Power curve improvements

Hi all, love the platform!! Only recently signed up but finding all the plans/information so so helpful (5 stars across the board (although don’t know where to rate the podcast on android!?)), so thank you!

Anyways, quick question coming from the most recent podcast. Nate mentioned how by doing longer reps, say targeting the threshold part of the power curve, he was able to improve his V02 max part of the power curve, ie short length max power. While this must be possible I’ve always heard this from the other direction/perspective. For example, if I’m able to hold 350 watts for 20 min intervals but only 400 watts for 5 min intervals, then no matter how much I train doing the 20 min type intervals I shouldn’t be able to improve past my 5 min interval limit, ie my 20 interval could never be 400 watts.

From this I’ve always been told/heard that you should train the short end at least some what in order to improve the long end of the power curve.

While I appreciate it must be much more complicated, the training the short end in order to set up training for the long end improvements make more intuitive sense than the vice versa. Any further information/guidance on the principles behind this would be greatly appreciated, even pointing me in the direction to read myself would be great (I see the full distance triathlon program seems to start with the short end and moves to the long interval end). Again, thanks for everything you guys do and please keep it up!

Every zone will improve VO2max, but it’s all about time:work. You could, in theory, ramp up your VO2 by doing strictly Endurance/Z2 work, but you would have to do decades of it. Or you could do a bunch of VO2/Z5 work and ramp it up in a matter of weeks/months.

I was looking at this very thing on my own PC last night. When I started TR in Sept '18 I was a VO2max junkie; my first ramp test I did 5min@128% and 10min@120%FTP. My March stats have me doing ~2min@128% and ~5min@120%. That’s after doing SSB1+2, SPB, and SSB2, and not a lot of VO2 work.

However, my recent 3-8min powers (standard durations for VO2 intervals) are 15% higher than in Sept. when I had greater VO2 capabilities. That’s after doing SSB1+2, SPB, and SSB2, and not a lot of VO2 work.
That said, when I was a VO2 supahstah, my durations for standard %FTP (106-120) were 19min-10min; currently they are 9:30min-5:30min.

So yeah, you can definitely increase your VO2max doing Threshold work, it’s just not going to be as exaggerated as doing straight up VO2 intervals.

[edit: more VO2 stats! In Sept. my VO2max was 4.2 l/min; I’m currently at 5.2 l/min – an increase of 24% by doing a ton of SS and Threshold work.]

1 Like

Wow that is an increase! And thanks for the insight, I guess it makes sense but wondered if you could reach that limit. Out of curiosity, where have you done your testing? With a private institute?