Struggling with Vo2max

First of all, one hour at FTP?!? You, sir, are an animal. That takes a big chunk of mental fortitude. 10x3 minutes (= 30 minutes!) is savage, no wonder you are having trouble. It sounds to me as you can take a lot of pain and suffering.

AFAIK 6-7x3 minutes is more standard, and even that is quite hard and will hurt. If you insist on wanting to do 10, I’d train to get there. Do everything you can to make things easy for you: ride at your favorite cadence, take in plenty of your preferred fuel (gels, energy mix, gummi bears), coffee, listen to your favorite pain cave songs, wear your favorite pair of bibshorts, make the rest intervals easier and perhaps a tad longer, etc. And start with as many intervals as you can do reliably, say, 7. When you can do 7 reliably, add another. If you bail, you bail, your 8th interval is your bonus. Give yourself the option to fail, just give your best.

Another option is to do less intervals harder. Many VO2max workouts set your power level at 120 %. So perhaps you get more bang for your buck to be able to reliably do 6-7 intervals at 120 %. If that’s easy, try 122 %.

Honestly, though, I’d be careful, it seems 10 x 3 minutes is at the more extreme end of things, and you accrue too much fatigue over such a workout to negatively impact the quality of subsequent workouts.

A bit of both I guess; I’m considering racing next season, and the idea is to be able to go again, and again, and again,… if necessary for establishing/catching a break. Or more likely, to catch the tail of the peloton after every corner :grin:

What? When you’ve lapped the field? :wink:

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Highly unlikely, but I like your thinking :joy:

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I’m not monitoring heart rate. What I can tell you is that after the first few intervals my breathing returns to normal fairly quickly, but after five or six I’m still breathing heavily when I have to go again, and that’s what gets me. So, yeah, I guess my heart rate gets too high to be sustainable in the later intervals.

If VO2: reduce both rest period between and number of intervals to say 6-7

If 3min power: increase rest and power

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That was the same with me on the likes of Kaiser and Spencer.

I created my own VO2max workouts, where one feature was declining interval intensity (the other was hard starts to each interval, but that’s somewhat of a separate topic).

Post is here.

From what I am reading, I think you may be trying too hard.
What I am trying to say, usually harder does not equal quality.
Unless you have vast experience with making training and wo and been doing this for a long time, i would be very careful with making your own shit.
The rule (at least in running) is 80/20. 80% easy, 20% hard. If you are doing 60, 40, you will get a lot done, but you may risk injury or over training. I witness the huge gains of working hard for 12 weeks and then see all vanish in 4 weeks when I hit the OT level! It was very demoralizing.

This is an example of trying to overreach. This is not adequate recovery for a wo like that. You want actual recovery. You want something in the realm of 40% on the recovery valleys.

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Try more popular workouts like Matthes +1 and Kaiser +2, and let us know how you fare.

It’s difficult to determine what went wrong on a workout that nobody else has tried.

My guess is that the “extra credit” you’re trying to get with the 60% recovery valleys is what’s killing you.

Kaiser is 9x3min @ 118% and IMHO is maybe the 3rd or 4th hardest workout in the Short Power Build block.

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Have you tried doing 4x8min? I find the longer VO2 max intervals are less taxing, yet when looking at time in zone for heart rate, they often exceed their shorter duration brethren!

If I recall right, Dylan Johnson has a video on YouTube where he discusses a research paper, where the conclusion from testing was that the 8min VO2 max intervals were the “superior” interval lengths in terms of gains.

Agreed. It sounds as if the OP is intentionally sabotaging themselves.

I dont think he is doing it intentionally.

I think it may be more not really understanding how this all works.
Normally, one would think going harder is better. But when you see World class runners doing 9 minute per miles warmups and you see local age groupers running 7:30s to warm up, you have to wonder who is right…

In any case, I think if the OP would follow a plan or at least add better recoveries to his wo, he might actually gain more benefits from his wos

That wasn’t what I was going for. I meant that “If he wanted to design a workout to intentionally run himself into the ground, this is the kind of workout.” I hope that clarifies things.

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For whatever it’s worth, I just did three weeks of VO2 work, 3X per week, with two additional easier workouts/rides (total of 5 rides per week). I did nowhere near 10x3 minutes. My progression looked like the following:

3x3, 3x4, 4x3;
5x3, 4x4, 3x5;
3x6, 4x5, 6x3.5

All had rest intervals at least equal to the length of the work interval, sometimes just a little longer. 10x3 minutes seems insane.

Just curious, how did your HR TiZ look like vs. power TiZ?

In the last two workouts (4x5 & 6x3.5), for example, I had about 13-13.5 minutes reported by TrainingPeaks in the VO2 zone. My goal was always to get heart rate up as quickly as possible, but it always seemed to lag a bit in the first interval or two. Some of these workouts were high cadence (done at 110+ rpm), and after the first interval, heart rate seemed to jump up more quickly in the subsequent intervals.

Thanks for all the advice guys. So my thinking “if it doesn’t kill me it’ll make me stronger” may be up for re-evaluation… I’ll definately do some thinking about that. Since I have been making steady progress in all my training, getting a tiny bit stronger week after week, except in said workout, would it be a good idea to keep my other sessions as they are (described higher up in this thread), and only fettling this workout to make it more doable? (Less intervals, longer rest periods). I am only asking because, although I understand the concern about too much intensity, I do feel I am making good progress overall, recovering well and haven’t noticed anything that could point to digging myself in a hole.

If you are struggling with VO2Max you may actually be doing VO2max properly. Many riders don’t.

VO2Max is not about FTP, its about oxygen, breathing, surviving! I use FTP to help me get up to VO2Max quickly, but once there it is irrelevant. To explain:

With a 3 min VO2Max session, I want to get to VO2Max quickly, ie, about 60-90seconds, so I use 130%FTP to push myself towards that level of exertion. What I’m observing in myself is changes in my breathing, for me that begins with noticeably harder and faster breathing, I reach a point where, my breathing seems to become a double breath and a strong exhale, shortly beyond that it switches to outright panting, gasping for breath, now I’m at Vo2Max level, from here cadence, FTP, etc, are irrelevant, they will drop it doesn’t matter, I now want to hold that level of exertion, ie, gasping breathing for as many seconds as I can. Interval 1, 2 are fine, 3 gets harder, 4 I can’t last the full 3 min, 5 usually pointless. But cumulatively I have maybe done 4-5 minutes at VO2max. In my case, recovery between each interval needs to increase from 3, 4, and 5mins.

Physically, I need a decent cool down, emotionally, I’m wrecked, I want to crawl into a ball and sleep!


This looks like a recipe for disaster to me :slight_smile: First of all 30 min vo2 max is about 10 min too much. It would be way better to reduce the intervals and up the intensity. Second - mixing vo2 max, threshold and anaerobic workout would kill my legs and body for sure. Take into consideration that anaerobic workouts require quite a lot of recovery.

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Just my own opinion here, but, it seems there is some room of improvement (not that it all wrong or anything). E.g. when I do 3x9x40/20 that`s 18min in total work, out of which 15-16min is normally in the 90-95% vo2max zone. However I need to both start high and also have the first interval longer (around 60s) in order to get my HR up to the ”correct” zones quickly.

So please dont get me wrong here. Youre doing a good job. However when it comes to vo2max work, you could modify your intervals in order to get more time at, or close to, vo2max.

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