Getting older isn’t easy – especially for the young at heart. Many changes take place within your body, not to mention the added stresses from work and family. Starting at age 20, your max HR starts to drop 6 beats per decade (1 beat per year for a couch potato). Your VO2 Max also begins to decline. This is due to the decrease in max HR and decreased stroke volume, which means less blood flow to the muscles. As you age, you increase in body fat and begin to lose muscle mass (6% per decade after age 30 in sedentary people). The muscle elasticity and joint mobility also stiffen if they are not used. If this isn’t enough for physical changes, in sedentary people, the breathing muscles lose strength, causing increased airflow restriction.
BUT…the catch is these changes happen to SEDENTARY people. So if you don’t use it, you LOSE it.
Studies show, age isn’t the main reason for a decline in these physical changes…it’s actually due to a decrease in activity level, and a decrease in intensity level.
With all of that said, here’s a few training tips to help you as you age:
1. Set Challenging Goals or Sign up for Bucket List Events
Studies have been done that show if you write down a measurable goal, you are more likely to accomplish it!
By writing it down and picking a date to do it, you are also holding yourself accountable to that goal. Maybe it’s completing an Ironman, a 10K, biking through Italy, or hiking across the Grand Canyon. If your challenge requires registration – don’t wait, just sign up for the event! There are also many non-competitive events out there that just offer camaraderie, support and a fun environment that your friends and family can share with you! Whatever you do, find something that you get excited about!
2. Incorporate Strength Training into Your Workout Routine
Your routine should focus on increasing resistance and be specific to the demands of your sport. Regular strength training will not only help keep you from losing muscle mass, but is also important for bone density. For a few great resources on specific exercises, check out our blog: “3 Key In Season Exercises for Endurance Racing,” and our ebook “Strength Training for Cyclists“.
3. Make Anaerobic Work a Regular Part of Your Routine
Anaerobic Efforts are those sprints/accelerations that produce lactic acid in the muscles. With age, the lactic acid isn’t flushed away as easily – so these type of efforts become more difficult. To overcome this, make anaerobic work a regular part of your routine.
Try this anaerobic workout: Warm-up for 15-20 min. Then do 5×30 seconds ON, 1 min OFF going FULL GAS (as hard as you can during the 30 sec effort). Spin easy after your intervals to cool down.
Note: As we age, we may need extra time to warm-up so make this an important routine when starting each workout.
(Resource: “Cycling Past 50”, by Joe Friel)
If you need help with your training schedule, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our coaching services here!
About Melissa Ross:
Melissa Ross is Co-Founder and Cycling Coach of Potential Energy Training and Nutrition. Melissa’s 11+years in the sport as an athlete and 5+ years as a coach has taken her all over the world from touring Italy, racing across Europe and the US as a professional road cyclist, to becoming a pro mountain biker, exploring the trails across Arizona and even recently finishing 13th in the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa and making the podium 2 years in a row in the Leadville Trail 100! Melissa has an incredible desire to help other people reach their full potential and bring the passion of having a healthy lifestyle into their lives.