I also really struggle with VO2 max or intervals 20% above FTP for 4+ minutes. These are the only workouts I fail on. It feels like I am drowning for air. I would say they are the hardest but probably give you the most gains. Key thing is to keep motivated - aim for more complete intervals on next go - and the gains will come.
When you do intervals above threshold in the 2 - 6 min range, do you do them in ERG or Resistance mode?
At and above threshold, using Resistance mode on the trainer can be really helpful. That way if you can’t hold the power the whole interval, you can still complete the interval and get a great training benefit. On the flipside, as you get stronger you may actually be able to exceed the prescribed power.
Uh yeah! Cuz they are H A R D! Kudos to you for choosing to face the pain with old school classic 4min 120% intervals!
Do you fail on the first interval or on the last? If it’s on the last, that’s probably ok (see above); just do that last one until failure. If it’s the first then it could signal a couple different issues. Maybe you are going out too hard. Think of the entire session like one big interval. If you start off too hard you’ll never make it to the end. Could also mean you just aren’t ready for those long killer intervals yet. Tone it down to maybe 3min reps and let your body — legs + lungs — work it’s way up to 4min (or even 5min!).
Ha! Many a pro and amateur rider have said the exact same thing. At least you know you are operating at/near your VO2max!
The hardest, probably. The most gains…in dispute. The gains come from time spent working in your VO2max zone. Don’t forget, VO2max is a physiological function, not a power target. Intervals that push the heart rate to >90% max are the most effective, regardless of power. If you can’t finish your interval, then you aren’t getting that time in zone. Have a look at something like Rattlesnake or even a standard session with shorter intervals.
In resistance mode (which I agree is much better) - so I still complete them but not to 100% target.
Great feedback. Thank you. When I fail - its usually after 75% completion - never at start. I have changed the training block to a shorter duration (which has helped a lot for recovery).
Rattlesnake looks horrific - I cannot wait !! That is exactly the type of session I struggle with. Most of my recent training blocks have been BASE / BUILD to increase FTP. Since I started SUSTAINED BUILD - I have found these tough.
Notably missing from your list are the hardest threshold workouts like Mary Austin and Leconte. How are you doing on these? Can you complete them at your 285 FTP with zero backpedaling?
Also, workouts like Spanish Needle are aerobic rides disguised as anaerobic. How are you completing these? Any backpedaling, pauses in the workout, etc? Fast twitch guys find the first half of 15s microbursts to be downright easy. It’s the second half that gets you, especially in the later sets.
Also, how quickly are you reaching max power on these sprint bursts? It it nearly instantaneous or is ramping up over the 10+ seconds?
Lastly, having a discrepancy in energy systems shouldn’t be alarming. Reading your complete post, the thing that stands out most to me is the stagnant FTP.
We also have to ask, what fails — legs or lungs? Different problems, different solutions. Try dialling it down to 118% for your 4min intervals, see how that goes. VO2 intervals are a bit trial and error so don’t be scared to play around a bit.
It’s not really. I mean it’s hard but power is declining and it’s an on/off interval so hopefully you can use both those factors to help you push through, physically and psychologically. The hardest part for me was the 1min hard start; you really have to keep hammering that first minute in order get into VO2max zone, it’s all downhill from there.
That’s normal (the opposite is also normal). The good thing with high end work is that it develops quickly, you should be flying in a few weeks with consistent training.
Good question. When i started my body was strong but i didnt have lung capacity. Now my lungs have overtaken my body. Ive started p90x focusing on legs and back with ab workout. Its a lot of core which is where i think im weak right now. This should help a lot.
Looks like your threshold is really, really close to your VO2max. For instance, it’s interesting that you really struggled with Elephants+4, which is basically 6 minute intervals at 108%, an basically totally nailed Stromlo +3, which is 6 minute intervals at 102%.
On the other hand, looks like the 27oct Elephants+4 was a much better effort…so maybe the previous day’s Tray Mountain effort caused you to bring a lot more residual fatigue into the most recent Elephants+4 attempt.
Anyhow, Elephants+4 is a tough workout, apparently. If I look at the last 20 or so attempts at that workout seems like at least half of those attempts show some sign of cutting the workout short in some fashion.
My advice? Import that workout into WorkoutCreator and add an extra 120 seconds of recovery between each interval. I’d much rather see you accumulate the extra time at the prescribed wattage with extra recovery between sets. It’s more important to get the time under tension than it is to pack the intervals into a certain amount of time.
That’s very interesting. I’m basically always hitting that during my workouts unless it’s sweetspot-work. Recently did Mills and I see that I hit 90% about halfway through the 2 minute intervals. That should mean that I’m getting the benefit of the workout right?
Another thing to think about could be your setup and I didn’t see anyone ask when skimming the other replies. Are you on a smart trainer or virtual power? I train with a fluid turbo trainer at home and a bike with a power meter when I’m at work, the virtual power really wanders from reality (it certainly feels like that) in the VO2 max arena.
I really used to struggle with VO2 max until I started training with a power meter at work and now I have to have two different thresholds to have the right baseline for a workout but I try and manage it so that on a ride at home I do SS to threshold where I feel it is more accurate. I do VO2 max etc at work.
Also maybe reset to the first introduction Chad gives you, start in 30 seconds blocks and build it up again.
Thanks for the reply!
