Final Stages Of VO2 Max Booster Program

Achieve Better Results With Less Training

Now we are so close to the finish that I’ve decided to publish the final stages of the program.

One thing I have not mentioned yet is the principle of overreaching, which helps us to achieve progress. Distinguishing overtraining from overreaching is important because overreaching is a very natural process when you train. Many riders use the term “overtraining” for both overreaching and overtraining and that is why many riders wrongly diagnose themselves as overtrained.

The problem is that if you are really in an overtraining situation, it can take several months before your performance is back at 100%. If you have overreached in a specific period, a week or two is normally enough to get you back on track.

This principle is often used in tapering protocols, where training volume is reduced during the last two or three weeks before a big event. Overtraining syndrome does not happen overnight or in a week. It takes six to eight weeks or even longer to develop.
Read more on overtraining and overreaching here.

Day 11
Total time: 1hr
15min incremental warm up
6 x (3+2min) 85% / 50%
15min easy rolling

Day 12
Total time: 1hr
12min incremental warm up
3min 80%
3min 50%
2x(3+3min) 100 / 50%
10min 50%
2x(3+2min) 80 / 50%
10min easy rolling

Day 13
Total time: 40min
20min incremental warm up
5min 85%
5min 50%
10min esy rolling

Day 14
Total time: 1hr15min
20min incremental warm up
8 x (30+30sec) 100 / 50%
7min 50%
8 x (30+30sec) 100 / 50%
7min 50%
?? x (30+30sec) 100 / 50% (Maximum number of intervals possible!)
10min easy rolling

Congratulations! You’re have completed the VO2 Max Booster Program! Afterwards I recommend you to take some easy days, maybe a day off, to recover from this overload of VO2 max intervals. Remember what I said about overreaching? You are not overtrained now, you are overreached and in the next couple of days you will begin to super compensate for the last 14 days impressive workload.

5min max test to find your new VO2 Max
When you have had 4-6 days with easy training it is time to do a new 5min maximum test to track your progress. I will appreciate if you share your results with the readers here at Training4cyclists.com by posting a comment with your results.

Did you miss day 10?

43 comments… add one
  • Simone

    .. and now? 🙂

    Let me explain: I read on some article on pubmed that VO2max plateau after 6 weeks of dedicated training. Your booster program only lasts 2 weeks, so there should be another 4 weeks of training. Will it come soon? What are your thoughts about?

  • Simone,

    I’m not planning to publish 4 more weeks. I guess most people who have read the series about VO2 max training now have an idea of how they can improve (and continue to improve) their VO2 max. I have other projects that I plan to publish, so hang on. 🙂

    It’s clear that you gain the best results in the first 2 weeks and less in the following. It’s right that you will meet some kind of a plateau, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get further. If that was the case we should stop our VO2 max training after only 6 weeks.

    Scientific research shows us that well trained athletes need training close to their VO2 max to secure further progress. We’re talking about small, small improvements, but these small steps have huge impact on performance for elite riders (and everyone else).

    Best regards,

    Jesper

  • bugno

    Hello Jesper, many thanks to share for free such a traning program 🙂 I will probably have a look at it next winter and I hope I will send you good results. My question is about the 50% recovery intensity (based on 5mn power). I use a powermeter, and during my previous workouts in march, N*(30s@100%+30s@X%), I aimed rather X=35-40% to recover, just pedaling. Is this intensity of 50% is really important for the goal of the program (increasing VO2Max) as the recovery intervals are more difficult, or a smaller value for X can be used?

    Thanks !

  • Tom

    Jesper, Thank you very much for publishing this program! I found it extremely chanllenging but rewarding mentally and physically. I have only just completed the program yesterday so will come back in some time to offer the results of my test.

    Of particular note — I was able to complete all of the training program exactly as specified except for Day 12. I was not able to complete the final set of 2x(3+2min) 80 / 50%, in fact only partial of the 1st 3 mins and none of the 2nd.

    Again, thank you!

    -Tom

  • bugno>> The 50% helps you to maintain a high oxygen uptake in the recovery periods. You get more time with high VO2 uptake. Actually there is research indicating that it is possible to maintain VO2 max throughout the 30seconds recovery if you keep it at 50% VO2 max. That’s really interesting.

    Tom>> It’s very challenging, no doubt. You’ve done a great job so far, I look forward to hear from you again with some positive test results.

    Have a nice day!

