VO2max, dropping a gear or stopping

I’ve been doing x times 4min / 4min VO2max workouts on a climb to improve my power in this zone ( I usally do 5 or 6 reps and today I did 7 ), and I was wondering if you value more power consistency or time spent in zone.

Outside I just use my heart rate monitor ( I don’t have a power meter except for the indoor trainer ) and have no way of knowing if I’m still in the right power zone in the end of the workout.

I go all out on a 34/28 gear ratio. Let’s say I do 6 reps and I won’t have to legs to do one more on this gear ratio, but I could do maybe 2 or 3 more reps if drop to the 32 teeth gear.
Is it a good Idea ?
The fact that I can no longer do the effort on this gear and have to drop to the 32 teeth obviously means that my power in dropping, but even on the 32 teeth gear I would go all out and it would be a VO2max effort.

My question is if it’s worth getting more time in zone, or if dropping down a gear and continue with less power on the cranks would mean that those last reps would be low quality and not worth the extra fatigue they would produce ?

AFAIK, the most important thing in VO2 efforts is time spent at an elevated oxygen consumption, over 90% of max HR. So it’s probably better to focus on that rather than on power and if using an easier gear helps to achieve that, I would go for it.

Also, personally I like to ride at high cadence during VO2 intervals even on climbs, which also helps to keep an higher HR.

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4 weeks from now which of these statements would you like to be saying:

  • every week I improved 4-min average power on my vo2 workouts for a 10% improvement
  • every week I improved the number of minutes with HR above 90% HRmax for a 10% improvement

I submit you are training power at 4-minutes. So focus on full gas efforts and measure power and push it higher. These efforts are designed to deliver quick improvements to your cardiovascular fitness however your goal is higher power.

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