Reply To: 100% VO2max Development Concepts

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Yes, stop at 1 failure. But it’s a guideline. If the distance and pace are closer to an event like the 500 then treat it as a regular USRPT set. If it’s in addition to work for 200/100/50 swimmers then use it as a “conditioning” set.

You want to find a pace and interval that yields about 11-16 reps. If they die at 3 well something was wrong or the set was misprogrammed. I tell my guys to slow down on the first rep all the time cuz they take it out 3-4 seconds too fast.

“Given that this is about an approximate Vo2Max rather than pace, isn’t it always better to complete the set and get the work in?”

I’ve gone back and forth on this. On a 1:10 interval 12 reps is 14 minutes. I’m usually in the 12-16 range to failure with this set. If I do 7-8 one day I just move on to the actual race sets (I’m 100/50 free and fly). I’m not sure what the value of resting another 1:10 then trying to get your system back to 100% VO2max is. If you do 3 more reps to failure, you probably hit 100% somewhere in rep 2, then exceeded 100% on rep 3. So, half of the reps at the restart are just working back to the desired level. This adds another 4:40 to the set. I could’ve just rested during that time and moved to my pace sets…

However, if this set is for purely fitness reasons then yes, finding and maintaining a VO2max pace/interval that you can maintain for 15-20 minutes is going to be the MOST efficient use of your time. You might be surprised how adding 5 seconds to the rest period allows you to maintain a target pace much longer. 10 reps using 50:20 might turn into 16 using 50:25.

Another observation:
When you’re getting back in shape, 100% VO2max doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be breathing hard. If the delivery deficiency is in the local peripheral muscle then the pulling muscles will get that slight burning sensation and lose power. It usually takes 4-8 sessions to get into the “had to stop cuz I couldn’t catch my breath” failure.