    Jesper

  • Simone

    Damn, Day 12 was *hard*! Puff pant 🙂

  • john

    i have had alot of success in the early season with the vo2 intervals, especially the 30 on, 30 0ff. usually started them in january and continued up til first races of the season at the end of march. i am about to do a 3 week stretch now of your vo2 intervals for the cyclocross season that get under way in middle of sept. i ahve never really targeted the cross season, but want to see a better consistency and hope the intervals help with this.

    john mccormick (canada)

  • Rh

    I have modified this program as a running program and am currently on day 8 and going well. I will use some of the workouts in the future for sure. 14 days straight is really tough, but I can tell I will have some big time improvements when I rested. Maybe even more than cyclist as improvements in running efficiency are sure to make me even faster.

    To any newbie runners reading this, 14 days of intervals will get you injured. Not only are they very tough on your body, this program assumes there will be a volume decrease. 7+ hours/week at these speeds works out to be well over 40 miles.

  • Jesper:

    To increace recovery time, could I do these workouts as 2 a days?
    ie: do workout 1 on sunday, workout’s 2 and 3 on monday, take tuesday off then workouts 4 and 5 on wednesday, take thursday off… etc. is this appropriate if it will work for me or must I do the protocol as outlined?

  • Leo,

    It’s better to do one workout per day since each training session is quite difficult. In theory, though, it’s possible to make training plans with two or more high intensity mini-workouts every day. It would be interesting to see how that could work, but the current setup for VO2 max booster program is probably a bit too hard for such experiments.

    I think you shall take a recovery day or two during the program, thus making the complete training program last 15 or 16days or more.

    Best regards,

    Jesper

  • leo

    really helpful, thanks Jesper.

  • Jesus Lamb

    Hi Jesper. I really enjoy your tips and articles. I’m from Tucson Arizona and the racing season here is from January to September with Crit, Road and Stage races every weekend through April. It slows down after that with June through September having time trial series. I race 30-40 races per year as Cat 3 and in 40+ masters. When is a good time to do the 14 day vo2 maxworkouts? Thank you for your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Daniel W

    Well I should preface my results with a little context, It was during the very early stages of my getting back on the bike that I started this program….2+ weeks ago, I had started to get back into shape, but this program definitely kicked that into high gear.

    SO then the results: my 5 min at outset was: 270 and I ended up with a 5 min of 310. I just started again and I am expecting a smaller increase…for one the increase is due to: weight loss, just being in general better shape, ect. However the program makes great sense, I love it. However I will try to get in some regular old FTP training in as well just because it helps with pacing…. Thanks Jesper!

  • James

    I finally got to Day12 today. yesterday I rode 3 hours outdoors after taking a rest day the day before so it was off by a couple days. I struggled to finish the 2nd interval at 100%; the last 90s were brutal but I hung in there. I did not have a problem completing the 2 final intervals at 80%. Look forward to finally being done with this very intense program.

  • J Siviour

    Qualified success:
    Background: use PowerTap SL+ (set up a couple of weeks ago) running Golden Cheetah software. The software (GC) has a Critical Power Plot which includes a predicted curve. Based on my few readings to that time, my predicted 5 min power was 350w, although my 5min TT test result was 306w. I decided to do the interval program on the basis that 350w was my 5min power.

    Actions and Outcomes: I worked for 11 out of 12 days on the intervals. Yes I skipped from Day 2 to Day 6 (a fellow cyclist suggested it was too easy). The intervals were a struggle and on occasion I lost count and did too many and on one occasion I did 1 fewer than per program. On many occasions I struggled to average the required wattage however on all but 1 occasion I achieved required output (on that occasion I was 3 watts short). My biggest difficulty was maintaining constant output: minor variations in gradient/surface/concentration resulted in wild variation of output…I also found that my initial acceleration at the start of an interval would result in a power spike over 400w. After the program my legs felt sluggish so I had a few days of active and slothful rest 🙂 .

    Oh the Result: did 5 min TT up “1 in 20”. 349w: yeah I am a wuss…and I was hoping for much better. At least this result sits on the anticipated power curve generated by Golden Cheetah (rather than just being the projected 5 min power value). So you can view it as a 1w decrease or a 43w increase…both are valid answers and I am happy to compromise and take a 20w increase. I suspect I was pushing too big a gear as the quads were burning and the breathing was not quite desperate….there was not much left in the tank as the legs were tingling and it took 5 min of recovery before I resumed generating reasonable power figures.

    Power varied from a low of 220w, closely followed by a high of 520w (as I attempted to compensate) just prior to the finish of the test. Speed varied between 16.5 & 24 (km/h). I figure I can easily improve on 349w (not by much) by improved technique, without improved fitness. I aim to go out and just stay above 350w and see what turns up.

