VO2 progression @ 106%?

What’s the preferred progressions for VO2 intervals done at 106%? I’ve had a very brief look at the polarised plans and they seem to go 4x4 @106, 4x8 @106 and 4x16 @106.

The increase in length of those intervals look like big jumps. Is that the standard progression? Or would something like 4x4, 4x6 and 4x8 make more sense when starting out?

The progression seems reasonable to me since that is just barely in the Vo2Max range. I’m guessing they are progressing week by week, but if the jumps are too far maybe try subbing in the proposed workout with a smaller jump?

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My very basic understanding of the TR Polarised Plans is that the hard days are just that, hard. The easy days are easy.

If you’re doing VO2 or Suprathreashold work alongside sustained Sweetspot and standard threshold workouts, I’d hazard a guess and say that the Polarised progressions will be a step too far. I certainly wouldn’t be attempting them.

Those progressions are just wrong IMHO. TR repeatedly said they use 4, 8 & 16min intervals as these were used in a study by Seiler, to try and determine which was the most effect interval. The trouble with that is that were all doen at different intensities - only the 4x8s were done at about the 105% ish intensity, but even then the sessions were all done without power targets so its all a little pointless.

If you want to do a progression @105% then I’d suggest a few things:

  1. experiment a little to find out your start point - 4x8 is probably a good start but some people will only manage 4x6 or 4x7 etc

  2. once you have completed that session 2 or 3 times successfully then simply add a little time, eg 4x8 — 4x9 or try adding another interval. First time I decided to progress I added an extra 4m interval at the end, so did 4x8+1x4m. (Its important to do these sessions a few times to get practised at the interval and get used to pacing etc. There is no need to progress your interval every time at this intensity)

  3. Gradually add TiZ via longer or additional intervals as you progress.

Performance over FTP intensities is a very individual thing and I suggest you experiemtnt to find a good start point and work out which progression gives you sustainable results. Then you’ll need to work out when its time to stop and move on to other work.


Thank @Bigpikle :+1: , that sounds like a much more achievable approach!

My sweet spot progressions have been adding around 5 min per interval (12 → 15 → 20), so doubling the time at a level over threshold seems … ah … tough …

I agree - especially in such short times. The progressions they created are crazy in some of those plans and either mean you are waaaaaay UNDERshooting in some or OVERshooting in others.

For me, these intervals around 105% are all about getting max TiZ >90% max HR. So I do them without a % power target and did a couple of sessions to set a baseline that allowed me to achieve a max effort at 4x8m without more than a 1-1.5% drop in power across the 4 intervals. If you’ve done a bit of this work already then you’ll probably have a fairly good idea of what this target is, but it may be 103% or it may be 108%? THEN, just do these for a couple of weeks and when you feel the time is right then start to progress. These are HARD sessions and if you do much else during the week that isnt pretty easy then you might find fatigue makes it hard to progress much and maybe even your power numbers fall occasionally. I am more concerned with max time >90% max HR and these sessions can reliably give me 28mins+ and once I added the 5th shorter interval that hit 30 mins. Thats enough progression for me for a while and took me to the end of a 6 week solid block of these and a time to change it up.

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105% = 20 minute power normally right? So you should be able to do 4x8 intervals at this intensity. And yes, it will be hard, but thats the idea of this workouts :slight_smile: make hard days hard.


not for everyone…but yes, hard days HARD and hence my point about considering the other stress and fatigue you build between these sessions.

I had good results with 2 of these a week and another 3-4 sessions each week of low z2 for 8-10hrs. Worked well.

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That’s great info, thanks :slight_smile:

I was looking to combine these with my continued sweet spot progression. I’ve been working on sweet spot progression and generally combine it with either threshold over/unders or some VO2 max work. So only two intense sessions per week and then two endurance rides of varying length depending on how tired I’m feeling.

Based on what you’ve said, sounds like I’ll have to monitor fatigue closely :+1:

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Yep - I found when I overdid it slightly that I just couldnt go hard enough on the intervals to get the HR >90% for any meaningful time - essentially just became a short (and useless) threshold session.

Thats basically the entire point of a polarised approach and something many seem to miss/forget/ignore…you MUST go very easy most of the time in order to be able to do the interval days hard enough to get the benefits!

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Am going to admit to not listening to the Podcast much anymore nor following every forum thread. That excuse put aside, has there been discussion of why TR settled on 2 min VO2 efforts for the polarized plans?

No need to rehash, but if discussed, a pointer to the discussion would be great as am curious what the thinking was there.


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2-min vo2 efforts also appeared in Build plans, for example a few sprinkled into Short Build and General Build. I’m also interested if this was discussed on the podcast.

And regarding accumulating time at 90+ HRmax… the goal is actually accumulating time at 90% VO2max. My lactate threshold HR is 91% HRmax. Doing 90-92% HRmax is something I can do on a long 50-70 minute threshold interval, without feeling like I’m a fish out of water gasping for air.

Looking at the plans, which are really blocks and not plans IMO, they are structured as harder and shorter intervals on Tuesdays (VO2 nomenclature but probably not really VO2 - different topic) and longer threshold work at 100%, 102% culminating at 104% on Friday (HV) or Saturday (MV). I’m not seeing 4x16 min at 106% workouts in the polarized plans but may have missed it.

Putting aside for the moment if these are good “polarized” blocks to incorporate into a longer training program, I don’t see any workout or progression that is obviously over the top. The 4 x 16 at 104% with 7 min recoveries is a definite challenge. But as the final hard workout of the block, that is OK.

