I can not finish VO2max workout

I am a rookie biker. I use TR training from 2022/08.

I can feel I am stronger during the base phase, build phase. And my FTP increases from 134 to 186 now.

But I am feel tired in the “Specialty base - Climbing Road Race”. It’s a lot of VO2max workout. I can do my best to finish the workout in the first 2 weeks. But the heart rate will keep on very high around 180 to 189. It almost keep on my Max HR.

Today I fail at Old Rag+6. It’s a 3x5 with 110% ftp.

I think maybe VO2max workout is my weakness. Should I keep on the specialty base schedule? Can I growing up even I failed the workout?

Can any one give me a suggestion or tips?
Many thanks.

  • 35 years old
  • Max HR 190
  • Resting HR 50
  • FTP 186
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A progression level of 7.1 is pretty high. The adaptive system should detect this workout as failed and will adapt to lower VO2max level that will be easier.
How did you mark the previous workouts? Did you mark them very hard or all-out? It’s important to be honest when the workouts are getting too hard.


Last week
3/14 (Tue.) VO2max level 6.9 (all out / other)
3/16 (Thu.) VO2max level 6.7 (very hard)

This week
3/21 (Tue.) VO2max level 7.7 (all out / other)
3/23 (Thu.) VO2max level 7.1 (all out / Training fatigue)

Next week
3/28 (Tue.) VO2max level 5.3
3/30 (Thu.) VO2max level 5.9

This week training level is increasing than last week. Is it possible I choose the “very hard” on 3/16? On 3/16, I think I can finish the workout event the HR is targeting 186. So, I select the “very hard” instead of “all out”.

In my experience, VO2 max training is tired than SST or Tempo. I can’t clearly determine “very hard” or “all out”.

Along with the other advice given, consider trying harder to maintain a high cadence across each interval. As your cadence drops, you start recruiting larger and larger motor units to meet the increased torque demands, and those fibres will be relatively less well aerobically trained.


As long as you are able to get your heart rate that high, you can trust that the workouts are having a good effect. But scale them to your level and freshness, so that you can finish them without dying.

I must say i question slightly if you (nless youre extreemly light) really are in need of a vo2 max training block now. With an FTP at 185 i think perhaps more base and more manageable work giving you time in the saddle spinning the legs and building aerobic fitness, would be better for you than burning out on hard VO2 max workouts.


I’d speak to support to ask why this week’s sessions weren’t adapted down.

I’m surprised an all out 6.9 last week would produce a 7.7 this week, no wonder you found it hard.

It looks like AT has listened now, with the reduction to 5.3 and 5.9 next week. I expect you will find these much more doable.

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One tip in the workout text from Chad that helped me was when you aren’t sure you can complete a workout to start with it reduced to 95% on the first interval then move up as you get into the workout. It helped me on workouts that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to finish when I saw them.

Higher RPMs certainly help during intense intervals, my baseline is 90 so I try to get up to 95-100 as the intervals start. This probably won’t help your heartrate but if the problem it does seem to make it easier on my legs.


Don’t be afraid or ashamed to take a rest day or ride easy endurance. That’s a lot of vo2 in one week, it can definitely catch up quick.
If you hit 2 vo2 workouts a week like that it’s probably enough.
Just my personal opinion and sometimes I need to take my own advice.


I am 63kg now. I know I need more z2/z3 training in this status.
I create the climbing plan from 2022/02. So, I do the base phase I, base phase II, build phase (Sustained Power Build). Now is the specialty base (Climbing Road Race) with the same plan.

Based on your suggestion, should I manually select the base and build phases and repeat both?