    Notes: When I was struggling with power I was, by standing able to increase the wattage, however the readings jumped about…a lot. I need to change gears more often in response to gradient change and may need to go 1 gear easier.

    I am 51 years, 90kg riding 11kg bike (inc clothing etc), 1 min 554w, 20min 301w.

    Lastly thank you for the program and the motivation. Try it you will not regret it no matter the outcome. js

  • MJ

    First of all, Jesper, thank you for this great program.

    I am a novice cyclist who started really last September with 5-10 rides outside, and spent most of the time on my computrainer in the winter time, starting Dec 2009. At that time I did a VO2Max test in the lab and it came at 230W (yeah, I know pretty bad, but I am determined to improve over the coming years.). I was not able to train in Jan due to a very bad flu so I really spent some serious time on the computrainer since Feb (was doing mostly my Zone 1). On March 12, I started your V02MAx booster program and today I just tested myself again. I am happy to let you know that my VO2Max power went up by 30W, to 260W. I am happy with the result and I wanted to share this result with you.

    Got a question for you…I am keen to improve this result further, so I was thinking to do my regular zone 1 and some zone 3 sessions for the next months or so, and was hoping to try your program again in a month, with my new VO2MAx numbers with a goal/hope to increase is another 20-30W. Would you recommend that or not? If not, why not?

    Thanks,MJ

  • Shay

    Hi!
    thanks for this awesome program – I want to use it before a race as a way to “taper” into the race since I found that I need to train intervals through a taper – what day should day 13 be before a race? should I finish this program the day before the race or 2…? Thank you so much!
    Shay

  • James

    I would leave yourself at least 2 days, 3 if you are especially fatigued after completing the final day before you race. Gives you a chance to fit in a longer ride at low-moderate intensity and a recovery ride then you should be able to rip it.

  • PowerTap SL
    Previous best 5′ test was 260 watts

    I followed the workouts to a ‘T’ and about 18 days later (I took 4 days easy or off the bike to recover), I retested and put down 296 watts!

    I’m toying with the idea of taking a week and just riding then trying another round of this program to see the results. I don’t expect them to be as good as this first one but it should get me into the 300s.

  • Just finished Day 14 yesterday. Modified the program for running and made it even more difficult by adding a second easy run of 40-70mins on most weekdays. The hardest day was as most have pointed out was Day 12 but I got through it and even added a final set of 6x1min @ 100% just because I could. The last day I finished up with 24 x 30sec reps with the last 12 run quicker than 100% as I was getting bored. I based my VO2 paces on a physiological test I had at the Intitute of Sport but I’m thinking I might be a little faster now as I found the program not quite as hard as anticipated. I’m giving myself two weeks of higher volume and easier running with only 2-3 workouts before trying it again but will run the test to determine new paces. The most exciting part of the test was just how good my legs felt. They are usually much sorer during a higher volume of easier training. The last 14 days have definitely opened up my eyes to how much intensity I can put into my training. Already looking forward to the next cycle.

  • Richard

    hi all, I do not have a power meter, and was going to perform the test from HR values. Do I use my projected HR max (188) as 100% and work the rest out from there? also, to allow consistencey following this HR route would it be best to hold cadence at, say 100 rpm, and then inc / dec the resistance to get the increase/decrease in HR?

    Thank you Jesper for the plan, lets hope i see some results. For the base test i will fix my HR output, cadence, and resistance, and make a note of the distance covered. Through the hopeful increase in VO2 my final test should show an increased distance for the same criteria shouldnt it?

    many thanks,

    Richard.

  • Jeff

    Hi,

    I have recently done significant research into V02 Max training. I was interested in a specific anomally; that is that the research I have done indicates that for V02 Max training to be truly effective, it must be done in a minimum of 3 minutes. Anything less will not cause the body to be subject to the necessary stress long enough to cause adaptation. Now I know that intervals of less than 3 minutes do help; but I wondered what your feelings on this were.

  • @Jeff – If your total work time is shorter than 3 minutes it is very unlikely that you will reach your VO2 max. However, during repeated short intervals like 30/30sec or 40/20sec you will reach your VO2 max and get a great stimulus.

  • Jeff

    Thanks for the response. I did not word my initial comment very well. What I failed to clarify was that the minimum time for each interval should be at least 3 minutes. The basis for this is that the interval needs to be at least two minutes to truly get to V02 and at least one minute thereafter to properly stress for adaptation. It was a recent article by Hunter Allen/Andrew Cogan. It made sense; however, I have used the 30/30, 40/20 type intervals and had success. As with most things, there is probably more than one good way to skin a cat. I think switching workouts up and constantly confusing the body works best; and there are many ways to do that.

