Increased power, decreased heart rate

Unless you’re overtraining/ fatigued and loosing fitness that also results in a lower heartrate :wink:

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That’s why you shoud check you hr max in EVERY ride to check signs of fatigue :wink:


Always keep some VO2max in the mix.

As to whether you should do a focused block fo VO2max vs more threshold (or just barely suprathreshold) work, here is the test: what portion of your VO2max is your threshold power? As threshold power becomes a larger portion of your MAP, it makes more and more sense to to do a VO2max block.

Otherwise, concentrate on threshold first but always with some VO2max in the mix.


How does one work this out? Guess someone also needs a pretty good FTP test for this as well. I think I have a pretty huge difference between indoor and outdoor.

Ask yourself what wattage you can hold for an extended time…lets say 40 minutes or more. You may know for sure having tried it or you might just have a pretty good feel. How does it compare to the max 1min power from a recent ramp test? If you are getting into that 82, 83, 85% range maybe a vo2 block might be the way to go.

Of course, you might just be getting AI ftp updates…in that case if you find you received an updated FTP and it just seems like too much maybe a VO2 block could help move you off your plateau. Just keep in mind it may take a while to digest that training adaptation…don’t expect to be a world beater in the 1st week after completing the block.

I guess this implies that off a ramp test if my 40min FTP is higher that the magic 75% then I need vo2max, if lower I need threshold? Is that correct?

Interesting take. I struggled with this recommendation. As it really doesn’t apply to me or anyone I know.

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The relation changes very slowly or even never. The other thing is case of individual physiology. For example, according to WKO my FTP is always around 82-84% of my pVO2 max/MAP or whatever measurment you use, no matter what I do. But my FTP is also 75% of my 5 min power (and I have very poor anaerobic capacity, no peak power in sprint etc, I am very aerobic rider and very slow twitch dependant ). So what is conclusion here and actionable prescription? I do not know. Just do everything from Z2 to vo2max. When the gains stop, introduce changes to training.


So quite my chance (or Google’s algorithm) I came across this article here from Highnorth -who do some really interesting articles: How to improve your lactate threshold as a cyclist — High North Performance

Towards the bottom the article says:

A final point is that it’s helpful to understand where your fractional utilisation sits before undertaking any training. Let’s take two hypothetical athletes, where Athlete 1 has a high lactate threshold but a relatively low aerobic capacity (56 ml/kg/min), where the threshold occurs at approximately 85% of the VO2max. Athlete B has a well-developed VO2max (e.g. 68 ml/kg/min) but a low threshold and fractional utilisation of this VO2, where they step over their threshold at roughly 65% of their VO2max. Clearly, there is a difference in physiology. Athlete 2 would benefit enormously from plenty of lactate threshold-focused training, whereas Athlete 1 would be much better avoiding threshold training in favour of developing their VO2max. This is because Athlete 1’s VO2max is acting as a ceiling to their lactate threshold rising much further. In contrast, Athlete B is unlikely to see big progression in their high VO2max but has a lot of space to work with to bring their lactate threshold up, in both absolute terms and as a % of their aerobic maximum.

What I can’t figure out is how to measure / estimate your VO2Max at threshold power - so any pointers much appreciated…

The article continues

Noteworthy in this example is that Athlete 1, even with their significantly lower VO2max would likely beat Athlete 2 in a typical road or MTB race. That’s because at 46 ml/kg/min, Athlete 1 is below their lactate threshold (and therefore not suffering with an accumulation of fatiguing metabolites) and Athlete 2 is above their threshold, since they step over at 44.2 ml/kg/min (compared to Athlete 2’s 47.6 ml/kg/min performance VO2). This is part of why athlete’s with lower VO2max values can beat those with higher values, and demonstrates why VO2max is not the all-encompassing determinant of success it was once thought to be.

Which is very interesting, but the main point for me is I want to reduce my heart rate for the same power output which I think should decrease strain on my body / help with sleep issues which arise from higher intensity exercise…


Look at your power curve - assuming you have some good maximal efforts in there - and divide your best 40 minute power (or your FTP) by your best 5 minute power.

That’ll give you a ballpark idea of a figure, from which you can track changes in response to training.


What I can’t figure out is how to measure / estimate your VO2Max at threshold power - so any pointers much appreciated…

If you mean you want to measure ml/kg/min at threshold so you can compare it to ml/kg/min at VO2Max I don’t think you need to. When people are talking about comparing VO2Max as a % of threshold they are talking about power at VO2Max compared to FTP. Eg. my VO2Max( 5min best power) is 360w, my FTP is 290w, my FTP is 80.5% of my VO2max.


Agree. Calculate a figure based on power as you described. If it’s below ~75%, raise FTP as a priority. If it’s above ~85%, raise VO2 Max as a priority.

Test and track the change in your number over time and change your training as appropriate.


Thanks all. So my 5 minute best is 280 and my 40 minute best (based on actual power) is around 200 so it sounds like I need to work on threshold rather than VO2Max. That said I haven’t gone all out for 40 mins outside - not easy here due to traffic and hills / descents maybe its around 220 - which gives me 78%.

Probably best for me to work on a polarised base plan.

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if you have an actual 5-min best, simply compare to your estimated ftp. What is the % of that?


I’d guess that’s 220/280 = 78% or so.

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Sounds like a good ballpark number if the 280 was from an all-out, nearly falling over at the end of 5-min effort? And 220 FTP from that same time frame?

Although this a popular idea, I don’t buy it.

Why? Because I followed this basic logic about 30 y ago. Reasoning that since I could sustain ~90% of my VO2max for over an hour, I needed to raise my “ceiling”, and did Hickson-style 6x5 min intervals on the ergometer in the lab 3 d/wk for 18 wk. I did 4 h of easy riding spread over the other 4 d. IOW, I tried “polarized” training long before the term was ever invented. This resulted in my highest-ever VO2max (but by only 0.05 L/min). I then went and did the state TT (my target event), and got my helmet handed to me.

Moral of the story? Specificity, specificity, specificity, specificity, specificity.

Or, to put it another way: train for performance, and let your physiology sort itself out.

ETA: Almost a decade later, I took another run at the TT at master nationals. Having learned the lesson above, I did zero VO2max intervals, spending my “glycogen budget” on 2-3 2x20 min sessions per week on the trainer for 12 wk. The last few weeks in particular were quite difficult, as I kept raising the power slightly in excess of the rate of “growth” of my FTP (so that I went from doing the efforts slightly below to slightly above that intensity). This approach enabled me to sustain 5-10 W more during the TTthan I ever had before, and I was well on my way to another podium appearance until I flatted out at about the 30 km mark.


Athletes and coaches, possibly/probably, because they usually can’t measure VO2.

Exercise physiologists, OTOH, are almost invariably referring to VO2, not power, as that is the lingua franca of the field.

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But once you reach plateau with current training regimen, wouldn’t you need different stimulus to break it? And can return to previous training plan again once ceiling is raised.

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[quote=“WindWarrior, post:36, topic:87281, full:true”]Sounds like a good ballpark number if the 280 was from an all-out, nearly falling over at the end of 5-min effort? And 220 FTP from that same time frame?

Yup - I’d guess both of those were within 4 weeks of each other, probably during August / September when I had quite a lot of cycling (partner & kids away). Sounds like I need a mix of VO2Max and TH.

I thought I’d need more TH because I find TH sessions much harder than VO2Max sessions!