VO2 Max doesn’t work?

Is it just me or do you find that VO2 Max doesn’t do what I imagined it would do?
My HR barely gets above 150bpm and I can talk during the interval. It’s like my leg muscles can do the work instead of the heart/lungs.
I thought you should be having your lungs coming out your throat and be dying.
Last time I did the CX plan my fitness went backwards. Lately I’ve just be doing Tempo and Sweet Spot work and I’m gonna see how that’s impacted FTP.
I’m just at a loss on what to do these days and after listening to the latest episode just feel frustrated that nothing seems to work the way they say it should.

VO2 max should never be, “having your lungs coming out your throat and be dying.” It should be hard, and the last few reps are often strenuous and challenging but reps should be repeatable with 1:1 recovery. That said, generally in VO2 workouts you will see a heart rate in 90-100% range toward the end of longer reps (with short recovery). What percent is 150 of your max?

Lastly, workouts usually progress through a plan. It may be that your FTP is too low (have you done a ramp test lately) or you need to up the PL and choose a harder alternate workout.

If none of that works go find a hill. Any hill. Ride up it. Repeat. Monitor your heart rate and see how it compares.


Vo2max intensity is very personal. If you don’t breath heavily, the intervals are too short or intensity is too low.


I suspect it depends on age. People like Seiler talk about collecting minutes at 90% of HRmax. Personally, I can’t do it. I’ll just get to 90% towards the end of a VO2max interval. I’m definitely not collecting minutes of time there. But I’m 56 now. I don’t recall if I could do it when I was 15 and running cross country.

I saw this Alex Hutchinson article about ladder workouts. It talks about a study where they found you could spend a lot more time at VO2max compared to traditional 5x5s or whatever.


It sounds like you are doing short intervals? Maybe 30/15’s? I find these are not so good personally for elevating heart rate, especially if you are anaerobically inclined, they are over before your aerobic system fires up. I find longer 3min+ intervals with a hard start (e.g. 1min@130-120%) work for me, that 1 min gets me to ~90% LTHR and then the rest of the interval I am just hanging on @ 100rpm+, even if at the end I am only just over threshold I count that as money in the bank.


Increasing cadence will push the strain more towards your cardiovascular system rather than your muscular.

If the intervals just feel too easy regardless , your v02max may be high compared to FTP, so you’ll have to bump up the difficulty. If this is the case that’s great news as you have room for a huge increase in FTP as you increase aerobic efficiency l.


This gets brought up every week. Vo2max is easy until all of a sudden it is very hard. Just answer the survey honestly and in a short while you wish you hadn’t rated them that easy…


I do find that an outdoor version will work me way harder than the indoor version.
Also when the progression levels are low you get a lot of short intervals, where I reckon I prefer about 3 min intervals

Is your calendar the public one under the same name? If so, I’ve gone back to June and haven’t seen anything I’d call a VO2 workout yet.

If not, please link to your calendar so we can see what kind of workouts you’re doing :slight_smile:


Have a look and try one of these:

TR Team with hard start VO2max workouts

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If you are using erg mode don’t. Use resistance mode and just go as hard as you can while pacing the interval.

Sounds like you’re not going hard enough. I found that a lot of the TR VO2 max workouts weren’t hard enough to get into VO2 max range based on FTP. For me, basing the workout off FTP wasn’t working. I had more success getting my HR as high as possible and holding it. Cadence >110.


I’ve found cadence to be the key as well. 110+ seems to get my HR up nicely.


Yeah if my cadence isn’t 110-115 I don’t see enough breathing change. 105 is even too low for me. And then ideally it’s at least 90 seconds, preferably 120 second intervals. 60s at 120% just ends up working my legs and I experience the same things you mention.

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VO2 max is determined by two things

  1. The ability of your heart and lungs and blood to deliver the oxygen.
  2. The ability of your working muscles to extract and use that oxygen.

Depending on the workout it may be emphasising improving 2 and not so much 1.

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23 July is the last VO2. Capricorn.
FTP 237 (at that time)
Power avg 155 max 310
HR avg 127 max 160
Cadence avg 85 max 108

It’s hard to call it vo2 max workout. It’s suprathreshold workout and rater easy one. And if you are not a fully aerobic wirh fractional utilization of 90% of vo2 max your hr will be maybe over threshold with this one. Just try proper vo2 max workout - take 6x3 min as a starter to test, disable erg mode and rip it. Yes you should be breathing hard like a fish gasping for air. Take the avg power of your intervals and this should be roughly your power to elicit vo2 max.

Yep, basically that!

Try this for steady state:

Or this for on/off style:

If you’re not close to the limit after them, I’d say your ftp must be higher than TR thinks!

It’s labelled as VO2 Max 4.7???

Those two you linked to are rated as not recommended for me. Usually I pick productive or achievable workouts. I suppose if I turn off erg mode I could do them?