54% of VO2max loss in masters athetes can be explained by loss in volume

I actually saw my all time personal bests this year after a small forced break, though the break was shorter, like 1 week

Ive not read the details (just the abstract) but it doesn’t sound like rocket science, if you don’t use it you lose it.


Yeah… been to graduate school and worked at the university level so I understand all that… it was tongue and cheek in that there is nothing groundbreaking here.


I sometimes see recommendations to decrease intensity as you get older but this study show that’s not the way, you need to keep the intensity (and maybe decrease volume to keep up with the intensity although the article doesn’t say that )


Sorry if you’re referencing another study and I’m just missing that here, but:

The original study seems to focus on maintaining volume, at least according to the abstract, and doesn’t reference intensity at all. So while it’s not quite the opposite of what you’re saying, it’s at least an orthagonal take from you, saying that one might need to decrease volume.

It’s in the text…

“However, this may not hold true for (at least male) masters endurance athletes, who are able to maintain high training volumes (and likely intensity) until old age (Table 1, Figure 1)”

Anecdotally from my experience as a late 40s rider and observing riders I know who are still competing or at least very fit into their 50s and 60s, it seems the most common approach is maintaining or even increasing volume, but with a reduced number of hard days. I don’t see many (any?) older riders doing well on, for example something like a MV plan which has 3 high intensity days/week and then a 4th sweetspot day as well.

Certainly think it is important to maintain some high intensity work. But I think recovering from that work takes longer as you get older so need to reduce frequency. With increased Z2 volume being a good way of compensating for fewer hard days if you’re lucky enough to have more training time on your hands as you get older.


I am doing just this, with 2-3 HIT sessions on TR/week. It is really hard and tho I have done it most of my life, I now find I have lost my incentive to race (lack of age group competition, tiredness, inability to keep up with the younger riders, lack of people who want to ride with me etc).
I also H8 weight training but know I have to do it as now suffering from muscle mass loss and extreme inability to cope with the cold.
The findings in this article concern male athletes with very few female athletes being involved.
So it will be interesting us in the minority , when more studies are done with females.
Of course, I will be up for taking part as an “old” athlete (tho I hate being refered to as old)


That’s not a downside. If I was still 35 I’d still be working and unable to have the brilliant life that I love now I’m in my 60s.


I remember when TR first addressed this and the ensuing outraged thread that eventually calmed down. I don’t think this thread or the study has challenged that:

that article missed the mark, for me personally

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I wouldn’t trade my life either. But wouldn’t be so bad to have a 55 year old means and experience with 35 year old legs.

Youth is wasted on the young after all!!

Anyway… back on topic:

Folks don’t need to wait for studies or the perfect path. VO2max can be estimated well from 5-6 minute maximal power. A few different equations with small differences. Just pick one and generate and track your own data. If you want to try and increase VO2max, there are some decent 3-6 week blocks and strategies out there. To maintain, do a hard VO2max workout once every 7-10 rides. It’s not that difficult. Just don’t expect huge changes once you reach “well trained”.


The best way to know what your VO2max is, is to do a real VO2max test hooked up to a metabolic cart at a lab. This is valuable information because large-scale studies (10,000 test subjects) have been done to collect enough VO2max data to stratify by gender and age. Here is one such study, notably done using cycle ergometers, so most relevant to people here:
Reference values for peak oxygen uptake: cross-sectional analysis of cycle ergometry-based cardiopulmonary exercise test
The authors of this study even created a handy-dandy online tool where you can specify your age and lab-tested VO2max, and see how you stack up relative to the general population of people your age.

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Along these lines, IMO it’s worth getting a DXA scan done. Here is a large-scale study (10,000 subjects) of DXA scans, stratified by age and gender. DXA is really useful because in addition to overall body fat percentage, they break out percentage of fat and lean mass by region (arms, legs, abdomen, etc). On page 1185 of this paper they present a table with all of this information organized by gender and age. Get a DXA scan and you can compare your results to the relevant cohort. W/r/t muscle loss in particular, it’s good to look at appendicular (arms and legs) lean mass (presented in the paper as appendicular lean mass index), as the lean mass in the arms and legs is less “noisy” than the torso, due to the non-muscle vital organs in the torso that are counted as lean mass.