Raise intensity on VO2 Max workouts


Long time lurker here but finally have a question which I have not found an answer to…

So, long story short. Ramp test 2 weeks ago 290w @ 78,5kg. Pretty happy with this since I haven’t gone full on with the training plans, just doing some workouts here and there between riding outside.

I REALLY love doing V02 Max workouts, but the ones I were doing after the ramptest felt a bit too easy… so I manually upped my FTP to 300w, still no issues completing V02 Max workouts, today I even raised the intensity to 105% for the last 4 intervals during Stanislaus -4. I completed Ebbetts as well with the 300w FTP setting, was hard but completed without any backpedaling or such. Finished Brasted at FTP 300w as well - did a few efforts standing up, but no back pedal or such at all.

Now to my questions:

  1. What is causing this? I know I really rode to my limit on the ramp test… my pulse was hitting a few beats below my max pulse before I had to give up…

  2. Currently doing Chads ad hoc 3-week V02 Max “plan”, should I keep adding intensity whenever I feel that its a bit easy towards the end? (Mainly doing this “plan” cause I really like V02 Max work)

  3. I know that my weakness is sustained efforts, is it a bad idea to focus on doing more V02 max? Got a lot of rolling hills in Sweden and I love to kind of “explode” up these. Not really training for anything at the moment except for riding outside (hopefully faster).

  4. My pulse usually never goes up to the “hard breathing, head down” effort level until the last haft of the workout, is this normal? Or are the first half intervals too easy and just delaying the desired effect of the V02 workouts?

Any tips are appreciated when it comes to making sure I am in the right zones and doing correct efforts, since it feels like some workouts are a bit too easy… I know that the 0.93 IF workouts are gonna hurt, but I feel like I usually hurt a bit more during the 0.85 IF ones as well?

Attached below is the V02 Max 3 week booster that I am doing!


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Ignore the targets and go as hard as you can during the on intervals. Start at a pace that you can only hold for ~50% of the duration then just hold on for dear life at the end.


You’ve only done short intervals so far. Go do Mills, Baird +2 and so on - >2mins per interval - and then you can tell.

If you want to increase the intensity, there’s a control for that in the app, you should not do that by changing your FTP.

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Hey! Building up to the 3min ones in Spencer, hence why I am doing the little V02 Max plan at the moment :smile:

Fully understand that I am doing shorter intervals right now, but shouldn’t they also feel quite hard, even though they are shorter? The 30/15 ones in Brasted were done with increased intensity as well…

And yes, I know that I don’t need to raise the FTP, which would be an incorrect way of altering effort. But the 290w FTP setting felt weirdly “easy” (comparatively) when doing the workouts, hence why I raised that first incase the test showed a bit low for some reason…

But, with the 300w FTP setting instead of the 290w FTP from ramp test, plus the 105% intensity means that I am working effectively at 315w FTP (from where the workouts are derived)…

Hence why I wrote here and asked… It would feel weird to raise the intensity almost 10% for V02 Max workouts in the long run if I were to “go back” to the ramp test result of 290w and work from that…

If your FTP is 290 and you’re completing the VO2 sessions at 315, the simplest answer is that you’re naturally bias towards that type of work. 120% of FTP is kind-of-like the middle ground, if you will. Most training applications and coaches agree that this is good jumping off point. Some riders need to drop the intensity a couple of percent, others can push upwards.

You say that sustained efforts are more of a challenge. I understand that you’re not training for anything specific at this moment in time but I’d be more inclined to push you towards those. VO2 is already an asset you have.


The simplest is to do these in resistance or level mode and push as hard as you can for the intervals. If you can push above targets, that’s great. The goal is for you to get to the point where you are at “VO2 max” and hold you there. After the interval you should be gasping for air, almost feeling like you are drowning. If you aren’t feeling like this, you probably aren’t getting to VO2 max. You obviously are very good at these so the ability to push even higher should help with overall fitness and further raise aerobic ceiling.

I’m in the opposite boat and VO2 max is a challenge. The difference between my threshold and what I can hold at VO2 max is not that great, so if I tried to do prescribed power in ERG I’d be failing a lot, especially in the 3 - 5 min intervals. With Resistance mode I can plow through them the best I can but at least complete the interval. The hope is adaptations will come and be able to push higher watts in future VO2 max workouts.

All vo2 means while identifying workouts is that the work intervals are in zone 5. But they could be 1min on, 4min rest. It doesn’t mean they’ll be hard.