TL;DR For riders looking for productive plans with two hard days a week, the 6 and 8 week MV Polarized plans are not too bad to my eye.

A longer discussion:

If we start talking about polarized season planning and progressions, I think there is a lot more that TR could do here. I think the Polarized MV structure, with hard Tuesday and hard Saturday is a good start.

Where I would diverge is:

Step 1 – Perform a separate VO2 block (3-4 weeks) with multiple VO2 workouts per week using the principles EC has put forward. Follow that with recovery (2 weeks). This assumes some level of fitness of course. Starting cold into this type of programming is a bad idea.

Step 2 - Would be multiple 6-8 week blocks with the Tues/Sat structure but focused on threshold and extension of TTE. More LT1 work and specific SST/ FTP work on the hard days. As opposed to one not really VO2 and one pretty hard threshold or super threshold day. I would keep doing that sort of programming until I stopped improving. LT1 and FTP work is great stuff when incorporating TTE extension principles.

Step 3 - A race specific block if a rider is focused on a big A event. For someone looking at building long term fitness, perhaps something “fun” like a short duration power block or even a break from structured training doing the kinds of rides you enjoy for a couple months.

Step 4 for the A-event is a taper and race.

Repeat the macro-cycle as you like if it’s working.

Would love for TR to build some longer plans like that. Problem is this approach doesn’t fit well into the canned plan approach and it it is better for non-time crunched riders who also don’t need gamification to stay motivated. Which is not to say one approach is better than another. Just different.


4x16min 106% vo2 is very challenging. Seems odd the have the same intensity (106%) for all interval lengths (4, 8, 16). If you can do 4x16 at the end of the profession, the 4x4 would have been very easy when you did it. I don’t think fitness could be gained that rapidly for these to be workouts of relatively similar difficulty.

I don’t think they got it wrong or anything like that, but I prefer a higher % ftp with shorts durations and adjust the intensity downwards as I stretch it

Ok, maybe it is a stupid question but where does 4x16@106% come from (except TR plans)?

When analyzing Seiler paper avg power during 4x16 was merely 97% of 4mmol/l or 95% of 40 min power… so basically SST work? Given avg 86% of max HR during work periods - this is exactly higher SST work. And suddenly we are discussing 4x16@106% that is like doing 4 times 20 min test that should be an all-out test.

I am not sure where 4x16 at 106% comes from besides OPs initial post. I have done this before with one rep being within each hour of a 4 hr ride (up a climb). I have never (and would not) attempt 4x16 at this intensity with 7min rest (or whatever others have mentioned make up this actual workout). Sounds like a recipe for failure for myself. Don’t really see the point of any TR users training for this either (this is a workout for an outlier / highly developed time trailing type rider)

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Ahs ok, TR plans have 4x16@104% (so basically the same idea and effect) as maximal progression.

It is LVL 8.9 of threshold that only shows how strange are levels for threshold progression :slight_smile:

I’m not seeing that in the off-the-shelf plans. Maybe yours have been adapted?

Polarized Base High Volume (6 weeks), intervals 4-min or longer:

  • week1: 4x8-min at 102% FTP (essentially 32-min at threshold)
  • week2: 4x4-min at 106% and 2x16-min at 100% (essentially 32-min at threshold)
  • week3: 3x16-min at 100% (essentially 48-min at threshold)
  • week4: 4x16-min at 102% (essentially 64-min at threshold)
  • week5: 4x16-min at 104% (essentially 64-min at threshold)

Weeks 3-5 also include shorter 2-min intervals starting at 6x repeats (2-min on, 4-min rest), then 9x, then 12x.

Looking at that I see a progression of time-in-zone at threshold (ignoring the 4x4-min @ 106% barely vo2 level workout). If you assume increasing FTP, then one might claim they are all roughly at FTP. Looking at it another way, the percentages are within the range of error of power meters. And then there are minor daily variation in threshold power. Not to mention what happens if there is increasing fitness over the weeks. For all those reasons I’d be inclined to look at progression of time-in-zone and not power.

The long Intervals in Polarized Build (8 weeks) look almost the same.

The shorter low-/mid- volume plans have 4x4-min at higher % FTP.

The classic 2013 study (Seiler, Joranson, Olesen, Hetlelid) had this intervention:

At the end of the screenshot you can see the intervals were done at max sustainable intensity (isoeffort) effort. In other words for each workout “go as hard as you can at roughly the same power for all intervals” and not some specific % FTP.

The subjects were 25-49 years old with an average VO2max of 52. FWIW and it shouldn’t be treated as a prescription, the study used an interesting method for reporting interval HR. It was NOT the average HR for the entire intervals, but rather take each interval and divide into 4 segments, throw out the first (3 segments) 75% of the interval HR data, and only use the last 25% of each interval’s HR data to compute the reported HR.

Count me among the folks on the forum that have been left wondering about workout selection of the off-the-shelf experimental plans. Personally I’d rather go out and do max sustainable isoefforts, whatever % FTP that might be, than use a fixed % (adaptive training or not).


I always forget about the baked in increases for FTP.

Maybe a lot of the Supra-Threshold workouts are designed with continuous improvement (between tests) in mind. I just found it was kicking my butt attempting to ride over FTP.

Thanks, that is super useful. Especially the “max sustainable effort” part (as opposed to % ftp)!