Age-specific training plans

I’m currently listening to the audio book of Joe Friel’s ‘Fast after 50’ and he strongly suggests that athletes over 50 should incorporate a lot more VO2 Max sessions in order to improve.

I’m not sure how many older athletes we have using SUF, but do the coaches feel there’s a market to design a plan around age? Do they subscribe to Joe’s idea?

Along with additional VO2 sessions, Joe also suggests that volume might be reduced, especially for those 60+, so I understand this is very much a personal thing. I’m only just 50 and have been training for some years, so I can handle a reasonable load (around 450-550 TSS a week for 3 on 1 off plans) but older athletes or those newer to structured training may need more recovery time (and Joe suggests maybe having 8 or 9 day weeks to help with this). All this will make designing a plan more difficult and I understand there are obvious diminishing returns…

I’d be interested to see what everyone thinks, especially from the coaches.


Hello Andy!
I believe Sir Mac Cassin has said some useful things on the subject here:


Thanks for pointing me towards that - I completely missed it.

While it does answer some of the questions I posed, it doens’t cover the issue of adding more VO2 sessions in for older athletes, but Sir Mac did say they were looking at that so I’ll just wait for more announcements as they come :slight_smile:

I’m just about to go off-piste for the first time with a plan I’ve created, so I guess I’ll see how that goes! Next week is FF prep, so I’ll start my new plan after that with fresh numbers. What could go wrong? Lol


Without knowing your age, but presumably it’s over 50, I’d ask myself ‘How much do I want to improve?’ and/or ‘Do I need to improve?’

One thing I know - at 60, so not that old - is that it gets increasingly harder and I applaud guys like Friel promoting being strong over 50, but that’s something else.

It also depends on your strength(s) whether or not more VO2 Max suits you. It doesn’t suit me, but I do 65% of my work at sweet spot/threshold.

Not everybody’s cup of tea either, but it helps me do my stupid 2 week ‘grand tours’, where I grind myself into a pulp day in, day out.


I turned 50 earlier this year, so still very much on the younger end of Joe’s scale.

I race XC MTB, but very short, very intense races with lots of MAP and AC in there (races last about 10 minutes, with one each day over a weekend). I’ve also just started with proper XCO races and after my first one last weekend I know there’s also a decent amount of FTP in there too.

I definitely want to race faster and stronger, so I’m looking to improve across all metrics really, maybe with the exception of sprint as that’s not a big requirement for me. Typically, my rider type is Sprinter!

I typically train 5 days a week, with 2 strength sessions in there (although I’m currently dealing with a rotator cuff issue so that’s out until I’m sorted), 3 indoor rides and 2 outdoor rides working on skills and general riding. I think of the 3 indoor rides at least 2 should be VO2/MAP workouts, but I wonder if I should do more of them?

Joe’s book essentially said that doing longer, slower training did nothing to help older athletes get to or even stay at their peak, which is what I’m looking for. I race in National Championships to get an age group ranking to race for my country, and it’s a competitive field (often more 50+ in the top 5 that 40-49!) so I need to be sharp. I think VO2 work will hurt, and I may need longer to recover, but this is where a coach designed plan comes in :slight_smile:


Well, that much is true, but that seems rather obvious :sunglasses:

This is where I am right now, which is mainly built around SS/Threshold… I think it’s obvious that I had a week off, which was when I had cataract surgery :joy:

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In which case more VO2 Max doesn’t seem to be the answer to me…

Anyway, I’m not a coach, so definitely not qualified, just sharing my story. You should try and figure out what works best for you…

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My MAP isn’t very good compared to my FTP, and reading it suggests that it may be holding me back:

Putting those two factors together gives you your Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) , and underneath that value is your ability to produce sustainable power (your FTP) . There are limits to how close your FTP can get to your MAP. Once your FTP starts to bump up against that ceiling, the only way to increase FTP is to first raise your MAP.

This, with Joe’s book, is what has me thinking I should train at higher levels, but as I’m also not a coach I hoped for advice in here, and to stimulate a lively discussion. One done I guess, lol

Edit: As my primary races are very short, my power tends to be either zero (cornering, downhills etc) or full gas. I almost never ride at one pace for more than a couple of minutes, hence my desire to increase 5 minute (and subsequently 20 minute) power.

Edit 2: Here’s an example. Grey is low power and red is high. This is pretty polarised!


There you have it - I typically ride like a machine when I’m in my backyard (pancake flat, below sea level). When I do indoor climbs, I control my Neo 2T with the Tacx app and set power to a value as close to (F)TP as possible.

