Using VO2 Max test results instead of FTP?

I just had a VO2 Max test (on a bike) done and was given some prescribed zones (HR and power). I am looking to adopt a polarized training plan but would like the plan to be based on my VO2 Max results vs FTP. Is that possible with TrainerRoad? Any other thoughts around this approach?

You can manually put in any FTP you want. Just do your tests periodically and update.

Must say that just following whatever FTP setting the AI comes up with these days, gives me some pretty nice workouts that feel as hard as they should be, which in the end is what the goal should be.


Hey! Welcome to the forum!I think Im hearing that you’d like to set custom zones (i.e. zone 1, zone 2, Threshold, Tempo, etc.) within your TrainerRoad profile, and then have us generate a Polarized training plan based on those zones. TrainerRoad calculates each training zone as a percentage of your FTP, and setting custom ranges for power is not a feature we currently have in place, unfortunately.

Sorry I don’t have better news, but knowing your VO2 Max in mL/kg:min from a lab conducted test is super cool info to have! For what its worth, I cant think of any pros that use their VO2 Max test result in mL/kg:min to set their power zones; for a number of reasons that we can briefly cover.In terms of a training tool, your FTP can change and grow much more dynamically in relationship to your fitness than a lab measured VO2 Max; and is more readily accessible for re-assessment throughout your training process. Your VO2 Max in mL/kg:min may change by a value of only a few units over years (where most cyclists are between 40-60), but your FTP changes and is measure at a much more finite degree to observe those fluctuations in your fitness.

This is why we use FTP as a training benchmark, it’s the most practical and widely-available metric to serve the greatest number of athletes possible (and now easier than every to measure with AI FTP Detection like @mrpedro mentioned!), and helps ensure those even minor changes in fitness are accounted for, and that your training zones are always appropriately reflecting your current fitness.

What’s better is that now, with Adaptive Training, those moderations in fitness are monitored and accounted for in your training without needing to reevaluate FTP or training zones often. For your case in using Polarized Plans, even though workouts are assigned in FTP-based zones, the whole goal of Adaptive Training is to customize the pace and progression of your training to your unique needs and abilities, which makes the metric used to scale the individual workouts and zones (FTP) even less critical.

Let me know if you have more questions on this! We’re here to help

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As already mentioned, it’s not really appropriate to set training zones based on actual vo2 max. It’s an interesting metric and I’ve done a few lab tests as well with the local university, but it’s mostly about curiosity rather than driving my training. While vo2 max is somewhat trainable, it doesn’t really move much for trained athletes (except due to changes in weight).

For me, the most interesting thing about knowing your vo2max is to get some idea of your efficiency. It’s been a while since I had a test done, but one of the best metrics that comes from the test is evaluating your power curve against your o2 consumption. Those metrics basically tell you how efficient you are and there are some wide ranges that trained cyclist fall in. That efficiency is maybe more trainable than your max o2 consumption, but there are big genetic drivers there as well. Knowing these numbers can be a double edged sword. You might be excited to see a high vo2max, but might get frustrated over time if your efficiency can’t leverage it. There are world class cyclists with relatively low vo2max numbers, but they were blessed with high efficiency. And the inverse is true also. High vo2max and high efficiency are the unicorns.

Thanks all for the thoughtful replies! I had not seen the new predicted/AI FTP feature, I’ll try it out!

FWIW, I found this blog post and associated podcast on how improving your VO2 Max is actually possible quite helpful. I also thought the podcast discussion t around the studies on Polarized training vs Tempo training helpful in thinking about this. In one study while the performance outcomes were about the same the biomarker endpoint (VO2 Max in this case) was improved with Polarized training. The speaks to your point @IvyAudrain that FTP is a bit more dynamic and can change for a number of reasons.

@grwoolf +1 the power curves being more helpful than the VO2 max number. I was interested in my fat oxidation curve and when I crossed over into burning more glucose/carbs than fat. By adjusting my diet I was able to shift to burning more fat at higher power ranges. My interest in improving my VO2 max, or at least preventing it from declining, is motivated more by maintaining health and longevity than it is about performance on the bike.