VO2 Max Gurus: Opinions Needed on These Workouts

VO2 Max Gurus,

I’d like your opinions on the following VO2 Max workouts, all intervals done at 120% of FTP:

My questions are:

  • Given the % of max HR these VO2 max sets are averaging, do these seem like they are generating the benefits that VO2 max intervals are supposed to?
  • On the latest podcast, everyone made it seem like completing VO2 max interval sets is close to “soul crushing”. While these workouts were all hard, they only felt like a RPE of 6 or 7.

I’m pretty sure that my FTP is set correctly from doing a sweet spot block + being sick for a week before this VO2 max block. So the 120% of FTP should be correct. In addition, historically I’ve never been a really punchy rider, so I don’t think I have a lot of anaerobic contribution making these “easier”.

Thanks for weighing in

Quick glance…1min @ 120% isn’t going to be “soul crushing”, especially if you have a 1min rest period. Look at how much HR oscillates, it’s recovering far too much in order to get up to VO2max during the 1min of work. In a “good” on/off VO2max workout, HR will dip a bit during rest but will remain elevated or even rise over the course of the entire session.

Couple things to try: i) do each interval with a 10sec hard start, 180% FTP or so; ii) reduce the rest period to 15-30sec. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few intervals to get your HR up to ~90% over the course of the workout.

If all else fails, start doing longer intervals until you feel your soul starting to crush. :wink:

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Thanks for the quick response. I have Charybdis scheduled for next week, so will see how far 3 minute intervals at 120% crush my soul :rofl:

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Captain obvious here, just keep in mind when working over FTP the % to use is highly individualized. Don’t assume 120% is correct. For longer 3+ minute vo2max intervals I like to reference the description in this article: How to Perform VO2 Max Intervals with your PowerMeter – FasCat Coaching

Did Spencer +2 recently and I think it’s s decent test to see if someone is VO2 inclined or not. You should give it a try :wink:

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And another really good article on how to customize intervals above threshold:

While reading that article you may wonder if you should choose capacity or power. From Olbrecht’s The Science of Winning work on capacity before power.

The latest podcast has a long section on VO2max, starts around 42mins in.


Yeah man, I feel you on this—I can push 1 minute VO2 max intervals well past the 120% mark. 3 minutes seems to be where the “soul crushing” comes into play, so you’ll probably have a new perspective after doing Charybdis. The +2 of that one put me in my place real quick earlier this week.


So I attempted Charybdis today, and the 3 minute VO2 max intervals crushed me. I made it through the first 3 intervals, and blew up in the 4th. Ugh it sucked


As @Captain_Doughnutman mentioned, for shorter duration efforts, it’s good to experiment with the work to rest ratio as well as intensity. 30 seconds on, 15 off in sets of 12+ are the VO2 sessions that ramp me up quickly and keep me in or very close to my VO2 zone.

On longer, lower intensity efforts such as 108-110%, I find that my body adapts to the workload and it’s harder to reach my VO2.