Must not be doing VO2 Max workouts correctly (they're easy)

Background: I’m in SSB2 LV so I’ve only done 2 vo2 workouts so far. And it’s not entirely apples to apples bc my vo2 PLs are lower than my SS and threshold at this point.

I’m sure AT is going to eventually get me into vo2 workouts that properly kill me. I also know I could just go schedule a higher PL for myself manually. I kinda don’t want to kill myself on Tuesdays bc the SS and Threshold workouts are tough and I don’t want to go into those with too much fatigue.

By the way Jon and Amber talk about vo2 workouts, I think I should have to mouth-breathe at least once. And at this PL and this FTP, I do not. I’m currently doing vo2 efforts at 45W (indoors) under my (outdoor) 5 min power.

People talk about being good anaerobically so they end up with optimistic FTPs from the ramp test. I have something else going on. Outdoors, I can’t find any flat roads where I can ride over my threshold for more than 3 minutes at a time. Hills take longer so there are some 8 and 12 minute hills I can test myself on but for the most part, I did all my pre-TR training pushing supra threshold efforts but without developing any muscle endurance.

That may be why I struggle so much at FTP tests. These FTP tests (and the AI FTP) give me SS and threshold workouts that are hard but doable. :+1: But then the vo2 workouts are (so far) underwhelming.

I know as I do more workouts, my PL will eventually be correct and I love that AT splits up ability in different zones precisely for oddballs like me.

Last I looked SSB2 has easy “vo2max” intervals that perhaps would be better identified as zone5 workouts.

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Some folk according to Seiler (Sorry Kolie Moore) don’t actually reach their bodies VO2Max zone at the VO2max power target (where as the power targets are fine for Threshold,SS etc. If you are using ERG try switching it off and pushing that wee bit harder. This is one of his podcasts on the subject:
Watts Doc #23: Training Your VO2max, and Why Not Rønnestad 30/15 Intervals - Empirical Cycling

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As with most of the VO2 are easy threads, it is helpful to know which workouts you’ve done.

A lot of people won’t get into VO2max territory in the short shorts style workouts, at least without modification.

If they are genuinely easy, do as you mentioned and jump up a teeny bit to 3min intervals. With regards the Power output to elicit VO2max, it’s different for different people, but it can help to use resistance mode until you learn where your level is.

Yesterday I did Grassy Ridge -2. It’s a total of 30 30/30s over the course of an hour. The efforts at 115%.

I’m pretty good at 30 second efforts. If I wasn’t repeating them, I’d be doing 200% FTP without much trouble. Doing 30/30, I clearly have to do much less than 200% but 115% is kind of low.

I expect this will all workout as my PL will get bumped up until they finally hurt. This is more a conversation about how I appear outside the bell curve in that AT looks at my performance in SS and Z4 over the last 8 weeks and thinks I need to start vo2 at 1.6 (last week). I’m excited to learn which PL starts to hurt and how long it takes me to naturally progress to that point.

As I mentioned earlier, at this same FTP, I struggle on the longer efforts so I’m happy enough to slowly creep forward in vo2 PLs rather than finding my absolute max at the risk of no longer being able to complete the Thu/Sat workouts. If I have a muscle endurance weakness, I’m also cool with focusing on those rides for now since I’d like to get rid of that weakness.

I always have done 30/30 at around 150% ftp. 115% would be a cake walk for me.

150% ftp usually has me breathing heavy after the 5th or so depending on my fitness at the time

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It seems that all VO2 Max workouts are not created equal, regardless of their respective progression levels. I find the workouts with very short, repetitive intervals to not be very challenging, whereas the workouts with 3+ minute intervals feel like a VO2 Max workout should.

I too thought VO2max workouts were easy until I tried Laguna this week…


This is Kolie, not Seiler. Here is part 1 of Seiler’s discussion of short interval V02max intervals Short Interval Blocks for Endurance Athletes- Part1 - YouTube

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I think you have your head around it. You don’t want to bump up your FTP to chase VO2 max. Just as a point of reference and to show how individualized that particular training zone is, I was doing my 4 minute intervals at 120% FTP.

Also, I think the VO2max zone kind of has to be set for the lowest common denominator as for some people new to training, those workouts can be tough, and really unusual experiences. You obviously have a decent amount of aerobic conditioning, and probably need to skip those lower progressions. How TR can differentiate those groups I have no idea, for me, I know that when I do a VO2 workout I’ll choose an adaptation in the 5.0+ range (i.e. just find one with the structure I’m after). Then go from there.

