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Estimating VO2max

Old 11-02-23, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes

Per Coggan, training at VO2max, he suggests 110-120% of FTP for 3-8 minutes, increases VO2max capability. However, he does not say that it increases the VO2max measured ceiling. It may.
I just assumed it did. Not that it really matters, but it would raise any estimate of VO2 max.
When you read about studies of VO2 max linked to mortality, I presume those are based on estimated VO2 max of the participants based on age, sex, BMI and resting HR. Not lab measured VO2 max.
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Old 11-02-23, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Hmmm. I disagree. I set my peak 5-sec, 10-sec, 15-sec, and 20-sec power on a ride right after a guy in a car buzzed me and my buddy. I knew he was likely to get caught at the next stop light and lit out after him. The real problem is that I didn't know what to do with him when I caught him.

[Edited to add] Though to be fair, I don't know for sure since I wasn't wearing a HR belt that day, but I'm thinking my HR was probably a bit high right then.
You just reminded me of what happened to a guy I worked with in a bike store in Connecticut. He lived in Bridgeport and commuted by bike to the shop, in New Haven. Very tall, very muscular, very strong guy.

He arrived at the shop one day and told us what had happened on the way in. On a stretch of road in Milford, a couple of guys in a pickup truck apparently thought it would be funny to run this big guy on a bike off the road. Our guy said to us, "Boy, was I mad!"

He knew there was a traffic light up ahead a quarter-mile. While passing a construction site, he leaned down and grabbed a cinder block. He then tossed it through the pickup's windshield.

"They weren't laughing then," he said.
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Old 11-02-23, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Hmmm. I disagree. I set my peak 5-sec, 10-sec, 15-sec, and 20-sec power on a ride right after a guy in a car buzzed me and my buddy. I knew he was likely to get caught at the next stop light and lit out after him. The real problem is that I didn't know what to do with him when I caught him.
But those adrenaline/anger-fueled power records were probably not a good measure of your fitness. Certainly hard to repeat.

That's what I like about power vs heart rate: it's an objective measure of your response to training over a span of weeks or months (and you don't have to do periodic full gas fitness tests to obtain the data). Yes, it can vary somewhat daily (heat, dehydration, etc.), but it can reveal a trend. If your power is rising for the same heart rate, it's hard to argue that your training isn't causing improvement.
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Old 11-02-23, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes

I think we are all a lot more capable than we possibly imagine.
Not cycling, and not VO2 but I know this to be true. My best 1600 meter time in high school (1981) proves it so. 4:36, jr varsity second place district meet. Then in Varsity district only the top 16 athletes in each event were allowed to compete. My time and the time of the winner of my race were in that top 16 but since they were in the jr varsity district meet they did not count. How I did it was to use mental toughness and a burning desire to do the best I could. My previous best time that season was in the mid 4:40's at best. I dominated the junior varsity mile that season and had confidence in my speed and endurance. I pushed myself in ways that surprised and still surprises to this day my coach. When folks work past their fears and self doubts amazing results occur. Most of us never reach that point. I am not sure I have done so more than once. Jens Voigt once said "bike racing is all about who can suffer the most!" His ability to suffer made him a star.

Training for VO2 Max efforts should increase your ability to do so. Accuracy of any numbers in a tracker might not be there but I think it is fair to conclude that if you are using an estimator on a regular basis the trends displayed likely are correct and add value.
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Old 11-02-23, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
But those adrenaline/anger-fueled power records were probably not a good measure of your fitness. Certainly hard to repeat.

That's what I like about power vs heart rate: it's an objective measure of your response to training over a span of weeks or months (and you don't have to do periodic full gas fitness tests to obtain the data). Yes, it can vary somewhat daily (heat, dehydration, etc.), but it can reveal a trend. If your power is rising for the same heart rate, it's hard to argue that your training isn't causing improvement.
I think my underlying fitness was probably pretty much the same before and after that incident; what I think was different during the incident was the ability to fully express whatever fitness was there. I think "motivation" and "mental effects" can absolutely change that. I've seen riders attempting the 3MAO (three minute all-out) test; evidently, their ability to completely exhaust themselves varies depending on the amount of "verbal encouragement" they receive during the test. (I've been suspicious of the replicability of these tests because they seem so dependent on test conditions). From an estimation point of view, I prefer test protocols that aren't quite so knife-edge.
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Old 11-02-23, 07:44 PM
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The most brutal test protocol I have ever done is the Sufferfest/Wahoo 4DP Full Monty:-

Warm-up, 2x10s all-out sprints, 5 min VO2 max interval, very brief rest, 20 min FTP interval and finally a 1 min flat out anaerobic interval.

