VO2 Max Training; MetCon is Mandatory

Hey coach, I was reading your article MetCon is Mandatory: Cardio for Physical Dominance and had a question. Quoted:
"#### VO2 MAX

To improve VO2 max, you want bouts of 3-8 minutes at a heart rate level of 90-100%. Again, going for 3-8 minutes isn’t enough. It needs to be done at the proper intensity. Doing 5-8 minutes at a heart rate of 75% will not train VO2 max. This can also be done through a constant bout of exercise in the target zone or via intervals. Proper HIIT trains both anaerobic capacity and VO2 max.

Best modalities: Running, stationary bike, treadmill, air bike, rowing ergometer, or ski erg for bouts of 3-8 minutes at 90-100% of max heart rate."

According to this, the best method to double-tap energy systems is HIIT. I’m a cardio noob because steady state cardio makes me hate life, but HIIT is all good with me. Getting to the point: how do you recommend integrating HIIT into a powerbuilding routine? Frequency, exercises, synchronization with training (I run PPL 2x per week, but any program works).
I hope this isn’t too complicated a question, I just know I need to integrate HIIT into my programming and think you’re one of the best people to ask about it.

Isnt 100% HR called 100% HR for a reason? I mean… something you can hold for few seconds? If you can do HIIT work for longer than 15 sec its not HIIT… 3 minutes? All the fighters must be morons training their whole life and still gassing out then?

P.s - i dont have the full context so if what i say doesnt make any sense, then just ignore me :smiley:


In soccer we use 4x4 protocol. 4 mins cruising speed run followed by 3 min of recovering speed, but not walking. That is repeated 4 times. It is an excellent VO2 Max builder. If you are able to do 5 km in these 28 mins you are in a decent shape. 10 km is almost possible but that is a world class athlete level.


This is kind of why I wanted clarification honestly. Holding even 90% MHR for 3 minutes is quite a lot, but my perspective is jaded due to my own shit conditioning as well.

It’s not the same as lifting 100% which you can only do for one repetition.

You can stay at 90-100% of your max heart rate for some time, that’s because there are many other factors involved in “conditioning”.

You just cannot go higher when you reach it and if the intensity of work were to keep increasing, you would have what’s called an oxygen debt and it would switch you to more anerobic energy production and can make you gass out sooner.

Heck, you could go up to your max heart rate or close to it while barely moving.

For example, if you get mugged and someone points a gun at you, the adrenaline wlll bring your heart rate very high. Doesn’t mean that you will gass out automatically.


Being at 100% HR and VO2 max isn’t your 100% intensity. You can go beyont that using the anaerobic alactic pathway at full in which your body uses phosphocreatine to produce energy. You can only hold that 100% intensity for 7-15 seconds.

Depending on your conditioning level, you can hold your VO2 max speed (which is 100% HR) 3-7 minutes.

Let’s use my exemple, my VVO2 max is 16, I can run at 16 km/h (which is my 100% HR) for a few minutes.

But I can run faster if I use all my energy pathways (like a sprint) but only for a few seconds.

Yes because interval training allows you to spend more time in the desired intensity. One of my teachers tried it with athletes: they were doing 1h30 of intervals and measured their average HR (was around 160). Then a week later, they made them run at that HR using a steady pace. They were able to hold it only 6-8 mins

Since my friend you train 6x a week right? You should probably do some cardio in the morning (if you train in the evening), or jus after weight lifting, probably your less demanding sessions. Go low, start with 1-2 sessions per week, 20 mins and creep up over time if you feel you can recover nicely

A protocol I love by Jason Brown:

1’ Assault bike
1’ KB swings
1’ Rower
1’ Step on box (unweighted)
1’ rest

4-6 rounds, use an intensity you can hold for the whole minute, and tough enough


Thank you for the amount of detail you put in this response!

Yes, I lift 5-6x per week (I find myself skipping 2nd leg day more than I care for) and usually in the afternoon/evening.

I didn’t understand that 100% Max HR is not the same as 100% intensity until you said this, so thank you (again). I will give this protocol a few tries in the mornings and see how it all goes!

Thoughts on 100% Intensity.

100% intensity for a sprinter, the anaerobic alactic energy system, is fuelled by the ATP-CP system. It lasts for a max of 5-8 secs. It is why even elite sprinters start to slow down after 60m. 100m sprinters do not hit max heart rate at any time when going flat out.
A session of endurance running will not utilise this energy system.

Vo2 max is the max amount of oxygen you can utilise. Training at vVo2 (velocity at vo2 max) is considered a good way to improve your V02 max. Your fastest race pace over a distance of say 3k to 5k represents a sustained period of running at Vo2 max ie your max vV02.
You can race at a faster pace than vVo2 max, for example at 110%. 1500m runners do this, they achieve this Vo2 of greater than 100% by using the anaerobic lactic system. Note the difference between anaerobic alactic (flat out sprinting, no lactic acid produced) and anaerobic lactic (middle distance fast running with lactic produced).

From personal experience, crucifying yourself in an 800m race is the best way to find your 100% max HR. You wont be doing this again for a few days. Thats what i call 100% intensity !!

If you want to train your V02 max. Try a 5k park run. If you do it in 25 mins your vVo2 is 5 mins per km. You could train this by running another 5k race, or more practically run 1k repeats each in 5 mins. or 500m in 2.5 mins etcetc.
You can also monitor your heart rate when running at V02 max speeds to see what percentage it is of 100% max. Ditto your resting and max Hrs.
I recommend measuring your own heart rate at vVo2 rather than using values from books/internet. It vaaies from person to person. My HR at vVo2 is 90% of my max HR for what its worth.


Jeez, there’s a lot to unpack there :sweat_smile: I’ll have to do some more reading up on energy systems before I can fully digest everything you put here, but I sincerely appreciate your response!

I like the rowing machine and stairmaster most for cardio equipment so this is all very good information for me

For me, worse than the 800m run was the 2K row lol pure nightmare!

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Highest Vo2 values are in the mid 90ml/kg. Most are x country skiers or road cyclists. Which figures.
Interestingly I can easily reach high heart rates (85-95% of max) when running but not when cycling or rowing. I put this down to running requiring me to support my body weight and being on ok runner. But not being a technically good enough cyclist/rower to get my numbers up.
I guess it does not matter which sport you choose to train Vo2, but it should be one that allows you to get heart rate to a highish level for a few minutes.