Limiting Muscles: VO2max, Muscle Pump, and engaging other muscles

I’ve been experiencing serious muscle pump on my vastus medialius when working threshold and VO2max, to me it feels to be a limiter. Its not the power thats didfficult, but at 2/3mins at 120%VO2 that muscle is pumped so full I cant turn over the pedals 5second stall, and Im back and complete the interval.

----context, if needed below----
Working on XCO pace (racing old dude cat1 xc)

Raced BMX at a high level for over 15 years (from age 7) and been racing enduro or bmx consistently and am 46… so Im not new to cycling but am new to any effort past ~5minutes.

Is there a way to reduce muscle pump or a shortcut to bring my medialis up to speed so I can engage my glutes and get some real power down?

Still trying to learn the endurance side, so is there something else i’m missing in the puzzle?

1 Like

might be a bike fit issue?

Really dont think its a fit issue. Same thing happens on all bikes (road, mtb) standing or sitting.

I come from a similar background and what helps me is focusing on endurance and longer threshold efforts and even some long sweet spot intervals. All the bmx years have us more of an anaerobic athlete and so we have to focus on time in zone. At least that’s my understanding, my weaknesses have been longer sustained efforts. But if you give me a high watt target to hold < 3 minutes I’ll hit it.
I would say try focusing on ssb1&2- sustained power build and century or 40k TT, you mentioned XCO as a specialty which might work too.
With your muscles maybe try doing some flute activations before your bike workout as a “warm up”.

Appreciate the insights. I’m currently doing a polarized block, and I think an SSB block over summer may be a good idea (we stop racing here b/c heat).

As far as glute activation, I’ll try those movements linked. Id be psyched if they can help at lower watts.

Currently (and I could benwrong) I believe its not activation as much as when I do add my glutes im blowing past threshold and up in the 400w range. This is inevitibly when my medialis becomes the weak link. The pump in the medialis then slows my work load and I can see my HR drift down (so using less O2)?

And that said - is their a way to adapt and reduce pump to a specific muscle?