You definitely need to be in the right frame of mind to complete this test at your true potential! I aborted it once during the FTP interval because I was just mentally broken. I can only face this test once or twice per year and have avoided it altogether for the last 2 years! But when I have managed to nail it I have always been surprised how deep I could actually go.

A few years back I read an interview with the guy who had just won the national hill climb championship and he said that he probably won because he was the only one puking up after crossing the finish line!
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Old 11-02-23, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
The most brutal test protocol I have ever done is the Sufferfest/Wahoo 4DP Full Monty:-

Warm-up, 2x10s all-out sprints, 5 min VO2 max interval, very brief rest, 20 min FTP interval and finally a 1 min flat out anaerobic interval.

You definitely need to be in the right frame of mind to complete this test at your true potential! I aborted it once during the FTP interval because I was just mentally broken. I can only face this test once or twice per year and have avoided it altogether for the last 2 years! But when I have managed to nail it I have always been surprised how deep I could actually go.

A few years back I read an interview with the guy who had just won the national hill climb championship and he said that he probably won because he was the only one puking up after crossing the finish line!
A guy I know once said if you don't see a drop or two of blood on your chamois after the race, you weren't going full out.

I once described to a friend (a different friend, not the one above) the line beyond which I would not go: I backed off when my temples exploded. "Exploding temples?" scoffed he. "There are still two stages after that." That's when I figured out why I could never beat him up a hill.
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Old 11-02-23, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
It is interesting to watch VO2 go up and down on my Garmin. And it says I have a VO2 of a 20 year old. I put the Garmin VO2 calculator into the amusement category..

Here is my take on devices and apps offered to us as training tools. I think accuracy matters. If I think the knowing VO2max will aid my training and increase my speed then I will go to a lab that has a track record and proven accuracy, put on the mask and do a proper VO2max test and pay up. I would then wait for a period of time and go back and take the test again and reset training if required. IMO, I suspect my accurately measured VO2 max with a proper test will be difficult to increase.

I have an SRM power meter on my road bike and I find it very difficult to improve my average power on climbs that I do a lot. It is very difficult to improve my time trial times on a course that I train on and race on. Average power for the TT always is about the same.

I find that improving a power metric by 5 watts difficult and a 10 watt gain over a season is massive for me. Maybe I am just too old or weak. My point is small changes in power matter and require accurate measurement to detect them. I suspect changes in VO2 will be similar. And a VO2 test in a lab is going to be brutal. One has to ride like a rabid dog and push beyond what one thinks is possible.

Terry may be able to relate to this anecdote. When I lived in NorCal, each Thanksgiving morning, I would race up Mount Hamilton with the Low Key Hill Climb series. We were lined up by Old La Honda climb times. Generally, that put me toward the back of the peloton. One year, I decided to ride with the 20 minute climb time group.

We took off and I stayed with them for the first 5 miles of the climb with 13 miles and two climbs to go. I looked at my power and I was riding way over my capability. But was I? My brain took over and decided if I kept up this pace / power I may not make it up the final 7 mile section. I let them go and it was like someone let the wind out of my sails. I finished with my usual time to the top. But I set the world on fire for the lower section.

I think we are all a lot more capable than we possibly imagine.
Reminds me of when I set my best 20 minute power this season. It wasn't set during an FTP test, but just from me riding up a 30 minute long, steep gravel climb...where I was only trying to not let my cadence fall too low. It blew my actual FTP tests out of the water, even though I was arguably more fatigued during that ride, and I actually held the power over 30 minutes instead of 20.

