Sustained efforts vs vo2 max and heart rate

Hi there. I’m primarily a mountain biker but got into road riding and crits a bit more this past year. I’m having a hard time getting my hr up on TrainerRoad vo2max workouts. My max hr is around 175, I will admit that I rarely reach it training, but hit it just about every race.

I’m questioning my ftp (293). I did hunter on Sunday and it was grueling. I wanted to quit but managed to push through the discomfort and finish the workout. I must admit I’m a bit sore but that’s okay, not sure if I’m sore from that workout or the 1.5 hrs of ice hockey that same night. Anyhow, my ftp feels just right for sustained efforts such as hunter. I feel my hr is where it should be for those efforts.

Yesterday was a rest day, and today I had “bluebell”. I did the first two sets of intervals at 100% intensity of my ftp. My hr only got up to 146 or so. My breathing was a bit labored and I could prob carry on a conversation, but not anywhere near vo2 max. So I started First 3 intervals of the last set at 105% intensity, my hr climbed to 151, interval 4 and 5 I pushed intensity up to 110%, hr climbed to 154. Final interval I went up to 115% intensity and hr maxed out at 158. It was tough, but manageable, and still had a lot left despite tired/sore legs yet from hunter two days prior.

I just started structured training and TrainerRoad, I’ve done quite a few intervals outside this summer. Is it possible that my ftp for intervals Should be set higher as I’m accustomed to this type of work? Also being a mtber I’m used short hard punchy efforts.

When I’m doing the long sustained efforts I tend to suffer a bit more and feel like my ftp is spot on. So, should I leave everything alone and just up the intensity for the vo2 max intervals? Or ignore the hr data and just leave everything alone? I’m afraid I will lose fitness if I do not do enough vo2 work.

Quick n dirty answer…

As you said, your MTB/crit/hockey activities have made you more skilled at hard, short VO2 efforts.

In fact, Bluebell, with its 1min rest interval is probably too easy for you, you’re recovering too much and the 1min work interval isn’t hard enough to really stress you.

Choose workouts with longer work intervals, shorter rest intervals, a combo of the both, or higher intensity (130%).

VO2max work takes some experimenting to find your personal sweet spot, so keep at it.


I personally wouldn’t look so much into HR. Bluebell, by VO2Max standards, is not terribly difficult for many with the intervals being 1 minute at 120% with equal rest. Plus you’re going to have some HR lag with that short of an interval. The benefit comes from the repeatability with relatively short rest. FWIW, I find VO2Max workouts quite painful but last time I did Bluebell I bumped the intensity up a bit too. Wait until you do some 3 minute repeats at 120%. When I’ve done Kaiser in the past I had to drop the intensity.


From personal experience, adjusting intensity as per the workout text is recommended, but resist the temptation to overachieve during Sweet Spot Base.

If the sweet spot workouts are challenging you, consider the easier workouts in the plan to be a blessing. Any higher end fitness that you may or may not lose will easily be recovered in Short Power Build, where the VO2max workouts become much more challenging, especially as it piles on week after week.


If you go back to your Ramp Test…something funky is going on with your cadence on that test…but anyhow normally when riders start to get to the end of the ramp test cadence drops off then can’t be maintained & the test is over. Your cadence didn’t drop off…and I’m just looking at some of your sweet spot work…you did the 4th interval of Geiger+2 at basically 80% or less of max HR. You were able to do the last interval in Donner at 84% max HR. That’s super solid but I’d expect your HR to be up in the mid 160’s at least by the end of that last Donner Interval.

Looks good but I’m going to guess your FTP is set a little low and that you’re either naturally anaerobically gifted or you anaerobic system is very well trained.

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You should do another ramp test…btw…that’s my guess.

@Brennus, you’re exactly right. My ramp test was my very first trainer ride and it was kind of a disaster, looking back. I also did the ramp test after I got home from a late night mtb ride. Mid ramp test my chain skipped on the rear cassette, hence the dip. I’m using an older cassette and just have to stay out of the middle cogs. I also didn’t know how erg mode worked and didn’t know that if I sped up my cadence the power would adjust, hence the super low cadence. Then at the end of the test I didn’t know what to do and I tried to start pedaling again. Lol. Whoops!

So how do I go about doing another ramp test? I’m doing ssb mid volume 2, do I just redo the ramp test and use the new ftp to continue the current program, or restart from the beginning?

That’s what I would do. I think TR will automatically adjust your FTP some time after you complete a ramp test…but if TR doesn’t to it automatically you can do it manually.

Bluebell has caught out others before expecting it to be hard…

It needs a disclaimer!

Remember to always check the IF of the workout*, not just the intensity of the intervals, to get a true picture of the difficulty.

*Be careful when workouts have a long period of endurance pinned on the end as this can bring down the overall IF.

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