VO2 Max intervals kind of easy while FTP work very hard?

Is this normal?

I did spencer +2 and handled it well. Only the final interval was hard while the rest I was above the power target.

Now today I did lamarck and barely finished it. Probably the hardest workout I ever did, even mary austin last week wasn’t this brutal.

Not entirely the same thing but I find the “over” interval of over-unders easier than the “under”.

Short answer: it means you are lacking in the endurance department (muscular and/or otherwise). I used to be the same way – super hot @VO2 work, super sucky @Threshold work. Cured that by doing a ton of Sweet Spot and Threshold work.

The ‘easy over/hard under’ is a different matter. There are other threads dedicated to O/U issues. Look for 'em, you’re definitely not alone! :weary:


Perfectly normal if you’re a punchy rider with good anaerobic capacity.

Barely finishing it is still finishing it. It’s a hard workout.

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Spencer is VO2 max repeats. Your VO2 max is said to be anywhere between 115% to 125% of FTP, so if you were doing the prescribed 120% it may be slightly below your true VO2 max. This would account for the VO2 max efforts feeling “doable”. In that case, just up the percentage a bit for those workouts. If you’re a punchy rider/racer and your fitness is aimed at crits or XCO, you should feel right at home with these workouts. “All” you have to do is hang on for 3 mins and then you get plenty of rest.

In contrast, Lamarck is a different energy system and mindset. Working at longer duration at FTP/threshold with minimal rest can be challenging for a punchy rider/racer. This is where I struggle as well as an XCO racer, but someone that does TTs would feel right at home. Also, if you go into Lamarck on fatigued legs it’s only more difficult. The way I’ve gotten through these threshold efforts is allowing one 20 second back pedal per interval. I tell myself I can backpedal at the 5 min mark for a quick rest. It gives my mind a mental out “should” I need it. Then my goal is to try not to use/need that back pedal. Then I tell myself if I used no backpedals in any previous intervals, I am allowed 2 backpedals in the final interval. Once the final interval comes along I normally don’t need any backpedals, but knowing they are available is all the mental game I need.

Exactly, you finished it and were pushed to your limit. With an IF of 0.92 for the workout (Lamarck) that sounds about right and you nailed the workout’s intention. Nice work and on to the next beating!


I think it’s a dividing line in life. Sort of like whether or not you like the taste of coconut.

It seems like there are more ‘VO2max intervals are hard’ vs ‘VO2max intervals are easy’ threads…so I’ll say most folks find VO2max intervals hard compared to threshold intervals. I’m more on your side of the line. VO2max intervals seem to be easy compared to threshold intervals.

I never trained VO2max on the bike before TR & I did a ton of threshold work. So it’s probably just an intrinsic physiology thing. Sort of like how cilantro tastes like Palm Olive to me but is so yummy to everybody else.

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Story of my life. Train weakness’ and don’t ignore strengths is what i"m trying this year. I’ve focused more on SS and Thresh in base/build and now that I am in specialty I treat those rides as the more important vs VO2 or sprinty workouts.

Use this to your advantage in the following ways:

  • Use VO2 workouts to jump start before SS or Threshold workouts. I adjust my plan to do VO2 first.
  • If you have to modify the week- drop the VO2 and focus on that weakness
  • Know that you’ll need less time in specialty to develop this
  • In races - be that surgy guy who keeps going - shedding 2-3 riders - and repeating

Finally - go try a velodrome. It will suit you.