Catch 22 on VO2 work


It’s all about how to keep HR elevated at/around 90% MHR for as long as possible for the entire set. Too much rest and HR won’t rise quickly enough (assumes power is set correctly). Too little rest and you won’t come close to holding power and again HR is too low. Try knocking off a little power before tweaking interval rest time. Each interval should feel moderately hard the first third, difficult in the middle then a max effort the last third or so.


Yah, good thought. Probably better to reduce the intensity as you go.


The quote below is from “Racing and Training with A Power Meter” Coggan & Allen. Not sure if 1st or 2nd ed…but it’s talking about when to stop an interval. So, with that in mind I’d recommend starting a little lower than what is prescribed for the workout intensity wise but, end at that intensity or higher if possible.

Again the point is to log as much time at/around 90% Max HR. But the main takeaway if we look just at VO2max efforts is as long as you are between 106-120% FTP we are probably getting some adaptation.

On the 3rd set stop Intervals when your power drops by 5% for 20 minute intervals, 5% for 10 minute intervals, 5% for 5 minute intervals, 8% for 3 minute intervals, 11% for 1 & 2 minute intervals and 13% for 30 second intervals.


This might sound a bit weird (it’s me, remember!), but a lot of the time I will try to pace my intervals, including VO2s. As you said, if it’s a 3min 120%, I might start at 118% and end at 125%, for example. I’ll try to pace not only the single interval but sometimes the entire workout, e.g. first intervals might be @118%, last ones @125%. It’s just a thing I picked up training for TTs.


Yeah me too. One thing that I am astounded at (new to intervals on a trainer) is how much harder it is to hit target power on the trainer. Lack of inertia just changes everything. For the better but, they are harder for me as I have a good neuromuscular component to pushing the stupid pedal down. Just pointing out starting a little lower and holding or ending higher works. Even doing that I’m working harder than I ever have before. I suspect most are exactly the same.


They need to be even for the reason that it’s what we need to satisfy our OCD and fit workouts into nice round blocks of time!

It’s also valid to ride an interval and rather and ride a recovery to time, ride it to a heart rate you deem to be ‘recovered’ before going again. That could achieve what you suggest. That’s not something TR can provide with the way the workouts have to be provided and with riders recovering at different rates though.


Quick update. Been working through the progression that Chad suggested (8 workouts in total, doing 3 workouts a week - starts with 30 secs intervals and ends on 3 mins).

Was fine on intervals upto and including 60 secs, really helped build my confidence. Struggled bit on 90 sec intervals (Baird +2) so repeated it (so will have a full 3 week program - 9 workouts for me) a couple days later and much better. Did Mills+1 today - 2 min intervals with 3 mins rest and was hard but did them well.

I’ve really enjoyed this 'mini plan or V02 booster. Has really helped both my confidence and capability at V02 (and hopefully given ftp bit help too!).

Without this forum and the podcast I’d have been stuck and never thought to do this mini plan or how to - this is why TR is so great!

2 more v02 workouts left. Then I’ll do recovery week then start on ssb2.


Awesome! I really like this story for some reason. It demonstrates the character and mindset of a true blue TR user.

That might be your biggest “gain” right there.
Well done, sir. The Captain salutes you! :+1:


Really interested in this thread too. Just today I started in on Short Power Build (did Pierce this morning), not because it’s specific to my gravel grinder event needs, but because my VO2 performance is lacking and my FTP’s been stagnating. But here you all have me thinking maybe I just do a few weeks of it - or a customized VO2 booster mini plan, and then back into more event appropriate general or sustained builds.


Can’t say enough about Vo2 work. As you I was seeing good gains at sat and threshold work. Started in on Vo2 and it took me a solid month to get where I wasn’t crash and burning at the end of my workouts. I started at 5 minute intervals and power was in the 108-110%. Can’t rememeber what workout it was but it got me in the game with them. Now I love them!!! I saw more gains with 3min and 5min Vo2 work then I ever have. I feel like the 5 min ones still boosted my sustained power efforts With the 4 min recovery. I think the workout may have been Mount Foraker with the + efforts as well.

Hope some of that helps.



This just warms my slow beating heart. :relaxed:
We need a ‘VO2max Lover’ badge or something…

As Coach Chad says in many in-ride dialogues, VO2 intervals are the powerhouse of workouts.
Think of them like classic Tyson in the first round – short, savage, painful…but gettin’ it done.

VO2 intervals cover a LOT of ground in a short period of time and will elevate both your physical and mental capabilities. If you follow @RobertSims’ lead and do 3/week for 3 weeks you’ll be flying.

Many VO2 test protocols call for 8-10 weeks of pretty vicious workouts to see maximum fitness gains, but there’s also evidence which shows a good portion of those awesome gains come in the first few weeks. And, as you said, if you’ve hit a plateau, VO2 work can really help break you out into a new level.


Cheers for support @Captain_Doughnutman - really is motivating to get comments like that, and thanks for help with plan too.


Give it a go @dbf - here is the post Chad from TR made in another thread with the 8 workouts in, as I said I repeated Baird+2 As struggled first time to give total of 3 weeks x 3 workouts per week.


Yep I’ve been referencing that very post, thanks also to @zwillis1 and of course Coach @chad!

Been toying with a progression like this for the next 2.5 weeks - started with Pierce only because I’d already done that yesterday when I started in on Short Power Build.

Figure I’ll try this, take a standard recovery week after, then retest and go into General Build.

Looking at the progression I do worry I’m making too big a leap, too fast near the end from 2-min. @ 120% right to 3-min. @ 120%. So I may try to adjust a bit later - get to the 2-min. intervals on the 2nd Saturday, do some 2.5-min. jobbers on the last Tuesday, and then hopefully be ready for the 3-min. on the last Saturday.


And here’s my now modified version to get a more natural progression up to the 3-min. @120% intervals at the end. Had to make own modified Dade to get a 2-min. @120% workout that seemed right.


Nice. I might steal this. If you can do Shortoff +4 at the end, you’ve officially cracked vo2.


Doing this is what gets me through Vo2 work; I start just under the prescribed target power(5-10w) and finish the interval at the target power or 5ish watts over. This is done when i am starting the intervals. By the time i am moving through the workout and at the end my intervals are hitting the target power or within a watt or so for the avg. Doing this allows my legs(and brain) to prepare for the work ahead…:sunglasses:



That’s the (optimistic) idea :grin: :crossed_fingers:


Here’s my status report 1/2 way through my VO2 booster mini plan - I’m doing it! :grin:

Biggest learning so far has been realizing I needed more warmup for early intervals, reducing intensity a bit and then finding/forcing myself to gradually increase power up to :100: :dart:!

In past VO2 workouts I think I typically tried first intervals at 100, they crushed me physically and mentally, I reduced power to survive, and finished the workout that way. In the end getting many fewer intervals done at true target power.

Much better now starting a little lower, building up and getting more time at quality. Here are last two:

Short intense period before starting base? Chad's short FTP boost plan

I also find this. Usually the first interval/set of any workout is basically all about survival, by the last interval I’m golden. Even in my younger days it would take me a long time to get my body cleared out and all systems online. VO2s are intense, gotta make sure the engine is purring!

As a suggestion, why not do a warm-up ride before you start the TR workout? I think they might even have warm-ups in the workout library. Just so you don’t waste VO2 work and get the most out of it. :+1: