Improving VO2 max or the ability to utilize oxygen in the muscles is something virtually every cyclist could benefit from. Whether it’s the push to the finish line, a hard section of a climb, or trying to hold off an attack for the lead, these workouts will help. Let’s take a look at an example workout, so you know how to set them up.

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One thing you should always keep in mind that’s especially important with sprint workouts is to always stop before failure. If you finish a workout before failure, you will get the desired training adaptations without having a prolonged recovery and perhaps even missing other workouts as a result. Of course, there’s a mental benefit of being able to push yourself this hard, but you should save that only for a few key training sessions and races, and plan for proper recovery time.

Whether it’s the push to the finish line, a hard section of a climb, or trying to hold off an attack for the lead, these workouts will help. © Profimedia

The goal for a VO2 max workout

The goal for this workout is to improve the oxygen uptake of the body and its delivery to muscles through blood. This helps a lot with recovery between hard efforts, so it comes in handy in races when you need to re-accelerate quickly multiple times.

Description

Our first VO2 max example ride will be 1 hour and 45 minutes long with a TSS of 105. The intensity will again be expressed in maximum heart rate (Max HR), threshold heart rate (Threshold HR), and functional threshold power (FTP) so that you can choose which numbers you are most comfortable with. This session could be called “1h. 45 min. ride with 4×9 min. blocks of 30 sec. on 15 sec. off”.

Warm-up – 20 min. at 65-75% Max HR / 65-83% Threshold HR / 60-70% FTP
Intervals – 4×9 min. blocks (each block comprised of 12×30 sec. hard effort or at 118-125% FTP, and 12×15 sec. easy spinning or at 30-40% FTP), 4 min. easy spinning between blocks
Cooldown – 32 min. at 60-75% Max HR / 65-83% Threshold HR / 55-65% FTP

You can go back to earlier articles in the series to recap how to put these workouts into smart blocks and periodise to reach your seasonal goals. © Profimedia

The goal for an anaerobic workout

The second example doesn’t only focus on VO2 max, it goes beyond. It trains your body to produce power above the VO2 max, and promotes utilization of fast-twitch muscle fibres. This workout will pay dividends during intense short climbs or when attacking during races.

Description

Our second example ride should be 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours long with a TSS of 98. This session could be called “1.5-hour ride with two blocks of 5×1 min. high-power repeats”.

Warm-up – 20 min. building up to 60-70% Max HR / 68-83% Threshold HR / 60-70% FTP
Intervals – 5x (1 min. hard effort or 135% FTP, 2 min. 15 sec. easy spinning or 50% FTP)
Recovery spin – 10 min. at 50-60% Max HR / 60-70% Threshold HR / 55-65% FTP
Intervals – 5x (1 min. hard effort or 135% FTP, 2 min. 15 sec. easy spinning or 50% FTP)
Cooldown – 27 min. at 60-70% Max HR / 68-83% Threshold HR / 60-70% FTP

With these workouts, you should have a good idea of how to build a workout of any intensity starting from recovery all the way to sprints. You can go back to earlier articles in the series to recap how to put these workouts into smart blocks and periodise to reach your seasonal goals. Implementing a solid training plan will give you a huge edge in racing if you stick to it. So, if you’re in it for the long haul, the best time to start is now!

Next up in Build Your Own Cycling Training Plan series

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