VO2 Max strong compared to Threshold

I’ve been using TR for a number of years and I’m a big fan. I do a Low Volume training and currently sitting at 4.1w/kg. My question is around progression levels and strengths/weaknesses. After a recent AI FTP detection of 286 watts I have a VO2 max PL of 6.7 and a threshold PL of 4.1. So quite a big gap between the two, and I notice that I find threshold workouts much harder, generally speaking.

I recently did a 6.7 VO2 max workout which I marked as ‘Hard’ in the post workout survey. This morning I did a threshold workout with a PL of 4.3 (Mount Baldy) which was 4x10 mins at threshold with 3 minutes rest between intervals. I marked the threshold workout as ‘Very Hard’ because I don’t know if I could have done another interval.

I’m wondering if I should perhaps focus on threshold training for a while to address this weakness? I find threshold workouts much more challenging than other workouts. I’m currently 5 weeks into an 8 week sustained power build phase.


Using PL for this determination isn’t great.

What is your max 5 min power? What is your FTP and how did you derive it? What’s the longest you’ve held that power consecutively?

Good chance FTP is just set too high, but also the whole discussion about VO2max as a term for stuff done in zone 5. :joy:


If 4x10 at ftp is very hard your ftp is almost certainly too high. How are you determining ftp?


Progression levels between training zones have zero relationship to each other. You CAN NOT compare a level 6 in threshold to a 6 in VO2. They can only be compared to in the same training zone, as in a level 6 in threshold will be harder than a 4 in threshold. In no way does it indicate a weakness.


I’m the same way. My VO2 and Sweet Spot progression levels are typically 1.5-2x of my threshold level.

As was mentions above, you can’t necessarily compare levels with each other. Even in a well rounded rider they may find a Threshold 6.0 way harder than a 6.0 of the other zones. From looking into this issue in the past, I found that a lot of people on here have found that their threshold PL are lower or seem harder than the others


Hey there @DewiJ ! Glad to hear you’re enjoying TR. :smiley:

To reiterate what @MI-XC and @mhandwerk said, Workout Levels/Progression Levels aren’t comparable between zones. Different zones won’t have the same rate of perceived exertion, and some athletes are stronger in certain zones than they are in others.

I think the answer to your question of whether or not to focus more time on Threshold depends on what you’re training for. Do you have an event coming up where you’ll need to rely heavily on your Threshold power? If so, it might be good to focus on it.

If not, I wouldn’t worry too much. No need to spend extra time on it at the expense of other areas of your fitness! Adaptive Training will help keep you on track with your current plan.

Hope this helps – feel free to let us know if you have any other questions!


@DewiJ I think kurt.braeckel is exactly correct with respect to using power levels as a tool to evaluate your relative proficiency at a given power level/zone. PL is a tool to help you progress and to help you compare workouts…not a tool to evaluate how good you are at one part of your power curve vs another part of your power curve.

I also agree with @Twowkg. Mount Baldy is a sub-threshold (although just) workout & 4x10 @ threshold shouldn’t feel like an all-out workout…even at the end of the last interval. No problem there, just be advised that the FTP number you are working from is just that.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER…should you change your workouts to focus on FTP? Ask yourself two questions…first, are you progressing now? If you are still experiencing steady improvement to your FTP, don’t make the mistake of thinking another training protocol is going to result in faster improvement. TR is pretty good at what they do. It might just be they’ve got you dialed.

Second, as @ZackeryWeimer points out, do you have a compelling reason to target threshold? Take it from me, you can FOR SURE improve time to exhaustion at threshold power with some very simple work and patience, but your ‘snap’ on the bike and VO2max performance will suffer a little bit. So consider your goals carefully before you target fractional utilization.


I’ve criticized some of the post-workout survey response options. Let’s consider the quote above, then let’s look at the survey rubric.

Say I finished 2x20 at FTP. I feel like I can do a 10 or maybe a 15 min interval, but not a 20 min interval. Nevertheless, I found the workout challenging, but not very difficult. What do I answer? When the OP said he found a 4x10 workout very hard, what exactly did he mean?

Elsewhere, people have said things like this

Try a 4x10 threshold workout at 100% like Lamarck or even Mount Baldy +1, if you can do those without it feeling all out. Your ftp should be close to accurate, just my opinion of a way to test new FTPs.

And unfortunately, “all out” has a specific meaning in the context of the response options. I don’t know if the poster actually meant that. But anyway, if you can do a 4x10 workout without decreasing the power or taking extra rest, then that actually is a sign that your FTP is around the right place. You might want to increase your time to exhaustion, but a 40 min TTE is what some people are working with.

My point is that maybe the rubric needs some more clarity. I’ve suggested that the last response option be too hard. As we can see, I think some work also needs to be done to differentiate hard and very hard. The problem is that if TR changes the response options, then they need to re-analyze the survey data going forward, since people may or not be responding the same way.


This… you should be able to hold threshold for about an hour.

On another note, I also used to have a disproportionately vo2 to threshold. I basically stopped doing any vo2 and only did threshold/tempo/SS for years and now I’m the opposite :slight_smile:



I’m the same way. Anything under PL 7 on v02 feels like it’s just way too easy. Threshold over 4 is a grind.


