55yo return after 20 yrs- training plan question

Got a smart trainer and started LV SSB1. Went well and enjoyed it. Got new starter bike fit for me and restarted at MV SSB and its going well. My goal is to get race ready but know it may take a while …a year or more.

The plan set up the normal 12 weeks MV SSB then 8 weeks Build followed by 8 weeks specialty. Would I be better served to extend MV SSB or repeat 6-12 weeks of SSB before Build since I am so new to riding again?

I am in good physical shape as I workout pretty seriously 5 days a week at gym but don’t do a lot of leg work as deadlifts etc don’t agree with lower back. My cardio is my weakness. NOt sure if that info helps.
thanks for any advice

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Welcome back to cycling!

A couple quick thoughts - you could plan a fictitious event and use plan builder to work through a base - build - specialty phase. The whole process will round you out as you gain fitness and keeps training a bit more fresh, and then you can flex your new fitness on some solo or small group event this fall.

SSB2 gets much harder than SSB1 and the fatigue will pile up - just be prepared and focus on recovery. Don’t be afraid to adjust workouts based on your fatigue.

I did the SSB 1 & SSB2 back to SSB1 & SSB2 thing a couple years ago (was just finishing grad school at 43) and I think it helped my base, but it got repetitive and I didn’t see the bigger FTP gains I wanted till I went through the whole process again. I think I did SSB1 & SSB2 - Short Power - and then Rolling Road Race and liked that experience.



I got back into cycling just before turning 54, and also believe my aerobic capacity is a limiter. The interesting thing about being in your 50s - unless you work hard against it there is an acceleration in loss of muscle mass and aerobic capacity (VO2max). It sounds like you’ve covered the muscle mass piece of the puzzle. For the legs you might want to consider some alternatives like step-ups with dumbbells, Bulgarian split squat, etc.

For cardio I’d recommend starting back with a longer aerobic base development period, at a minimum anywhere from 16 to 24 weeks. If I had a do-over, I’d do the following based on having used TR since Dec 2017:

  • Traditional Base 1 along with 3x/week leg work in the gym
  • Traditional Base 1 along with 3x/week leg work in the gym
  • Traditional Base 2 and cutting back leg work to 2x/week
  • SSB 1 and 1x/week leg maintenance in gym
  • SSB 2 and 1x/week leg maintenance in gym

That is 4+4+4+6+6 = 24 weeks of base. Increase cycling volume as you progress, and during SSB include at least 50% aerobic endurance rides. I’d re-arrange SSB LV a bit as well, and do long aerobic rides on the weekend.


As returning to cycling, stick with base… I have done 6 months of base with a little build. I have done lots of weight training most of life ( Martial arts , Judo …free fighting) If you have a goal what are you trying to achieve , stick it into plan builder. The General Plan Strength build plans do not look a lot of different. I Do the Gran Fondo plans… It seems to give the right plan for me. … So have a goal, and do lots of sweet spot training , FTP test if it feels too easy and stick with the plan… It will eventualy find your limits,

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:+1: this season I’ve done (mostly) base from Sept 2019 thru June 2020, about 9 months. Overall happy with results, pushed up aerobic capacity and FTP to near peak levels of 3 years ago. I’m back in off-season mode for June/July/Aug focusing on 3 hours/week in gym and 6+ hours/week on the bike (aerobic endurance, some tempo, and maintenance sweet spot).

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I have to agree with the above. Having taken 9 years off which were filled with hiking in the Sierras and weight lifting, I found a season of SSB1 and 2 left me with a “house built on sand”. Working on basic aerobic adaptation first will set you up to progress more successfully through the TR plans.


Base -> Build -> Base -> Build might serve you better in the long run

However, going through Base -> Build -> Specialty leading up to an event (even just one you set for yourself, say a 100km ride) might be really motivating for you.

As you’re in the relatively early stages of returning, I say experiment and see what you think works and what doesn’t. Make sure to let us know.

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I started at age 55. Five years later I would do my own start differently. Do base as those above have indicated, work on just getting the body used to the bike and developing longer endurance. Enjoy yourself and just accumulate some time in the saddle. Of course doing it in a structure format will help you improve quicker but I do find now recovery is what is important. Get used to getting in the consistency of riding on a regular basis. It really does make a difference.

I did find early on doing some VO2 workouts did have a dramatic impact to my riding. Those dreaded hills just seemed easier.

Enjoy yourself.


Thank you for all the replies. Really enjoying the process. TR and the forum are great sites. Thanks again.


Welcome to TR
Turned 55 today and celebrated with a TR workout after a ramp test earlier in the week.
90 minutes continual peddaling is hard compared to 90 minutes on the road where there is a lot of freewheel opportunities.
I believe if we are consistent we will get benefits by the bucket load
Now time for refuelling ie Birthday Cake !!!


Full base or base 1 - build - base 2 - build etc.

Base 1+2 -> Build -> Base 1+2 -> Build

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