Training plan for over 55 :-)

Coaches, all,
There is many training plans available already, but wouldn’t it make sense to add more specific age related trainings, as your max Heartrate is not what is was 10 years ago, recovery time is longer etc…

I am 55, and due to reality of life had to stop cycling for some time. I am back at it for several years, including SF, but I can’t get rid anymore of my belly fat (I ate healthy etc all my life), and I am seriously struggling with longer or intense tours. Of course my mind tricks me into ‘you can still do this’, and I can, running on neurons, but then just to be like out of order for 3 days as a result :slight_smile:

So I am wondering if someone is in a similar situation, what you do about in terms of training, and if SF would be interested to invest in the older community :slight_smile:


I just turned 56 yesterday. I did an imperial double century on July 12th. I average about 7 hours of riding a week between commutes and endurance rides. The training plans don’t fit into my schedule very well, so I just ride hard/easy depending on how I’m feeling on a particular day.

I’ve also managed to lose weight by controlling what I’m eating. When I eat low carb the weight comes off about a pound a week. If I switch to eating higher carb meals, I start gaining weight. I’ve never been good at tracking how many calories I’ve eaten…

Anyway, it may be that I’m just not good at sticking to anything regimented, or it could be that they aren’t tailored well for our age group. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

One thing that does work for me after those longer rides is to stay active instead of taking off days. I take one day off the bike, but add in a bit more walking to stay active. Day two, I’m doing an easy recovery ride and I am usually back to my normal rides on the third day.


I am in my late 60s, but I had been riding for 20 years before I joined SUF last year.

Several observations:

  1. Maximum heart rate is irrelevant to getting fitter.
  2. To loose weight you need to focus on eating. It is extremely difficult to lose weight through exercise. Also, the ease in which people gain or lose weight is largely genetic, so some people find it easier to lose weight (or gain it back) than others.
  3. The older you get, the more you need recovery. Are you sleeping the right amount of time every night? How is the stress in the rest of your life? The need for recovery is based on both your exercise stress and your general life stress.
  4. The training plans are written assuming you only comply with them 80% of the time, although higher compliance is better. If you do not feel like doing a ride on a given day, do not do it.
  5. As @Martin says, feeding and hydration are extremely important during long rides.
  6. If you are more explicit about what your goals are, it might be easier to suggest a plan.
  7. You can, for a fee, talk to the couches, or even have them design a custom plan for you.

Haha. Freudian slip!? To donut station number 1. The others are too far away!


That one got through proof-reading, probably because I am late for my morning SUF workout.
I am not going to edit the post, so that way others will not wonder about your humor.

Maybe we need a doughnut-Nazi - “No donuts for you.”


Hi! It is wonderful that you are back at it and thinking about how to maximize your training experience. One of the best qualities of the SF plans is how the assessments create an individualized intensity for every workout based upon your current fitness. Have you completed the Half Monty?

I don’t think he’s asking about individualized workouts. Rather he is asking if training plans are adjusted for age so that older Sufferlandrians are fed more recovery days.

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@rom66 There aren’t specific age related plans but for most plans you can select a 2 week on, 1 week off option to get more recovery time.

However, check out this post:

I am 53 and have found better recovery results from a regular sleep schedule, better hydration, no alcohol and a mostly plant based diet with lots of anti-inflammatory foods. I started eating that way due to higher cholesterol which I solved but was also happy to find many other benefits.

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Just to come in on the Recovery part - 53 now so in the relevant age group. On the longer/ more intense rides I’ve become fanatical about my pre-ride preparation (fuelling/ electrolytes/ hydration), on ride fuelling/ hydration etc (if I’m doing it right I am nibbling/ drinking every 10 to 15 or 20 minutes throughout the 4-6 hour ride - some club rides are pretty intense and that can be hard to do) and post-ride routine (stretching/ hydration/ elecs/ calories and protein). When I do it right I feel great after the ride - no matter how hard/ long it was - and an hour later I feel I can go again, although I know my body’s done good work and I’ll feel that the following day when doing a short Recovery ride! I do this too for all the longer/ more intense Sufferfest rides, especially the mash-ups.

If I get my on-bike fuelling etc wrong then the post-routine is a battle (and certainly doesn’t catch up) and you’ll find me laying prostrate on my bed for a while, then wiped out for the rest of the day and buggered for a few after. Sleep will be poor at least that first night.

For those big days I count calories - pre, during and post. I’ve found Eating to Suffer: Using Nutrition to Get the Most Out of Your Training – The Sufferfest to be invaluable in guiding me on this.

PS And like @JSampson I avoid alcohol pre and post. And during!


55, MTB Marathon and multi-day stage events. Next race 800+kms off road non-stop unsupported <100hrs. Listen to “Breakfast with Boz” Wahoo podcast, episode 44 “Aging in Sport” with Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin. Very interesting for you. I don’t struggle with any of the Suff plans I have used. Be very conscious of recovery. Do you drink alcohol (belly fat). I typically burn about 25k calories in a five day event. My belly doesn’t stand a chance.

