VO2 Max Plan modification / Help Needed

I need some feedback on VO2 workouts. I know these are hard. Dang hard. But I am blowing up on the 2min long VO2 workouts. Really blowing up. I can sometimes make it about 1 minute and then the wheels just come off (ok - blew apart and sending the rim off the highway!)

I started at 105% intensity level for first interval (setting for new FTP – just not plugged into TR yet). Then went to 100% until the 4th interval, where I dropped the intensity to 95% of my Base FTP. Still struggled after about 1 minute – that got closer to the end. Could not hold it for 3 of the intervals though. Did not want to go lower for fear of changing the energy system being targeted.

This was last Saturday.

Below is the workout from 1 week ago.

I have more of these workouts assigned by Plan Builder. I am thinking of finding other VO2 workouts that are 1 minute intervals with 1-2 minutes of rest in between. Build up to the 2 minutes. Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

What workouts would you suggest?

BTW, I can do the long steady states pretty well. Pioneer is ok. Mont Albert +1 was ok. Seneca Rocks was fine. VO2 is just not there. Need to build it.

I’m a time triallist and VO2 max is not my strong suit either. I would start with 1 min intervals at 120% - Baird is the best place to start. Then go to Bluebell - still one min but more reps. Both come with a minutes rest. Then you can go to Mills with the 2 min descenders from 120-110% FTP. Then you have options of the Baird+ workouts - 90s with a minutes rest or going to Bluebell+1 - extra reps, Mills+1 extra reps or better still Dade - 1 (not Dade that has a huge power spike). Then maybe - Mills+2/3/4 - extra reps or periods of endurance - or Dade+1 which is where I normally stop as super threshold efforts are more useful for tt’s than VO2 max - mind you I find 108% FTP intervals for 5-7 mins tougher than the above - good luck :grinning:


I know how you feel vo2max blows my wheels to the 4 directions, too! Do you jump off the bike in a full blown panic attack? I’ve done it on the side of a trail. You’d think it would be hilarious to see a guy ripping off helmet, gloves & jersey but it’s not :expressionless:

Anyway, I did some research & a lot of digging on the forums. As @jdman suggested, start with Baird then Bluebell. I’d also recommend dialing back the workout intensity in the work intervals. Going forward, I’ll be dropping 7% to see how that works. From what I understand, everyone’s vo2max is different & working above threshold ought to be individualized. Technically, vo2max is 106 - 120 percent of FTP so I’m splitting the difference & shooting for 113% to start. Hope this helps get you to a level you can work at. Good luck!


Pick one you can do and do it well. Fuel well for them and ideally do them after a rest day or an easy day. Really focus on the workout ahead( it can make a difference) . I kept trying to do Vo2 at 120% last year until i was informed we all have a different vo2 max so do what you can and kill it and you will see improvements.

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Where did you get this FTP value?

Long story - short version is this has been my historical increase after such workouts. I was wiped from long runs post ride and did not get the FTP test done. Has been fine for SS work.

Does not impact my struggle with VO2 work.

You could try the alternative 2:1 work/rest type of intervals until you build up your VO2 a bit more, so workouts such as 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off, think from memory Brasted is one such workout, they allow you to accumulate quite a lot of time at a high intensity but seem more manageable due to the short rests. I’ve found them to be a good place to start when introducing VO2 work into my training as I am also very much a steady state phenotype.


I have put this in for tomorrow. thankyou!

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How did you do on Taylor (usually a week before Mills in SSB2)?

If that format (30s on, 30s off) was manageable, see about substituting riffs on this type of workout. Look at Brasted, Rundle, and Clouds Rest to start.

Also, see this thread:

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How old are you?

There’s a really good discussion on this in this thread: Catch 22 on VO2 work

Essentially, Chad says he sometimes does a ‘Vo2Max bootcamp’ before a base phase, which helps improve that system. He says that even as short as a 1-2 week focus on VO2Max can see enormous improvements.

I’ve been trying to start this for a few weeks now, but thanks to a hectic race schedule, I’ve not had the available training time. But, my first set in this regime starts tonight!

The TL;DR is to do a short manual plan along the lines of:
An example would be something like this: Gendarme or Taylor -2, Stanislaus -4, Freel +1, Bashful, Baird +2, Mills or Gawler, Dade +1, then finally something awful like Spencer.
I’d add in a few days of rest, or something like Lazy Mountain to assist recovery.

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Last year I couldn’t finish a VO2 workout without standing, backpedalling, in general failing. I spent the summer doing 9 hrs of zone 2 rides/week along with one VO2 workout, and was able to work through all the way to Spencer and successfully complete them. I’m currently doing SSB MV1, and have been able to do the over/under workouts, which I couldn’t do last year. I think there’s something to the extended Zone 2 work that allows you to buffer lactate and keep going.

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Zone 2 (Z2) has shown to be the training zone eliciting the best results to improve lactate clearance capacity.


Or you could stick with the 2 min intervals (workouts like Mills) and drop the intensity to a level where you can just about finish the workout. Then as you’re VO2 max improves, increase the intensity of the workout.

You could start by dropping 7-8% and see how that goes.

Taylor was not done. Plan Builder did not include it. – I have an A race in May, so the base was shortened but build was included to nearly full length.

Baird went pretty well this am. Requirements were just about right. By the end I was really struggling with getting the legs to put out the power. By that I mean, the last few seconds of the latter intervals.

Legs were still tired from Sunday pm’s long run. But they rose to this occasion. (now they are really mad at me :slight_smile: ) I will get Bluebell scheduled.

I need to re-read the VO2 Max thread @pkwell referenced and the Catch 22 from @BarnabyG . Thank you.

I hate these workouts. I really do. So I know I need to do more of them. Especially as I see some of the long hard climbs from past/upcoming races in my head while I am slowing dieing.

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I am also terrible with VO2 Max workouts. If you use ERG mode FWIW, I have found it “easier” to turn off ERG mode when doing these efforts. Keeps me more mentally engaged and also prevents the spinning wheel of death.

For what it’s worth, I really commend you for sticking with this. Not ducking out is going to reap you so many benefits, not least of all mental toughness. You’ll be smashing out the VO2 in next to no time :+1:


KK Road Machine. No smart trainer here.

One final suggestion: if you get to where you can’t hold power at least 10% over FTP for the full length of the interval, take a 15 second backspin. Be sure to turn off auto-pause. If you’re in a tough spot, maybe even plan on 15s backspin every minute.

This is a common “saver” suggestion and the idea seems to be you’ll stay at/near aerobic capacity while getting a boost to finish the interval strong.

Fair point there is a Baird -1 version which has 2 min rest so that could be a place to start if you are really struggling - but if that is the case I would think a drop in intensity would be a better option.

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