Winter intensity? Vo2 vs Threshold, how much?

Planning out my winter and a bit confused on how much and what kind of intensity I should do. This year so far I have averaged 6.97 hours per week, which is a bump up from 5.23 hours per week in 2022. So working my way up but still pretty low volume, my current focus is adding in a couple days of gym work a week along with doing at least 6 hours per week of riding and then will start reaching towards 8-10 hours per week of riding.

I started riding mid summer 2020 and started structured training with TR in late April 2022. I did all 3 blocks of Trad base last winter. Highlight workouts accomplished during that period being Walker, Traunstein and Broken Hand. Would love to do Town Hill and Castle Peak +2 this winter.

This year, from what I have heard it would be beneficial to sprinkle in some intensity throughout the winter, maybe once a week but I’ve also heard that generally you shouldn’t do VO2 Max or higher intensity workouts for longer than a 6-8 week period and generally before an A race.

So my question is what frequency and intensity of workouts should I do during the off-season, while I am mainly focused on increasing my base? Once a week of Threshold or should I do a VO2 instead of Threshold every 2 or 3 weeks? Or should I only do Threshold work for intensity in the off-season and save the VO2 for specialty phase?

I think there’s been a misconception regarding vo2 work and that it should be reserved for closer to race prep. I think dedicated vo2 blocks can and should be done when you’ve exhausted ftp increases through sweet spot/threshold work. anyway, you should do whatever type of workout is needed to advance your fitness goals

I’m guessing I probably have not gotten anywhere close to exhausting ftp increases through sweet spot/threshold work… So does that mean I should focus on Threshold work over the winter?

Do threshold and sst as long as your ftp stop improving and you will be able to ride around 60 min at your FTP (this is pretty good indicator of solid aerobic engine). If you can do workouts like 5x15@97-100% or 3x20@97-100% is a workout you finish with more to give try put more emphasis on vo2 max work (you can try dedicated block of vo2 max or sprinkle vo2 through the weeks).

To differentiate threshold and sst work you can add surges (so ride at 90% of ftp and then make a 10-30a surge around your 5min power) every 2-4min (this can be also part of progression). Those workours build a lot of stamina, and are great preparation for hard vo2 max work.

My best training period was:

  • 2-3 (3 is hard and requires huge amout of food and lack of stress in life) times per week threshold (progression from 30min TiZ to 80 min TiZ). Threshold was mixed with sst work (40-120min progression).
  • easy z2 to add volume
  • vo2 max block (6-8 vo2 max workouts in 2 weeks)
  • rest/z2
  • repeat

Overall volume was 9-11h/wk

Results - 5min PR, 60 min PR, great endurance. And this was my 2nd year of riding - so complete noob without years of training.
Good, old times of covid.


Any suggestions for workouts with the surges you describe? Was looking at stuff like Meteorite and Mcgregor for the 3x20 kind of workouts.

Sorry, I am using only custom workouts. But the idea is represented by Ebbets or Chicoma.

Or just do any steady sst workout and just add burst (if you are not using erg mode or switch from erg to resistance).

One caveat is - progress those workouts like threshold not sst. 60 min TiZ sst with bursts is a very hard workout, so start with around 30min TiZ (like 3x10). You can also try adding them to tempo to make the transition gentler.

1 Like

My N=1 as an older athlete (late 40s) is I sprinkle in VO2 pretty much year round. As there’s a lot of evidence that as you get older the best way to slow the decline of VO2 is using it. I would say that the difference is that during off season and base period it really is a “sprinkle” - shorter VO2 intervals once a week that don’t add a lot of fatigue and I’m not trying to progress my VO2 levels by increasing duration or power. If doing that indoors I find the short/short type workouts with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off like the Sleeping Beauty or Taylor variations are good for this. Or if riding outdoors I’ll just sprinkle in some short efforts e.g. surging over a short climb or doing an extended sprint for a town sign. Aim is to get HR and breathing up but without adding enough fatigue to impact other training rides which are the main focus at that time of year.

In build phase (and speciality depending what I’m training for) my VO2 work will be much harder and more progressive and go from being supplementary workouts to key workouts.