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We also made some dietary changes some time ago, due to my wife’s genetic cholesterol level (from her Mother). To be honest, the changes were quite small from our “normal” diet and her cholesterol is now at the upper end of the “normal” bracket. To be honest the outcome has only been positive for both of us. :wink:


I had an off the bike period for a couple of years during which I switched to a plant based diet, 80% carbs of which 80% raw. (I read the “China Study”, “80/10/10” and the “Thrive” series amongst other things prior to switching diet) I lost 14kg (that I didn’t have to lose being 82kg and 180cm) in 3 months - gulp!
When I got back on the bike a year later I was 69kg. I rode my local rides of 80 to 100km with up to 3000m of climbing and felt fantastic. All furled by salad! I even returned to fell running and I was flying - so efficient in my running. I then hit the SUF HITT sessions proper. I have never been able to train so hard, recover so fast and sleep so well while eating animal and their derivatives for 20 years prior to changing diet. A couple of riding buddies have switched diet in an attempt to hang on to my back wheel! lol.
I am convinced, through my own experiences, that changing diet will solve 80% if not all of the problems you describe.
Do the research and find out how to make it work for you? It was a real game changer (Netflix film of the same title pun intended) for me and I want others to experience the same.
Hope this helps……


Hey @Shankers can you elaborate on the changes you made? I’m 58, have FH and had a triple bypass (2018) all good now and back to running half marathons but the bloody cholesterol won’t go down without statins. Be keen to know what you did.


I’m a smidge under the OP requirement at 50, but a couple of things I’ve found.

  1. In weightlifing, older trainees are more sensitive to volume causing burnout, and intensity drops off more quickly. I’ve used this to do the intensity in rides but adjust the volume when required. So 100% for 30 mins rather than 80% for 45 mins. Also, whilst fast twitch does drop off with age I think it’s often because we stop training it like we did when younger. Intensity helps with this.
  2. Weight loss is delivered in the kitchen with a calorie deficit. Fish oils help recovery and inflammation. Also, older people absord protein less readily. So we should eat less often but bigger protein portions when we do. I find eating two main meals (lunch and dinner) and then some snacks/amino acids when required works well.
  3. Carbs cycling to time intake more around rides (before and after) helps hit the numbers, then reduce carbs other times to trim off weight
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@billjw There was a thread back in April on this subject that you might find helpful.


I’m on the fence about age related training plans. They sound like a good idea… but…
Fitness in not age based. Fitness has multiple values.
Max heart rate (different on bike than running and swimming)
Lactate threshold - LTRH (Swim, Bike and Run - can be different)
FTP (for SUF we get 4 values for fast/slow twitch, sustainability and to quantify LTRH)
Running power
Run TSS (Training Stress Score)
Swim TSS
Bike TSS

As I entered into my 50’s (currently 54) my running LTRH went up yet I am not hitting 190 bpm anymore, I only seem to get to around 178.
My fitness has never been higher as I train for my second ever 70.3 at World Championship in 10 days.
A lot of training is mental. Pushing through a tough workout not only drains the body, but the mind. Then your mind goes happy nuts!!!
A generic training plan can’t really apply age specificity, prior injuries, or if you are over training which is what we get in SUF for the subscription. It’s generic
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual doing the generic training and knowing their physical limitations when it comes to injuries.
You know how you feel, you know what you want to accomplish. If you are just training to stay fit and not further yourself, then that is how you should train. If your looking to improve yourself, then pushing through your current boundaries will be your goal… and should be done smartly.

Be honest with yourself and your goals
Try a coach for 8 weeks and see how it goes. $$$ permitting.
Do the full frontal FTP test
and if you cross train… Do a run FTP test and a swim FTP test
No one can make you work out. You do this for yourself… and it’s awesome!
Be the athlete you want to be. If you want to be better than yourself yesterday, then go get after it.
Embrace it, Be it, Do it. Motivation gets you to the starting line, dedication gets you to the finish line
I wish you the best!
Ken Ryder KoS


Age based training for women is critical though. We’d absolutely appreciate age based plans for women. Older women need more HIIT workouts, more weights/strength work and a lot less endurance. Plus whatever our age, women need to leverage fluctuating hormone levels and apply the right training types at the right time.

I agree fitness isn’t necessarily age based, but how we GET fit sure is.


Ideally, if we had a scientific way to measure recovery this would be an easier problem.

While men do not have the fluctuating hormone issue, there are other issues that make HIT training and strength work important for aging men as well.

Weight gain/loss has a huge genetic component no matter what your age is, so everyone has to experiment with their own diet. I suspect, although I cannot prove, that weight management, irrespective as to how you do it, is what is important.

It also depends, of course, for which events you want to train.


Well I am 69, 70 in November.
I have been cycling for years, but with intervals away from the bike. On Sufferfest about 3 years.

By and large I use the standard programs with rides pushed around to be on the days I want.
Occasionally I hit some fatigue and take it easy


I still do at least one imperial century a year