One workout a week to hang onto anaerobic gains?

As I come to the end of my training plan and prepare to fire up Plan Builder again, I’m contemplating taking whatever build or base it gives me, and swapping out a workout a week with some anaerobic work. After last week’s podcast, I’m thinking short-shorts (Brasted?). I’ll also add the occasional sprint to my endurance rides, just to keep those fibres recruiting. With no races on the horizon until cross in the fall, I’m going to focus on slow-cial distancing on Saturdays. Probably a few 200k’s and 300k’s I may try for a 400k as I’ve never done one. So, I’m guessing Plan Builder is, rightly, going to put me into a focus on sustained power. But, I don’t want to give up all my hard won anaerobic gains! I’ll ride structured inside through the week, and outside on weekends. Some background:
I’ve been riding for about 4.5 years now, structured training almost the whole time, and using TrainerRoad for about a year and a half. I’m definitely more of a diesel than a two-stroke, and I think part of that is predisposition, and part of it is that I enjoy long rides and have spent most of my time focusing on those sorts of efforts.
Last year I used SSB>Sustained Power Build>Century. I could ride all day but sprints, or short sharp climbs would have me gutted. So this season I did SSB>General Power Build>Rolling Road Race (which I’m half way through).
For the first time since I’ve started riding, my VO2 efforts seem in-line with my FTP. In the past, I would finish threshold workouts on TR without any issue or even thinking about a back peddle, but then have to turn VO2 workouts down 2-5%. I’m now completing all workouts feeling the way they should, appropriately hard.
I know I can’t have it all, but I would like to maintain some of this new, smoother power curve. Does my plan make sense? Any other suggestions?

Pretty simple you are looking to ride huge distances - keeping VO2/Anaerobic gains is difficult in that situation because you need to keep those sessions in but you may be to tired to complete them properly with all that distance. I would keep 1xVO2 max a week - just something not to taxing like Baird/Bluebell/Mills and position it as far away from your v long rides as possible - but TBH I think it will be tough to do both - you can’t always have your cake and eat it :grin:

just to confirm you’re really talking anaerobic; I ask because at the end you start talking about vo2max, which is maximal aerobic.

Anaerobic can def be held with just one a week; sprints are hard and you’ll just need to stay sharp.

vo2max can also be kept around with 1-2x a week, just make sure you’re really stressing that system and hitting vo2max. Sometimes we pant and feel like we’re going hard, but if we’re a little tired, it’s such low quality vo2 that we don’t get much benefit, but rather, just tired.

good luck!!!



I’ve had a similar thought process but decided against maintaining. It sort of defeats the aim of taking a step back for me - I could also argue to hold much of the sustained efforts I’m doing At the moment, or the long rides. In the end i would just continue what I’m doing today.

My reasoning is that the gains will come back quickly as I move through the plan and come back to VO2max. Anecdotally, fitness that has been in place once is easier to get back to, compared to laying new ground.

Thanks guys, sorry for not replying, I’ve been offline for the past few days. @brendanhousler Yeah, I’m still a bit confused about the anaerobic/VO2 max continuum. My understanding is we do VO2 max workouts to build anaerobic fitness? You make a good point about level of fatigue effecting VO2 max workouts to the point that we aren’t actually achieving the desired effect, I’ve experienced that, where my legs are so dead, that I can’t reach the point of maximal oxygen uptake. When you say anaerobic can be held with one a week, what sort of workout would you suggest to fill that role? Something similar to @jdman suggestions of Baird etc?

no sir, anaerobic is neuromuscular work, like 90s or less. Vo2max is actually aerobic, the maximal aerobic work. MOre aerobic than let’s say FTP 100% FTP work.

vo2max is when you’re huffing and puffing gasping for breath for like 3 minutes + out to 8 minutes (GENERALLY Speaking, just trying to help you understand what it “feels” like)

anaerobic is all out 1m max efforts, 30s sprint, etc etc.


I just use Baird when I am not training specifically for anything and just want to maintain a bit of intensity …in fact I am doing it every week at the moment and adding 1% every week so 120 -121 - 122 % intervals - I’m on 122% for this week - isn’t to taxing but gets the HR up and hopefully if and when we do race I won’t be a snail!

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Oh wow, I’ve always just thought anaerobic work was anything over threshold, because your body can no longer rely on aerobic pathways of ATP production at that point. Well, now I feel like an idiot…
Anyway, I think you’re all correct regarding the feasibility of my plan. I just had a full blown failure after the first interval of Huxley +1. I thought about turning it down 5% and finishing the workout, but just felt that the better decision would be to bail and do Recess. I had a 539 TSS weekend (422 Sat, 117 Sun) and even after a day off yesterday, I guess it was just too much for successful intensity today. I think I better rethink things.


