Increased power, decreased heart rate

My ultimate aim is to reduce my heart rate at the same power - am I better off doing a block of VO2Max or Threshold to compliment the low intensity workouts?

I’m no coaching expert but I’d say both from the plans I’ve did in the past. VO2max to raise your ceiling and Threshold to be your supporting walls and Endurance to reinforce it all from the foundations. I haven’t done polarized plans though and I think they are 80% Endurance, 20% maximum (which is probably VO2max).


Funnily enough, I was thinking of signing up for the polarised build plan which has a mix of both TH and Vo2max workouts.

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Fastest way is do vo2 max block - 3days of vo2 max workours day by day for 3 weeks. In the third week you will be so tired that your HR will get 10-15bpm lower for the same power - done!

For the long term change - doing everything aerobic - from z2 to vo2 max. The more you will do, the more improvment you will see. With time your EF will improve. There is no magic bulletes with that.


As you get fitter, your heart rate is bound to go down for a given power number. This will probably happen “normally” as you go through just about any training plan.

The question on VO2 or Threshold ties into what point of the season you’re at now and when you want to be in peak shape in the future.

If you’re entering the Fall/Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, you probably don’t need to hit VO2 max workouts at this time unless you feel like it was a limiter for you this past season and you’re well enough rested (and motivated) to do that tough work after a year’s worth of training and riding.

We tend to advise athletes to take it easier as the summer winds down before getting back into a Base plan in the Fall/Winter, which then flows nicely into our Build and Specialty phases as you get closer to your goal event(s) and the better weather of the Spring/Summer again.

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UNLESS you are a masters/vet althlete, then you want to do VO2max all year round… about every 14 days minimum, a very good responder may 21 days at an absolute push.


You don’t mention at which zones. After years of having a high avg. HR on long rides, I used polarized plans with long steady endurance pacing to lower it. Worked better than anything else I had tried. Having said that, there is low hanging fruit from VO2 max if you haven’t done that in a while. I just find that it peaks in a relatively short time, and need the longer endurance rides to break through to the next level.


:raised_hand: vo2 and anaerobic and short sprint work all year. Embrace the suck and just keep doing work above threshold, a mix of full-gas and occasionally all-out.


Sprint and Anaerobic efforts are a staple all along, with lots of endurance in base for all ages, this is what most people miss. 6-10s in cycling extending closer to build, strides into 30s hill repeats in running etc.

You need to add VO2 as well if a masters althlete. :+1: keep that top end otherwise in decline in check.


How old is ‘masters’? I’m 47.

Roughly 40s or 50s, depending on your genetics and other stuff. At a world tour / elite level it’s 35? I’ve seen the term grand masters for 55+.

Yeah. Consider youself someone that needs to touch the top end more than the 20 yrs olds and 30s

Id suggest its that 45 - 50 range, maybe 40 plus if you are unfortunate and age early.

Clue is in how you recover. I could recovery well until about 47/48, never understood extra recovery needed being older as it didnt apply to me. Then almost over night my recovery needs sky rocketed and my calculated VO2max dipped. Touching on VO2 regularly has helped, and this agrees with the research I have read.


In cycling, over 40
In running, over 30
In swimming, over 18!

In triathlon we don’t need ‘masters’ as we have age groups :slight_smile:

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I always thought it was over 50 (in the UK at least), over 40s was Veterans but :exploding_head:

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Oh my, that’s sobering. The grey hairs are growing on my head as I type.

In terms of recovery, its hard to know how fast I recover as I can only measure relative to myself, however, after a 6hr ride with an IF of 0.79 I was recovered after 2 days, but overall point taken and I will try and work in at least 1 VO2Max at least every 7-10 days (which is the minimum I recently heard in a podcast).

Edit: I’ve been doing mostly Zone2 this year, neglected the high intensity and I can really feel that I’ve lost at the top end, but I can maintain power at threshold much longer… well at least I could before covid!

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You can also introduce longer threshold and sweetspot with bursts (for example 3x20min @90% with 30s@5min power every 4-2min (density is part of progression). Those are very good workouts to maintain vo2 max.


Forgive me if I’m oversimplifying, but my understanding is that the ability to put out more power at a lower heartrate is a result of increasing your fitness on the bike in general…no matter how you go about it. VO2, Z2, R2D2 C3PO or whatever. Doesn’t matter. Increased fitness means you can do more work at a lower heartrate. I’m sure there are outliers, but is it NOT that simple?


Yes, it is. Usually riding more is already enough :slight_smile:

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Triathlon has Jacks-of-all-trades…