Maximal efforts explained?

Hi Coach,

could you please explain what “maximal efforts” mean… I’m bit confused… my understanding is when we do the VO2 max efforts we should try to keep the prescribed watts ie. 105-120% of ftp and don’t go all out… if we go all out then we would hit the neuromuscular and not really work on vo2?

Also from Drew’s article

I can see Drew set his zones differently to Default in today’s plan… would you recommend to edit these and what are they in relation to %?

Thank you :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Hi @Maya, maximal effort is an “all out” effort, where you go as hard as you can for the duration of the interval. So for example, an “all out” 20 second sprint is the maximum power you can generate during those 20 seconds. It is not a VO2 effort, but rather an anaerobic effort, as the body is not using oxygen to produce the effort. Anaerobic efforts help build lean muscle mass and increase VO2 capacity.

In contrast, a VO2 interval is not all out and will have a target power, either in watts or % of FTP in our workouts. In addition, VO2 intervals are a % of “VO2 Max”. VO2 Max means maximum aerobic capacity, in other words, the maximum effort you can do while using oxygen to produce the effort. VO2 max is reached when oxygen consumption remains at a steady state despite an increase in workload. This can only be measured in a laboratory. As such, the target watts/% of FTP used in workouts are an estimate, as it is not possible accurately predict each athlete’s individual VO2 Max without lab tests (although there are alternative ways to estimate it, but they are not as accurate).

For the workouts that we do:

  • If the instructions say “all out”, it is a max effort, and you should ignore the target power. The only reason there is a target power showing up is that I am required to put an interval in TrainingPeaks when building the workout, otherwise there won’t be a prompt, timer or interval at all. It’s one of the flaws/limitations on that software. So I just pick a random number.

  • If the instructions do not say “all out”, then it is not a max effort and you should target the prescribed watts for the interval.

Regarding power training zones, Drew’s zones have been customized by his coach, and were calculated based on his abilities. There is no corresponding % of FTP for these because he does not train with FTP.

You don’t need to edit your training zones because the 360 VELO workouts that you do are designed to work on zones that follow the same principles discussed in Drew’s post.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!


I’m so glad I read this. I have more than once probably over done the vo2 intervals into anaerobic zone. Probably because of some notion that more is better but I see they have different purposes. I really appreciate learning something almost everyday!;