What you need to do is look at the IF for the workout. A lot of the ones you’ve done are in the low 0.8s. No wonder you could increase the intensity.

If you want your sessions to actually work your vo2 max systems, you need to be looking at about .9 to .94 IF for a 1 hour workout. And with that in mind, wait till you try Baird +2 and see if you still want to raise the intensity then.

It’s possible that you’re naturally inclined towards vo2 intervals. But a large part of it is simply that the workouts you’ve chosen so far aren’t that hard.


In the 30/30 workouts I regularly increase the percentage in the last set. I think the short short format just lends itself to feeling easier. In the last set of a 3 set workout I’ll raise the percentage by 2 every few intervals. I can do this no problem on the short short format.

If you can go at increase intensity on Baird +2 you’re doing better than most I would suspect. That’s a hard workout.

Personally I feel that VO2 is a weak spot for me, but in the shorter intervals I can increase intensity. Trying to hold 125-130% for longer intervals with 30 s rest is another story.

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If you don’t want to re test, I like to do Lamarck as a threshold workout. It can help you gauge if that FTP number is accurate.

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Look at the shorter intervals - 30/30s, Gendarme-style - as a way to learn how VO2Max intervals work. If you want to be challenged by short intervals, I suggest Baird +1, Brasted, and the whole series of workouts in the style of Lincoln. And Rattlesnake, of course.

All good points. It should also be remembered that this adhock plan is designed to build you up both physically and mentally. Coach Chad doesn’t set out to crush you.

He did also leave a few of his ‘nastiest’ VO2 workouts out. The Ansel Adams family springs to mind.

You could always try approaching VO2 from a different angle. Tackle your sustained power at the same time. Find a few of the 5/8 minute 108% intervals with 4/5 minutes recovery and you’ll get more bang for your buck :+1:

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You kinda answered your own question regarding the ramp test. You have allready accumumulated some fatigue during the rampup. How does long sweet spot or threshold workouts feel for you with that ftp?

Technically, those are categorized as Anaerobic in TR, since they are mostly at 135% FTP.

Thanks for your answer, and yeah, the idea was to slowly build up to longer efforts since I know this is my weakness in general…

Would something like Ainslie +3 be a good start?

After these 3 weeks I was thinking of going into Sweet Spot Base and doing I and II of that. Still a bit too cold outside for the “fun” rides so might as well sit on the trainer… throughout the year.

A bit off topic:
What types of indoor trainer rides are best bang for the buck when combined with “normal” summer riding outside… Say for example 3 hours indoor per week and 6-8 hours outdoor rides…

Personally, I wouldn’t say that particular workout was a good place to start. If I’m honest, it sounds brutal! Take a look at the Dicks series of workouts. Allow yourself some recovery and build up :+1:

That said, if you’re smashing the short/short format, why not jump in and see if the wheels come off. Just remember that 105% is still Threshold so you’ll need to make the progression to 108%, if you’re looking through the TR catalog.

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I try and do two, three at the very most ‘intense’ (threshold +) sessions indoors, on the trainer. I do them indoors because I want full focus on the work.

The meat of my endurance is on the road during the weekend.

Sweet! :sunglasses:

And those ‘intense’ workouts, what are some examples of those? Just so I can get a ballpark of what type of work we are talking about! :smile:

Thanks again for the help!

Would be interesting to hear how you do with 3 min on, 3 min off VO2 max work vs the 1 min on/off. With the 3 min on, it’s typically 1 min to get you close to VO2 max that doesn’t feel too bad, 1 min of suffering but bearable, and then the last minute of holding on for life…


Will find out in 2,5 weeks hehe. The idea was to build up to those with this little mini-plan that Coach Chad “put together”! :slight_smile:

I know the longer ones hurt like hell, so this build up might be a good way of approaching them!

There is little point of rising intensity on vo2 max. It is better to lenghten the time in zone - so try hard start vo2 max: https://sparecycles.blog/2019/02/06/comparing-hard-start-vo2max-intervals/
Or Rattlesnake from TR database. These short 1-2 minutes workouts are quite easy, especially if you are inclined toward these type of efforts.

It depends what is the point of your “explosivness” - if these are short rides for fun, do whatever makes you happy :slight_smile: being better at threshold riding means that you will get faster and less tired to these hills. There is a need of finding the balance between these two. Vo2 usually is for rising the ceiling that you can grow your FTP, and you grow your FTP by riding at FTP for longer periods of time. So everything has its place.

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