Tips for getting through longer VO2 efforts

I was just wondering if people have any tips for getting through longer VO2 efforts?

I manage to get through efforts of 1 to 2 minutes but 3 minutes, such as Hurd -1, I’m really struggling with.

Now, I’m not sure if my timing was just poor as I wake up at 5am and jump straight on the training. But most of my rides are performed this way. I didn’t eat but I personally find it okay for rides around the hour mark.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


If your priority is losing weight, do lower intensity rides. If your priority is nailing the workout, eat. Have some toast and honey or a gel or a banana before you get on the bike, and keep eating as you ride. Three minutes of VO2max is serious business and since you’re struggling, I’d start with your lack of fuel.


plus caffeine

  1. It sounds like you’ve done the right thing in building up gradually, week on week to 3 minutes. If not, go back down to 2 minutes or 2:30 and build up.

  2. Personally, I need to really raise the cadence for these, around 110rpm. Typically I’ll ride other zones/longer duration intervals at 95-105rpm.

  3. Dial it back. The workout notes on these often suggest that anything above 110% will get you the intended training benefit. Shoot for 112-115% and see if you can complete.


I got through Hurd -1 by doing it outside! Found a hill that would take about 4 minutes to climb and did repeats. Was earlier in the year though, too cold and dark for that for me now. I have a strange thing where long VO2 Max efforts on the trainer start to hurt my lower legs (almost like shin splints or something) - I find this isn’t the case outside.


How’s your cooling? If you don’t have a decent fan or 2 then things can get very hard very quick.


My thinking if you find that your heart rate steadily climbs until you have to stop, it is cardio fitness that is lacking.

If the heart rate rises and then stabilizes, but legs can no longer turn pedals, it would be muscular endurance/strength to blame…

Coffee at that time of day, 2 of them.

  • loud music.

Yes… I experience this as well and haven’t heard anyone else with the same thing.

My theory is that when I do V02 intervals outside I spend a lot more time out of the saddle, because the times I get this is doing the intervals on the trainer or in a race; when it is a full on V02 effort on a flat road and you are cranking out V02 watts from the saddle for 5 or 6 minutes.

As to why it happens, no idea.

I think you can get by with some Sweet Spot or Threshold rides fasted, but when it comes to V02 max, you have fasted for anywhere from 6-8 hours (at a 5am ride) and you have very little to no fuel for your ride. 90% of my trainer rides are at the same time, so I know that struggle of the early morning ride.

Even a small granola bar or some toast with honey/peanut butter will help. For intervals, I will sometimes put a small bag of gummy bears or chews next to the bike and munch on a few right before an interval for some instant energy into the bloodstream (your muscle will use the dextrose/sugar immediately for energy, it won’t store it as fat).

Lastly, I would do an easy warm up before you get on the bike – light stretching, some lunges to activate glutes, hamstrings, etc. Just my .02, hope that helps.


I love when there’s a new batch of TR users starting their training…cuz it means a new batch of VO2max threads!

As others have said — eat. That might be rough depending how early in the morning it is and/or how close to the workout you wake up.

You might also experiment with doing these workouts later in the day (but not at night!), if your life situation allows; just to see how your body responds.

VO2 workouts are no joke and the long ones, 3-5min esp @120%, require your best self to get ‘em done. A good warm-up, much longer than the 5min TR gives you, might be needed. These workouts create lots of stress for your body, priming and making sure all systems are online may be crucial.

You didn’t say if you’re failing/not completing the intervals/workout. There’s definitely going to be some struggling both at the end of an interval and at the end of the workout, that’s normal (and Hurd -1 is a toughie!).

Hang in there, the TR support group will get you through your VO2max misery! :grin:


I have this same problem. And I do my workouts at 4.45a or 5a. And while I haven’t solved the problem altogether I have found a few things that work for me to help get it done:

  1. Extend the warm up. I do a few extra minutes before I start the workout, maybe 3-5 minutes.
  2. Do a warmup off the bike. I’ll do a few minutes of dynamic warm-up before climbing on the bike. Airsquats, caraoca walk, pushups, some stuff for my back with a band.
  3. Eat more carbs the night before. I don’t eat before the morning workouts (though I do have coffee on hand). So, I make sure I have some extra carbs the night before at dinner.
  4. Shorten the first few efforts by 30 seconds or so and add the time back on as you go on. Sometimes this works for me.

Hope some of that might help!
my blog:

Hope that helps!


If I could make a suggestion, I would recommend using grapes instead of gummy bears or chews. real food instead of manufactured food, etc. That was on old trick I used in races…few grapes in my jersey pocket that I would eat before expected hard efforts (upcoming hill, finishing sprint, etc)

Mostly liquid, but enough substance to get something solid in your stomach. Quickly and easily digested.



Appreciate the tip, thanks

I also try to do VO2 work outside! I failed Hurd -2 on monday on the trainer, couldnt hold my target power after the 3rd interval. Tried again on Wednesday, but outside on a hill, and I completed it, 10W over my target for each interval.

Unlike Janerney, I am still mostly seated when I do them outside, but something about doing longer VO2 efforts inside is very mentally taxing compared to doing them outside.

Breath. From the get go honk that CO2 outta there. Seriously the ones I failed were ones where I let my breathing follow the effort. Don’t know if it correlates but from then I am hoovering up the O2 from 20 seconds before the interval.


In addition to the great recommendations of warmup, caffeine and proper fueling, I have found that gear choice can be helpful with longer VO2 work. I am to understand that this may vary based on the trainer you use, but I find shifting down to my small chainring up front helps me recruit the same muscles I would on a 3-5 minute VO2 max climbing effort

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Sorry, but if you can’t complete them the only answer is to do more until you can…

Postcast #191, 43:17

Try to do in Resistance mode if you have been using ERG mode. This way if your power drops you can still finish interval. Doing outside would be similar.

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