Why basing vo2 off percentages is misguided

Agreed, but that’s a pretty big ‘if’ for anyone who’s just followed canned workouts from, say, TR or Zwift.

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It’s the drawback of preset plans.

It can be fixed with a chat with the athlete but is much more difficult to get across through a couple lines of text in the workout description or such.


I guess depending on what you think the best way to train VO2max is, this can be true. But, for me, it’s dirt simple to convey the idea to an athlete…but that’s because I think the best way to train VO2max is to accumulate minutes at or a little below VO2max.

And there are many super solid papers in the lit that provide simple models to tell an athlete if they are at or near VO2max. It’s possible to convey that info very specifically in a few sentences. No problem. Badda bing, badda boom, all that’s left is to get on the bike and suffer. :smiley:

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Put the trainer to resistance mode and provide workout instructions.

On the general topic I´d rather say it´s misguided to train VO2. Usually people want to excel on certain specific courses and not on lab tests.

The lab test is just an objective way to measure a meaningful physiological marker (which has a big influence on real-world performance). While maximal o2 uptake is far from a perfect performance metric, it’s hard to argue that increasing it doesn’t have a performance impact. I think the big difference with v02 vs some of the pure power metrics is that a given vo2max value doesn’t translate to the same aerobic performance/power across a given population. One person with a vo2max of 60 could have more aerobic power (at a given weight) than someone else who has a vo2max of 70. But o2 uptake is trainable to a point and increasing it within an individual is certainly going to translate to improved performance in almost all types of racing. And repeatability of vo2 efforts is a huge difference maker in most racing as well. Vo2 is one of the most important things to train in my opinion, even if the type of racing you do isn’t a bunch of v02 efforts. It just doesn’t take much time to tune it up and the benefits are significant.


I mean why would anyone follow such a largely indirect approach? If my race course is determined my 2min climbs I will be better off training lots of 2 min climb repeats. If my course is determined by 6min climbs, I rather train these.
Both will trigger a varietey of physiological adaptions whose for sure are interesting to study. But I care much more for how fast/often I can go up these climbs.

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Correct… but way easier said than done. This has taken us eons to figure out and only now beginning to implement in our alpha group… still a ways to go… :weary:


I got your ex phys nerd reference! Group L - I had to smile!

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I’m curious what people think about training VO2 (KM style - cardiac remodeling) versus HIIT in the “VO2” area that we see in many studies. Many studies show that collecting minutes in the severe domain result in gains.

TR prescribes the later type and they get shite because it’s not a real ‘vo2’ protocol.

Most of the time that’s probably true…most riders would benefit more from concentrating on fractional utilization. But VO2max is more than a lab test. When you need to train it you need to train it. IMO anybody can become a ‘Group H’ cyclist but where do you go from there? Work on VO2max, I guess.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I saw a plaursen post so I have to give my therapist a call and work through some tmax PTSD.


While I agree that specificity is important, it’s often the icing on the cake as we’re getting close to an event. Targeted training of your o2 uptake with 2 minute efforts helps your 60+ minute power, just like riding Z2 for hours helps your 2 minute power. Of course you will focus more training on 2 minute efforts is that’s the nature of your event, but that doesn’t mean 2 minute intervals aren’t appropriate for someone doing a 40k TT or a 10+ hour gravel race. And for what it’s worth, most of what I hear on v02max training is that whether you are doing 30/30’s or 5+ minute intervals, the physiological adaptations are basically the same (although I’d argue the mental side is important and is obviously very different). But that’s a whole different discussion.

As far as using a % of FTP to set zones for v02max work, I think it’s a reasonable starting point (especially for newer cyclists). But it’s going to vary significantly by individual. That’s why I find it misguided when people get worried about the accuracy of their FTP in the context of getting their training zones right. Even with a perfectly set FTP (by whatever definition you pray to), the percentages are just guidelines and need to be dialed in based on the individual. So, starting with a “wrong” FTP might actually get you closer to an appropriate vo2max target range in many cases). In theory, AT allows the system to dial you in over time based on your workout responses and you can also use workout alternates if you are more experienced and know what an appropriate vo2max workout is.


But is it really? Think of your competition continuing their training at typical race pace while you sit on the couch recovering from yesterdays intervals.

I hope my competition is doing that. This isn’t a new concept, it’s one of the cornerstones of periodized training.


LOL… we are all on our own journeys @Brennus and that was part of mine…

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I can only assume that your race is composed of more than just 2 (or 6) minute climbs. Neither physiology nor races are isolated like you imply.


Just a reminder that you are a self coached athlete. TR is just assisting you, but it isn’t your coach.

If you don’t like the parameters of the suggested workout, you, the coach, are free to change them.


I must of missed the research that defines that is the best way to train.

Research showing progression levels slowly dialing in intensity of vo2 max intervals being better than just doing them maximally from the off? :man_facepalming:

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Its almost like we’re paying for something to take all of the thought out of it, whilst getting 95% of the benefit for 10% of the thought input. Who would’ve thought? :thinking:


Hey everyone!

This is an interesting discussion and we’d like to bring our own thoughts to the table. :slightly_smiling_face:

Training at VO2 Max is really difficult – that’s something that we can probably all agree on. :sweat_smile:

Some of us have the experience, motivation, and understanding to be able to successfully achieve the proper training stimulus that drives VO2 Max adaptations without ERG mode and set power targets, while others might not be there quite yet. The nature of this work is super difficult and in many cases, driving meaningful adaptations requires the athlete to go deeper than they think they can. Without specific targets and a system that identifies limits like Adaptive Training, it can be quite easy to get sub-optimal VO2max training for some athletes, whether that’s due to them training too hard or not training hard enough.

Progression Levels allow for each athlete to be prescribed workouts that are fitting to their current abilities based on their recent performance alongside the RPE for each corresponding workout. This brings the appropriate workouts to each athlete’s unique capabilities. The goal from there is to build those capabilities over time in a sustainable way.

Our method of workout prescription and progression isn’t the only way to train VO2 Max, but it’s what works for many of our athletes. If at any point someone is finding that they can elicit better adaptations through another method, that’s great! We encourage everyone to find what works for them and stick to it. :muscle:

P.S. We’ll actually be touching on this topic in our next podcast with an elite athlete, so stay tuned! :radio: