Welcome to my series: VO2 Max Booster Program
This training program will dramatically boost your race performance in only 14 days. Any cyclist can use the training program, but riders with an SRM or PowerTap mounted on their bike will get the best value.
It is good to know your starting point whenever you begin a new training program, and it makes it easier for you to track improvements and evaluate your training routine.
Maximum Power Test
Before you start training for VO2 max improvements, it is a good idea to do a five-minute all-out test to estimate your average watt at maximum oxygen consumption. There are other tests, but I think this one is simple, easy to use, and very reliable. You can do the test on a stationary bike or the road if you are the lucky owner of a power meter.
Once you have performed a five-minute all-out test, you can begin to train, and when you have prepared for a couple of weeks, it will be easy to monitor your progress.
On Day 1, you will have to perform a test to determine your starting point. The best way to do this is to perform a VO2 max test, e.g., a five-minute all-out test. Most people can maintain their VO2 max for about 3 to 8 minutes. So a five-minute test will come close to VO2 max for most people. Notice how many watts you can perform.
If you do not have a power meter, use an ergometer bike. If power meters or ergometer bikes are not available, then you can perform the test on a track or a steady hill to see how far you can ride in five minutes. But I highly recommend you do some power monitoring.
Please Notice These Values When Testing
- Power Output. The most important measurement in a power test is power
- Body Weight. It is important to notice your body weight when you do the test because it influences your performance
- Heart Rate. It is also recommended to wear a heart rate monitor, so you can evaluate whether you pushed yourself harder in the VO2 max test after finishing the VO2 Max Booster Program
- Time of day
Total time: 1hr training
20min incremental warm-up
5min easy rolling
5min VO2 max test
30min Easy/medium rolling
It is time for you to enter the VO2 Max Booster Program by performing the 5min test as the first step out of 14 to a higher VO2max. Good luck!
Next step: Day 2 – Intervals Targeted For VO2 Max
The entire VO2 Max Booster Program is also in my e-book Time Effective Cycling Training.
47 thoughts on “VO2 Max Booster Program – VO2 Max Test”
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Is there any way to correlate wattage during this test with a VO2 Max value? e.g. 300W = 62 (ml/kg/min)
Thanks for this post. I’ll be starting my VO2 Max Booster Program this week.
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Increasing power output with 35W every 4th minute is not optimal when you want to test your maximal oxygen uptake. These small increments in workload increase the risk of failure before you hit VO2 max.
If you want to do tests like this it would be better to use increments of 35W every 2minutes. This is scientifically shown to be the most secure way to reach VO2 max.
Just to get the vo2max test right…
I give it all I can for 5 minutes, and my vo2max is the average Watt output?
Is that right?
It’s 5min allout. Your average power estimates how much power you deliver at VO2 max.
Enjoy the program!
Looks like a good starting point for me. I would also like to know if i can still do my base km at the same time. I know it will take a lot out of me but i am on holidays currently and need to also do the base km for later in the year.
Sorry for the basic questions, but have a couple regarding VO2 Max Booster:
Can you describe the incremental warm-up in more detail?
With a heart rate monitor only and no power meter can the % of V02 Max for intervals be translated into % of max or avg heart rate?
Hi I ran the Test (Indoor)and managed 360W for the full 5 min at a max 181hr now what do i do next?
Next step: Day 2 ”“ Intervals Targeted For VO2 Max 😉
lol Thanks!!! 🙂
Thanks for this program. I did the 14 day VO2 Max effort about 2 months ago and saw amazing improvements. I am contemplating doing a second round of VO2 Max. Is there any guidelines for frequency of this program?
I am currently not able to afford a power-meter, but own a fantastic heart rate monitor aswell as distance/pace computer. Is there a way to convert your suggested intensities into heartrate or pace?
I completed the 14-day VO2 Program. I was hoping for a better result, but I think I made some mistakes in my after program test.
My weight is 72kg.
My Day 1 VO2 was 309W. (I did this on my trainer)
I completed all the workouts per the plan. On almost all the efforts I was 10 – 15% above the target wattage. Day 12 was hard, but Day 11 was toughest for me (I think because I did it on the trainer).
So, after Day 14 I took a day off and then did a couple days of easy riding. Then I had to make an unexpected trip and couldn’t ride for two more days. So six after finishing the program I attempted a 5min test, but after two days of not riding I could tell it wasn’t happening. I aborted the test two minutes into it. I did the test the next day and averaged 323W. I didn’t do the test on my trainer and the terrain wasn’t flat. I had a hard time keeping my wattage up on a slight downhill section. Through this section and after my heart rate was high. My wattage graph has a definite U-shape (strong at the beginning and end, weak in middle).
That being said I feel stronger after this program. Not only at VO2 but also at FTP. I’ll find out this Saturday during the weekly hamerfest.
Thanks for the great site,
I am nearing the end of a 4 month period of increasingly hard training, for an ultra endurance mountainbike race on 21st August.
This is my peak training week (19/7) ; I was then planning on light week next (26/7) to recover. The training volume in recent weeks has been high, i.e. 256miles/10,385m ascent last week, 12,000m ascent planned this week.
My question is, would I see benefits from using the VO2 max booster program for two weeks from the 1st week in August. Could this effectively be the start of my taper, given the reduced training volume, or would one week to recover after the booster programme not be sufficent time to recover?
Thanks in advance.
I have done this training program twice now and have found it quite beneficial. I do my training on a computrainer and have each day as a course file. I set up a spreadsheet which calculates the wattage set points for each days effort based on the initial testing result. Then I edit the wattage values for each day as determined by the spreadsheet. I would like to offer to share these files to help others as you have helped me. If anyone is interested in these files I can share them. Contact me at [email protected].
I’m about to start my new season with the 12 Week winter Training program and i would like to ask you whether to start rather with the VO2 boosting program or apply it after ( in some 3 months).
Thnx a lot in advance.
Hi Jesper, seems to be very effective. I managed all sessions exexpt the 2×3′ full gas, cracked with 15” of the last effort. All the training was done on the computrainer in coaching software, you write the file and the computer loads the resistance, the test was also done in this.
I had two easy days and had to test as i did not want the to test too close to race day. I am aged 56 and managed the volume fine, in fact the fartlek session i just made an amalgam of everything i had done in the past days with minimum effort of 50% of 5’power turned out to be the most challenging.
My race, I ride 2k 2.25, however the SC champs were over 3k with 2 rides, legs felt bad on Saturday, on Sunday race day fine. I recorded a 3.53 in qualifying and in the ride off for bronze went for it recording 3.47 winning the ride off by 4”. My time was even faster than silver. Historically I would ride 1”-2” slower in my second ride, but to go faster by 7” unbelievable.
During some of the training I did felt like around lap 6 when breathing kicks in, and thought this is what i need, ok power was a bit lower but you were exercising you Vo2. Very pleased, Pete rode fantastic
Many thanks, Ian Humphreys
Do you have any tips for cyclists that are not using powermeters? I read in your other articles that it is not possible to do such training with hart rate monitors because the reading will not be accurate for short intervals. Is it better for cyclist with hrm’s to skip this kind of training?
Wabs – I’ve done this program before with a HRM and on the shorter intervals I just used perceived effort to gauge the intensity. If a 30 second interval feels too easy, just go a bit harder on the next one. If you’re still breathing hard at the end of the recovery, ease up a bit on the next hard interval. It won’t take long for you to hit the right intensity. If you’re doing the program on an indoor trainer, you can also use your speed (or gear & cadence) to judge the intensity. The power required to spin the trainer at a given speed should be fairly constant.
In my opinion, it’s better to do this type of training at a slightly wrong intensity than to not do it at all.
I will definitely be doing the VO2 program this year- but how long should I leave after the two weeks is complete to see the effects of supercompensation?
Thanks for the site and ebook- you have really helped simplify training concepts for me
I have done the VO2 max booster program for the 5th time. I spread it out for 21+ days and incorporate weights 3 days a week and high end Versa Climbing 2 to 3 days. I work off of my indoor trainer that has a power meter. First test was 440 watts, then 465 then 490, then 515. I will test out on the 5th one next week. I really enjoy the training as I only get outside to ride with the group 1 day a week and when I do I count it as a workout on your 14 days.
