Indoor VO2Max vs Hill Repeats substitution/comparison

CX racer in the middle of his Short Power Build Low Volume here.

I have Matthes +1 scheduled today. However, the weather is perfect for cycling (clear skies, slightly chill) and 15km away I have a simple 2km dirt road loop on a hill with the first 1km going up at 7% and the latter 1km going down 7%. The dirt road is somewhat technical because it is not maintained and washed out but definitely rideable. This means that my power will vary but I will never need to stop pedaling.

So here is the question. The Matthes +1 workout calls for 3min intervals at 115%FTP but I think it will take me closer to 6mins to get up the hill. So can I substitute something like Denali +3 (same TSS, IF, and duration) which more closely fits my outdoor dirt hill loop?

Well I went ahead and tried it out anyways. I figured the worst that could happen is that I will learn something.

Some of my observations:

  • It only took me 5 to 5.5min to get up the hill instead of 6min.
  • Power was highly variable 250W to 550W but at least the normalized power for the interval is not too far off from the target (315W)
  • Cadence was much lower than indoors, 70-80rpm vs 100rpm, but HR was at threshold so hopefully I was hitting the right systems?
  • Being forced to do even a mildly technical descent on CX bike right after a VO2MAX interval feels very useful!

There you go. Pretty positive learning experience for me. I think I will try to incorporate more of these into my training. However, 6 repeats with 5min rest (not 5 repeats with 6 min rest) in between intervals is probably needed to get the target 100TSS at 0.9IF.


In no way scientific but, I’m willing to bet that you enjoyed the outside ride far more than you would have done doing something similar inside.

More me, that is often the most important takeaway. It’s like pressing a reset button.


Absolutely :+1:

I have to admit that this structured training is all new to me so even the indoor sweet spot workouts are still interesting in a “how is my body going to react” kind of way.

Oh I just remembered that I did leave out the time it took. My scheduled indoor workout was 1h15m but the outdoor ride took 2h45m plus another 30m to get ready and relube my chain. However, I really feel the race specificity benefits are offsetting the time sacrifice.

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Couldn’t agree more. Coach Chad often takes us back to specificity and Cross racing is no different. I watch my wife week in, week out and bike handling skills are absolutely crucial.