How to Make VO2 Max and Threshold Workouts Work for You – with Hunter Allen

Threshold and VO2 Max intervals are two of the most common workouts for endurance athletes. However, what is the difference between the two, and how do you best execute each one? We dissect these questions with coach Hunter Allen.

man in yellow cycling jersey riding road bike

Tabatas, over-unders, and sprints are just a few of the most popular types of intervals that have received a lot of attention for the gains they offer. But if there are two types of intervals that might be considered the go-to workouts of endurance athletes, it would be threshold and the dreaded VO2max intervals.  

At first glance, threshold and VO2max intervals can appear similar. For example, our popular 5 x 5-minute intervals can be used to train either. Crank up the watts with a longer 5 to 10-minute rest between efforts and you have a classic VO2max workout. But, with lower watts and a one-minute rest, you’re then looking at more of a threshold workout.  

Understanding the differences between the two—and how to best execute them—is very important. Helping us break this down in our latest show is legendary coach Hunter Allen, author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter, co-developer of the TrainingPeaks software, and founder of Peaks Coaching Group. Allen has used threshold and VO2max intervals with athletes from beginners to top pros. He shares his experience with us on what he’s found to be most effective. He also talks to us about Project Fuerza, which uses the power files of pro riders to create NFT artwork.  

Hunter Allen (pictured above) joins us to talk about threshold and VO2 max workouts. Photo courtesy of Hunter Allen.

Along with Allen, we’ll hear from Dr. Stephen Seiler, a friend of the show and world-renowned researcher from the University of Agder in Norway. We’ll also hear from Brent Bookwalter, a retired World Tour rider who now invests his time with the Pro Cyclists Foundation charity. Finally, we’ll hear from Dr. Robert Kenefick, a researcher at Entrinsic Bioscience.   

So, decide if you want to deeply suffer for just a couple of minutes or suffer for a longer time—and let’s make you fast! 

For the full list of references used in this episode, click here.

Episode Transcript

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