VO2max workouts again. Arrgghhh!!!



Ade Merckx

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Jan 26, 2007
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Yeah my favourite topic. I know Tyson seems to really benefit from VO2max (6 x 4 or 5 x 5) intervals. With a stage race coming up next month I'm starting them again and doing less of the pure threshold stuff which would normally be 3-4 per week. I'm interested on observations, or even on revolutionary ideas on VO2max. I've done quite well purely on the 2 x20's, sweetspot stuff and racing but despite feeling fresh I'm possibly beginning to plateau. Is there anyone competitive who does really well without doing VO2max intervals? Cheers
 

BullGod

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Ade Merckx said:
Yeah my favourite topic. I know Tyson seems to really benefit from VO2max (6 x 4 or 5 x 5) intervals. With a stage race coming up next month I'm starting them again and doing less of the pure threshold stuff which would normally be 3-4 per week. I'm interested on observations, or even on revolutionary ideas on VO2max. I've done quite well purely on the 2 x20's, sweetspot stuff and racing but despite feeling fresh I'm possibly beginning to plateau. Is there anyone competitive who does really well without doing VO2max intervals? Cheers
Ade, Maybe we're at different ends of the training spectrum, but I don't ride ANY intervals - If i need time in the pain box I'll do that in a weekday training race, often after some pre race endurance training to push me to the limit. Or I can just go to a criterium where the Dutch National Criterium Champion is riding and hang on the back trying not to throw up while he drives the peloloton at 55 km/h.

This year I haven't done any intervals, and I am certainly competitive. I would advise that if you are doing any sort of race, training race, fast group ride once/twice a week you shouldn't be hitting the 5 x 5's that much at all.

If you feel as though you're starting to plateau, normally i would say take some rest, and then start rebuilding! one shouldn't always wait until you are sore and tired before a recovery period - sometimes you have to force yourself to take it easy, despite feeling fresh. 2 weeks ago I had seriously good form after completing two long classics, but despite my good form I decided against doing 3 criteriums in 4 days like some of my teammates, and instead went to England for a few days, drank some beer, rested up. Now I still have those good sensations, while my teammates are all knackered.

Forcing yourself to occasionally take it easy when you feel fresh is sometimes necessary.
 

Sillyoldtwit

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Jan 13, 2006
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Ade Merckx said:
Yeah my favourite topic. I know Tyson seems to really benefit from VO2max (6 x 4 or 5 x 5) intervals. With a stage race coming up next month I'm starting them again and doing less of the pure threshold stuff which would normally be 3-4 per week. I'm interested on observations, or even on revolutionary ideas on VO2max. I've done quite well purely on the 2 x20's, sweetspot stuff and racing but despite feeling fresh I'm possibly beginning to plateau. Is there anyone competitive who does really well without doing VO2max intervals? Cheers
Andy would probably disagree with my way of doing a VO2Max workout but....
Now I'm doing high wattage stuff, I find it very difficult to go straight in at a high wattage so tend to go in fairly low for the first 5 minute interval, then up it by 20watts for the next 2. By then I'm fully warmed up and as the worst thing that could happen on the last interval is the possibility of kicking the bucket, I up it again by 20/30 watts. To my way of thinking, this last interval compensates for slacking on the first, that is, it all averages out.
Not revolutionary I'm afraid but, dats de way I does it Lija. Tyson ;)
 

wiredued

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That is something to put under my hat until my next attempt I think I tend to over do the first one because I'm fresh. Thanks

Sillyoldtwit said:
Andy would probably disagree with my way of doing a VO2Max workout but....
Now I'm doing high wattage stuff, I find it very difficult to go straight in at a high wattage so tend to go in fairly low for the first 5 minute interval, then up it by 20watts for the next 2. By then I'm fully warmed up and as the worst thing that could happen on the last interval is the possibility of kicking the bucket, I up it again by 20/30 watts. To my way of thinking, this last interval compensates for slacking on the first, that is, it all averages out.
Not revolutionary I'm afraid but, dats de way I does it Lija. Tyson ;)
 

john979

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Jan 14, 2005
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The 1/2 life for increasing VO2 Max is something like 11 days, meaning after one month you won't see much further gain.
 

bing181

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john979 said:
The 1/2 life for increasing VO2 Max is something like 11 days, meaning after one month you won't see much further gain.

