Although VO2Max has an important genetic component, as it is closely related to heredity factors, it can be significantly improved with training. Let’s see how we can use BKOOL to our advantage to become better cyclists by improving VO2Max on the bike.
What is VO2Max?
Maximal oxygen uptake is the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can process per unit of time and weight. It is expressed in millilitres per kilogram per minute (mL/kg/min) and speaks of the body’s ability to absorb, transport and metabolise oxygen.
In other words, the aerobic capacity in any physical activity, whether it is HIIT training, a cycling time trial or a marathon.
When the intensity of an exercise increases, our muscles demand an increasing volume of oxygen to fuel aerobic metabolism. But when this demand exceeds our body’s supply capacity, anaerobic metabolism begins, which is only sustainable for a very short period of time.
In other words, the higher the oxygen supply capacity of our body, that VO2Max, the higher our capacity to produce oxygen and, therefore, also our aerobic capacity and performance.
Can I improve my VO2Max?
A proper and structured training plan, where VO2Max intervals are worked, can significantly improve this key data. All we need is patience and perseverance, because although genes play an important role, many of the determinants of VO2Max are trainable, allowing us to act directly on it.
In fact, in the case of untrained cyclists, there is talk of a possible improvement of up to 25%. In a study published by Roberto Cejuela and Sergio Sellés, it is shown how the Olympic triathlete Fernando Alarza managed to increase his peak VO2Max in cycling by 20% in just 43 weeks.
However, it is important to understand that this parameter is not the only determinant of a cyclist’s performance. In fact, an athlete with a good VO2Max figure may perform less well than one with a poorer VO2Max figure but with a better ability to maintain intensity. Therefore, a good training plan leads us to improve far beyond VO2Max.
The main benefits of a high maximal oxygen uptake are:
- It increases the ability to maintain medium-high power for longer due to the lower production of fatiguing by-products.
- Lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, FTP (functional threshold power) or critical power increases
- Recovery after hard efforts is improved due to faster cleaning and processing of the faster clearance and processing of fatiguing by-products.
How to improve VO2Max
Obviously, the best way to improve VO2Max is to work at these levels of intensity. This leads us to pedal right at the limit of our aerobic capacity, thereby obtaining several improvements: on the one hand, improving the power we can maintain at this level. In addition, VO2Max interval work increases our aerobic ceiling and creates room for further improvement in maximal oxygen consumption.
In our BKOOL cycling simulator we can find an endless number of VO2Max workouts. We just have to go to the workout search engine where we can filter by keyword or by target zone. As well as by difficulty and/or time.
Create your own VO2Max sessions
If you are already following a training plan and want to share it with the advantages of indoor cycling, you can do so by creating training sessions tailored to you. In other words, you can bring your workouts to BKOOL thanks to our Workout Creator. Here you can set up and create different intervals according to your training zones.
If you are not following any plan at the moment, and you don’t know your training zones either, don’t worry: at BKOOL we have several tests to help you calculate them and get started.