In this new “train like a pro” series, I’ll try to shine a spotlight on the training of a range of top professional cyclists.

The aim is to help you take inspiration from the world’s best and see first-hand what type of workouts the pros use to develop world-class fitness.

First in the series is a VO2Max workout by Florian Vogel…

A BIT ABOUT FLO…

Florian Vogel is one of Switzerland’s and the world’s most consistent MTB XC professionals, with a long career sat within the Top 10 of World Cup and World Championship racing, including multiple World Cup victories.

He’s also one of the best MTBers to follow on Strava, as he regularly uploads his workout files with power data included. It’s really interesting to get such a close look at the individual workouts of such a pro, as well as see how they structure an entire week and the ‘volume’ or total amount of work they put in.

Here, we’ll look at one of Florian’s workouts in preparation for the XC MTB season, discuss why it’s an effective session, and how you can apply it to your own fitness level and time availability.

FLO’S VO2MAX WORKOUT

Below is a graph taken from Strava of one of Florian’s workouts, which is principally aimed at improving the VO2Max:

Florian Vogel Strava Workout

You can check out the workout for yourself on Strava here.

As you can see, this workout is approximately a 2-hour ride, with 3 distinct high-intensity intervals coming after 40mins of riding in Zones 1 and 2. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in those intervals…

Florian Vogel Strava Workout Close-up

Each interval is over 400 watts when it comes to average power, and it’s clear to see that each one is made up of micro-intervals alternating work and recovery. Each interval is 10 minutes total, and comprises of 30 seconds “on” (at VO2Max power) and 15 seconds of active recovery in Zone 2.

That totals 14 “on” micro-intervals within a 10min interval. If we look at the zone distribution chart supplied by Strava Premium, we can see that Florian scored nearly 20 minutes at VO2Max intensity and above, making a very stressful but targeted session.

WHY IT WORKS

This type of workout is “hard but effective” as Florian puts it because of several factors…

The first is that the intervals are long in duration. Longer intervals are an effective way to illicit greater positive changes in performance, and expose the body to elongated periods of high intensity.

Next, the design of this workout using an “on-off” pattern allows for more time spent at the “on” intensity because of the rest periods, but the rest periods are short enough that the heart rate continues to rise throughout and stay high.

This has a very different effect on the stimulus than if the heart rate is allowed to reduce significantly, and greatly increases the overall amount of time that the athlete’s heart is exposed to high beat frequency.

Keep this principle in mind when designing training sessions for yourself or feel free to get in touch with me personally if you need some guidance!

WORKOUT VARIATION

For comparison and to illustrate a variation on this workout, here is a similar workout that I performed recently using both longer intervals and longer micro-intervals:

Tom's Strava Workout

My workout on Strava

In this workout, I managed to score almost 38 minutes at VO2Max and above, as illustrated by the zone distribution chart here:

Zone distribution

I was very clear that this training session’s goal was to work on my VO2Max development, and so reverse-engineered a workout that would score me the most amount of time at that intensity.

This applies to both the interval design as well as choosing a suitable location to perform the intervals without obstructions or interruptions like traffic lights, junctions etc.

This was a pretty stressful workout, but with the adequate amount of rest afterwards and making sure my post-ride recovery was on point, it should result in improved fitness down the line.

YOUR WORKOUTS?

What workouts do you use to work on VO2Max and other high-level cycling fitness. I’d love to hear your workout ideas and training sessions, so leave them in the comments below this post!

If you have any questions related to your training, please hit me up using the contact form here and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Stay tuned for another pro workout and commentary coming up soon…