I did do one 45 min time trial test (on the trainer) after the 4 time thru and averaged 407 watts for the 45 minutes.
Your training really works for me as long as I take a week in-between sessions to recover. Those weeks I just Versa Climb.
Thanks for your help
Well i was very sceptical at doing this program, thought it would be too much, the first week i found i was quite tired but got better as i persisted, i timed my provincial race for day 9, it was a 4 lap race of 28km per lap, i suffered well, ended up eleventh which was good for me, finally finished the program, did a race this past sunday, i found when the group put everyone into the gutter, i didn’t seem to suffer like i usually did, my recovery after efforts was great, in the last kilometer i positioned well coming through a tight corner in 3rd place however i was pushed out by one of the big teams coming into the finish, i was basically pushed out into the wind which didn’t help my sprint, came in a disappointing thirteenth, however i must say this program has definitley helped me with recovering faster after intense efforts, will do the test again and start the program once more, Cheers keep the rubber side down
I would like to do the VO2 Max Booster programme.
My question is how to do it without a power meter. I only got a HR monitor.
Thanks & regards,
Completed the VO2 Max Booster Program for the first time. I weigh 140lbs age 37 and managed 245 watts first time around. The rest of the programme felt relatively OK over the training period with my heart rate topping out at around 92% of a maximum of 190bpm. Course completed indoors on a Tacx VR. Second fit test done and managed 285 watts, that”™s a 16.5% gain! Took a two week break in Majorca and covered over 1000 miles for which I felt really strong. Had a 3 days rest and started round 2 of the programme. Thanks for the great programme, it really works for me and I can recommend it to all who can discipline yourselves to improving and not just heading out peddling with the crowd.
Now on day 4, great feeling
I just feel already it works! and will work!!
I mainly do sportive rides (70Kg, 38 yr) and I use a power meter for pacing.
I would like to follow your programme but ideally split over 3/4 weeks as I need to put in some long rides, any suggestions on how to best divide the workload over a month? (I guess the gain will not be of the same magnitude)
Many thanks for your help!
I am now Half Way through the program and I am really enjoying the the intensity of the workouts and the Extra free time.
I travel 3 -4 weeks per year. What is your opinion om executing the program for these weeks of traveling by running instead of cycling? Would That benefit my cycling?
Im going to participate in a race August 4 2012. I consider to implement your booster program as a preparation for this event. My 5 min watt is 405 w and do you think I need to do any adjustment to your program to benefit from it?
The 12 day VO2 Max booster program looks awesome! Im an avid racer really looking to get my intensity as high as i can. Intervals are obviously the best way to do this… problem is, im not fortunate enough to have a power meter & therefore find it very difficult getting the results im looking for. I do have a HR monitor, but cant seem to find a program developed around HR & not based on power meters.
Any help will be appareciated!
My back was against the wall, eight weeks to the world masters track championships and I was struggling. The garden was becoming overgrown, I decided the masters was a no no, gardening was the focus. Three days full gas with the felcos and a glass of red things were looking better.
Manchester was again the main focus , only 5 weeks, 2 weeks of hit 30″/4’x 8 every second day, then 14 days vo2 booster, one week taper using the reduced volume vo2 sessions and complete rest…….Manchester World Masters Ride off for gold. I was beaten in the final by a rider who was the defending champion, world record holder, not too shabby given the position I was in 7 weeks ago!
Once again I would like to thank Jesper for the e-book which has produced the results twice, really happy despite not winning, Jim Host was just much better on the day.
Yea I plan to do my fitness test fist thing in the mornig before work .And plan to comment on my results tomarrow night .
Well friday mornings test sucked I could not get the machine to do what I wanted it to do .So I had to go to another YMCA 40 Miles away and they had what I was looking for. The name of it was a Keishner and it showed watts and cadance . I was impressed after warm up and spin down to 65% I did the 5min test 450- 475 Watts and recorded my heart rate with my Polar CS500 ,Ave heartrate after the first minute was 182. hi was 190. So I cooled off for spin down to 60% about 10 mins and started the 30min test I could hold 360-375 watts I did see 440 a couple of time heart rate ave 185 after the first 20mins and on the last 20second I put the machine in the in high gear and tried to sprint it out 491 watts max heart rate 194 ,very low cadance on the sprint about 55 rpm .My weight all week has been 172 but it was 175 when I woke up this morning and I did fell a little bloated or maybe fully hydrated .This is my second week of this VO2 MAX Intearvals .I can say this program Rocks for me .I can stand on higear and tach out.11/28 39/53
I have a question, and as I define zones and % of power (watt)?