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pick alternates that have work intervals that are at least 50s

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SSB2 Vo2 Max workouts are a good bridge to some of the harder VO2 Max Workouts you will deal with in build and specialty. As the weekly training tips from Coach Chad says “these are of the ‘short-short’ variety and even though they’ll coax out a very high level of oxygen uptake, they’ll do it in a manner arguably more friendly than the longer efforts.”

I remember the first time I do “VO2” efforts in SSB2…I thought those 30/30s were so easy…but as soon as efforts got over a minute I thought I was going to die.

One suggestion I would make is if you are doing these workouts on ERG mode-don’t. Just go ahead and do these efforts all out on resistance or standard mode. By going all out, spiking your heart rate and heavily breathing, you will get the VO2 Max adaptations that you are seeking. The higher you ultimately push that VO2 Max ceiling by doing the workouts properly, the higher you will be able to lift your threshold.

As for the part about killing yourself with VO2 leading to having problems with SS and threshold, if you feel those are your harder sessions, move the days around. Do Threshold on Tuesday, SS on Thursday, then VO2 on Saturday.

Hope this helps.

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what PL is 30/30 at 150%?

There is no easy way to answer that. I can’t find a simple example of 30/30 at 150% in the TR catalog, and any custom workout may not yield related PL’s.

I poked around and found some 125s and one or two 130s. I think I might play with a 125 next week. That’s only 10% higher than “easy” and if it’s too much I can turn down the intensity.

My experience with the short shorts is if you start chasing the intensity to find the desired stimulus, there’s a high chance of changing the workout to anaerobic.

At least my n=1 says if you’re hitting high Watts for you, don’t think add more Watts, think add more time, or less rest. (Which is what I would suspect the standard progression would be)

I add that in response to your experimenting idea, you might make it “hard” but for a different reason.

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Not sure about TR either.

They were suggested to me years ago by my coach at the time. I had never heard of 30/30 in any context besides 150%ftp ‘on’ and <50% ftp ‘off’ before coming into these forums. I had a ftp of 350 at the time so I was recommended to ride 525w for 30s then <100w for 30s repeat X times.
Oftentimes we would do a block of these directly into something like 15-30minutes of sweet spot and finish with another 30/30 block. Stuff like that.

If I do them on the trainers, I dont use ERG mode or I just do them outside when possible. I dont really think ERG trainers do such a good job changing resistance so drastically for such short durations of time, so I wouldnt trust it. I also just prefer to control my cadence with shifting.

I am not surprised to hear people not achieving vo2max-like breathing on such a low% ftp for 30s (like 115-120% or something) repetitively tho as you just mentioned in this post. It sounds a bit ‘too good to be true’ IMO (tho im sure theres some science paper saying its possible). If Im riding at 115-120% ftp, I get into vo2 breathing after like 4-5min straight of riding (then it begins to hit vo2max breath from then onwards), but im sure its different person to person.

As far as your TR schedule goes, just pencil it in as if you did it outdoors.

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Exhibit # 7781 of: It’s a bad idea to set up power zones based on %of MAP or % of Vo2max.


Yeah I think the big misconception is about vo2 max rather than power at vo2max. Vo2max is a breathing rate and some power for a given duration and beyond can achieve that breathing rate and therefore give you training time at vo2 max.

So 120% of ftp gives me vo2max breathing after like 4 or 5 minutes on the first rep. If I have short recovery then roll into the next rep, I get a longer duration of vo2 breathing given I’m fatigued and breathing is already labored from the last rep, etc etc as the set goes on.

But when I’m just riding at 120% ftp, I’m not necessarily breathing at vo2max (because I need to ride long enough at that intensity to achieve it).

I do think 150% ftp is a good mark for 30/30 tho because it’s much easier to do a set of 12-15reps giving me say 7-10min of vo2 max time than it is to ride 3x5min at 115-120% ftp. The 3x5 is way more painful and challenging to achieve the same training time at vo2 breathing

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+1 for doing VO2 max efforts on resistance not Erg. I just go as hard as I can for the time prescribed. It may take a few sessions to get the feel of it. But now I know what a 30 sec, 1 min. 2 min, 3 min and 5 min all our effort feels like. And I try to be able to hold that power over all the intervals. Sometimes I fade by the last one.

But I’ve found this works the best for me.