VO2max Struggles

Out on a lunchtime ride today. There’s a hill about 20 mins from home It’s just over 6 mins long, with 4 mins of that being the steeper bit. So it’s perfect for an all out effort after a suitable warm up from home. Sometime use it for hill repeats but just part of a longer circuit today.

Motivation for VO2 max work can be a funny thing on a trainer. Outdoors you can find a suitable hill and just go for it, hanging on till you crest it.

Hit 94% max HR on that hill today and got over 90% max HR on four separate hills.

A good workout and done outdoors, which is my preference if I have time.

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Yeah, I do a lot better with it outdoors, but my breaks do tend to be longer afterward.

Embarrassing, given how it’s barely into VO2max territory… and I still sucked at it, but all the same, a win is a win.


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You’re not showing any of the metrics that would help determine if you’re possibly in the area of VO2max. So it’s hard to evaluate. Was your breathing hard?

Sorry, wasn’t looking for feedback so didn’t think to include anything. Yes, breathing was hard, during intervals averaged ~87% max HR and peaked at ~92% max HR.

Couldn’t have done much more today, at least not for 3 minute intervals.

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Sounds like you probably were close to VO2 max or at least completed a workout that was worth your time. Not sure what being so harsh on yourself is going to accomplish. Keep at it.


So what is the least fatiguing type of VO2max workout/interval?

I ask because I just completed a 2 week VO2max block. It was supposed to be longer but after 2 weeks I was cooked.

I did ok. The first session I was just figuring it out and got maybe 9 minutes of work in - 3x3, The second session I made 2x5 and 1x3 for 13 minutes of work. The next week I did 3x5min twice.

By the end of the 2nd week, I was tired, feeling depressed (often get that when over trained), and ready to quit structured training all together. It also didn’t help that family stress reached an all time high - medical issues with a family member.

I feel good now. Medical issues are behind us. I had some days off on a trip out of town and am ready for a new block of training. I might just go back to Z2/Z3/Z4. I got really good gains out of a SS block the time before.

I’m wondering what strategies to employ for my next VO2 block.

Are there VO2max intervals that take less out of you?

Should I start with a slower progression? 2x3, 2x4, 3x3, etc?

Have more than 48 hours between sessions? I was doing Tues/Thurs. I could do Mon/Thursday or even do a VO2 session once every 4 days.

Or, just do one day per week?

All of the above? :slight_smile:

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My vote - pick your favorite and either focus on increasing power week over week, or time in zone up to something reasonable for you (30 minutes tops).

It would have to be time in zone. Power isn’t my issue for me - I hit 120% average on the intervals without too much trouble. I’d do less power but my HR drops below 90%. 105% would be a piece of cake for 5 minutes as I have good anaerobic power.

BTW, 55 years old so I don’t recover like youngsters.

I was targeting VO2max because WKO5 tells me that my FTP is 86% of my VO2max. It seems like I need to “raise the ceiling” now. Am I on the right track with that analysis?

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I basically tried out different VO2max workout formats over a period of time and have found what works ‘best’ for me. ‘Best’ is balancing estimated time in VO2max state (measured by proxy with HR and perception of breathing), RPE (how uncomfortable it feels), total interval ‘work’ time and recovery time.

I also plan to try out some variable paced VO2max intervals at some point as well as Bossi intervals (threshold w/ bursts) to see if either of those works ‘better’ for me.

Why are you talking about less power? If you can easily do 120% why not 125% or 130%? Why are you doing vo2max at something you can easily do LOL. Maybe I’m missing something but full gas intervals aren’t capped at 120% because 120% isn’t the magic dividing line between vo2max and anaerobic efforts :man_shrugging: so my simplistic way of thinking is either focus on increasing power at vo2max or not.

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These were actually hard start, declining power intervals. The average came in around 120%. I was trying to keep HR above 90%.

I’m just want to find a solution that doesn’t leave me so wrecked after four sessions. Doing the workout was fine. The primary issue was the recovery.

I think that comes with the territory of getting older. I’m 48. I do about one VO2Max workout every 7-10 days. And during the summer, augment that with a lot of short punchy VO2Max mini intervals riding MTB (and some not so mini, but not really structured either).

I’ve never tried a VO2Max block. If I did, I have a feeling it would put me in a hole.

Hard start might not be a good go to, for you. There’s a bunch of different ways to do vo2 work.

Did I read it right that you jumped from 9 mins to 13 mins to 15 mins of vo2 max work? I try to ensure not to increase the work by more than 10% between sessions. So 9 mins would rise to no more than 10 mins then 11 mins etc.

I generally aim for sessions to be no closer than 72 hours. You could look at 3 sessions every fortnight to start. Maybe two sessions one week and one the next.

What workouts are you doing in between the VO2 max sessions? I generally keep the other sessions much longer but lower intensity. I’m also not afraid to bin a VO2 max session if I feel tired or it’s not happening in the first interval. Then try it later that day or the next day if I think I need longer.

I’m 54 coming up 55 so same age group as yourself.

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That’s right. In my mind I was shooting for 3x5 and planning to work up to 5x5. Now I realize that maybe I bit off more than I could chew. It didn’t feel like it at the time though because I did the sessions just fine.

This was my first VO2 block so it was an experiment. I learned something. I set 3, 4, 5 minute PRs in WKO.

All my other workouts were easy endurance or recovery.

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Is there a good way of finding workouts with certain interval lengths / power bands / rest times?

I’m looking for ~2 minutes at 120% - 125% with at least 1:30 between intervals.

Closest I could get was to use the filters on the workout page on the web.

  • Zones > VO2 MAX > Traditional
  • Intensity > Intense
  • Intervals > Short
  • Sort by IF

Got 13 results which seem to be somewhere in line with what you are after - YMMV and its not the easiest way! :slight_smile:

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There is filtering in the workout search feature that will help. I’ve modified a couple of workouts with Workout Creator to get exactly what I’m looking for, for example I stretched out the 120% of Mills +2 but cut some of the intervals to keep time in zone where I wanted it:

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Web app and search for “2-minute”

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