What would a custom VO2 max progression look like?

I’m curious about exactly what these blocks looked like, both focused vo2s and vo2/ftp blocks. I have an idea of what went wrong but I’d like to see it for myself. Based on the context here, it looks like you’re doing too many efforts or you’re not recovering very well for one reason or another. All are solvable. If you’re not seeing progress between most workouts then you need to adjust your training structure until your performance says that you’re sufficiently recovering before the next workout.

@empiricalcycling is there any benefit of doing 2 weeks of vo2max before a 10 days complete off the bike (holiday). I never do vo2max workouts. My intensity is found mostly in a zwift race but that is more tempo with surges I am afraid. And to raise my FTP I think I would benefit some vo2max work. So my idea was a vo2max progression 2 weeks (5-6 workouts) with easy Z2. But will the 10 days off immediately vanish the (eventual) gains of a 2 week vo2 block?

Is this an okay VO2 max session?

I’ve only ever done TrainerRoad’s “VO2 max” workouts, so took a crack at doing some “fish out of water” breathing intervals not in ERG mode for the first time.

  • 10m Z1-Z2 (109-186w)

5x VO2Max:

  • 4m 90-100% MMP (280-312w)
  • 5m 40-55% (99-136w)
  • 35m Z2 (138-186w)

My HR only got just above my Garmin estimated LTHR of 177 bpm in the intervals. This training is at 5am though so maybe that has an affect on HR.

Go harder at the start. At least, say, 20 seconds at > 120rpm and then try to hang on to that power. You won’t be able to, but that is 100% OK. That should get your HR and breathing up to where you want them.

You may want to start with 3 minute intervals, though while you’re dialling it all in.

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Perfect, thanks. I’m assuming it’s fine to sandwich it between Z2 work if I have the time to ride more?

Adding Z2 is always OK :+1:

Yes, this is one of my favorite part of any workouts – after air gasping intervals it is absolute calmness and feeling that I can go forever :stuck_out_tongue:

Recently took it even one step further, mixing VO2max/4x3 + SS/1x40. During SS interval, first 2-3min feels awful but after that same forever power feeling arrives

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I’ve never found a big training block before that much time off to be of much long term benefit unless you’re pretty new. If you’re not, in order to properly bed in adaptations, it seems like everyone needs to be at that level of fitness for at least a few months before it “sticks”. Which once again underlines the point that consistency is the foundation of fitness, which can be overlooked since cyclists are such an internally motivated and consistently training bunch (oftentimes too much so), but it’s times like this that we get to see it really play out.

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Thanks Kolie. I’ve tried the hard start vo2 sessions three times now over the last few years. They always put me into a state of deep fatigue like no other.

As I discussed with Kurt above, I started off my block with a 5x5 (hard start and ave power @ my 5 minute). I can do the workout just fine but then my legs hurt for nearly a week. I throttled back to workouts like 4x3, 5x3, 4x4 and it was much more manageable.

I’m 58 this year and it just seems that I can’t do anything like a 5x5. It always seems weird to me that I can do the workout and it feels good at the time but then I pay for it for days. It’s not a fueling issues. Eating plenty of carbs.

The mixed block was going ok with a shorter time in zone on the VO2 and a threshold workout but then we got influenza b in the house and I was sort of starting over after a few weeks.

You’re 58? I’d start you at 4x3 and work up from there but probably 20min total interval time (and mostly 12-15min) as a max for these, if the purpose is to raise vo2max.

Based on the info here, I wouldn’t do a whole block or hard start, especially as fatigue mounts it takes less effort to raise VO2 rapidly. It’s difficult to raise vo2max in people in their 50s and beyond. Not that it can’t be done, but even just considering slower recovery and smaller response to training, it’s difficult to get the appropriate stimulus. More recovery time between hard workouts (to do other types of lower intensity workouts like FTP), and shorter efforts—all of which you’ve already done—are a good approach and what I would have recommended.

I hope you’re doing the high cadence version too, since if you’re not that’s probably where a lot of fatigue and soreness are coming from. More power be damned. I also find soreness can be exacerbated with poor nutrition and sleep. It may also be worth checking your bike fit since a lot of high load while overworking one muscle group can create some pretty significant issues.


Yes, I was doing hard start. I definitely found 12-15 minutes or work much more manageable.

I also experimented with the ladder intervals in the Vaccari paper (did them hard start) and that was kind of fun. I did 30 minutes of total time which works out to 15+ minutes of time in zone.

Week one in the books. I’ll write up a recap in the coming days. Lots of learnings