Is there a program that knife me this?
Is there a way to estimate V02 MAX based on HR and watt ave and miles on a bike.
I may have missed something but day 7 seems insanely tough compared to the rest of the program. Most sessions are around an 1hr but day 7 is an 1hour 40 with 30 second intervals at VO2max for an 1hr 15. There isn’t anything in the program that builds you up to this level. I had to drop back 10% and mix seated and standing to make it through.
I have a question please. Probably a stupid one. The program doesn’t include any sessions at an intensity over baseline vo2 max power. What’s the physiological explanation for how vo2 max increases by being “pushed” rather than “pulled”? Thank you!
I’ve done your 12 week program about half a dozen times now.I always do the intervals as spec however shorten the rest periods as I get fitter.With the warm up and warm down what zone or per cent of heart rate is required?.I must admit sometime I just do a quick warmup and get into the intervals.I add more intervals and shorten the rest as I get fitter.Should I keep doing this or stick to your regime.Regards Mick Deans C grade vets racer Melb Aust
Hola he hecho la prueba del primer día de VO2 max, y como tengo un FTP de 228w, me decía que tenia que hacer el 5´a 286w, y así lo hice.
Pero como el programa completo del día tiene recuperaciones y calentamiento, la media del entreno es baja, que debo poner en el segundo día los 286w que me decía del primer día?.
I made this program from 20220103 to 20220121. I increased my VO2 5 minute from 332 to 367 = 9%. The program worked great for me. I only made some minor changes.
I will do the program again before indoorseason ends march/april, and se if I can squeeze out a few more %.
That are impressive numbers, Basti! Well done!
Jesper – how do i access VO2 Max Booster Programme via zwift? i cant see it in Training > Workouts or Plans?
Can anyone help?
@Richard – you can find the Zwift version of my program here: https://whatsonzwift.com/workouts/vo2max-booster-program/week-1-day-1 (please note that this version is different from standard Zwift intervals. The VO2 max workouts are based on your 5-min maximum power (~VO2max), not FTP).
Well what can I say… It works!!!
Last September/October I had an FTP =201w after a couple of years away from cycling due to career change at the age of 43yrs. Knowing the benefits of base fitness I spent focus on z2 riding through until April and see a jump up to 248w, this was the start of the local club TT series so I used these as a weekly effort along with z2 work soon boost me to 261w ftp but then covid hit. Side lined me for 6wks. Not wanting to push to hard I focused back to to base building and then started back at TT’s a few weeks on, 4 weeks ago I set an all time 10mile pb 22m24s, following this I felt ready to start tuning the top end and found this 14day program. 5min max test =296w a few days after the TT pb, I stuck to the 14 days but also added some additional 90min z2 rides and I also did a 3.8mile sprint TT. My 14th day finished on a Monday evening so I rested until my weekly Thursday 10mile TT, this time I went 31seconds quicker with a new PB od 21m53sec 27.4mph average. I had an easy 25mile ride the following day and then a rest day before taking on a new 5min max test. I have increased my 5min Max by 28watts!!! Now it’s at 324watts. Over the moon with the improvement.
Stick to the plan and you will see the gains.
I shall now take 3 sessions and mix these along side my z2 rides over the next 4 wks until the TT season comes to an end.
I did day 7 today.
Garmin say 38h rest
And i died in the last intervals.
From day 1 to day 7 my vo2 max increase from 43 to 46.
I think i use a day off.
The plan is great ,and I am excited where i am on day 14.
After Day 7 i take a day off.
Day 7 killed me, i was not able to do all intervals, i drop 5-7.
But i ride to the end of the workout.
My VO2 Max increase 3 points the first 7 days.
So is the goal to not finish day 7?
Garmin watch say 38h rest. In the past the suggestion of the watch works for me.