How to improve VO2Max on the smart trainer

cycling FTP
Picture: BKOOL

Maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2Max, is the value that indicates the aerobic endurance achieved during exercise. Measuring and knowing this data is important in order to establish the limits under which to design a training session, but how can I improve VO2Max using the smart trainer?

How much VO2Max can you have in cycling?

VO2Max, which is usually expressed in millilitres per kilo per minute (mL/kg/min), allows you to know your aerobic capacity in any physical activity, whether it is an endurance test, HIIT training, cycling, etc.

When it comes to Cycling, the usual value ranges between 40 and 45. But it can go much further, even approaching 90 mL/kg/min. Cyclists of the stature of Miguel Induráin or our ambassador Chris Froome have always been characterised by high figures: while the former reached 88 mL/kg/min, the Brit, Froome, reaches 84.4mL/kg/minute, according to data published by himself. Both are still far from the 92 mL/kg/min that Greg Lemond, twice winner of the French round, reached.

Curiosity: Norwegian triathlete Kristian Blummenfelt and ultrarunner Kilian Jornet have achieved the highest VO2Max beyond the two wheels of cycling: 91 mL/kg/min.

That said, it should be noted here that VO2Max is conditioned by physical and physiological aspects such as age, weight, gender, etc. Athletes with more favourable genetics in this respect are able to obtain more energy, as their body is able to absorb more oxygen.

However, it is a value that can be trained and improved. And now we are going to tell you how to do it on the smart trainer.

How to improve VO2Max?

As we have indicated, the maximum oxygen consumption has genetic limitations imposed by the physiological characteristics of each athlete, however, up to 20% of this value is a matter of training. So how can VO2max be improved?

By increasing the intensity of the session

The first alternative to improve VO2Max is to establish a very intense workout with high paces in a session that should not exceed 10-12 minutes. It should be a short workout, as very high paces leave no room for the body to rest.

The great muscular load generated by the high effort made forces the body to work at maximum energy level. For this reason, due to this high intensity, the sessions must be short.

This type of training consists, then, of keeping the exercise at the limit of the anaerobic threshold, achieving this improvement in maximum oxygen consumption.

Increasing the time of the session

Just as you can increase the intensity of the session, which is the most effective way, you can also increase the duration of the training session. Aerobic activity at a lower intensity favours the improvement of VO2max, so you have the option of a longer session, within the capabilities of each individual. 

improve VO2Max
Picture: BKOOL

How to improve VO2Max on the smart trainer?

After explaining the two ways that can be taken to improve VO2Max, we are going to explain how you can apply them to your training on the smart trainer. Here are three options:

Intervals with constant and high power for 6-7 minutes

Performing intervals with high power for a relatively short duration (6-7 minutes) is useful for stimulating a rapid heart rate response. This improves the volume of blood that the heart pushes into the aorta (systolic volume).

By the time you start to get used to this type of training you can add even higher power bursts (130% FTP) to continue to accelerate the increase in heart rate.

2:1 interval blocks

Intervals that use a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, for example, 30 minutes of continuous intense work with 15 minutes of rest, or 40 minutes active, 20 minutes of rest, are also useful for increasing heart rate.

The combination of blocks of intense activity and rest bouts motivates reaching the maximum possible HR in each interval.

Intense block followed by work-recovery intervals

Another alternative to improve VO2Max is to perform a workout based on a 15-minute warm-up at a steady pace, followed by a high-paced workout for another 15 minutes. After this you can set intervals of three to five minutes with recovery periods (3-5 minutes).

It should be noted that after each type of session you need to dedicate 10 minutes to a cool down and recovery period.

How to design these workouts in BKOOL

Bringing these three workout proposals to the smart trainer is very simple with BKOOL. All you have to do is access our Workout Creator, in the session menu, and design the different session blocks that best suit your characteristics.

Even if you don’t want to design your own, you can take advantage of the thousands of predefined ones available on our platform, which we and other users have uploaded: there is bound to be one that matches the session you had in mind.

You can choose up to six work zones: recovery, aerobic zone, pace, threshold, anaerobic, and VO2Max.

So in conclusion, improving VO2Max is possible and can be achieved through specific training sessions of long duration or high intensity.

In achieving this goal, the smart trainer is your best ally, as is the BKOOL virtual simulator.

Remember: BKOOL gives you the opportunity to design workouts with the power intervals and duration you want, as well as with the necessary rest periods. Set the session that best suits your characteristics and goals and pedal to the metal! Access the free trial through our website.


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