Vo2 Max Sessions?

I have set myself up for time triallist with moderate improvement, have set the goal as March, so am in base phase.

The workouts being set are a lot of endurance type workouts, which I get, but I was wondering whether it would also throw in some Vo2 max sessions along the way as well?

Or will that come into play in the build phase. I was reading that it is good to throw in some Vo2 max session to be able to see improvements to higher levels.

Should I just start building those into my weekly sessions myself, and if so, would one a week be enough to see some improvements?

Endurance is the focus in base phase plus time trialist as type will show the least variation in workouts. So yes, feel free to pick and choose some variety by searching the library or filtering workouts including changing athlete type from outside your quadrant. Or use Load More and choose from the list of twenty recommendations which does vary a bit.
That’s how I discovered some of my favorite workouts. Once marked as a favorite they are easy to find in the future and can be dragged and dropped into the planner if you want to pre-plan your calendar from week to week. For example, rest day on Mon, Vo2 max on Tue, endurance variations on remaining days with longest workout/ride on Sunday. If you follow a regular schedule XATA will learn that pattern, but you can always mix things up during the week. Main goal is to keep the pacer needle pointing up to meet your IR setting.

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Thanks, so due to the toughness of a VO2 max workout, better to do it after the rest day, and you think one a week is enough to help push that up a bit.

Hi Marek,

The assumption of XATA is that during the base training phase, the idea is to build your LOW training load as much as possible before adding strain to your high/peak systems. If your low system isn’t trained well enough, you’ll have a hard time adding intensity without running into very tired training status. However, Xert will recommend workouts that are overwhelmingly below TP.

Since the XATA will adapt to whatever you do, don’t be afraid to throw in a HIIT workout once a week to keep some variety in your training. You’ll likely switch to yellow (or red) training status after, depending on your total training load, but XATA will adjust to that and recommend either a day off (red status) or more endurance riding (yellow status). Also, like @ridgerider2 said, I think perhaps the most helpful part of XATA is the training pacer. Don’t focus on exact surplus/deficits, but generally try to keep the needle in the 11-1 o’clock position. Consistency is always a huge part of improving, and the pacer can really help you keep a consistent (user-set) improvement rate. If you’re consistently behind on training, it may be a good idea to reduce Improvement Rate. If you’re consistently ahead without going deep into yellow/red status (and you have more time to train), it may be good to increase the improvement rate.

Hope that helps! Cheers!

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Thanks, any recommendations for the best bang for buck on the VO2 sessions in the workout list?

Generally, anything with a focus near 5:00 (and a mixed - pure specificity rating) is a pretty potent VO2peak session. Puncheur, Breakaway Specialist, & Rouleur focus types are a good starting point.

Some of my personal favorites include:

  • the Closer series (start with the 170 to see how it is… I’ve come really close, but have never fully finished the Closer 300 workout without turning down the intensity):

  • The Target MPA VO2max sessions are also a great workout. Note that they use variable duration intervals, so they will adjust in real-time and won’t end until you hit the target MPA. I’ve linked the shorted/easiest one here (80% MPA Reserve). The lower Target MPA is (i.e. 80%, 60%, 40%…), the harder the workout will be.

  • The Ronnestad workout(s) are also a great VO2peaksession (even if you don’t get a BT while doing them). We have a couple options in the library, one is completely done in ERG mode (https://www.xertonline.com/workout/ixhq7sl1oanzh7yy) and a second one done in MIXED MODE (https://www.xertonline.com/workout/fq1nzmfeo3kh6nua), where the warmup, cooldowns, etc. are done in ERG mode but the 30/15 sections are done in SLOPE mode. Having the Xert workout players in AUTO mode will automatically switch the trainer from erg to slope & back.

Hope this helps!


One other thought is that if you want to do more high intensity in the build phase, you should change your athlete type eg to climber, or something with even shorter focus duration. Sticking with time triallist is still rather lower intensity / endurance focused, so you won’t get what you’re looking for from XATA

You have confused me a bit here Wesley. I want to become a better and stronger time triallist. If that requires me to do workouts from other plans for a climber, why doesnt the XATA recommend to me workouts from those other plans to make me a stronger time triallist?

