VO2 115% 2min30s interval - out of saddle

During this interval i can only do them entirelly out of the saddle?is it normal? Should I decrease power?

No, it’s not normal. If you can do them OOS, you can do them in the saddle too. Working OOS is less efficient and while it can reduce perceived exertion, it increases required effort over the course of an interval that long. If you’re doing these intervals standing, your cadence is probably too low as VO2max intervals are intended to be done in the 100s. Not many can spin that fast standing at that workload.

Otherwise, reduce them by 5%. If you go below that, you’re missing the intended benefit of the workout and probably need to reduce your FTP overall.

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hmm never heard that about vo2max needing to be done at 100 rpm…source? thanks!


Parsing words here but “intended” does not mean that they must be done that way. If the adaptation you’re looking for with these workouts is maximum oxygen uptake, you’re looking to shift as much burden to aerobic energy systems as possible. Higher force efforts are more glycolytic, so a higher cadence reduces the force requirement and shifts burden over to aerobic systems. This is common text throughout Chad’s VO2max workouts.

Chad’s thoughts

I don’t have time to provide studies right now, but this is in line with what I’ve always read/heard. It’s not a necessity, nor is this to say you must pedal at higher cadence always, as there are studies that show lower cadences are more efficient on long rides within reason, but my understanding has always been higher cadence-> more aerobic -> higher O2 uptake, increased lactate production, less glycolitic ATP production, which is a primary goal of VO2max work. If you want to increase muscular ability to produce higher torque, then a lower cadence is advisable.

Perhaps your point of contention is with my 100s comment specifically, and that’s fair… really anything that is a high but controllable cadence for an individual will suffice. For me, that’s typically 107-110, but I normally ride around 100. If you’re a guy that rides at 80, 90 might be good.


This somewhat falls into different coaches, different approaches. I’ve got plans that list “self-selected cadence” for vo2 workouts.

I’ve been re-reading Chris Carmichael’s Time Crunched Cyclist and he is a proponent of high-cadence cycling for the reason nash031 gave above. The book lists some of the benefits of higher cadence during high-intensity efforts, including shifting burden to more fatigue-resistant cardio system, and to help give you the snap needed to accelerate hard on attacks, covering attacks, bridging gaps, and cresting small hills. The book encourages 90rpm or higher, although the PowerInterval (vo2) workouts list 100rpm.


Standing for the entire interval is a bit extreme and unusual.

However, I think standing for a portion of the interval, e.g. the last 30 seconds, is generally okay, especially if it allows you to complete an interval at the prescribed power.

There’s a lot of science behind VO2max intervals and it’s easy to get hung up on the details. IMO anyone relatively new to structured training is best served putting in a “best effort” and moving on to the next one.


First question: Is it normal? No. Most people do VO2max intervals in the saddle.

Second question: Should I decrease the power?

Probably, yes, but it depends on your goal. If all you’re trying to do is replicate time under tension in a race condition then gawn & get up out of the saddle. It’s what you’d do in a race anyhow.

If you’re just trying to collect minutes at a VO2max condition it’s probably better to lower the power and remain seated. You’ll be able to crank out more intervals that way, probably.

It makes me wonder about your bike fit. Almost every rider can produce more maximal, short-burst power out of the saddle, but it’s very unusual for that duration to be much more than a minute. Your seated position might not be optimized.

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try them in slope mode and just ride them as hard as possible seated with a normal cadence, see where the power and HR land

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Unless you’re A. Contador, then you probably do 20min standing VO2max intervals.

But most people are not Contador. :disappointed:

This is an interesting topic because I’m torn about doing these types of interval workouts outdoors vs indoors. I’ve got some 2 and 3 minute hills (of various pitches) that I do repeats on at the prescribed watts, but, the cadence usually starts at 95 and ends up around 65 (with me standing by the end of it). Is it better to do these on the trainer and hold 100RPM or do them outside and simulate a climb (which is when this type of power will often be required)?

Closest I could to get to that, were 15 minute hill efforts.

I did hear a rider say he kept getting dropped by fields of riders who had similar FTP numbers. Couldn’t figure it out. Turns out he was doing his 20 minute FTP test out of the saddle. Not just at the end or one minute out of every five. The entire thing from second one to second 1200.

It didn’t translate well to a race situation.

wow that sounds so hard. i just looked and i do them like 84rpm


It’s my opinion that if you’re seeking improved maximal O2 uptake, which is usually the goal of VO2max work, a higher cadence is better. Higher cadence produces a lower muscular force requirement for the same power output, and recruits a higher proportion of type I muscle fiber. These fibers usually primarily fueled aerobically. The lower your cadence, the more oxidative and glycolytic your effort.

So, if I’m coaching you to improved O2 uptake at high power, I’d have you aiming to sustain cadence somewhere 10-15 rpm higher to force recruit type I muscle fibers more and make the efforts maximally (but not entirely) aerobic.

