped out in the latest updates to SSBLV2 to something Coach Chad thinks is more civilized. See here.


I completed Mills without too much fuss not very long ago and crushed Huffaker like 2 weeks ago. I appreciate that you made me dig deeper into my history as it gives me much more confidence that I can complete Kaiser next week. With these 3 (Spencer, Mills, Huffaker) under my belt I guess there really is no reason I can’t complete Kaiser.

Interesting information. Thank you for the heads up! Maybe I’ll just swap out Kaiser for something from the new plan. But I also love the idea of tackling spencer again. I have space for another VO2 workout in 2 weeks. It’s always exciting to see a training plan come together!

Kaiser is a beast. I did it last year when I was at high fitness, and perhaps a slightly inderestimated FTP, and just about made it through. I’m not looking forward to it this year - as even Huffaker has been pretty tough for me so far.

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VO2 max workouts are pretty horrible and require significant adaptations.

While they will never get any easier, with practice you will be able to complete them.

Don’t give up!

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