Vo2 progression: my experience so far

Just sharing my ongoing experience with doing a version of @chad vo2 block. I’m on week 3 of what will be a 5 week “plan”. Week one I did Bluebell (18x1min @ 120%) for Tues and Thurs, week 2 I did a custom workout with 12x1.5min at 120%, and this week I did Dade -1 (9x2min @ 120%), next week will go to 2.5mins and then finally 3min. On the weekend I’ve done some over-under work and sweet spot.

Even this week’s 2min intervals were quite doable (not to say easy, but there were no signs of quitting even at the last interval), but there are a lot of variables at play in my situation. I’ve been doing these based on 275w FTP, which I lowered from 295w after a week’s vacation in February.

I might have recovered some of the lost watts, but based on some endurance workouts I don’t think I’m back to where I was (the aerobic efficiency isn’t where it was prior to vacation), so I don’t think I’m underestimating my target here. At this point I’m more interested in completing this at the current level and “successfully” completing the workouts. But it’s hard for me to make any conclusions to attribute too much to any one factor when it’s likely I’m both benefiting from this progression and just naturally getting back to where I was training previously.

Hope to report back in a couple of week’s time with a final assessment!


Good stuff. Have you listened to the latest podcast 252 yet? Excellent deep-dive into VO2.

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Yeah I’ve had it on today, will have to go back and give it another viewing since my attention was divided. I realize there are a ton of other types of “vo2” workouts I could do, between the longer intervals at the lower end of the vo2 zone or the 30/30 type workouts, but I’ve always just wanted to nail those 3min/120% (or whatever my percentage actually is lol) intervals, so it’s more of a goal of conquering a nemesis as opposed to trying to achieve some specific training goal at the moment!

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Update after doing Hurd-2 today (8x2.5min at 120%). I really only felt close to cracking at the final interval, so I may not be doing these at the hardest possible level but it’s tough and doable so I’m good with it, and I can adjust subthreshold workouts to be a bit higher intensity since I may have finally started recovering lost vacation watts. Another go of this on Thurs, hopefully it’s as good as today


Any intervals that go longer than 1.5 minutes are incredibly tough. You really need to build up your aerobic engine to be able to handle those.

The 2.5 min ones ? I have nothing to give but my deepest admiration.

Well done indeed!


Another update, did Hurd -1 today (6x3min @ 120%), totally nailed it. So likely definitely underestimating FTP at this point, although the hurt gets real toward the final min after about 18 total mins at 120%. I did get interrupted during one so didn’t totally get it but it was 3rd of 6 so I still got the most quality out of this one. I think I’ll do Kaiser on Thursday (intervals more condensed than Hurd -1). I’m happy with this progression as it’s helped me get some lost mojo back.


Just a reminder, FTP and % for vo2max work are highly individual and you shouldn’t make decisions on FTP based on vo2 work. Instead you want to use threshold intervals to make decisions on FTP.


True. Historically my ability to pull of the 120% intervals has lagged behind my ability to do subthreshold stuff so that’s why I suggest that. I’ve actually been doing endurance and sweet spot based on 285w ftp and these vo2 workouts were on 275 so I’ve kind of been mixing stuff up lately, and reality I may have actually done these at 116%. At this point confidence is more important than getting the intensity exact, considering any racing I do won’t be till CX season

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To avoid confusing myself, I have an FTP and then only make adjustments (if necessary) to the % for vo2max and above. It helps to add notes to the workout, as I can hit 120% on one-minute intervals but may adjust down to 112% (TR app intensity = 93%) when starting out with three-minute intervals.

For example:

is how I remember what to use the next time I do 2+ minute intervals.


20 watts in a week? Am I off base in thinking (hoping) FTP doesn’t fade away quite so quickly?

Nice job on the VO2 Max work. I have my eye on 100% completion of Spencer +2.


@ibaldwin he is using a separate and lower FTP for vo2 workouts:

The preferred way is to have a single FTP and simply keep track of intensity if you are less anaerobic (adjust % intensity down) or more anaerobic (adjust % higher) versus the average user (leave at 100%).

One problem with using two FTPs is that metrics (TSS, IF, etc) for vo2 work are wrong.

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I’m confused? I thought that VO2max intervals were at least 3 minutes long? What’s with the 2.5 my minute intervals?

It’s how ever long your body says it is. :+1:

20w seems like a huge chunk to take off. For a week I wouldn’t even touch it. Most likely you’d need a couple of workouts to get the legs moving again then carry on as normal.

Any rationale behind this?

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At FTP you can nominally hold that power for an hour (more or less). That time reduces as you rise above FTP until at 120% of FTP the maximum most can hold the power for is 3 minutes. The reduction isn’t linear - 20 minutes is roughly the time at 105% FTP and 8 minutes is at 110%FTP for example. Listen to episode 252 of the podcast, there’s a long in-depth discussion of VO2max.

I see. I read it as an actual 20 w decrease. thanks!

the 20w decrease was what I adjusted myself after a week vacation in late Feb. Even after a couple of weeks back and riding my efforts (and HR/pwr combination) aligned much more with 275w than they did with my previously set 295w and I decided not to force things and just train based on 275w, even if I would soon recover any losses. I’m just now really starting to feel “normal” again as far as riding and feel like I’m at 285 at the moment

Why would you not just do a ramp test if you believe your ftp changed 20 watts? If you think the change was 20watts, that certainly should mean for you that 30 or 40 watts change was possible. Or 3 watts.

Not to be too critical, but I think you just dont know what your ftp is right now.

trust me, I have enough experience training to know where I should be at! lol

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Right-o, but that doesn’t explain labeling 2:30 intervals as VO2max bouts, no matter how high the intensity. Basically that’s bailing just when things get “interesting”.

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