At first, I thought maybe something was wrong with my power meter. Once I determined that the data was likely correct, my perceived effort level seemed to drop in comparison to power, on subsequent rides. My takeaway from it, is that our brains can be both helpful and a hindrance to our performance.
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Old 11-03-23, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
Reminds me of when I set my best 20 minute power this season. It wasn't set during an FTP test, but just from me riding up a 30 minute long, steep gravel climb...where I was only trying to not let my cadence fall too low. It blew my actual FTP tests out of the water, even though I was arguably more fatigued during that ride, and I actually held the power over 30 minutes instead of 20.

At first, I thought maybe something was wrong with my power meter. Once I determined that the data was likely correct, my perceived effort level seemed to drop in comparison to power, on subsequent rides. My takeaway from it, is that our brains can be both helpful and a hindrance to our performance.
Same here - I just set my 30 min PB a few weeks ago. Out of the blue, no preparation, I decided on the way to the bike path to do a 10 mile TT. Started below threshold, or what I believed to be threshold, and ramped up from there. At mile 6 I was well above what I thought my threshold power was, at mile 10 I was above that, at mile 15 I was even higher, and I had more left in the tank. At mile 15 I was pushing 20% more than my last 20 min test average.

I typically fail miserably at planned FTP tests.

That being said, I did push close to 1700W on a sprint one day - I was blown away by the number and thought I had superhuman strength. The power meter batteries were dying, I knew this, but they blipped out a reading that I in no way was capable of.
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Old 11-03-23, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung
A guy I know once said if you don't see a drop or two of blood on your chamois after the race, you weren't going full out.
I would be more worried about colon cancer if I was that guy!
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Old 11-03-23, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed

I typically fail miserably at planned FTP tests.
This is why I quite like the Sufferfest/Wahoo mind exercises as they give you some tools to help with this kind of mental block. Simple things like visioning a positive outcome, breathing exercises etc. I find that if I am able do my best during an isolated FTP test, it's a lot easier to perform in a more naturally motivated environment like a race event. A lot of it really is a mind game.
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Old 11-03-23, 10:35 AM
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Update: The estimated VO2max value continues to go up, gradually. The new number is 59.1, versus last week's 58.6. I also set some PRs this week (and some "old guy 65-69" KOMs), which lends some validity to the upward VO2max trend.

About that "old guy leaderboard": Some of the guys on there were much faster than me 20 years ago, so maybe I'm now training more than they are. Or maybe they're not trying as hard. Either way, I'm taking the "W".

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Old 11-03-23, 12:20 PM
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I wonder how the App arrives at those specific HR and Power values? Are they simply averages from the whole ride data or is it looking for specific steady state efforts?
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Old 11-03-23, 12:43 PM
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Here is a pretty good discussion of VO2 max. https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fit...ining/vo2-max/

Interestingly, pro cyclists VO2 Max ranges from 80 to 90 for men and 60 to 70 for women.

Terry is getting perilously close to being competitive in the women's pro peloton.
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Old 11-03-23, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Same here - I just set my 30 min PB a few weeks ago. Out of the blue, no preparation, I decided on the way to the bike path to do a 10 mile TT. Started below threshold, or what I believed to be threshold, and ramped up from there. At mile 6 I was well above what I thought my threshold power was, at mile 10 I was above that, at mile 15 I was even higher, and I had more left in the tank. At mile 15 I was pushing 20% more than my last 20 min test average.

I typically fail miserably at planned FTP tests.

That being said, I did push close to 1700W on a sprint one day - I was blown away by the number and thought I had superhuman strength. The power meter batteries were dying, I knew this, but they blipped out a reading that I in no way was capable of.
Power spike?
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Old 11-03-23, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Terry is getting perilously close to being competitive in the women's pro peloton.
That has always been my secret dream.
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Old 11-03-23, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I wonder how the App arrives at those specific HR and Power values? Are they simply averages from the whole ride data or is it looking for specific steady state efforts?
It's not clear to me from the documentation, but I think they just use HR and power averages for an entire ride, along with some other data (age, weight, resting heart rate). Then they throw in some machine learning stuff that's way over my head.
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Old 11-03-23, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
That has always been my secret dream.
The graph looks linear to me. I think you will exceed the women and track the men. You can take the graph to a race director and see if he is impressed.
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Old 11-03-23, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
It's not clear to me from the documentation, but I think they just use HR and power averages for an entire ride, along with some other data (age, weight, resting heart rate). Then they throw in some machine learning stuff that's way over my head.
It's interesting and a good sign that you are on an upward trend. Estimating an actual realistic VO2 max seems a bit ambitious. 59 is certainly a very impressive number if you are as old as I think you are. Am I right in thinking that you are in your 60s?
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Old 11-03-23, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Am I right in thinking that you are in your 60s?
Yeah, just "aged up" to 65 last month.
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Old 11-04-23, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Yeah, just "aged up" to 65 last month.
I'm a decade behind you and would be more than happy with a VO2 Max of 59