Either effort is sustained for long periods. Outdoor for up to 6 hours, but my indoor rides don’t last longer than 2,5 to 3 hours, and I will have to dial down eventually. Outside, most of the work is at 75-85% (F)TP.

I use (F)TP, as I’m on Xert and they use TP - it’s not the same, but similar. And it’s not tested, it’s continuously monitored.

I take it that MAP is Max Available Power? Not sure if that is the same as what Xert calls MPA, Max Power Available, but if it is, you can only increase that by doing all out 5-20 seconds bursts, preferably when you’re fresh.

For a sprinter, the burst should not be a problem, but being fresh may be, given your training regime.

That is to say, MPA is equal to your 1 second max power, but to ‘dial it in’, you need > 5 seconds efforts…

Yeah, it’s very much event-specific. I did a lot of Z2, sweetspot or lower training when I raced Ironman events, but now I need to change things up. I’ve gone from road, steady state to off-road intervals at full power so there’s going to be a certain transition pain to go through on top of the age thing.

MAP is Max Aerobic Power, which I believe equates to VO2 Max power (or closely at least). This is what that article says might hold back FTP, and what Joe says senior athletes should focus on to stay at their peak. You’ve obviously found something that works for you though, looking at your numbers.

Ahh, with The Sufferfest that’s essentially NM or neuromuscular power - 5s max power.

The 4DP profile covers these (from memory so hoping they’re right!):
5s power - NM
1m power - AC (Anaerobic Capacity)
5m power - MAP
20m power - FTP

Okay, wrong guess :slight_smile:

Should’ve Googled it: Maximum aerobic power (MAP) is, thus, the maximum power developed through a maximum heart rate aerobic metabolism, reached when the subject uses his/her maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max )

I have no clue how best to improve that. My last lab test (almost 2 years ago) returned a VO2 Max of 62, in the meantime, Garmin has upped that to 71, but I’m not sure that is totally trustworthy, let alone that I know how that ‘translates’ to MAP.

One thing is for sure: it’s gonna hurt :joy: The minions will be proud.

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My VO2 from Garmin is currently 50, so I have a lot of scope to build I hope!

Yes, I think my future holds a lot of swearing and sweating! :nauseated_face: :rofl:

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I think FTP is probably a % of your 20 minute power, after a test? I have abandoned that approach years ago, as it is prone to (too many) errors.

It’s still meaningful to some extend and lots of people will tell you I’m full of ykw, but either way, it’s up to you to figure it out.

With the new 4DP test they take the full 20 minute power, as it comes after 2 x 7s sprints and a 5m test so you should be reasonably fatigued, enough to not need to take a percentage figure anyway. The 1 min comes after that. They did a lot of testing and believe it’s as accurate as any single test can be.

Once you have these numbers, they compare how each stacks up against the others to provide a more complete picture and work out what your strength and weakness are, then every workout after that is adjusted automatically to address and improve both.

It’s this automatic adjustment that I’m hoping might be tweakable to account for age, but the SUF science people will have to look into that. In the meantime I’ll see how adjusting plans or making my own helps me improve. I also know that I perform poorly in ramp tests, as I fade quickly as soon as I go over FTP for more than a couple of minutes. The 4DP test has my weakness switching from sustained efforts to VO2 max fairly often, so that seems about right.

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I see… Well, I’ll stick to Xert, but I’ve seen here that people are already trying to figure out how they compare.

Mainly, because they don’t want Xert’s dull training sessions (just a tat better than looking at TR’s bars) and like the SUF video workouts to go with it.

But that only works if you have your parameters right, at both ends. Which is complicated.

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@Coach.Spencer.R wrote a great topic a few weeks ago about the importance of strength training as we age.


Yes, that was useful. I’m already following a strength program, or I was, until I injured my shoulder lifting a sheet of plywood! I used to be a bodybuilder so understand how to perform the exercises and am used to fairly heavy weight. I found the SUFStr sessions too easy and where many people reported feeling sore I didn’t feel a thing so went back to weights. I’m starting from a different place to many cyclists though.

Joe’s book suggests performing heavy lifts with low reps, and sets which could vary depending on age and/or experience. I’m lifting for 3 sets of 5 at or close to 5 rep max, full body routine (squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press and biceps curls) twice a week, usually on the lower intensity days. I reduce weight on recovery weeks.

I believe everyone should lift weights, athlete or not, to reduce lean tissue loss from ageing. As a MTB racer I need a strong body to cope with the demands and also protect me during my inevitable crashes.


Approaching 50 myself and I think an age specific plan would be useful.