VO2max power = 120 % FTP seems to not work, how to test VO2max power?

I have finished Taylor -2 this morning, which consists of 3 sets of 14 30-30s, (30 seconds at 120 % FTP, 30 seconds at 40 % FTP). I really enjoy these kind of workouts, but I found the difficulty level way too easy. My average power per interval increased (I have a dumb wheel-off trainer), and in the end I was able to easily do 125 %. For the last interval I did 140+% just for fun. And I still felt like I could easily do one more set (I was strapped for time, so I didn’t).

I have recently tested my FTP and because I have tried longer, steady-state workouts, I think it is pretty accurate. (I tested at 299 W, but I had a bad day and so I added 6 W to give me 305 W.) So I don’t think I have underestimated by FTP by that much.

Is there a way to test VO2max power so that I can scale VO2max workouts from the rule-of-thumb 120 % to the power level that really corresponds to my VO2max power level? And does that percentage shift significantly over time?

Do take note of the -2 next to that workout and note that there are other similar 30 second interval workouts like Gendarme that go up to 135% intervals, 20 repeats, and reduce the rest to 20 seconds. Not every workout is supposed to be hard to finish, it could be part of plan to build stress. (To take this to the extreme you wouldn’t say that a recovery/endurance ride like Collins is too easy to finish, right?)

Have you done other style VO2 max workouts and felt that they were also easy? I’ve found 30 second interval work like Taylor easy, but had a much harder time getting through longer intervals at VO2 like Kaiser or Red Lake. There will always be some workouts that you personally are better adapted to, it doesn’t mean that you need to change all the other parameters.


Oh yeah, I should have that: VO2max work has always come very easy to me, I don’t find it very mentally taxing, quite the contrary. Also in races and during practice sessions I have noticed I can go beyond threshold for quite a stretch of time.

To quantify this: last year, my best 5-minute effort was at 131 % of my then-FTP (404 W vs. 308 W). This year I have only seriously ridden indoors, so I don’t have good power numbers to compare that to. AFAIK 5-minute power strongly correlates with VO2max. Would it be wise to aim for 130 % in my VO2max workouts?

This morning I was contemplating whether to choose a harder version of Taylor, but they were all longer. I have a wife, a kid and a job, so I didn’t have an extra 15 or 30 minutes this morning. Perhaps next time I do as you suggested and just find a similar, different workout that is just harder.

How do 30 s intervals qualify as VO2max work? It seems like your heart rate, breathing, etc., would still be rising at the end of the interval, no?

I read Coogan’s article as ruling out 5 minute power as a good estimate of VO2max?

A VO2 Max test in a lab?

Taylor is of a style of workout intended to keep you at high levels of oxygen uptake for periods far longer than you could sustain at a constant workload. Figuring out what power target works for you for a given work:recovery ratio takes some trial and error; I doubt very much it would correlate with any one measure of “VO2max power”.

Give it a try by messing around with the workout intensity for Brasted (30/15s at 120%); or the Clouds Rest variations (30/30s, 30/20s, and 30/15s, all at 130%). I am sure with a bit of experimenting you’ll find something that works.

Cogan’s criticism on e. g. the variability on duration is valid. That’s why I wrote correlate rather than equals to.

But I think my question is slightly different: I am concerned with properly scaling VO2max workouts on TrainerRoad, i. e. workouts where I spend my time at 115-140 % of my FTP (typically 120 % by default). Reading Cogan’s article, it seems 5-minute power is a sensible indicator for a lower bound of my “true” VO2max power, though. Do you agree? If not, do you have a better idea? :slight_smile:

Yes, it is work at VO2max power (120 % of your FTP by TrainerRoad’s defaults), which is why I think it makes sense to talk of Taylor as being a VO2max (power level) workout.

That’s not a realistic option, unfortunately. Although the scientist in me would love to do that one day!

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There is no single “Power at VO2max” however you can go out and do a max 5-min effort and use the power from that (power-VO2max-5min) along with FTP to determine setting. For example if you did 300W on 5-min max test, and 250W on long FTP test, then your fractional utilization is 83% (250/300) and you are basically in the middle of the bell curve. So TR’s vo2 workouts at 120% (300/250) should be scaled properly.

Did you just start SSB2? The current VO2 progression was put into place last winter because the previous progression had too high a failure rate. If VO2 is a strength for you, then you might try the original progression:

Huffaker → Mills → Spencer → Kaiser

Spencer and Kaiser look truly awful to me. But might work great for you!

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This has been discussed before, but Taylor -2 is more of an introduction to vo2 work. This workout might be challenging for some folks who have an underdeveloped vo2, and quite easy for people on the other end of the spectrum. I’d consider myself fairly balanced and not particularly strong in the vo2 area, but found Taylor -2 quite easy. Once I got to the last week, Spencer +2, I was wishing for Taylor! The plan is designed to bring you up each week progressively, so don’t worry too much if it’s too easy right now. I also just hit each interval a bit harder when it wasn’t challenging me enough.


I gave my power numbers in a follow-up post, last year’s 5-minute power PR was at 131 % of my then-FTP (404 W vs. 308 W). So I know I am probably an outlier.

Yes, I have started SSB2, but this is my second time. I guess I was on the old plan back then. I’ll modify my plan to use the old workouts instead.

Indeed, I have fond memories of Mills, I was cursing Coach Chad whenever the power decreased and I had to match it. I don’t know why, but psychologically, I felt it would have been easier to just hold the 120 % rather than mellow out. :man_shrugging:

Check out Dade -1 instead of Mills

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Kaiser was my first true fail. I’ve dropped out of a couple of SS workouts near the end, but usually regretted it 10 minutes after quitting. I failed Kaiser so hard and so early that I convinced myself to take 2 days off in a row. I failed it so hard that I felt mildly brain impaired for the rest of the day. I can’t wait to do it again.


Well, horses for courses. Sleep really does wonders, especially for my mental fortitude. Last weekend, I bailed out early on a steady-state effort, which I am usually fine with. But I had binge watched half of Season 2 of Altered Carbon the night before … :sweat_smile:

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I think of Taylor and Bluebell in ssb2 as recovery workouts. It’s nice being able to just pedal through a workout once in a while.

But with regards to your original question. I don’t think vo2max is a fixed % of ftp, even individually. I think that is because the power curve at the short power end (sprint etc) can differ in gradient quite a bit (so it’s not the same % of ftp at ie 10s and 60s). The underlying reason is probably the contribution of the anaerobic energy system.

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We definitely need a VO2max Mega-Thread.


Beginning to think that I’m really on my own here. I love VO2 work but hate Taylor. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s mental, whatever, I really struggle with it.

Like me, you are probably a “pursuiter” phenotype. A high 1-minute power. Do the 30" intervals at 90% of youre 5 minute power. Even better do a 90 seconds hard start were you reach 90% of HRmax and continue the burst. Try to get as much time above 90% HRMax.
You can also do Jacks+1 were you limit the rest to 2 minutes.

You probably don’t like them then that much…