Catch 22 on VO2 work


Yes, it’s possible you just go really deep in the ramp test in a way that isn’t possible more than once every few weeks. But perhaps it is just a mental adjustment; imagine each vo2 session is going to be a 100% effort. Treat them like a race. Energy gel, caffeine… whatever it takes to get through it and get those gains.


Is there a scientifically/biologically defined VO2max recovery period, as in, how soon after hitting VO2max will you phase out of it once work has stopped?


Roughly 10-25 seconds based on the research I linked. Probably depends on the severity of the workload.


Speculation on my part, but I would think that energy costs of repeatedly accelerating your body in the short interval bursts demands more oxygen/energy from the body versus someone maintaining their momentum in longer VO2max intervals.


Thanks for helpful replies to original question, and for reposting Coach Chad’s remedy. The whole thread has been fascinating and a good example of the gold in this forum. Besides being ancient and slower, I actually have an easier time with shorter VO2max intervals than the longer SS and threshold intervals, don’t know why. But still interesting stuff that I can actually experiment with. By coincidence, Spencer was up next for me, but when I saw that even Chad had called it “something awful”, I opted for starting with Stanislaus -4 instead, and called myself “sensible” (instead of just lazy) and did in fact almost enjoy it.

Maybe I should have posted this in that thread on “Best Excuses” for wussing out on a hard workout “Coach Chad told me to.” :slightly_smiling_face:


I was going to do it for you but I didn’t want to steal your thunder.
So here ya go… Excuses -- Let's hear 'em!


Sounds like the real key (at least for me) is to ignore the power target (or just use it for a guide) and go by feel. This is what I do for my swimming and running intervals. @Captain_Doughnutman had asked me about this recently, and here’s the excerpt from carmichael training systems on how to do the three minute intervals:

Today’s PI’s are a repeat of last week and are specific to your segment goal. These efforts are all out from the gun, but the rest is short so you won’t fully recovery between efforts. You have experience doing these now, so be sure to be all in on each effort. It’s OK for your power to start dropping off toward the end of individual efforts and the intervals later in the workout as long as you’re still doing a max effort

Sounds like the oxygen debt is more important than the power target. Personally, when I chase a power target, eventually I can get discouraged and or overshoot my abilities and then the later intervals are not really getting my HR that elevated. In my running and swimming intervals the first 2 or 3 are usually faster than the eventual repeatable pace.

As far as the catch 22 for vo2 max target that is almost too be expected. During base period the main focus is ftp with more ss and threshold than vo2 so ftp rises faster than vo2. Once build starts and the focus changes to more vo2 work i notice that is when i can then get to almost 120%


OK, so a bit of an update.

Yesterday was Stanislaus -4 (:40 @ 120% then :50 at 40%)
Today was my homebrew Stanislaus -3 (:45 @ 120% then :50 at 40%)

Both workouts were performed at approximately 5:00am. Thirty minutes before each workout I had small handful of mixed/unsalted nuts and a 12-ounce Diet Coke (train like a boss, eh?) Both workouts were preceded with 20 minutes of ‘Laurel’. Just 'cuz.

This morning, the extra 5 seconds on each interval didn’t initially feel like a big deal… but by the second set, I was indeed feeling the pinch. Having back-to-back VO2 days (albeit short) probably has something to do with the fatigue.

Jamming with WKO4, here are the times in different VO2 ranges:

Stanislaus -4 Stanislaus -3
:40 on / :50 rest :45 on / :50 rest
65-75% VO2 Max 6:45 6:23
75-85% VO2 Max 4:42 6:38
85-95% VO2 Max 6:15 4:13
>95% VO2 Max 4:42 6:38

From what I can tell, either this is a random assortment of nonsensical data points, or adding the extra 5 seconds in each interval did indeed make a measurable change in my time ‘up near the top’ of VO2.

Thoughts? Comments? I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll crank it to :50 @ 127% and :45 at 40%. But maybe I should take a day off. Dunno.


Chad reccomends taking alternating VO2 work and having easy (breathe through your nose) days in between. 40% true recovery rides. Lazy Mountain type stuff. Three days on the trot doing VO2 is pretty intense.


@Jack_Russell_Racing is the time referencing power or HR? I only ask as I use wko+ as well but just power.

I only write this as either I’m messed up or there is a general misunderstanding about what it is we are trying to achieve performing these. That is, whatever power gives you the most time near 90% MHR is the end game.