Can someone explain this?

Thanks
 

[email protected]

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john979 said:
The 1/2 life for increasing VO2 Max is something like 11 days, meaning after one month you won't see much further gain.
I don't think that the point in L5 training is to raise VO2max, that is --by nature-- hardly raised, but improving the efficiency of the metabolic system at VO2max effort (hence, raising produced power at VO2max while VO2max stays almost constant).
 

Sillyoldtwit

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In other words as forum member Malmo said:

VO2 Max doesn't mean anything

It's an oft-used and little understood term used by grad students to justify to their parents that their efforts and money have not gone to waste. University administrators have been duped by this sciolistic fog-machine, as well. How else could the waste of valuable resources, time and money, be covered-up with impunity? Parents and other intelligent, rational thinking adults could not possibly decipher this code. Do not try to yourself. You'll only make yourself look foolish reciting the catechism of the exercise-physio-geeks.

This nascent science of exercise physiology was born out of a failed genetics experiment in the early 60s; the breeding of an economist and a sociologist. The offspring from this pairing would say more and mean less than the combined blather of the two parents put together. Common sense would have told us how this experiment would have ended, but stubborn researchers pushed ahead, nonetheless.

The only numbers that matter are the ones that you receive at the end of the race. The most important of these is called PLACE, and is represented as an ordinal. A '1' is the best indicator of your performance. If you get a '1' then you've done excellent. It's no small coincidence that '1' is a homophone for 'won'. Other excellent numbers to receive are '2' and '3'. Not nearly as good as a '1', but by tradition and convention the numbers '1', '2' and '3' are deemed to be the 'supreme ordinals'; that is to say, worthy of gold, silver and bronze, and are segregated from the other ordinals. The rest of the ordinals are represented by the formula: n + 1...(to infinity). There is a direct, inverse relationship between ordinal value and its worth. The closer to the supreme ordinals, the better you've done, the closer to infinity, the worse you've done.

One of the other numbers that matters much more than VO2 Max is TIME. TIME is always secondary to PLACE in it's value. Neither PLACE nor TIME are given in the gerbil-wheel lab tests conducted by the exercise-physio-geeks. You will only receive them in the experiment that the real experts call COMPETITION. TIME does not supersede PLACE, but it is a way of comparing the PLACE of two or more experiments from different venues and eras. The juxtaposition of TIME and PLACE is the business of track statisticians, who, by the way, are also the progeny from the aforementioned failed genetics experiment.

Long ago, TIME was measured as a fraction of the earth's rotation in base 60: hours, minutes and seconds. It's still expressed as such, however, the predecessors to the exercise-physio-geeks have determined that TIME should now be measured in terms of the vibration frequency of irradiated Cesium atoms. Your watch has quartz crystals in it that will simulate this experiment for you (without the attendant radiation and disposal problems) and convert the results automatically, presenting them to you in the form of easily recognizable numerical glyphs. No complicated formulae to memorize!

Physicists have proven, through complex mathematical machinations, that it is physically impossible for VO2Max to supersede either TIME or PLACE in value. Physicist Richard Feynman once said, "VO2Max and five bucks will get you a cup of joe at Starbucks."

So far, in the history of sports, not one award has been given, nor has there ever been remuneration for VO2Max results.

There are many other factors that are much more indicative of athletic performance, or the potential for performance, than VO2 max. I couldn't possibly begin to list them all: height, weight, hair color, skin color, shoe size, favorite TV show...the list is endless.

