Why i cant do a proper vo2max workout?

Today i start with a 3 weeks Vo2max block of 2-3 workouts a week. The reason is move up the ceiling and after that block i will again work on my FTP and TTE. So far so good… Last month i did 1x90 SST and FTP work.

My FTP is around 290w and the last time i did vo2max was February 2022 with 4 workouts in 1.5 weeks…and then I could only do 1 5x4min properly and a hard start in ERG mode of 6x4 but than i didnt get my HR as high as i want.

February 2022 in ERG

Today i did it again without ERG and try to 6x4, but failed…
I do it with a high RPM and breathing like a fish on the dry. HR is as high as possible…
I could only do 3x3min…

Is it because i never do vo2max work? The last time is one year ago…

Today without ERG

Have you done any over ftp work this season? For me, without sst with bursts or something like that going straight for vo2 max work is impossible. I need some preparation. My volume is not enough to really tap those fast twitch fibers and they fail pretty fast. I usually need bigger volume to step into vo2 max. For me even block of threshold work helps a lot.

Second thing - maybe your legs are just simply tired?


I have done last weeks 2 over-unders but nut much.

Last week i did 4 restdays and my legs dont feel tired…it is more the heart-lunges…

This was essentially the exact advise I got from Kolie Moore ahead of going into a vo2 block coming out of base (z2 with a little intensity) - suggested a couple of 30/30s and 3x3 mins to prime for the block


Ok so the 3x3 today is to prepareren for the vo2 block :slight_smile:

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Tuesday i will try this with hard start, hopefully it works to prevent myself to start to hard the first blocks:

I created a number of hard start VO2max workouts a while back.

When creating the workouts, it took trial and error to dial in the right intensity (and progression) that felt right for me. So it may take you some similar exploration to determine what works for you.

I’d also say - going into 6x4 right away is hard. If I were in you’re shoes I’d start with something easier to begin with. Ex 6x2.5.

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Those are hard workouts. Vo2 workouts are hard. For me indoor vo2 workouts are nearly impossible. I just over heat. 2 fans. Garage is 50 degrees. Forget about it. Maybe my fans are horrible? Nonetheless,. When I can I will do them outdoors and achieve great success. Evaporative cooling is my friend!

All that said, doing fewer/shorter and nailing perhaps makes more sense? You are still getting the vo2 in. Feels a lot better not to fail and the adoption rate may not be as great but better than not competing the workouts.

At least that’s how I see it. If I’m having trouble I’ll scale back. Better for my mind and body! No shame.


A couple thoughts:

  1. I agree with the “priming the pump” comments. Without mixing in some 30 second max efforts into a z2 ride, or doing some or some other type of gateway efforts a 1-to-2 weeks before a Vo2 block your physiology is going to be shocked at the start.

I used to work with a coach who said to me once, “we’re going to start some Vo2 work in a few weeks, so I need to wake up that part of your brain.”

  1. Are you using TR levels? If so, and it says you are Vo2 level 1 and you’re trying for a Vo2 level 7 workout … it’s going to end badly, I would think.

Good luck


Thanks. I know it is a thin line for the right intensity in ERG. In Zwift i can adjust the power during the workout in %. So i can change the power when i think i can go harder or slower. I can also make the vo2 shorter during the workout…when 4min is to long, i press Tab and switch to the restblock.

Yes maybe thats right to better make shorter and nailing…but otherwise when i do longer blocks and can not complete the workout, it gives me maybe more time around vo2, than shorter work and complete the workout.

Outdoor for now is not possible. Today a lot of rain and wind and next week around 3-5 thegrees…i dont like vo2 workouts in the cold.


You can lower the percentage in TR. I didn’t know about shortening in zwift. I’ll give it a try. Good tip. Thank you.

Normally, I can’t do vo2 this time of year outside . Unfortunately, due to the change in weather patterns I can get outdoors.

Good luck with vo2. I have 4 more weeks. I’m dreading the thought. In fact, I’m sitting on my butt and avoiding todays workout.


yes in Zwift you can adjust the power in % during the workout and when you press “Tab” you go to the next block.

Thanks good luck to and get off the couch and go! :wink:

Actually pretty common for the first VO2max workout to be like this if you’re doing it properly. You haven’t done this since last February and it’s a totally novel stimulus. I expect the first VO2max workout of a block to be more like “openers” than a complete set.

How many sets per week are you doing? If you’re already dreading them, you’re probably doing too much.


If I’m doing sweet spot. I’m good at vo2. If I’m doing v02 I swear I’m good at sweet spot. One might conclude I want to be faster without training.

Honestly, whatever is on the TR plan. And yes some days I think it’s too much. Other days I don’t.

If I did five Vo2s I can’t say I would be elated. But you make a fair point.

my humorous first reaction - “erg for picture perfect charts!” :rofl: sorry it really was my first reaction.

Like others said, you need to prime the system, and what that means can differ between athletes. The last thing my coach would say is “do them in Erg” and as always YMMV.

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Today i did it without ERG…so chart perfect doesnt matter for me…
But i think ERG will prefent me for doing to hard in the first 2 blocks…

I’m with my coach on this one - learn to pace every effort, from endurance to sprints, and everything in between. For what its worth.


Iam with you and your coach. I think about it and maybe i do Tuesday again in SIM

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You did the VO2max 20w to 30w higher, and the rest period 40w higher. I’m not really surprised that the time you can hold that is much shorter.

Iam stronger than last year Feb. This now my Vo2 zone. And 145w is about 50% FTP