I wouldn’t too much about the past it look like the system is adapting to how you perform now and your next week VO2max levels are at at a lower PL. One tip that works for some folk is to hide HR altogether if its putting you off (disclaimer unless you have a medical problem). That said, my self I like to process %maxHR (I have that on my Garmin) but I’m pretty confident of my performances relative to my Max HR. Whilst we are all different my 7.1 VO2 max workout on Tuesday (Bashful+1) saw my HR raise to above 90% after the first couple of intervals and max at 93% (Over 95% for me takes too long to recover from before the next interval and I’ll save that for a final sprint).
Its also partly because of the quality (or lack of to be precise) of my Elite Suito but I also do work in resistance mode. The ERG on the Suito just seems to bite away at me and when I’m tired drags me into ‘the Spiral of Death’. You can have one bad interval too and push on, that was handy for me on Tuesday when my Gear Cable snapped or just where there has been a natural decline.

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Hi John, im about your age, but probably have some more experience with structured training, atm around 78 kg and 300w ftp.

I dont want to presume best what you need, but judging from your numbers i would think you have alot of headroom left by doing base and build work. Doing some vo2max from time to time can always be good to stress the aerobic system and heart function, but unless you are looking to “peak” for an even within the next 2-6 weeks, i would advice more towards tempo/sweetspot/threshold workouts. And i would advice (if you have the time) to rather take down the intensity a little and rather choose slightly longer workouts, both to give your legs longer time under load/activity but also to make it more enjoyable for you.


5@110 is no joke. If you can complete this, your FTP has probably gone up.

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all you need to know about vo2

a) don’t bother with most TR vo2 workouts,
b)turn off erg mode
c) do something like 6x3min, 7x3min, 5x4min or 4x5min as hard you can sustain at high cadence. your power will likely drop off as you go along, that’s ok
d) do it again a couple days later, repeat throughout block


Old Rag +6 was a little bit too much for you! But you were still able to got in about 20 minutes of good VO2max work during that workout.

Looks like next week’s VO2max workouts will be much more achievable (5.3/5.9 vs 7.7/7.1). I think that adaptation is going to get you back on track. Without seeing your calendar, I would guess the week of 04apr/06apr is a recovery week…be sure to pay extra attention to your recovery during that week.

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I’d go with what some of @hubcyclist says. Definitely turn erg mode off. I can’t do most vo2 sessions if I use erg mode, it just grinds me to a halt, and sometimes a few seconds here and there at a lower power needs to be possible - it’s more about having heart rate and breathing ramped right up.

Choose the workout it says but do resistance mode and complete them the best you can.

But also as others say, also think about more sweet spot/tempo and base type sessions. Two VO2 max sessions two days apart each week is tough mentally, not just physically. If you do carry on with these, I’d at least put a few more days between them if you can.

To improve your VO2 max, you can challenge yourself two or three times per week with workouts that have an aerobic training effect of 3.0-4.0 . You can also try to lose weight as VO2 is scored relative to body weight

To reduce your heart rate during VO2 max workout, you can try submaximal exercise tests which are still a useful way to measure your VO₂ max levels and your overall levels of heart and lung endurance during exercise

I hope this helps!

I think selecting „intensity“ in the struggle survey is the best chance for proper downward adjustment (maybe also „training fatigue“). Selecting „other“ might leave AT thinking it would have been possible with better recovery etc. and keep you serving too hard workouts. A little late but finally you got better adaptations but let @ZackeryWeimer have a look at that case.

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@Rizzi Going with “Intensity” or “Training Fatigue” would be the move here based on what I’m seeing – @John_Chen, from your description, I think those options sound more accurate than “Other” in this instance.

I took a deeper dive into what was up in your account, and it did look like your VO2 workouts were adjusting to a more appropriate level once you responded with “Training Fatigue” in the post-workout surveys.

For what it’s worth, “Very Hard” is an expected survey result for VO2 workouts – they’re often just plain old hard! It looks like you were getting through all of your VO2 workouts up until Old Rag +6, so awesome work there! :muscle:

I noticed you switched your training plan from Specialty back to Sweet Spot Base, which is no problem. It looks like you have an event coming up, so I think it would be worth using Workout Alternates or TrainNow to find some shorter, less intense workouts leading up to your race so you don’t go into it with too much fatigue.

If you do want to get back into Specialty now that Adaptive Training has adjusted your VO2 Max Progression Levels, just let me know and I can help out with that if you’d like!