Having not used HR for years I’m thinking about getting a HR monitor again just from these intervals to help better determine this for myself…


For this particular exercise, I’m only using power.

The VO2Max Training Time charts from Coggan use the calculation:

sum(if(ewma(bikepower0.0108+0.007metric(weight),25)>0.75athleterange(date-89,date,vo2max(meanmax(bikepower))) and ewma(bikepower0.0108+0.007metric(weight),25)<0.85athleterange(date-89,date,vo2max(meanmax(bikepower))),deltatime))

I assume this data is from my Athlete Detail ranges, which define VO2 as 106%-121% of threshold using the ‘Coggan Classic Power Levels’

[/kimono OPEN]



[/kimono CLOSED]

my RHR is stupid low. My max is pretty low too – but my HRR is wicked good.


Started my 3 week ‘v02 booster plan’ today inline with @chad list of workouts. So first one was Taylor -2 today (3sets of 14 intervals of 30 secs at 120%/30 secs recovery).

Dare I say…it felt…easy…pushed over target power for nearly every interval by 10-15w.

Really good confidence booster and looking forward to gradually extending interval time over next few weeks.

Would link to workout but not sure how! Anyway good start and 1 of 8 workouts successfully done


Why are you using Classic levels instead of iLevels?

I believe that the WKO4 EWMA power graphs use a calculated single value for VO2max that is derived from your power curve rather than either Classic or iLevels.


From what I can determine, the iLevels vs. Classic levels don’t seem to make a difference in the VO2Max Training Time Charts (add on).

I’m absolutely a hack at WKO4 expressions… so certainly, if there’s a better way to slice-n-dice this, I’m all ears!


You make it sound so appealing :grin:

I like them because they are hard. I guess I like doing hard stuff. When I first signed up for trainer road, Kaiser was the first workout I did after my FTP test.


Second workout on v02 booster per Chad’s list of 8 workouts. Was 40 secs on (127%) and 50 secs recovery. 2 sets of 7.
Felt medium hard but ok, never thought wouldn’t finish plus did extra 10 mins after as was only 45min workout.

Certainly boosting my confidence in v02 workouts plus nice change after ssb 1 and 2 and sustained power build.


3rd workout today of ‘v02 booster plan’ with Freel. Basically 2 sets of 5 x 1 min on at 127%/50secs off.

Felt tough but doable, harder than last 2 workouts but never thought going to fail. Also did straight after getting up which I always find harder. This mini plan of chad’s is really boosting my confidence if nothing else!


Update time…

I’m also one of the kids enrolled in the @Chad School for Wayward VO2 Cyclists.

I have modified the Stanislaus workouts for slow progressions, but I’m thinking the progressions might be too slow, because I’m completing them (albeit pretty damn tired) on target.

  • Wednesday was Stanislaus -4 (:40 @ 127% then :50 at 40%)

  • Thursday was my homebrew Stanislaus -3 (:45 @ 127% then :50 at 40%)

  • Friday was just chillin’ on the rollers.

  • Saturday was a small group ride (4 friends). Pretty windy day, but we had a good/social time. 45 miles; .80 IF

  • Sunday, was my homebrew Stanislaus -2 (:45 @ 127% then :45 at 40%). So the duration has come up and the rest has gone down. Like previous days, I did 20 minutes of Laurel as warmup. I don’t have WKO4 on my laptop here at home, so in the absence of hardcore data, here’s what I can report:

There’s no question these suck – but the short intervals make it entirely manageable to spin at 127%. Freel is next up for me too.


Worth noting some of the changes being made to VO2 intervals by Chad, over on this thread - especially on sustained power build with workouts like Shortoff +4 and Monadnock +4.

General trend is an increase in recovery interval duration, as the conclusion from data seems to be that 3 minutes isn’t enough to recover from 3 minutes @ 120%. Which I can attest from previous attempts at Shortoff +4 was damn close to impossible.


i don’t understand why the recovery intervals have to be consistent. Maybe they should increase slightly as you progress through a set of intervals. 3 minutes seems fine for the first two or three VO2max intervals in a set but after that I seem to need a bit more rest. Maybe it would be better if the rest gaps increased slightly later in the set. 3 minutes RI for the first 3 intervals, 4 minutes for the next 2 or 3 and 5 minutes thereafter for that set?