92.5 Greg LeMond, professional cyclist
92.0 Matt Carpenter, Pikes Peak marathon course record holder
91.0 Harri Kirvesniem, Finnish cross country skier
90.0 Bjørn Dæhlie, Norwegian cross country skier
88.0 Miguel Indurain, professional cyclist
87.4 Marius Bakken, Norwegian 5k record holder
85.0 Dave Bedford, 10k world record
85.0 John Ngugi World XC Champion
84.4 Steve Prefontaine,US runner
84.3 "Physiologist in training," 15:12/30:55 runner
84.0 Lance Armstrong, professional cyclist
82.7 Gary Tuttle, US runner
82.0 Kip Keino, Olympic 1500 champion
81.1 Craig Virgin, twice World cross country champ
81.0 Jim Ryun, US miler WR holder
80.1 Steve Scott, US miler 3:47
79.4 "Runningart2004," 15:43 5k runner
78.6 Joan Benoit, 1984 Olympic Marathon Champion
78.5 Bill Rodgers, 2:09:27 marathoner
77.4 Don Kardong, 2:11:15 marathoner
77.0 Sebastian Coe. WR mile, 1500
76.6 John Landy, WR miler
76.0 Alberto Salazar, 2:08:51 marathoner
74.3 Amby Burfoot, US marathoner
74.4 Johnny Halberstadt, 2:11:44 marathoner
74.2 Kenny Moore, US marathoner 2:11:36
73.5 Grete
 

john979

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I don't think that the point in L5 training is to raise VO2max, that is --by nature-- hardly raised, but improving the efficiency of the metabolic system at VO2max effort (hence, raising produced power at VO2max while VO2max stays almost constant).
While both do happen, VO2 Max training does in fact increase cardiac output primarily via increased stroke volume. The cardiac adaptions are measurable and well-documented.
 

john979

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Sillyoldtwit said:
In other words as forum member Malmo said:

VO2 Max doesn't mean anything

Sorry, but you are missing the big picture. 1) VO2 Max training is an effective tool to increase performance when smartly applied; 2) While amongst athletes with approximately equal VO2 Max (+/- 5%) VO2 Max is meaningless (efficiency is more important), since FTP cannot exceed VO2 Max, VO2 Max is this ultimate limiter of aerobic performance. Nobody with a VO2 Max of 60 ml/kg/sec is going to win the Tour de France, no matter how tactically smart, well-coached or well-motivated or with the "proper shoe size" as stated in that silly rant.
 

[email protected]

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Do you care to elaborate a little on the "smartly applied" concept? :)

john979 said:
Sorry, but you are missing the big picture. 1) VO2 Max training is an effective tool to increase performance when smartly applied; 2) While amongst athletes with approximately equal VO2 Max (+/- 5%) VO2 Max is meaningless (efficiency is more important), since FTP cannot exceed VO2 Max, VO2 Max is this ultimate limiter of aerobic performance. Nobody with a VO2 Max of 60 ml/kg/sec is going to win the Tour de France, no matter how tactically smart, well-coached or well-motivated or with the "proper shoe size" as stated in that silly rant.
 

john979

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Do you care to elaborate a little on the "smartly applied" concept? :)
What I meant above is that in 4-5 weeks, VO2 Max training will plateau. So, decide when you want to plan a peak and go back 5 weeks and start your VO2 Max training. Two sessions per week should be sufficient.
 

daveryanwyoming

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john979 said:
What I meant above is that in 4-5 weeks, VO2 Max training will plateau. So, decide when you want to plan a peak and go back 5 weeks and start your VO2 Max training. Two sessions per week should be sufficient.
+1 on this post.

L5 used sparingly as you approach a key event can work wonders. L5 applied for long periods of time can detract from more important L4 and SST work and has diminishing returns over the long haul. Sure if you could train as hard as you want and recover fast enough to do other quality work during the week then L5 and above sounds great. But most folks don't recover very fast from multiple weekly L5/L6 sessions and back off on other work. Combine that with the relatively small amount of quality time in a typical L5 session (20-30 minutes or so) and CTL suffers, you start spending base and overall performance suffers. Great way to bring about a peak, but bad strategy over the long haul for folks looking to build fitness while hoping to save their peak for specific events later in the season.

-Dave
 

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daveryanwyoming said:
+1 on this post.

L5 used sparingly as you approach a key event can work wonders. L5 applied for long periods of time can detract from more important L4 and SST work and has diminishing returns over the long haul. Sure if you could train as hard as you want and recover fast enough to do other quality work during the week then L5 and above sounds great. But most folks don't recover very fast from multiple weekly L5/L6 sessions and back off on other work. Combine that with the relatively small amount of quality time in a typical L5 session (20-30 minutes or so) and CTL suffers, you start spending base and overall performance suffers. Great way to bring about a peak, but bad strategy over the long haul for folks looking to build fitness while hoping to save their peak for specific events later in the season.