  • Hy Jesper
    I’m a amateur cyclist racer. Starting with more serious trainings when I joined the team for witch I race this year. Now I study away from home where I don’t have a bike. But I found gym with spinning bike with power meter. I got through your VO2max booster program. At first 5min VO2max I managed a 320W average output. Must say that I am begining to love these intervals and intensity at wihich I train now. Before my trainings based on heart rate but now I see the benefits of power meter method. I trained very strict. I onley took off my weekends couse then I train with my group. So your program extended to 3 weeks. Must say that Day 12 was really one hell of a ride 🙂 Yesterday I made another test and end result was 360W.
    I would like to see how much more can I gain till racing season which starts around 15.4.2011 with amateur races in my country.
    I really appreciate your effort. Many thanks!!

  • Dan

    Hi Jesper,
    I am in my second cycle of the VO2 Max Booster program. I went up 30 watts after the first round. Should I do a third round or is there a limit to this type of training?

  • Steven Baker

    I am currently undergoing the second cycle of the programme. I started the first programme a little deconditioned and scored 334 Watts avg for 5 mins. After completing the programme I scored 383 Watts! and I had to rest for 5 secs as I completely blew up going out to hard.

    I have only a few days left on this cycle and I am anticipating to reach 400 Watts for my next 5 min test which I will be happy with. I have found my legs are not suffering as much in this second cycle, so much so that i have been able to add a 30 min spin session in the morning for weight management purposes. Ultimately I am hoping to plateau and then I will stay at that level rotating through the cycle to see what happens and how the body deals with it.

    Thanks for a remarkable programme. It is the first time in a number of years I have trusted my training design to another and I am really happy with the results. Thanks Jesper (coach!)

  • @ Jeff, regarding 3 min minimum for Vo2 workouts. Studies by Veronica Billat show that test subjects running at minimum VO2 Max Velocity with in the 30/30 pattern spent more time at VO2 max than runners running continuously at their own time limite of VO2 max velocity. If training effect results from time spent at Vo2 max, then 30/30s are “better” than continuous intervals as they allowed more total time at actual Vo2 max. This doesn’t take into account specificity of races, but it address your question of minimum length of intervals.

  • Jeff

    Thanks Suzanne!

  • Robert

    Thanks Jesper. Been there done that – lifted my 5min test from 257w to 275w. As a beginner rider using a powertap for the first time, and living in an isolated area where I have to train on my my own this programme was invaluable. But, what do I do no now – wiyth no coach and only a little experience it would be great if you could give me some direction to keep my endurance and power improving

  • Ali

    Hi Jesper ,

    First of all thank you so much for your great book and programs. I had completed 14 days VO2Max Booster program yesterday and today I have just finished VO2Max test. I started about 2 months ago “12 weeks winter training program” and I combined with VO2Max Booster program.So my first test was 309 Watt and today it is 342 Watt. I started with 87Kg and now I am 85 kg. I guess it worked good. 🙂

  • Awesome results, Ali! Congratulations. 🙂

    When did you begin to implement the VO2 sessions in the 12-week winter training program?

  • Ali

    Hi Jesper ,

    I started to implement the VO2 session in 12-week winter training probram 14 days ago. So I started my first VO2 max training at 08.03.2012 and I had training everyday during 14 days with 12 weeks winter training. I enjoyed to combine tham and I did firstly VO2Max training afterwards 12 weeks winter training.Hope I didn’t do some wrong training.

    I am continue and now at 7th week of 12 weeks winter training.

    I am happy that i have good VO2Max increasing .

    Thank you very much for your quick response.

  • Ali

    Hi Jesper ,

    Last week I’ve finished my “12-week winter training program” and today I had 30min. performance test. It was 245 Watt before training and today it is 275 Watt. I started with 87 kg and now I am 81 kg. Hope it is not a bad result.

    I am riding 3-4 days per week and I would like to ask you that how should I continue now and which training? What is your recommendation? I thouht maybe I can repeat VO2Max training again but please help me about it.

  • thomas

    If 5′ power VO2max increases, will FTP raise in the same amount?
    ex: 5% raise in VO2max5’power output, also 5% raise in FTP?

  • @ Ali – Your results with the ’12-week winter training program’ are excellent! Congratulations! I suggest three weekly intervals sessions for further progress. Choose interval types that meet your overall goals, e.g. riding a steady pace 100 miles race, 40K time trial, 1hr mountain bike race etc. So you should combine the intervals from the winter training program with VO2 max and/or anaerobic workouts 1-2 times per week.

