Vo2 Max Intervals for Masters Athletes

Some research out there suggests that athletes over 50 should do “high intensity” intervals each week to slow age-related degradation in vo2 max. For most of the 18 Week Sweet Spot Base Schedule, there are sweet spot and tempo intervals (i.e. below FTP by definition) only each week.

Question - should 50+ athletes incorporate a vo2 max interval session each week or do the sweet spot and tempo intervals address the “high intensity” requirement suggested by Joe Friel and some other researchers?

Thank You…great content on this site and the podcasts.

Oh absolutely @franktantillo - all cyclist regardless of your age, I would add.

After you finish your sweet spot base then you should ‘switch from base to race’ and begin performing race specific intervals, including VO2’s

and you may find VO2 max training in many of our event specific plans especially the Road Intervals here:

I’m confused by the answer to this question. The question was about masters athletes doing VO2 max intervals year round as Joe Friel recommends. But, I believe the answer was that everyone needs to add intensity after finishing with base training? Can you clarify whether masters over 50 should swap out one of the sweet spot works for a VO2 workout every week or stick with the plan and add the high intensity after 12 to 18 weeks of base?

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HI @patcaldeira - we believe that you should do your sweet spot plans to their completion, following them exactly as they are designed (#FtFP) but then do a race specific interval plan with VO2 Max Intervals.

And by race specific we me choosing a plan here specific to the cycling discipline you plan to compete in such as mountain biking, time trialing, road, fondo, hill climbing, etc…

I was just going to ask you this question, Frank. Joel Friel is pretty adamant that VO2 max intervals are a year-round requirement for athletes over 50, along with strength training. Clearly you disagree. Why is that? His book “Faster after 50” is my training bible (I’m 59). I bought the the Sweet Spot 1 training plan, but if I #FTFP, I’d be ignoring my VO2 max at my peril (according to Friel).

I have this concern too. I neglected VO2 during base last year on another program, and I still haven’t gotten quite back

I was riding today and thinking about your question and it comes down to these three high level reasons for me not only as a coach but as a master cyclist trying to be my fastest:

#1 I believe in periodization - performing certain phases of training at certain times of the year. That beats doing the same thing year round every time (such as VO2’s year 'round)

#2 I believe long term consistency leads to the greatest success. And long term consistency means doing different kinds of training at different times of the year to prevent burnout, staleness and plateau’ing out. Together the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

VO2’s year round leads to unhappiness with one’s training and the athlete quits, gets bitter or loses interest in his/her goal.

#3 Myself and all my master cycling colleagues including many who are master national champions and incredible coaches themselves ALL advocate for seasonal periodization and would never prescribe VO2’s once a week all year round.

What’s important in this training tip is also what is NOT in this training tip and that’s 'doing VO2’s year 'round.

There’s a right time and place for VO2’s but not year round. I know of no successful master athlete in my 20 years of coaching performing VO2’s year round.

Hope that helps!


Thanks for the detailed, thoughtful reply, Frank. I’m convinced. Additionally, I found your podcasts on Masters Recovery and CTL really helpful too. Maybe this thread could be a topic for a future episode? Thanks again, and have a great holiday season.