-Dave
So, if I understand correctly, given that I'm not racing actually and don't need a peak, L5 is not really useful and should concentrate exclusively on L4 longer intervals?
 

PaulMD

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Jul 26, 2006
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daveryanwyoming said:
+1 on this post.

L5 used sparingly as you approach a key event can work wonders. L5 applied for long periods of time can detract from more important L4 and SST work and has diminishing returns over the long haul. Sure if you could train as hard as you want and recover fast enough to do other quality work during the week then L5 and above sounds great. But most folks don't recover very fast from multiple weekly L5/L6 sessions and back off on other work. Combine that with the relatively small amount of quality time in a typical L5 session (20-30 minutes or so) and CTL suffers, you start spending base and overall performance suffers. Great way to bring about a peak, but bad strategy over the long haul for folks looking to build fitness while hoping to save their peak for specific events later in the season.

-Dave
What about L5 training for peaking for a long distance event (> 5hrs) in which you don't ride at or above FTP?
 

daveryanwyoming

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So, if I understand correctly, given that I'm not racing actually and don't need a peak, L5 is not really useful and should concentrate exclusively on L4 longer intervals?
I wouldn't necessarily go that far. Whether or not you race, do you ever want to dig real deep for a 3 to 5 minute effort like a hard short climb? Do you start to plateau on year round sub-threshold work and want to raise your aerobic ceiling a bit? Do you simply enjoy going fast on a bike and like to really jam for a few minutes at a time?

I probably wouldn't advocate a lot of dedicated L5 sessions like 5x5 minute VO2 Max intervals and definitely wouldn't advocate twice a week sessions for someone without racing and peaking goals. But I wouldn't call L5 work useless or tell you to avoid it entireley, just don't scrap the SST/Threshold work to squeeze in L5 work.

VO2 Max work can help you break through plateaus (as can backing off to SST for folks who've been pushing hard, racing a lot or neglecting base), can help raise your aerobic ceiling, can be a nice change of pace, and help develop speed and can definitely help when preparing for a key event but it's not magic and typically comes at a cost to your overall training mix and weekly load.

For a non racer I'd tend to lean towards a lot of SST work, maybe some dedicated Threshold work and leave the L5/L6/L7 work to spontaneous efforts that happens during group rides or when the mood strikes you. IOW a fartlek approach to high end work, keep it fun, enjoy being on the bike and go fast and hard when you feel like it instead of structuring a specific day of misery for the high end stuff. Racers can use their upcoming races and competitive goals as motivation to stick to a high end program. Personally I'd do a lot more group rides and a lot fewer structured solo, high end sessions if I didn't have upcoming races to keep me focused.

YMMV,
-Dave
 

daveryanwyoming

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PaulMD said:
What about L5 training for peaking for a long distance event (> 5hrs) in which you don't ride at or above FTP?
If you truly won't ever ride above FTP and you haven't hit a stall in your FTP progress and your event will be long then I'd personally skip the dedicated L5 work. But is that description above really accurate? You won't have a three to five minute climb or crosswind section where you'll need to dig deep, exceed your FTP to hang with a group and get the benefit of being with them on the far side of the climb or when the wind changes? You're sure you'll pace yourself to never exceed FTP?

But from a peaking perspective the general rule of thumb on peaking is to sacrifice more base and arrive on race day fresher (higher positive TSB) for short intense events and to spend less base and arrive on race day fitter (lower, possibly slightly negative TSB) for longer endurance events. From that standpoint and from the implication that this 5 plus hour event is very long relative to your normal long rides I'd lean to less of a formal peak. IOW, hang onto as much CTL as you can going into the event and do only a gentle mini-taper that takes you to a neutral or slightly positive TSB on race day.

If your particular strengths and weaknesses suggest some L5 work(what's your power profile look like and will increasing your 3-5 minute power be useful during your target event or useless as you suggest above) then I'd still limit it to no more than one session a week so that you can continue the SST/Threshold work and build or at least maintain CTL as you approach your long event.