Is it ok to do vo2max the day after long ride or day before? Or should it be spaced out as much as possible.

What are commonly referred to as “Vo2max” intervals also work your anaerobic energy pathways. You break the glycogen anaerobically and that creates energy, and the lactate and pyruvate that is produced get burned aerobically too. It’s a continuum. So all this stuff about 'this is anaerobic, this is aerobic," trying to draw too hard and fast of a line is usually wrong.

and yes, you can hold onto this with short, hard intervals, and there’s no reason not to try. What makes it go away is stuff like sweet spot and threshold. Those intervals allow you to use a larger percentage of your Vo2max sustainably, but often at the expense of the strength of the anaerobic system.


I’d tell you to do it the day before. It’s “OK” to do it any time where you’ll be recovered enough to have an effective workout. For most people, doing it the day after their long ride could compromise the quality of the VO2max workout.

This is true for short durations. The structure of workouts like Brasted (which you mentioned, and which I love), purposely burns through your glycogen stores and forces your body to maximize the contribution of aerobic energy processes to survive the workout… thus you need to maximize oxygen uptake to provide “fuel” to your cells to produce the ATP to do the work… hence “VO2max”… crudely described but you get the point.

If you want to maximize anaerobic gains, you’re looking for short efforts (~30-90s) with long recoveries between them, and doing just a few of those.

The “Anaerobic” zone called out in the TR workout catalog is a bit of a misnomer, as that appears to be based only on the % of FTP that workout stresses. The construct of the intervals in many of those workouts will primarily stress aerobic capacity.

A key point to remember, too, is that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. If you improve your aerobic engine (~FTP), your capacity for anaerobic work will rise as well. Then just a little bit of training to sharpen that up will have you at a higher point than before.


I generally agree with this post but would clarify that this is not always true. FTP is where a couple of different systems come together. It is possible to raise your FTP in a way that actually hurts your top-end short power–you can do this by intentionally blunting your anaerobic capacity, making you produce less lactate at all intensities, which can make your sustainable power (FTP) go up. This is key training for a time trialist.

Another way to think about it is FTP is not actually your aerobic engine, your aerobic engine is described by your Vo2max, FTP is rather the proportion of your aerobic engine that you are able to use for a sustained period of time.

VO2max is more like the tide, FTP is the boat, your anaerobic engine is the ballast in the boat. A rising tide all else equal will lift the boat, but you can manipulate the ballast to get a different boat level for every given level of tide.

My recommended reading on this is The Science of Winning by Jan Olbrecht.

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As is part of aerobic endurance / Zone2 for many, and tempo and sweet spot. Anything above LT1 is starting to use more “anaerobic” or additional fast-twitch. But like stated already it’s mostly aerobic with fast-twitch fueling slow-twitch at the expense of fat burning.

Nice analogy!

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Agree with all you said, and the ballast part of your analogy was what I meant to imply by my comment about sharpening up anaerobic capabilities after raising aerobic capacity. The common approach being to build the boat, then worry about “pumping out the bilge”! My description was admittedly imprecise.


Interesting, and when you say “It is possible to raise your FTP in a way that actually hurts your top-end short power” does that mean very short power, like those ATP-CP efforts ie the 100m-800m efforts in the table you provided? Or does the blunting effect go even higher in duration?
I guess what I’m really trying to hold onto while returning to a focus on distance is my 2-3min power, because I’ve always sucked at it, and it’s nice to finally have a bit of headroom over FTP. In the past, I could ride just below FTP all day, but go a few % over, and I was ruined. That was despite lots of over under. Since doing general power build and rolling road race specialty, I can punch above FTP for a few minutes, and drop back to just below FTP and feel recovered in just a couple minutes. I’m not worried about sprint power, because there is no need to sprint these days, and from what I understand, that range is relatively fast to gain when the time comes.

I’d do it the day before, as it will be tough to get as much quality time in zone if you’re fatigued from a 3-6 hour ride the day before.

Good luck with it!!


In my experience it’s more than just the ATP/CP efforts. The idea is that sometimes by training to increase your sustainable power (FTP) you’re actually blunting the anaerobic system. Good for sustainability because you’re producing less lactate at every intensity, bad for surges / above threshold efforts.

I think many of us have probably been in the position where “fitness” measured by FTP test is good, but you can’t follow moves, can’t punch out of corners in a crit, CX races are a slog, and you’re like, “i’ve got such good fitness, why can’t I do this?” This is one potential reason.