VO2max testing and training - how hard should it be?

Answer: hard.

Looking back at a session I once did for a laboratory study.

Incremental exercise test: after 2 minutes at 300, 350, 375, and 400 W, lasted 30 seconds at 425 W with a VO2max of 5.35 L/min, hitting a max HR of 174 BPM.

Follow-up supramaximal effort #1: rode for 2 minutes at 400 W and then 45 seconds at 425 W, hitting a VO2 of 5.32 L/min and a max HR of 173 BPM.

Follow-up supramaximal effort #2: rode for 2 minutes at 400 W, hitting a VO2 of 5.35 L/min and a max HR of 171 BPM.

Follow-up supramaximal effort #3: rode for 3 minutes at 375 W followed by another minute at 400 W, hitting a VO2 of 5.34 L/min and a max HR of 174 BPM.

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nice numbers!

I think hitting max power wo are always the hardest of the workouts and should feel that way

A lot of people like the 20 minutes because in theory is easier to maintain the 20 min power over the increasing pain of a ramp test (I find it harder).

I know i hate/love the ramp… I always feel like I will die the last minute of the test… but usually have the mental strength to continue.

The college I graduated from here locally has a sports physio department and they do a host of testing in this area. Would it be worth to get tested in a couple of areas (relating to VO2 and Lactate Thresholds) to have “real” numbers?

The next question is; When do you get tested? The numbers will change based on your training correct? So do you get tested at your peak or towards the end of the season?

It might be interesting to see the numbers and experience the process but it is pricey.

Wonder if I could convince my insurance to pay for it?

Aside from bragging rights, I don’t think there’s much value in knowing your VO2max. I mostly took part in the study for other reasons. The bragging rights were part of it, though - that’s why I did the supramaximal efforts (I kept trying to break the lab record).

That’s kind of what I was thinking that it might be “interesting” but not as practical as I’d hope. Plus as a 50 year old fatass who rides mostly solo (but will do some races) I think I’ll just stick to simple stuff like consistency and gradually upping my volume to “get faster”.

Most of our early season races have been moved to the fall and in their place will be TT’s. Which I’ve never done, and frankly sound boring. But my goal this year was to beat my time up a HC Segment in this area I guess I’m already focusing on longer sustained efforts so the TT’s might be something to work at.

I seem to see a decent amount of all around fitness from doing VO2 workouts though but I’ve really neglected them thus far. I may try to sprinkle them in a bit more as we get closer to outside riding.

I like 4 x ~4’ full gas for a vo2 session. Max HR is 200bpm.

Example session from May last year, all outside, in TT position up a slight incline. Follow Sam on Strava to see this activity. Join for free.

Rep 1 - 380w / 182bpm avg / 191bpm max
Rep 2 - 381/185/195
Rep 3 - 381/187/198
Rep 4 - 376/187/198

Brutal session but really helped push the top end up

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Wow, impressive! Do you know what your LTHR is? It looks like we have about the same MaxHR and my LTHR is 181 (I did that for 60 minutes during the State Champs RR-and did 180 for 90 mins…never thought my LTHR was that high). So now that I know what my LTHR is I can see that I’ve never held that level or been above it for any length of time to get any gainz from VO2 max work.

181bpm from a Joe Friel 30 min max effort test, but also confirmed through 25 mile TT.

I’m definitely not an oracle on the matter, but I do think vo2 max work should feel bloody hard

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For full bragging rights, your body weight is missing I think :wink:

I raced at 66-67 kilos.

Hard is good!

My all-time best is 392 from 4-years ago, got within 18W a month ago. Would love to break thru the 400W barrier this year.

My all-time best is 348W from June 2020: What workout did you do today? (2020, part 1) - #4625 by bbarrera

This has been a really hard duration for me to pace without blowing up!

Lately I’ve been working on controlling power on 1-2 minute efforts, last night had some not-so-nice oscillations on 1-min jobbers. Getting those nice and flat is a work in progress. Sigh.

Thanks for sharing, its always nice to have a carrot or two like this even if mine won’t be follow-ups to an incremental test!

Yeah, I only took a few minutes of easy pedaling in between. Power for one-of efforts of similar durations would have been quite a bit higher (but no power meter on track bike).

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Thank you for not having a power meter on the track bike :+1: I’ve seen the much stronger short PDC of local 20 somethings, but hey they are my kids age and at least I can keep up for the first 10-15 seconds of a sprint :joy:

I don’t get the point of this thread - “a VO2max test is hard”? Surprise surprise! Or is there any information contained in the numbers that I’m missing?

For seeing 400w figures I just have to look at any random training of my boyfriend.


OBNDY started this thread based on a few others where we’ve talk about VO2 (with hundreds of replies and lengthy discussions) intervals and what they should “feel” like.

It’s a flesh out on a sub topic within other topics. Maybe hard to follow if you’re not on the forum all the time reading through all the threads, I’m guessing.

I’ve learned a bit, which is nice. My questions would have been lost in those faster moving threads so it’s been helpful interesting to me.

Congrats on having a 400 watt boyfriend too!


or just scan All Rides in some of the workouts, like this 3 sets of 3x3-min one:

No doubt. What’s even funnier is people cranking out 400+w intervals with a 4 L/min VO2.

I’ve read a fair bit of those, but I don’t see in what sense some random numbers of a VO2max test contribute to answering the question of how VO2max training should be done or “feel” like.

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@Anna_K yes a simple picture of a fish out of water would have answered the “how hard should it be” a lot better than a jumble of numbers.

well to be fair he did write 5+ L/min

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Yes he did. My point is that people with 4 L/min VO2 can do 400w intervals.