I can complete workouts like Mary Austin at 285 however I am pushing very hard and need a few mellow days after. However that’s the way I should feel if doing these correctly?
Regarding Spanish Needle, that’s exactly how I feel I can easy crush the first half of each micro burst, but it’s the last half that gasses me. As long as I am somewhat fresh I can always complete full Spanish Needle workout much above my tested FTP although it’s far from easy. Actuactly the first time I started using TR was back in summer 2017 and I had no idea what I was doing . It was a rainy summer and I was only using TR to build short power. I only completed the same workout twice a week(Striped). I couldn’t figure out how to use the smart trainer for an FTP test so I started at around 250FTP and ended up peaking doing Striped at 330w FTP setting. This was before I ever listened to the podcast and I use to think, hey I can complete this as 330 so I must have a 330w FTP. Learned really quick that winter when
started SS MV1 that was not the case, lol!
Also, I do think I am a fast twitch guy as I
run a PM on my MTB and even on a long 5-8 hour trail ride with friends I am the only guy in the group who can put out 1000w bursts with ease. I think the punchy flat and technical MTB that I ride a lot has formed me into a fast twitch guy.
The smart trainer I have set to 0 second power smoothing and it’s pretty fast to build up power. Maybe 2-3 seconds and it’s close to target.
Regarding the stagnate FTP, I have thought about more of a polarized approach after a through base plan. Before build spend 6-8 weeks with long base rides and one hard threshold or longer VO2 workout per week. 30,30’s allow me to cheat too much and rely on my fast twitch. Like others have said here a proper block of 4 min VO2 is what I need maybe?
Sent from my iPad
Yup. It usually takes ~1min to move the system into VO2max territory. On the first interval, anyway. The rests should be short enough that each subsequent interval takes less and less time to achieve VO2max, thus giving you more time in zone.
This is why with a workout like Rattlesnake, with its 1min @140% hard start, delivers you to that >90% VO2max HR and never lets you fully recover, thus giving you a lot more time in zone than a classic interval workout.
Do an on/off workout like Gendarme and see how your HR reacts to that. It’ll be a clue as to the best type of VO2max workouts for your specific physiology.
You know it sounds like you just have a ton of mental fortitude and are absolutely killing it on a lot of these workouts. Like you’re testing and performing higher than other riders with similar fitness, but on the longer VO2s you’re hitting your actual physical limiter.
Yes, I think a nice big chunk of VO2 workouts will take you to the next level, with an emphasis on those longer blocks, starting with 2 min and going up to 4 min.
I’m also fast twitch (semi-fast twitch?). I was a 400m runner in school. Not amazing, but well above average. I think we’re able to recruit our fast twitch fibers and large anaerobic power bank to muscle through the SS and FTP workouts. This method doesn’t work at 120-130% FTP. The burn becomes insurmountable. When I do those workouts, high cadence is key and I also concentrate a lot on breathing, especially powerful exhales. YMMV.
Oh I did Gendarme +8 as a part of my speciality this year. Took me until the end of the third set of intervals before reaching 90%. So I guess these sprint-workouts don’t cut it. Sad. I really enjoy short sprint workouts at high power. Does this mean I have to do longer VO2Max-intervals? I really really don’t enjoy those. Bluebell looks the same as Gendarme. Taylor -2 not even hitting 90%. Dade +2 hit the 90% after about a minute each interval.
That’s due to having either fast or slow VO2 kinetics. Looks like you have slow (I do too; Sleeping Beauty never got my HR to 90%) so those longer steady state intervals are going to be more beneficial for training your VO2max capabilities. Sorry about that.
I really do recommend experimenting with Rattlesnake at least once. It’s got the gross 140% 1min start and then it’s all declining power 30/30s; so it’s the style you enjoy but hopefully in a way which trains your VO2 powers.
Or search for on/off workouts with longer work periods and shorter rest periods (e.g. 45/15, 60/20 etc).
It’s very strange. When I do threshold work my HR is usually very fast to respond I get to 90% within 2 minutes. Don’t know how/if they’re connected but I’m still figuring out my body and fitness since I started training seriously late 2017.
I did a lot of 4x8min/3min rbi @ about 107% in early 2018 and that was brutal but it got my HR up real fast.
I have Spencer +2 waiting on Tuesday next week and I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it. 120% for 3 whole minutes.
Thanks for the input! We have a lot of trash talkers in the area. So a few faster(use to be much much faster) guys told me two years ago that I was not one the same level and would pretty much never be. Someone can throw an elbow during a race, but nothing motivates me like someone else’s doubt. These guys pretty much take the winter off(or at least 3 months), so when I know they are sipping beer at the ski lodge I am sweating it out in my pain cave!
I am going to try some solid base work with a weekly hard VO2 workout. Steve Neal who was on some of the recent Flo podcasts seems to like to mix in a few hard higher intensity workout into his base plans. I know last winter when did TB to SSB it was hard to get back in the mindset of pain once build phase came!
VO2 kinetics and HR aren’t connected (not really). There are lots of parts that go into a VO2max interval, I do my best to keep it as simple as possible. HR is used only as a pseudo-proxy for the process as it (>90% HRmax) correlates somewhat well for most people.
Not sure what it means if your HR is reacting that fast, and rising at threshold power to a level similar to VO2max power. I suspect neither scenario is a perfect one.
Good fuel to smash through those VO2 intervals!