Good luck,
-Dave
 

PaulMD

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daveryanwyoming said:
If you truly won't ever ride above FTP and you haven't hit a stall in your FTP progress and your event will be long then I'd personally skip the dedicated L5 work. But is that description above really accurate? You won't have a three to five minute climb or crosswind section where you'll need to dig deep, exceed your FTP to hang with a group and get the benefit of being with them on the far side of the climb or when the wind changes? You're sure you'll pace yourself to never exceed FTP?
Yeah, the event I am speaking about is La Marmotte in France. A cyclosportive of 172km with 4 mountains. I opened a special topic about it for a pacing strategy: http://www.cyclingforums.com/t461419.html

I will pace myself at <0.80. Because most of my rides are <2 hours, occasionally I do 3 hours but La Marmotte will take me 7-8hours.
daveryanwyoming said:
But from a peaking perspective the general rule of thumb on peaking is to sacrifice more base and arrive on race day fresher (higher positive TSB) for short intense events and to spend less base and arrive on race day fitter (lower, possibly slightly negative TSB) for longer endurance events. From that standpoint and from the implication that this 5 plus hour event is very long relative to your normal long rides I'd lean to less of a formal peak. IOW, hang onto as much CTL as you can going into the event and do only a gentle mini-taper that takes you to a neutral or slightly positive TSB on race day.

If your particular strengths and weaknesses suggest some L5 work(what's your power profile look like and will increasing your 3-5 minute power be useful during your target event or useless as you suggest above) then I'd still limit it to no more than one session a week so that you can continue the SST/Threshold work and build or at least maintain CTL as you approach your long event.

Good luck,
-Dave
Thanks, this was another question that I had in mind. How to taper... But I think I won't. Just take it a little bit easier the days before to keep my CTL high (80tss/d at the moment).

For the L5: I hardly do it. When I do it, it's for variation. Today I did my 3th attempt for an L5 workout this year. The only problem is "how hard should I do it". I almost got it right, and set a new PR for my relative 5mp power (not my absolute 5MP): 5.8w/kg :D:D I lost another kilo of bodyweight ;)

Interval 1: 5:01, AP 375, IF 1.173, C 95, S 40.3kph
Interval 2: 5:01, AP 383, IF 1.189, C 98, S 42.6kph
Interval 3: 5:01, AP 385, IF 1.201, C 98, S 41.2kph
Interval 4: 3:02, AP 378, IF 1.179, C 96, S 42.0kph (failure)
Interval 5: 5:01, AP 378, IF 1.171, C 96, S 39.6kph
All with 5 minutes of rest.
11% more power than on my last succesfull L5 training (april 9).

Thanks for the advice Dave and John!
 

kopride

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daveryanwyoming said:
I probably wouldn't advocate a lot of dedicated L5 sessions like 5x5 minute VO2 Max intervals and definitely wouldn't advocate twice a week sessions for someone without racing and peaking goals. But I wouldn't call L5 work useless or tell you to avoid it entireley, just don't scrap the SST/Threshold work to squeeze in L5 work.

VO2 Max work can help you break through plateaus (as can backing off to SST for folks who've been pushing hard, racing a lot or neglecting base), can help raise your aerobic ceiling, can be a nice change of pace, and help develop speed and can definitely help when preparing for a key event but it's not magic and typically comes at a cost to your overall training mix and weekly load.

For a non racer I'd tend to lean towards a lot of SST work, maybe some dedicated Threshold work and leave the L5/L6/L7 work to spontaneous efforts that happens during group rides or when the mood strikes you. IOW a fartlek approach to high end work, keep it fun, enjoy being on the bike and go fast and hard when you feel like it instead of structuring a specific day of misery for the high end stuff. -Dave
I am questioning the value of L5 sessions as well when I see the effect on my 2 x 20s. There is some definite match burning that goes along with this type of workout and it seems to take some time to recover. I had a had L5 session on Thursday, then a weekend of spirited group riding for (2 1/2 and 3 hour rides) where I spent some extended time at L5 . When I tried to ride 2 x 20 @90% FTP last night, I was dying. I ended up with a 1 x 20 and 1 x 10. Typically, it is just SST during the week and the ebb and flow of the group on weekends. Throwing in a dedicated L5 session really semed to hamper recovery.