Struggling with Vo2max

Since no one has asked you…why are you doing this workout?

Are you trying to train VO2max or 3min power – there’s a difference.

If you are after VO2 training, you might want to scrap that workout entirely and do fewer, but harder, intervals (e.g. 5x3min @ 120%).


What’s happening to your heart rate during these intervals? Is it continually increasing with successive intervals? And the in the last few intervals, your HR is so high where you are unable to sustain it?

If so, try reducing the power in the later intervals. For VO2max workouts, the important thing is to keep your HR high. For the later intervals, you may not need as high a power target to keep your HR at target levels.

I think you mentioned that this was a self-made workout. Are you introducing this into a TR Plan? If so, what type of workout follows this beast? Sweet Spot, endurance or a day off?

I ask because simply completing this could actually have a negative impact on the following workout(s). As others have said, it might be better to reduce the number of intervals and get quality work done. Then be able to produce more quality work the following day.

I’m not doing a specific plan at the moment. I do:
-treshold intervals on monday
-tuesday rest
-Vo2max on wednesday
-short 30 min anaerobic workout on thursday (10x1m @ 135% FTP)
-sweet spot (85-90%) on friday
-sat off
-sun off or, when the weather is nice, a slow ride at endurance tempo.

Each time I complete a workout, I make it progressively harder (+1%) the next week. Every 4th week is an easy recovery week with nothing but endurance or sweet spot, no high intensity.

May not be the norm, but it seems to work for me…

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.