How to train VO2Max on very small hills?

I have some very small hills near me that I like to replace my V02Max workouts with.
Overall I do about 3 x 5 30-60s hills over an hour.

Would I be better off doing max sprints and then resting on the downhill (on-offs) or more over under sort of intervals (Pedalling downhill as well, but not full on sprints up hill)?

The full on sprints definitely get my heart rate up higher and faster, but the over under sort of efforts generate a higher average power and is quicker to complete all the reps.

1 Like

To clarify, you’re describing doing 3 sets of 5 30/30s (or x/60s) in an hour currently? I think this is a relatively light VO2 workout - similar to Sleeping Beauty -4, with a 1.5 PL.

If those are the only hills in existence, then you will need to look at doing VO2 workouts not on hills, or regardless of hills. I have no hills near me, so typically do 3-8min (depending on stop sign/intersection locations) all out sections on flat ground, rest, then repeat for my VO2 work.

I’d also add that doing all-out sprints is not really the same thing as VO2 work. You want to get your HR and RPE into your target area and then stay there as long as humanly possible.

1 Like

I do all my TR workouts outside on a flat road - this includes V02 and O/U workouts.

I think you should try to find terrain that suits your workouts rather than changing your workouts to suit the terrain

Also max sprints and o/u work both have their place to improve fitness - There is no better or worse as they are both different


Assuming you know the routes well, you could start your interval prior to getting to the hill, end the interval at the peak and use the downhill as recovery.

Need more info but small hills are perfect for VO2 max efforts IME. If you’re trying to do shorter 30/30 etc I’d suggest a flat route instead. If you’re targeting sustained longer efforts and the hill is long enough (3-5 minutes at your VO2 pace) why not just make the hill your interval target and use the descent on the way back down as your rest interval (keep your legs moving if it’s safe).

Oops I think I put it the wrong way around. There are 5 small hills that vary between 30-60s when going all out, this ends up being around 200% ftp (400-500w avg). I repeat each hill 3 times so recover slightly on the downhill twice and then a longer recovery until the next hill.

These are the only hills around and I would prefer to mix up the terrain rather than do 100% of my workouts on completely flat roads.

Problem with doing these at V02Max power zones would be that it would take much longer to get my heart rate up with such small hills.

By over-under I mean taking it slightly easier on the uphill but also pedalling downhill. More like threshold-anaerobic power zones for each hill rather than the normal 95%-105% sort of ones that you see in the plans.

Depending where these hills are relative to each other you could ride hard for 3-4 minutes into the hill and then up the hill at VO2 ish power levels descend and then do it again with the next hill either in a loop or back and forth between two of them. Most of the VO2 work will still end up being on the flat b/c the hills are so short though.

Has the advantage of being a bit more interesting and it’s similar ish to how a lot of road races (around here, anyhow) play out.