LSD to improve VO2 max?

Having been in the Nation for 2 years now, I’ve learned quite a bit about my body and understand my strengths and weaknesses pretty well. One thing I’ve struggled with is increasing my VO2 max, which as I understand it is the “ceiling” that allows all of my other power metrics to increase.

It’s not for lack of training or lack of trying! I’ve been dedicated both to SUF workouts/training plans and have been competing in IRL events (criterium, road, TT, gravel).

I know one of the benefits of SUF is that it works well for “time crunched” athletes who don’t have 15 or 20 hours/week to be on the bike doing “long steady distance” (LSD). Rather, you work at higher, more targeted intensities for 6-12 hours/week and your fitness improves remarkably. Until it doesn’t (i.e. you “plateau”)–which is where I feel I’m at.

The article I’ve linked below explains the “why” of LSD and how it impacts VO2 max. It’s making me rethink my training approach for the next year (i.e. LSD during the winter and adding SUF plans as I come into the spring/summer racing season).

Interested to hear other’s thoughts–especially folks who have been on SUF a while and are competing IRL.

Thanks in advance for your insights!

How Trainable Is VO2max?

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@Michael_Robertson It’s true there is more than one way to peel an orange, although your Vo2 is pretty heavily influenced by heredity. So you know the benefits of the workouts, training plans and the fitness that can be gained with fewer than 12 hrs per week to train. There are significant benefits to training at Z2 such as increase in mitochondria, increase in mitochondria efficiency, lower resting heart rate as well as giving you a broader metabolic flexibility. Now, do you have 16 plus hours to train per week? I’m sure you’ve done a 4DP test or two, so just remember to continue to work on building your weakness! Just be careful you don’t find yourself doing too much and overreaching.

Happy Training!


Last winter I was doing a lot of intensity and had really lost motivation to keep killing myself.

I did see nice gains through what amounts to reverse periodization, where I did intensity through Feb/Mar, then started putting big miles in when the days got longer. In retrospect, I should have kept up more intensity with maybe one zone 4/5 workout per week. And no, I was not doing 16 hrs per week. My long rides were steady solo zone 2 rides with constant pressure on the pedals.

I had always used group rides for my long rides, but those are really terrible endurance rides. Lots of coasting or going really hard, but not much actual zone 2 time.

This winter, each week I’ll keep up one high intensity workout on the bike, 2 days in the gym and everything else low-ish intensity that will ramp up slowly until January when I’ll move into build phase for spring races.

I think LSD is super important, but it’s just one tool in the toolbox. I can’t imagine doing only LSD all winter, at least until after I retire.


Appreciate your insight–I pretty much did the same: flogged myself all winter with SUF, then started adding distance as the weather warmed and the longer events showed up on my schedule. That way I was able to hang on in the 45 min criteriums in May/June, and build a base to jump into 40 or 50 mile road or gravel events later in the season. I did try to keep up with some intensity through SUF during the season, but mostly relied on group rides/races and a hill repeat ride once a week with a training buddy that was a VO2 max slug-fest.

My main concern is the VO2 max plateau. Maybe this winter I’ll try some more VO2 max specific blocks (instead of general plans) to see if I can “break through” to the next level…

Fro m my understanding the VO2 Max plateau is more to do with the actual VO2 Max measurement of oxygen uptake.

But when you talk about training your VO2 Max what you’re also/mainly doing is training the power you can produce at that maximal oxygen uptake which doesn’t plateau in anything like the same way. It’s similar to LTHR, mine hasn’t changed by more than 2-3bom in 6-7 years, but my corresponding FTP has fluctuated by around 40w.


When I read the title of this thread, I immediately thought: “Training on LSD is way too intense, even for a Sufferlandrian”.

Makes more sense after realizing the error of my ways :exploding_head:


@Coach.Simon.B Thanks for sharing the article - very interesting. Just finished the Vermont 50 yesterday and hit a PR that was minutes faster than my prior time. The race is 50 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing with a mix of gravel roads and single track. I was able to increase my average speed from 6.9 to 8.1 mph. A year and a half of SUF definitely helped and the mental training was critical. I actually was on the XC in season plan as most of my races are a much shorter distance. Next year I will try for more volume and try to keep the concepts in the article in mind.

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This is my favourite take on Long Slow Duration training :sweat_smile:

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