Where to go after a VO2max (intense aerobic) block?

This season had me building for an event that was last weekend (late May). I followed a really nice periodized approach that started with an aerobic base build from November–February, followed by a good block of FTP work in March and April, then a short, but effective VO2 block in April and May. This was anchored around intervals in 4-5 min durations with a goal of 12-20 min of TiZ (~90% of VO2max). I did very well.

My race is done and dusted, and I can feel newfound fitness gains (NP of 322w for 2hr 39m, a PB), but now I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t have a full calendar of racing, so I’ve got options.

When I talk to others I get a lot of feedback. Some say, just go back to doing Tempo/Sweet Spot work with a presumably higher FTP focusing on fatigue resistance and pushing out TTE. Other’s say do an FTP build in order to push FTP from the bottom up now that you’ve raised your aerobic ceiling. I suppose I could also do an endurance block. Again, there are many options, but I’m most interested in pushing FTP up higher.

Current tMAP is 4m 39s @ 397w, FTP is between 325-330 (maybe higher…)

I’m sitting here trying to make sense of this and plan my next 6-week block and how to best structure it.

What would you do?

Following up with some context for my initial plan:

First 3 week block (anchored with 3 workouts and one long ride (total volume ~7-8 hrs)

M: FTP work (over-unders with an emphasis on a high over–more race specific…Ex: 2min @ Sweet Spot, 30s to 1m at MAP)
T: Recovery
W: FTP work (sustained intervals based on estimated TTE (43min)…Ex: 3x15 > 2x30 > 3x20 @ 95-100% FTP)
Th: Rest
F: Tempo (1x60, 1x75, 1x90 @ ~80% HRmax or about 75% of FTP)
S: Long Endurance
S: Rest

Second 3-week block (anchored with 2 workouts, and 2 endurance rides)

M: FTP work (Ex: FTP bursts…45 min @ 95% of FTP w/20-second full gas surges ever 3-5 min)
T: Recovery
W: FTP work (Seiler 4x8’s, increasing power weekly)
Th: Rest
F: Medium Endurance
S: Long Endurance
S: Rest

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Sorry my ignorance but what is TTE?

Hey, I know this one…

TTE is Time To Exhaustion.

TTE is time to exhaustion is the duration at which one can sustain FTP. For some people that number is below 60min, and for others it’s actually above.

It’s a more realistic approximation of what your true FTP versus what it might be from a 20-min field test…which can over-estimate for anaerobic athletes.

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@anthonylane, I think you have good plan there. Your FTP as %MAP is in the low 80’s, so I think it’s reasonable to work on improving threshold next. Have you begun your first 3 week block? How is that going for you so far?

Thanks for the follow-up.

I went really deep in a race the last weekend of May (.95 IF over 2.5 hours) and haven’t been well since, a couple ill-timed strength sessions and a cold, plus a week long vacation has made it impossible to start this dedicated FTP build block in earnest.

I’m looking forward to it though, but I’m a little concerned about how I’ve felt the last 3 weeks and don’t seem to have reaped any aerobic benefit from that race–decoupling hasn’t improved and my Z2 watt/hr is about the same as it was pre-race. In short, I think I went too deep.

Trevor talked about this on one of the recent podcasts. I was hoping to build off my prior VO2 block and push the FTP up from the bottom with a new focused FTP block–hoping I still am able to do so. I’d love to come into CX season with an FTP in the 340-350 range…would make for a fun Cat 3 season.

Oh man, sorry to hear about that. I think we’ve all gone too deep at some point before, so can understand how you’re feeling. My advice is to let yourself come down a little bit. Take the rest and let your CTL (or whichever training load metric you’re utilizing at the moment) come down. It sounds to me like your race performance was a nice peak/breakthrough performance and I get the sense you’re trying to continue that upward push in fitness from that high point.

That’s where it can be hard to continue pushing up without first letting your fitness drop somewhat. Compared to your well-structured build that led to that race performance, the last few weeks seem to have been less than ideal in terms of structure, and the huge effort in the last weekend of May, the cold, strength sessions, and week long vacation are some of those life factors that need to be accounted for. Allowing those factors to run their course might not feel great at the time, especially when you see certain metrics remaining stagnant.

If you can take an appropriate rest period, feel a little flat, and then rebuild from there, you can still come into CX season feeling good. Since your first aerobic block was so well structured and provided the foundation to your performance to date, you can re-introduce that in an abbreviated format (e.g., not 4 months, but 6 weeks now since you already built that huge base earlier in the year).

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@ryan I appreciate your detailed and thoughtful reply. I managed a nice ride last weekend with some buddies on a local loop and was happy with my numbers for our local “Hour of Power” loop.

I’m assessing “readiness to train”, fatigue, and RPE daily to determine when the time is right to start another block. The first metric is super useful, it’s how I feel before the start of a session. Somedays you get up and you just don’t want to do the session, this has really been a good marker for me in knowing if I’m over-extending or doing just the right amount.

I’ve thankfully learned that what some might think is “too much rest” doesn’t actually impact fitness as you’d think. Watching that CTL drop is scary, but I have to remind myself that number isn’t a true reflection of actual fitness.


How you determine this by this metrics? i mean when the RPE goes down , did you start another block ?

Glad you asked. I just kicked off another high-intensity block. When I talk about readiness to train it’s not metric based, it’s purely RPE, mood, and how the legs feel. Like do I feel up to the task of another 2-3 week block of multiple hard session in a week or does the notion of that make me cringe.

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