Johnson: The Big Swingin' Challenge...let's clean this workout's ride feed up!

I first heard of this workout from @swag72 when TrainNow (perhaps on it’s most sadistic day ever) suggested Johnson as a VO2Max workout for @swag72. At the time I though @swag72 must have, for sure, bullied TrainNow in Jr. High because the Johson ride feed looked like total carnage.

About 85% of riders who attempt this workout are unable to complete it.

But I think it’s a workout that is well within reach for most on this forum. So, come on, forum, let’s clean the Johnson ride feed up a little bit. Step up and put a Big Swingin’ Johnson on your ride history.

Post your successfully (or not) completed rides here & tell me if this workout really is such a back breaker or if it’s just a paper tiger.


almost spit out my salad… calling you the next time I need help wordsmithing!


For quicker reference:



Saw your ride, how did it go?





It was hard. But I pulled it off.

Seriously, though, I’m less interested in sideways-bragging that I did the workout and more interested in why so many people fail this workout. It’s gotta be sample bias…I’m not even sure why people are doing the workout (other than this thread, which is a fine reason!). It’s not part of any plan.

I get that there are probably a couple riders like swag that got ambushed by TrainNow. Not sure what the rest of those folks were doing…most of the ride feed is pre-TrainNow.

This is what a ‘level 10’ VO2max workout feels like. It’s hard but it’s way easier than a Tmax workout. Is that everybody’s experience? Curious to know…

3min at 130% seems pretty tough after two VO2 efforts prior lol. I’d suspect that’s enough to cause some failure?


the 2-min recoveries are what scares me, but I’m better at longer vo2 intervals like 8-min jobbers.

1 Like

Yeah, the escalating intensity is intimidating…I’m not sure physiologically if there is a big difference between 3 minutes at 120% and 3 minutes at 130%. But back-to-back with only two minutes rest is difficult.

Interesting that a lot of riders don’t make it to the 2nd 130% interval but it’s actually easier than the first. Probably because there are ~6 minutes of moderate intensity work in between. So in the first case there is an ascending cascade of intensity beforehand to lower blood pH…in the second case you get several minutes to clear that junk before you start again.

On the other hand, that last interval is WAY HARDER than the first.

1 Like

I would say it is matter or anaerobic contribution. If the structure of the workout was 130-120-110, 6min, 130-120-110 it would be way easier. If you burn some anaerobic through first two intervals and 2 min is quite short to recharge. It is typical workout where people with more anaerobic capacity should do well.

1 Like

I want to try it, but I told my self I wouldnt go rough shot over the prescribed training plan

1 Like

Historically, I struggle massively with 3 minutes at 120%, which for me right now is 298. To even think I could get through 3 minutes at 130% (322 watts for me) sounds insane, let alone two of them. That alone puts it into level 10.0 for me, and then you don’t even get recovery level watts. You have to plug at endurance pace to book end it. My HR would be through the roof and I wouldn’t be able to control my breathing in all likelihood.

For those completing it, I would think they either excel at VO2 intervals or their FTP is set too low.

1 Like

It is no matter of FTP but rather anaerobic capacity. My 5 min power is 130% of my FTP, someone else can be at 110%. Does it mean that my FTP is set too low? Not really. Too many other factors that contribute to ability to work over FTP, other than FTP itself. That is why vo2 max intervals based on FTP do not work very well.


Correct. That’s why the first half of my statement specifically says they likely excel at those intervals and FTP setting is secondary.


Disaster, Rockhouse, Fireworks+1. Those are real challenges

Disaster…first thing I thought about. Check the ride feed…about 1 in 4 riders complete Disaster. So that’s quite a bit better than Johnson. (WTF is Alpaca doing in that ride feed? It breaks my tool…)

Why? I agree with you: Disaster looks like a much harder workout.

1 Like

Maybe they associated the outdoor ride with Disaster for AT beta progression level purposes.

I didn’t find the 3 hour disaster that bad.

Show off.

1 Like

That’s old me, I’m trying to stick to the plan so I’m Not blown up in 3 weeks

1 Like