VO2max Struggles

This is my opinion. VO2max workouts are going to be very difficult. Whether you’re doing 5-minute, 2-minute or 30/15 style intervals you’re going to be put in the box. There’s just no way around that.

What’s worked best for me:

  1. 2 workouts per week
  2. At least 2-3 full days between workouts (Example: Mondays & Thursdays or even Fridays)
  3. Sticking to endurances rides the other days of the week (Do Not Do Sweet Spot or Threshold during your VO2max block)…I don’t mind working in a Sweet Spot session once every 10 days though. For variety.
  4. Maximizing recovery protocols
  5. Experimenting with intensity and start conservative if doing longer than 2-min intervals (Goal: 115% of FTP, goal to make your last or last two intervals the best quality)
  6. If doing short intervals (30sec or 40sec) just go full gas, don’t worry about percentages of FTP

Another idea would be to do ONE dedicated VO2max workout per week and thend have your second workout be more terrain-dependent. Maybe go for some 2-5 minute Strava segments or hammer every climb. Make it more like a race-scenario and less about the following of a particular workout structure. Freestyle!

Stick with it, if you’ve ever done a good block of VO2max work and stuck through it, you know how much faster it can make you. The payoff will be worth it. It was for me last season and I’m in the middle of one right now. The workouts are dreadful, but stick it out.

Thanks all. Determined to improve, and right now that’s all I think I can handle.

The rest seems to be more important psychologically than physiologically to me. I can go through them in less time, but the urge to quit overwhelms me.

My experience with vo2 max blocks:

  1. 3 workouts day by day. Every workout around 20 minutes of total work, but decreasing interval time (4x5,5x4,6x3.5,7x3). Two weeks of work, could not handle third week mentally.
  2. Rest of the week VERY easy, Z2 work on lower side. If you want to rest - rest. Forget about volume or TSS during the block.
  3. Third workout during the week is horrible mentally. Your mind does not want to suffer anymore, power is lower, you want to cut intervals time.
  4. After the block - a lot of rest, only active recovery and easy days as long as you need.
  5. My first block was horrible, legs blown up. Second was a lot better due changes in my training and incorporating a lot more z2 rides.
  6. Every time the gains were amazing - aftet the block and rest I felt as a new born cyclist. I feel like every breath on the bike is huge amout of air :slight_smile: FTP is always going up, 5 min power also.
  7. Your hormones will go haywire. I was cranky all the time. Try to be nice to the people around you or inform them what is the cause.
  8. For me it is the hardest thing I do on the bike. A lot of mentally fortitude is needed. Do not do when you have some additional stress in life or a lot of responsibilities.
  9. Go hard and rip the intervals. Do not care about power. If you are gasping of air and feel like waterboarding - it is working.
  10. I recently tried intermittent intervals to improve my anaerobic capacity. They are way easier mentally but honestly I do not like them - they are looped coitus interruptus. They work for many.

That would kill me!

Like I said, the intervals, even at 120% average power, weren’t an issue.

It’s just that the fatigue hole hit me hard after two weeks.

Next time I’ll start slower with the progression, and put 72 hours between interval workouts. Now that I’ve got two weeks under my belt, the second block will probably be easier.

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I didn’t realize my question would spark so much interest! I am happy to know I am not alone though and glad for all the information and ideas people have been feeding us.

I took a rest after the last VO2 block and then hit it again. I thought I’d try a new strategy - micro sets.

I started off with a set of one interval (1x5min). Power is coming in on average around 122-125% of FTP. I rode endurance for 4 days and then did another single interval. I waited another 3 days and then did another.

I like this strategy. Riding at 125% and a high percentage of HRmax feels rather easy now. I don’t mean easy as in I’m holding back but just that there is not mental block into settling in at that pace/power. I can just do it.

After another 3-4 days I did 2x5 minutes. That felt good and not any more fatiguing than 1x5.

3-4 days later I did 2x5 and 1x3. I was just feeling tired at the last interval and threw in the towel.

On that last set I broke 90 day 3-4 minute power PRs and got a bump in mFTP and a bigger bump in eFTP on icu.

My PDC now has a bump in it at 3-5 minutes. WKO wants me to test at 30 seconds, 9 minutes, and 45 minutes. I might make my next workout a WKO seeding test. I also need to do another proper FTP test which can cover WKOs 45 minute duration.

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Hi all, I had a VO2 max query. I’ve seen lots of various threads after a search but thought this was the most appropriate thread? Maybe :wink:

Anyhow, pretty straightforward question and you guys I’m sure will know the right answers.

My typical spin speed is 90RPM, as soon as I go VO2 I always ramp that to around 100. I have no knowledge of if this is correct or not. The feelings I get are that I haven’t got the strength/power to complete them at my regular cadence of 90 so feel I have to go upto 100. It feels as thought I’ve got to get over the top of the gear if that makes sense.

Am I cheating the system doing this and losing the benefits of this type of workout? Is it the right thing to do or should I try and ‘grind’ it at my usual 90?

Not cheating anything. I’m the same, when I put out more power I spin faster, it’s natural especially if you’re doing you work on flat ground (which I am). This is speed work and has tons of benefits. People who do VO2 work on climbs will probably spin a lower cadence.

Just do what feels right.

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Since power is the product of torque and rpm it makes a lot of sense to increase the cadence to produce more power. I agree with @anthonylane that you should do what feels natural.

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Cadence doesn’t mean anything really (as other said just do what feels right for you).

Vo2max is the max oxygen you take in measured in Milliliters of oxygen per min per kg of body weight.

This training is aiming to get your body to take in a larger ml of o2 - so you can’t ‘cheat’ it spinning faster or slower as long as your output is enough to stimulate the lungs.

It might be the case that you can generate a higher wattage (output of your legs) at vo2max (breathing) with different cadences (and this will be subjective). Similar to what others said, you don’t have to be spot on to some wattage, but it’s shown to be the case that riding 105-120% ftp has an effect on raising vo2max.

In my experience, I tend to spin 80 cadence for endurance and go up to ~85-90 when I’m doing vo2 work.

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You are not cheating, but from my personal observations, while doing vo2 max higher cadence spare some muscles so you can do more work. I can put more power with lower cadences - my 5 min power test is usually 90 rpm but I do my vo2 max at 100-105 rpm, my power falls little lower but I can do more work and still waterboarding myself with vo2 max breathing. There is also a case of diastolic filling. So do what you are doing, as long as you gasp for air during vo2 max.

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I’ll add one thing. Folks like Kolie Moore and Jem Arnold (Spare Cycles) talk about starting a VO2max interval with a fast spin up (and high power) for the first x-seconds (I do 20-30) in order to alter the metabolic response and get to VO2max QUICKER. Article: Comparing Metabolic Response to Hard-Start VO2max Intervals – Spare Cycles

In order to do this, you MUST spin fast. Here are two intervals, one with a more steady-state approach (not spinning fast at the start) and one where I deliberately hammer at the start.

Steady State (cadence starts at 110 RPM and then evens out to around 100 RPM for the duration)

Hard Start (cadence goes all the way up to 125 and then evens out to around 100-105 RPM)

Look at how much faster my HR responds to the bottom graph, in the top where I start the interval at a comfortable and sustainable cadence it takes my HR longer to get very high.

Not saying one is better. Just a different execution of the same type (VO2max or Max Aerobic Power) interval.


Ugh, half my sessions for the next month are VO2max. Yay. :nauseated_face: