Improving VO2max - new High North video

Received an email this morning, good video on YouTube to compliment the information that has been on the High North Performance website some time ago:

and the video:

Searched before creating this topic, lets use this one to discuss Tom Bell’s point-of-view.

My notes from the video:

Central training:

  • long periods of low-intensity zone2 training
  • higher intensity training, either sustained or interval training. Goal is to raise vo2 above 80% vo2max. Since most of us can’t afford a portable vo2 meter, achieving heart rate above 90% HRmax is one approach to getting feedback on level of effort required to achieve high oxygen uptake.

Peripheral training:

  • zone2
  • very high intensity training, say 4 to 7 by 30-sec all-out sprints. Be conservative and don’t overdue these and only do them at key points in the season
  • different intensities for different fiber types, zone2 for type 1 slow-twitch fibers and 10-sec large gear sprints for type 2 fibers

I like High North. I actually purchased their workout library. They’re philosophy runs counter to the threshold model though. The library doesn’t include “sweet spot” and, while it does have some threshold and supra-threshold stuff, their notes in these workouts suggest a fair degree of skepticism. Lots of their other workouts include links to related studies. Their approach is closer to the polarized model, though I do see Tom doing tempo every once in a while.

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Great content on the High North website, and I agree with you about the philosophy. Although stated differently, the training focus appears to align with what Iñigo San Millán has been saying.

The training discussed in the video sounds similar to the training I’ve done for the past 9 months under the direction of a FasCat coach with 12 years experience and he has his own beliefs and system. As someone with average vo2max, I’m much happier with recovery, training consistency, and actual performance versus doing a threshold approach. Biggest recent surprise was only needing a small dose of longer tempo to get back to doing threshold efforts on Wed night worlds.

Last year I wondered if Tom’s assertion about pushing a more polarized approach down to 6 hours would work. I’ve averaged just under 8 hours/week since late August and can absolutely say this type of approach works, and I’m happier with results.


I think I am going to try a new approach to VO2max tomorrow. I’ve Bashful +1 tomorrow and I’ve mostly done workouts of this type in resistance mode but upping the resistance if my cadence fell at the end of longer intervals. If I’m feeling fresh tomorrow I may just do it on a flat simulated course so its mainly a cadence workout :neutral_face:


These are all good workouts and pretty much what I have been doing lately. Wish I could do more of the 3.5hr Z2 rides but it is what it is.