My current Garmin estimate is 51 (down from 55 a few months ago), Fitbit has me considerably lower at 42-46 (down from 47-51). But I am slightly down on power across the board from my summer peak. So the trend of VO2 max is at least believable, even if the estimated values are very much dependent on the App model assumptions. W/kg on the other hand is what it is within about 1%.
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Old 11-04-23, 09:36 AM
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My wife's VO2Max calculated by Garmin peaked at 73. She was age 72. She is the hour record holder at 38.6 Km age 70 to 74. She is also the 2k pursuit WR holder 70 to 74. She is going for the 75-79 hour record in 2025 with a target of 40 km. She weighs 105 pounds, 9% body fat and works out in the gym daily. She was tested at UCLA sports lab to enter a sports clinical trial and failed to produce any lactate. They disqualified her from the trial. Beware of trials that contain selected athletes.

She is always in beast mode. So there are a lot of other genetic features that matter other than VO2 max when determining if someone if going to set a world record. Her first coach in 2007 when she did her initial simple test on the trainer said Cat 2 power. That was untrained.

Do I believe the 73 VO2 max. Yes, to an extent (it may be higher) coupled with the hour record and 2k performances but I think the determining factors are her lactate production or lack thereof and total focus on performance, strength and weight control.
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Old 11-04-23, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I'm a decade behind you and would be more than happy with a VO2 Max of 59
To be fair, since the denominator of VO2max is body mass, I have an unfair advantage. I'm just a hair above 60 kg. So mediocre power, but fair power-to-weight ratio.

Originally Posted by Hermes
My wife's VO2Max calculated by Garmin peaked at 73. She was age 72. She is the hour record holder at 38.6 Km age 70 to 74. She is also the 2k pursuit WR holder 70 to 74. She is going for the 75-79 hour record in 2025 with a target of 40 km. She weighs 105 pounds, 9% body fat and works out in the gym daily.
Wow! Truly gifted. Your wife must fly up the hills.

That reminds me when I was suffering up the steep section of Page Mill Road (you may remember it, Hermes) one day, this tiny woman whizzed past me, out of the saddle, looking super relaxed. As she disappeared into the distance, she never got back on the saddle. She must have done the whole thing out of the saddle. The guy who had been riding my wheel said, "Aren't you going to chase?" I replied, "Hell no, there's no point."

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Old 11-04-23, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
To be fair, since the denominator of VO2max is body mass, I have an unfair advantage. I'm just a hair above 60 kg. So mediocre power, but fair power-to-weight ratio.

Wow! Truly gifted. Your wife must fly up the hills.

That reminds me when I was suffering up the steep section of Page Mill Road (you may remember it, Hermes) one day, this tiny woman whizzed past me, out of the saddle, looking super relaxed. As she disappeared into the distance, she never got back on the saddle. She must have done the whole thing out of the saddle. The guy who had been riding my wheel said, "Aren't you going to chase?" I replied, "Hell no, there's no point."

Talent.
Sh climbed Mount Hamilton 96:53 11,40 mph average speed during a LKHC race. I suffered a lot on Page Mill and avoided it. If we rode to the coast, we used OLH or 84.

Last edited by Hermes; 11-04-23 at 10:50 AM. Reason: Faster time
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Old 11-04-23, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
Sh climbed Mount Hamilton 96:53 11,40 mph average speed during a LKHC race.
That's an admirable pace for Hamilton, which is long but not steep. She'd probably be even more competitive on a steeper road, where power-to-weight ratio is more important that absolute power.
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