VO2 max surges: 30-minute GCN indoor training session

Hank guides you through three five-minute blocks, each with a hard VO2 Max effort sandwiched between two sweet spot efforts

ClockUpdated 15:20, Thursday 25th April 2024. Published 14:00, Wednesday 6th September 2023

Join GCN’s James ‘Hank’ Lowsley-Williams for this 30-minute session, consisting of three five-minute blocks. Each block involves one minute at VO2 Max sandwiched between two sweet spot efforts.

It will leave your legs and lungs burning but lead to plenty of performance gains.

Explore GCN’s best indoor workouts, including anaerobic, sprint, cadence and endurance sessions

Why is VO2 max important?

VO2 max is the maximum rate at which your muscles can effectively use oxygen. It is the key indicator of the limits of your aerobic fitness, which is a type of exercise that is fuelled using oxygen. As soon as you surpass your VO2 max, you enter the anaerobic zone and your body starts breaking down glucose instead. Anaerobic exercise can only be sustained for short periods of time, whereas an aerobic intensity can be held for much longer.

VO2 Max is essentially about how hard you can ride without straying into those anaerobic zones. A high VO2 Max is going to allow you to push harder on the pedals, for longer. Research by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has shown that high-intensity training like this session is the most effective way to improve your VO2 max.

Read more: Is measuring lactate the key to cycling success?

Is this interval workout good for weight loss?

Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that interval training is good for weight loss. High-intensity riding with limited recovery burns more calories while we're riding, and triggers the afterburn effect, so you keep burning calories even after you get off the bike.

Read more: Struggling to lose weight through cycling? This could be why

Indoor cycling workout details

  • GCN instructor: James 'Hank' Lowsley-Williams
  • Indoor workout duration: 30 minutes
  • Indoor training type: High-intensity sprint intervals
  • Fitness difficulty: Intervals alternating between high-intensity VO2 Max and sweet spot
  • Benefits of this indoor cycling workout: Boost VO2 Max, improve aerobic capacity and weight loss

Read more: How to get started with indoor cycling training

Warm up on your exercise bike for six minutes

Warm up on your exercise bike for six minutes

Before we get into the first effort, turn the legs over for six minutes on your indoor trainer. Initially, this is a really easy 2/10 effort, but we'll gradually build it up to 8/10 during the warm-up. Then, we'll bring it back down to an easy spin in preparation for the main session.

Main interval session: three five-minute blocks of efforts

Main interval session: Three five-minute blocks of efforts

With the warm up done, we're onto the main session. Each of the three five-minute blocks is the same. Two minutes at 7/10, then one minute at 9/10 out of the saddle, before finishing with another two minutes at 7/10, then recovery. Enjoy two minutes of easy spinning to recover between each five-minute block.

Top Tip

Keeping the intensity high after that 9/10 effort will hurt, but stick with it to get the most out of this session.

Cool down on your indoor trainer for two minutes

Cool down on your indoor trainer for two minutes

Before you jump off your bike, spin out your legs for a couple of minutes. This should be easy - aim for 3/10. Once you've spun the legs for a couple of minutes, you're done. But, if you want to keep riding, have a look at this cadence session, or simply keep easily spinning to get rid of all of the lactate acid.

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