Nutrition for VLAmax intervals

In the Inscyd whitepaper on VLAmax, they suggest a couple of things to lower/increase VLAmax.

To lower:

  • Train regularly (5-6d per week)
  • Train mid intensities just below threshold + lower torque
  • Avoid high intensity
  • Never fully glycogen replenished
  • Repeated, spaced-out efforts

My attempt to tackle the above is to do "VLAmax intervals". 4 x 8min at 95% of threshold @ 70rpm with ~3-4min rest (increasing duration of the on-period as I improve week over week).

The last recommendation from Inscyd is a bit harder for me as they recommend 4-hour rides with 20min per hour doing the high torque work (I just don’t have that kind of time!).

Item 4 (reduce glycogen): I’ve had some interesting experiences I wanted to share and get feedback from the community.

  • RPE 7/10: Doing the above after lunch
  • RPE 8/10: Doing the above first thing with a coffee and a high carb (~320 cal) drink during the ride
  • RPE 8.5/10: Doing the above at lunch after eating very limited carbs for breakfast / prior
  • RPE 9.5/10: Doing the above first thing with coffee + and eating an apple while warming up. Cadence drives up at the end of the last two intervals. Barely able to complete
  • RPE 12/10 (fail after 2nd interval): Doing the above first thing after waking up without food/coffee, I cannot accomplish the training session and I go back to bed crying.

Relevant? Personal Background:

  • I do not eat low carb, but primarily vegi/fruit as my main source of carbs.
  • I’m big. 6’9" @ 205lbs ~16% body fat. I’m neither gaining nor losing weight.
  • My Threshold ~350w
  • My knee has some issues due to me forgetting to use a wider Q-factor on my left side late last year. Fixed, but now building strength back up. Used to be able to do these intervals at 55-60 rpm.

My questions for the community:

  • Is it better to do these first thing and reduce my intensity or is it better to have a higher intensity, but have some carbs?
  • What is your preferred way to lower VLAmax and/or do high torque intervals?
  • Incysd recommends “You can use the fat – and carbohydrate utilization curves”. I’m not sure which part of that curve I should target?

I am very familiar with INSCYD. If you want to reduce VLaMax it is all about not spending time above VO2, especially those really hard short efforts of sprint duration to 1min anaerobic high power. The 30 -40 sec variety is what gets most into trouble while trying to lower VLaMax. Next, the low torque intervals are good, in addition to the specific target of threshold 95%, you can also use tempo/sweetspot at that low torque of 60-70rpm and increase the duration of your intervals out ro 10, 12, 15 min even. What you eat literally can lower VLaMax as well, I find this the easiest. Eating lower carbs will force your body to use fat as fuel vs carbs. Our bodies use the “path of least resistance” when it looks for fuel and carbs in form of glycogen stored in the muscle is what it goes to first. When carbs are not avaliable via what you eat or the intebsity is low enough, it will use fat as the fuel source. This is where your fatmax zone comes in, for you it is 240-260w based on the chart you shared and this is where you use and burn fat most efficiently. This is the watts I would target for 1-2 rides per week. If you cnnot afford to do the longer 3-4hr rides, then these become 100% fat max rides of 60-90m, preferable on low carb fueling. I prescibe fatmax within intervals rides, after the intervals ride at fatmax zone or even the rest period in between the intervals can be fatmax zone, which also for many is within the lactate shuttle zone (LAX) . When and if you get that longer 3+hr rides you can target the first 60m fatmax going into the ride low carb and then start eating carbs for remiander of the ride. I would be curious to see what INSCYD set as your aerobic zone 2 base zone and what your VLaMax score was on your report. Finally, if you do strength or plyo stay away from the heavy weights and explosive plyo movements as this helps increase VLaMax. I hope this helps and let me know if you need more guidance.

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Thanks for the feedback Fpike!

So to confirm I understood you, you’re suggesting the 95% high torque efforts aren’t performed lower carb? But instead keep the lower carb work for fatmax rides (I can easily sustain ~230w for 4hr without much/any food).

My Inscyd stats (probably should update them this year, but I’d say I’m somewhere in between the two values below … threshold around ~350w). So fatmax around ~230w assuming I haven’t changed drastically from last year.

First off, I have not used INSCYD yet (although have a test lined up soon!) so take what I say with a grain of salt. My own, personal N=1 experience is to lower the intensity if doing these first thing in the morning. Something closer to 80-85% of your threshold at 40-60rpms (start at 60 and work down). I have found that when doing low cadence at 95% of threshold, muscularly/tension-wise you are “over” and then tax the system for sugars and start to bonk. Once you get used to doing these first thing you can push the torque (by upping intensity slightly or lowering cadence) and really hover around that point where you start to feel blood sugar dipping without going over. Over time the torque you can complete these at goes up.

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Thanks for the share. Yeah, I was thinking I’d have to drop 10% to be able to manage it without food beforehand.

This post was originally about the nutrition, but your comment about the RPM was telling. Under 70rpm and any kind of power is hard right now (and my knee doesn’t appreciate it). Clearly I have a lot of work to do in this space

Yeah, I hesitated to suggest this because people seem to have very strong opinions on this but nutrition-wise you could look into the exogenous ketones. (Not here to start any sort of debate just pointing out an idea.) If there is literally anything they are good for, it is being able to delay the need for carbohydrates / reduction in severity of bonking symptoms fasted. If this bothers you maybe a tablespoon of coconut oil would help.

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I did keto for a while and it was the only time I’ve been under 200lbs and 12% body fat in my adult life. So I’m not at all against the lifestyle.

The only thing that bothers me with exogenous ketones is the price! Good call on the MCT oil. When I do these intervals, it’s not really a physical thing blocking me, but mental… My brain just says no… So those ketones may make the difference!

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I know what you mean about it being mental over physical, 100%. Yeah, try MCT oil first and see if that helps. Also, maybe even a small amount of protein powder if still suffering. Let us know how it goes!

smashsquatch- no worries, your welcome! I am not saying do not do the 95% FTP intervals but as an alternative the ones I mentioned will help lower Vla Max as well and I think better as the intensity is lower. I love Sweetspot as the benefits are great and FTP maintance and a good bang for the buck. You can do them low carb if you can get thru them or do them on low carb an then fatax after. At the end of the day if your desried outcome is lowering VlaMax then it is more abotu what you are fueling with (what goes in your mouth) and staying away from intevsity above VO2.