I like to think of threshold as “I could hold this for a hour under ideal conditions and digging extremely deep and completely emptying the tank.” The last time i did an hour at threshold it was hill climb and I was SHELLED after.

4x10 at threshold is hard, especially with any other limiting factor (training fatigue, bad sleep, nutrition, etc). But it should be “doable hard”. Most of my threshold workouts feel similar, I rarely feel like I have another interval in the tank.

I generally find V02 easier, just the shorter timeframe is mentally easier. When the pain starts for me, the end is in sight.


You should consider the possibility that you might just naturally be gifted doing VO2max work compared to threshold.

As a general rule, I’d like to think that if I am able to consistently complete workouts in the PL 4–6 range for threshold, the FTP you use is reasonable. Now you might trade power for duration, i. e. if you manually lowered your FTP but 1-2 percentage points, you will likely be able to hang on longer.

But I’d only do that if your limiting factor is your physiology. When I am detrained, just the mental load of doing long threshold intervals takes some getting used to. Other times my legs or cardiovascular system give out.

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Thanks everyone for your responses. All helpful stuff.

Some further info: I did a ramp test at the beginning of this build phase and tested at 280w. During that first 4 weeks I was completing VO2 max workouts in the 7-8 PL range without ever marking them as ‘All Out’. This phase felt great as I was also completing challenging threshold and sweet spot workouts but without ever feeling totally shelled at the end. The last threshold workout I did was McAdie (5.1) which I marked as ‘Hard’ as expected. Not too hard by any means.

Then after the recovery week midway through this build phase, AI FTP detection bumped my threshold up to 286 watts which subsequently led to me completing Mount Baldy and marking it as Very Hard.

Could the extra threshold bump of 6 watts maybe have tipped me over the edge? I might manually lower my threshold by a few watts and see if that helps.

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Depends. If you did 4 × 10 and intervals 1 to 3 felt OK, then that suggests that your number is OK but you maybe just need to keep extending time in zone to bulld out your muscular endurance. And maybe take a second look at your catb intake pre- and during.

If all the intervals felt rough then, unless you’re fatigued going in, an FTP reset might be an option.


So it was just the one threshold workout that was Very Hard? That could be the result of a lot of things that aren’t your ftp being too high. It could be a couple watts too high, too. I’d give it another try, and if you get to that point where you think you’re going to fail, you could always drop down a couple watts and see how you do (and you’ll stay in zone).

And to answer the should you train threshold question, I say I find it very satisfying to be able to just cruise along right below and at threshold for a while. AND, there’s no reason you can’t also throw in a VO2max session every week or two to at least maintain it. Just depends on your goals, as always.

This is very relatable to me. The recent workout in question was during a week of bad sleep and work stress which may well have been a factor, as well as possible strength training fatigue.

My threshold HR is around 168bpm and at the end of the last interval here you’ll see it was 165bpm so certainly in the right ballpark:

I do actually trust AI FTP detection, so maybe threshold training and muscular endurance is just a weakness that I need to work on? These are mentally tough workouts, too. As @ZackeryWeimer helpfully suggests I may just see out the rest of this build phase and see how the land lies after that. I like the idea of pushing out my threshold PL without upping my FTP for a duration.


I bet! What you discovered is true for most athletes…their FTP is a number designed to anchor their training. As a practical matter, the power they can hold for an hour is usually something other than their FTP! :smiley:

That doesn’t mean your TR training plan is wrong, though. You can still make great (better?) progress with the faux FTP number you have. Although, @Northshorerider , sounds like you were able to nail an hour of FTP riding. I think that’s exceptional if you have not trained specifically to do it. I think it took me two months of diligent training to ride at FTP for an hour uninterrupted on the trainer.

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I think that is what TR would say is overthinking it. The rating isn’t exact. How did it “feel”?

Hard to me is a regular good hard effort. I’m tired but not wiped out.

Very hard is a workout I finished but man am I glad that’s over.

All Out is basically falling off the bike, puking, backpedaling, taking breaks etc.


I’m the same. Always had more of a natural affinity towards and preference for VO2 type efforts over Threshold efforts, and once TR introduced progression levels that just confirmed it.


  1. Retitle this thread to “VO2 strong compared to Threshold” :wink:
  2. Decide how much you care. If you’re not a TTer and you’re not racing up mountains, then having relatively stronger VO2 may be more useful to you anyway (and as above, focusing on improving your threshold will likely come at a cost to the higher intensity efforts)
  3. If you are doing races where threshold is more important to you than VO2 then see if you can figure out any contributing factors as to why you find threshold workouts harder. Personally any or all of erg mode, lack of cooling indoors, rolling courses outdoors, and holding an aero position are limiters for me. If I’m riding up a mountain I can actually sustain threshold very well and have done >40 minute efforts at >105% of the same TR AIFTP that I would find hard to hold for 4 x 10 minutes indoors in erg mode. So it’s maybe more a mental (I like riding up mountains, I don’t like sitting in a garage) and/or technical (ability to put out power in aero position, ability to put out power through corners and downhills) limiter than a physical one.
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It was definitely one of the hardest efforts I’ve ever done. I had a buddy that in very close in fitness with racing right beside me, which helped keep the motivation up. The finish was full on collapse and lie down for ten minutes!

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