    @ Thomas – It is impossible to predict how much or how little FTP will increase while your 5′ power goes up.

  • Stewart

    Hi,

    My 5 min test on day 1 was 320W. My test this evening after the end of the program was 360W. I found the first few sessions pretty tough but then it got easier toward the end. I’m really happy with the result and keen to see how the improvement translates out onto the road (I don’t have a power meter so did it all on a stationary bike at the gym).

  • thomas roien

    Hep
    My 5 min test on day 1 was 400Watt. My test today after the program was 410Watt. Not super happy with the result. Had actually expected more.
    Had 3 days of rest. Maybe it’s not enough. But I have a race sunday. Might try a test agian next week.
    By the way I’m 73kg

  • thomas

    Are VO2max intervals better to increase FTP?

  • Julie

    Hi Jesper,
    First of all, thank you for posting the programme, it looks very hard and so it has to work!
    I’m an endurance MTB racer, at the moment preparing to a stage race that takes place in 1.5 month and I want to use your plan to boost my VO2max, which is not great now due to me focusing on long mileage rather than high intensity over the last months.
    I have a 4-hr race in 2 weeks, and the stage race 4 weeks later. What do you think would be better: to do one week of you training, then take a 1-2 days off, do the race, one day off and continue with the second half of your training, or maybe to wait after the race and do 14 uninterrupted days of training? Would taking a break in the middle have some negative effect on the outcome?

  • Dirk

    Asa 50 year old injured triathlete (achilles-tendon => no running 3 weeks) started this program with no high expectations. Traing for 15 years between 10-25 hours/week… So keeping pace- wattage is improving for me… Start test 285W. After 2 weeks: 305W. Best result in 6 years. Good program, gives you “bite” Verry happy with this intermezzo!!

  • Hi Jesper,

    I have just completed the VO2max Booster Program. I basically followed the program by the numbers, with a few exceptions: Day 10 (fartlek or race) was replaced with the classical 4×4, i.e. 4*(4m + 3m) 97% pVO2max + 30% pVO2max (or 90-95% hrMax). Moreover, I’m coaching a couple of 14-16 year old MTB cyclists in the local MTB club, and off-season training includes VO2max running intervals twice week. Hence, the VO2max Booster was prolonged by 5 additional days with various VO2max running intervals, including 1000m or 30/30s intervals on track/trail, as well as 30s hill intervals at near maximum intensity with cross country poles. All together, the program became a block of 19 consecutive days with VO2max intervals. I was completly worn out after the last workout (Day 14).

    Due to a minor crisis at work I had to throw in an insane amount of overtime the week after I completed the program, resulting in 6 days with no other training than a 12km easy endurance run, and a 20 min swim. Anyhow, after the 6 “resting” days with very little sleep I completed a full test round over 3 days CP5sec/CP1min, CP5min and CP30min respectively. The result is given as follows (before program/ after program):

    Bike: Monark LT2 stationary exercise bike
    Power measurement: Garmin Vector 2 pedals
    HR/Pwr monitor: Garmin Forerunner 920XT
    Age: 45
    Training background: Elite road cyclist in the mid 90’s. Now a happer biker and scientific training nerd.
    Weight: 72.5 / 72.7 [kg], +0.2 [kg]
    CP5sec: 764 / 856 [W], +92 [W] or 12%
    CP1min: 472 / 480 [W], +8 [W] or 2%
    CP5min: 362 / 376 [W], +14 [W] or 4%
    CP30min: 299 / 314 [W], +15 [W] or 5%
    hrLT2: 173 / 173 [bpm], average HR during the last 20 min of the CP30 test.
    hrMax: 191 [bpm] (running)
    hrRest: 42 / 39 [bpm], -3 [bpm] or 7%

    My anaerobic power/capacity (CP5sec/CP1min) is incredibly poor “untrained/fair” according to Coggan’s power chart, and must be addressed obviously. However CP5 and CP30 (FTP) is in fact “very good” according to Coggan, and it seems that CP1, CP5 and CP30 shows a consistent improvement. No change in threshold HR, but a decrease in resting HR. A small increase in weight is noted. How is that possible after 19 consecutive days of interval training! Although I feel much more slim now (my jeans suddenly became a lose-fit model) compared to before.

    In conclusion I think the VO2max Booster is a very well thought of program. It is hard (otherwise it would not be a VO2max program), but manageble, even for a full-time working engineer with two kids having their days packed with sports activities. Having a stationary trainer (LT2) at home was really a must, for me at least.

  • Tim

    Hi Jesper,

    do you have any comments on cadence?

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