It seems a bit strange that to get the best workouts to become a stronger time triallist I would have to select a different type of rider profile.

Maybe I am missing something here?

Yeah, not the simplest topic and one of the downsides of the flexibility of Xert is that there are loads of ways to use it… and some of the terms can confuse… a fairly common question is what the right athlete type is, including for triathlon e.g. here or here

So time triallist is just a label linked to efforts with a focus of one-hour power = efforts at threshold. So at the most intense (peak phase), your workouts will (broadly) have intervals efforts of around TP (maybe a touch above). That’s by definition not especially polarised (may end up pyramidal at best, otherwise threshold).

Best advice for athlete type is to look at your past TTs and depending on the course (duration, hills, technicality / turns) you may find that you actually need repeated above threshold efforts, which would mean you need a shorter duration athlete type. If you have the power file, look at the focus that is reported for that… and use that choose athlete type… or go one step shorter if you want to do more high intensity

If you have time I’d suggest you do some reading (here, and search the forum) and listening to the podcasts on the topic e.g. episode 3 (but others mention it)… over time it’s also worth listening to all podcasts and reading through the support pages to get an even better understanding


Bingo. Just because you’re training for a TT doesn’t necessarily mean that the TT athlete type is what is most needed. Depending on the nature of the course & how you ride it, the focus duration will actually likely be much lower. As Wes mentioned, take a look at some of your older TT’s and check what the focus duration of those races were.

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This year I did quite a few 10m tts, and I was actually following the Sprint TT athlete. It actually worked out pretty well as I also won 2 of the 3 road races I did, so I can see that it had some great benefits.

But next year I want to really nail down a very fast 10m tt and also I want to do a very quick 25m tt. I did manage to complete one 25m tt but I suffered like a dog for the last 10 miles as was not conditioned for the effort for that length of time. So doing the time trial athlete now to prepare for longer efforts next year.

From what I have read, to get better overall as a cyclist, it is also good to try and improve your overall VO2. According to Garmin I am at 59, which apparently is pretty much a barrier to a lot of riders who train a lot, and only way to improve that is to do Vo2 max sessions.

Chopping and changing athlete types seems a bit of a pain, maybe I am asking too much from Xert, but I kind of just want to select how to become a very strong time triallist and for it to set me a mix to ensure that I get that. And if Vo2 max into the mix is going to help me to do that, then why isn’t it part of the tt focus?

Maybe Vo2 max sessions come in the build phase and I am being hasty?

No need to chop and change athlete type, just pick one of shorter duration e.g. climber or GC specialist, and run with it through the phases. Leaving it on triathlete will not give you much in the way of V02 work, even in build phase.

With climber focus, in base you’ll get the same workouts either way (i.e. endurance only), it’s just that in build and peak you’ll start to get the VO2 efforts you’re looking for. If you want to add VO2 efforts during base, you have to do that manually as @ridgerider2 says (use the workout filter and select climber)

Out of interest, if you look at the actual TT efforts, what focus duration were they (worth looking at a few)? You can see that if you go into the activity details and look at the top right (at least on desktop).

Hopefully this article might shed some more light on how the system works… generally the shorter focus duration you select, the more intense the recommended workouts will get (as the target event date approaches)

In the following image, which shows an athlete with a Puncheur Athlete type, the athlete starts their training in the base phase with Endurance workouts. As they progress through the build phase, the weekly focus slowly drops through each athlete type (Climber, GC Specialist, Rouleur, Breakaway Specialist), until the Peak/Taper phase is reached, which will consist of Puncheur workouts when fresh and endurance workouts when tired. In your scenario, you’ll never be recommended those harder sessions (GC Specialist, Climber, etc.) since your selected athlete type is relatively farther out on the PD curve.

Another option is to manually select a VO2peak type workout (try a puncheur or breakaway specialist focus) maybe once a week, since the XATA will adjust to what you do anyways.

Hope this makes sense/helps!

Ah, actually looking at a number of the 10s I did, they do seem to be tough rouleur rides.

There’s your answer then :slight_smile: Go at least for Rouleur, and feel free to try shorter duration as well :+1: