THIS is the story behind developing an effective, motivating, and personalized interval session, the perfect booster for VO2 max. If you want to skip the theory, you can go directly to the VO2 max session here.
I have analyzed many heart rate and power files from cycling races during the last few years. I have spent time focusing on the most decisive moments during cycling races, for example, the moment when you try to shake off your nearest challengers. This method is designed specifically for race cyclists; however, endurance athletes, in general, will boost their VO2 max with this training method.
Based on my analysis and research, I’ve developed a unique training method that will dramatically boost your VO2 max. And I’ve been using this new interval training session in training plans during the last year with great success.
It is the first time I have shared this exclusive information, so you could say this is a world premiere.
My analysis of heart rate monitor and power meter files
At the crucial moments during a race, elite athletes will perform at their five-minute maximum power (VO2 max) for about two to three minutes. Since they are already warm (on 80-85% of max heart rate) because they have been racing, it only takes a short burst of power before they hit VO2 max peak.
Riders who launch an attack typically establish a gap of between 50 to 100 meters during these initial minutes of aggressive cycling. All cyclists, breakaway riders, and people left in the peloton will feel the burn in their legs at these moments so everybody will be suffering.
Since the breakaway riders have already expended a lot of energy to establish their lead, they will have to keep struggling in the hope that the peloton will allow them to get away.
If they establish a small breakaway group, they will keep the intensity slightly below or around functional threshold power. But as the initial two to three minutes were at their VO2 max, they would have already used a significant part of their anaerobic reserve.
This means they have to maintain the highest possible intensity without accumulating additional lactic acid to avoid blowing up.
During this continued attack, they have to ride at an intensity close to their functional threshold power. So the following five to eight minutes are crucial in deciding if this will turn out to be a winning break or not.
If the peloton fails to reel in this group of leaders within five minutes, it is more than likely that they will not see them again during the race. But if the pack does manage to chase down the breakaway riders, then the race becomes wide open again, and there is a golden opportunity to launch a counter-attack.
Remember that we are talking about breakaways established at the ‘business end of a race’ – not tactical moves during the early stages.
Five Reasons Why This Training Method Works
VO2 Max. You get extended stimuli of your aerobic system at an intensity close to or at your maximal oxygen consumption. The initial two minutes activate your aerobic system, which performs close to maximum. When you reduce your intensity to threshold power, you’ll be able to continue at maximal oxygen consumption without accumulating too much lactic acid.
Therefore, you get an extended period with maximum impact on your aerobic system without too much suffering (don’t forget, though, it’s still a challenging workout).
You’ll reach a heart rate >92% of maximum heart rate.
Motivating interval design. The initial 30-40 seconds is a piece of cake, but it gets more complicated. When you’ve completed the first minute, you will be halfway through the most challenging part.
By pushing the highest power outputs at the beginning of the interval, you’ll have a good feeling that you can complete this interval as scheduled.
High specificity. An old rule of thumb is to train with your goal in mind and do the training as relevant as possible. This interval simulates a cycling race, and it certainly feels like one.
When you struggle during the last four minutes of this interval, it feels you are enduring the pain of a tough cycling race.
Those riders who have been testing pilots on this interval session will readily confirm the same mental and physical experience.
Personalized VO2 max intervals. This workout is based on your performance in two different physical tests to create a customized interval session to suit YOU. It will offer you the massive advantage of securing optimal training of your VO2 max.
Great results are guaranteed. Your aerobic engine will thank you for it, and after just a few of these training sessions, your overall aerobic performance will improve significantly. It is not only your VO2 max that will improve. Your lactate threshold and endurance will improve increase as well.
They are the five main reasons I believe this training method should be an integral part of your training plan, at least during the last six to eight weeks before important races. Your heart will be able to pump more red blood cells to your muscles during maximal effort.
What you also need to know before your improve your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max):
This VO2 max session is based on your performance in two separate physical tests.
This knowledge gives you an advantage when you plan your training session. Instead of calculating your VO2 max as a percentage of your functional threshold power (or the opposite), you will base your decisions on your actual aerobic fitness at those intensities representing different physiological skills. So you end up with a bespoke training session that is perfect for you.
VO2 max power (five-minute maximum watts)
Functional threshold power (30-minute maximum watts)
If you haven’t performed these tests recently (<2 months), it makes sense to tackle them again. If you’ve never tried these five and 30-minute performance tests before, you can read more about them here.
The Best VO2 Max Workout for Cyclists – Here is the deal:
(Here is a quick warm-up routine you can perform before the VO2 max workout)
No power meter? Here is what you should do to improve VO2 max :
If you don’t have access to a power meter or ergometer bike, it gets a little more challenging to control pacing, but you can still have a decent workout. Ride the first two minutes as if it was a 4km pursuit and ride the following eight minutes as a 40km time trial. It’s not optimal, but it works. Your cardiovascular system will improve as you get a couple of these intervals under your belt.
What to do after the VO2 max session
After two rounds of 2+8min, you’ve had a decent workout. Some riders may want to ride more after finishing the VO2 max interval session, which is no problem. On the other hand, you may prefer to ride for an hour or two with low intensity, and you can add as much distance as you like. There is no maximum amount, however, if you are able to finish more than three rounds, it is very likely you need to adjust power outputs to your current fitness level.
Remember to refuel immediately after finishing the second VO2 max interval. This workout has a significant impact on your recovery periods, so give yourself the best odds to recover so you reap the full benefits from your effort. Make sure to have access to water, carbohydrates and proteins.
Aerobic power is also built with endurance training (and a lot of it). Intense exercise will improve your VO2 max, but your aerobic capabilities will also benefit from long endurance rides.
Take action now…
Here is one thing you MUST do:
– Try the VO2 max training session and comment about your experience. Make it a part of your training plan. As an endurance athlete, taking action is crucial.
and two things that will make me VERY happy:
– Write about this new VO2 max session on your blog or website.
– Share this link on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus:https://www.training4cyclists.com/best-vo2-max-training/