@brendanhousler is a hell of a better athlete than me, and seems comfortable at lower cadence. He’s saying running 100+ rpm for zone 5 intervals sounds hard, while I can’t fathom generating that power level repeatedly at 84rpm. So I wouldn’t look at him and say, “you’re doing it wrong.” But perhaps there’s room for him to try these at 95-100rpm, make them even more aerobically demanding, and raise the MAP ceiling even further? Tough to say without knowing him other than on the forum here.

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Full disclosure, I know @brendanhousler well and am looking for some free coaching here in the form of a general discussion by several people who are way more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. My goal is not necessarily more O2 uptake, but, the ability to output power for 3 minute durations on the flats and on climbs (the result of higher O2 uptake). I’ve often wondered if I’m hindering my ability to output this kind of power for this duration on a climb is because I always do these intervals on the ERG seated at 100RPM instead of what usually happens IRL which is coming into the climb seated at 95RPM & 120% FTP and ending at 65RPM & standing @ 120% of FTP just to keep target power.

If my goal is to improve my 3 minute power and repeatability on climbs, will I get more by doing 3min VO2Max intervals indoors @ 100RPM or outdoors at a lower cadence?

And the 3rd option: 3min VO2Max intervals indoors @ lower cadence.

I do many intervals (not that many above 110% FTP) at low cadence on the trainer just for the reason you describe. My goal is to train like I plan to ride, so I do many intervals at varied efforts around and below FTP, at 60 to 70 to 80ish rpm.

The main point being an attempt to spend at least some time training inside with efforts and cadence more directly similar to my actual needs outside. Spinning is great, but worthless to practice to a point, if it has nothing to do with your real use outside.

I think it’s best to train as wide a range as you can, but don’t leave out the stuff you really need to apply outside.


@mcneese.chad, yes, agree - On HV plans indoors w/ 7 or eight of them, by the last two or three, I’m usually cranking 65-85 for three minutes just to make it through because I’m spent.

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I think there’s two different goals here:

  1. Improve your max 3 minute power.
  2. Improve your repeatable max 3 minute power.

The way our energy systems work to fuel our muscles, I’m not sure you can really work both of these inside a single session. The VO2max sessions that are generally throughout Chad’s plans are more often than not geared toward repeatable power. Spencer +2, for example… I believe in his text, he even mentions that the goal of those intervals is not to be max, empty the tank every time, but instead to land on a power that you can sustain for 3 minutes… and then do it six times… or nine times in some workouts.

Repeatability has a much larger aerobic component than “max power.” By raising the maximum power you can aerobically sustain (MAP), you will inherently raise your maximum 3 minute power. BUT, if you’re training to simply be able to put out the most power you can for 3 minutes in one shot, you’re going to train that as a highly glycolytic effort: it’s all about the most torque off the bat and then sustaining the highest power possible.

The best way to train repeatability is to keep the efforts as aerobic as possible. This implies higher cadence, lower force/torque pedaling.

The best way to generate maximum power for 3 minutes is to recruit as much muscle fiber as you can for as long as you can, ideally all the Type I (highly aerobic/“slow twitch”) and Type IIA fibers (highly glycolitic sugar burners).

Those require very different training stimuli. The former is trained by workouts like the Dades and Spencer +2s of the world - repeat intervals just below your Max Aerobic Power, ideally recruiting as much aerobically fueled muscle mass as possible (notionally via a high cadence). The latter is trained (for example) by doing a 3-minute all out effort, recovering for maybe 15-20 minutes, and then doing it again, while taking in sugar to ensure as well stocked as possible, repeat as many times as you’re able, but realistically you’re probably only going to max out once or twice per session with those. Cadence doesn’t matter with that one as much… just raw power.

I think the repeatable, aerobic, high power has more utility in most forms of riding and racing (exception being track, probably), so I think MOST athletes would benefit from training these intervals more aerobically. Thus, I think indoors at a higher cadence is probably better for what you need to train.

Again, 100 may be too high. If you routinely ride at 80rpm, try 90 or 95. As mentioned, my normal is 103rpm and so my VO2max intervals (like Spencer) are done at like 110.


“Spinning” at a very high cadence with no force behind it, yeah… it’s got its place, but that’s simply to get used to control at a higher cadence. Raising your cadence, reducing the force requirement on your muscles and recruiting more Type 1 fibers at higher power absolutely has a place. So I’d disagree that there’s limited utility in repeatedly powering 120% of FTP at a cadence 10rpm higher than your self-selected cadence provided repeatable high power and a bigger aerobic capacity is what you’re after.

If what you’re after is max 3 minute power, then yeah, ride at your preferred cadence, maybe even lower… and stand up for some of it!