Anyone in their 50s found success from mid-volume plans?

Hi Folks,
I’m about to turn 55. I am scheduled to ride the UnPAved of the Susquehanna gravel ride on October 10, so I have seven more weeks to prep for it. I have done a nice amount of riding this summer, much of it structured (a lot of sweet spot and threshold work), almost all outside. I feel like my form is good (by my standards), but UnPAved is really hard and I would like it to be an enjoyable and successful for me as is possible. I am considering taking a run at one of the mid-volume training plans, like maybe the Century mid-volume specialty plan. But, I have to say, it is imposing, with four rides with intensity per week.

So my question for the group whether there are other riders out there around my age who have both successfully completed this plan (or a similar one) and found it beneficial as final prep for a really tough “A” event ride. (UnPAved is 123 miles with 10,500 feet of climbing. Basically, it has 8 long climbs, nothing too steep but steep enough that there’s no way to ride it as a steady-state effort. It requires repeated sustained power, and lots of it.) I am wondering if this is a viable and possibly productive path forward. Can a dude in his 50s really do four rides with intensity per week and get enough recovery?

Thanks in advance,
John in PA

Hi I’ve done SSB HV (the old hard one) SSB MV 1/2 and SPB MV - again the old ones and have coped with intensity Tue/Thr/Sat/Sun - I’m 53 and mainly ride 10/25/50m TT in the UK …that said I would have thought that for that race unless you are v confident that you have the endurance then I would go for 1-2 longish outside rides plus a couple of TR turbo sessions. Mainly the 90min sustained SS stuff like Galena, the Sub threshold SS like Kaweah etc and maybe some o/u like McAdie/Palisade/Avalance/Fang Mountain etc - sounds like you need long intervals just above/below threshold plus stacks of endurance. Good luck :grinning:

I did mid volume sweet spot base as a 56 year old. However, I swapped one of the intensity rides with a longer endurance ride as suggested in the weekly tips. I also found that as I progressed towards the end of the second phase, I had to drop down to 2 intensity rides per week. I saw my FTP increase modestly to where it had peaked the previous year. I began to suspect that I was bumping up against my VO2max ceiling and needed to increase my VO2max to make any further improvements in my FTP.

As I went into my build phase, I ended up doing my own custom plan, increasing the Z2 work and dropping to 2 intensity rides (VO2max intervals) per week. I did 2 weeks on with 1 week recovery. This ended up taking my FTP to a new all time high and I ended up beating a number of personal bests this past summer. Best of wishes.


I’ve bombed out of ssbmv a couple of times, just can’t handle the intensity after a few weeks. I’ve raced and trained for 30 years, 52 y/o

I’m in adaptive training now and it’s backing off of the intensity for me so we’ll see. I’m hopeful :slight_smile:

That sounds an awful lot like you pivoted to a polarized training approach. I’m happy to hear that worked out well. I have really been enjoying my Z2 rides this summer, now that I have learned that you really do get benefits from them (I know, I was a bit late to that party).


1 Like

I pivoted to polarized training early in the summer after 3 years of SS training and have not only had great success, but I find I really enjoy riding again.

I will probably give adaptive training a try once winter indoor training starts, but I haven’t payed too much attention to it.

I pivoted to pyramidal training to close out this decade.

@EdselRoams find what works for YOU.

Hi, I was supposed to do the Death Ride in CA, 103 miles w/ 14K climbing last month but it was cancelled due to wildfire. I had previously done the SSHV and ended up doing one long weekend ride of 6+ hours to get used to the long hours on the saddle for 2 months prior. I’m turning 52 soon and profile wise, a sprinter. My first century was in March and discovered parts of my body hurting that I didn’t even know existed. My biggest concern was just being able to finish the ride. My ramp test on the day the ride was supposed to happen was the highest ever (240 FTP). It matched my ramp test at the end of my SSHV, but the big difference is my ability to hold a higher SS power now compared to then. However, my VO2 max is down since I switched my training to long slow rides. My takeaway is knowing what your expectations for the ride is. For me, just finishing the DR was my goal. Speed and power was not a consideration. My FTP was around 220 but my all day pace is closer to 140 NP.
Best wishes for your upcoming ride!

I’m not in the age bracket you’ve specified but I read your post with interest. The last piece got me thinking.

Part of answering this question is going to come down to what your life looks like away from the bike. Do you work long hours? Is your profession high stress? Do you have children? Is your partner supportive? There are so many variables that can impact.

I’m 44, don’t have children and my wife is very supportive. I used to go through the old version of SSB MV1+2 and Sustained Power Build Mid Vol at least once a season and it never seemed to get easier.

If you have a few years of training under your belt, I wouldn’t bet against you doing it. What I would say as a note of caution is that completing the training isn’t actually your goal. It’s the event at the end. It’s difficult to say how you might feel at the end of the block. Ultimately you want to be in a position to fire the bullets you’ve built.

1 Like

Maybe a bit premature as I’m in my 40’s (still age related though), but I’ve found myself leaning more to a polarized approach with just 2 hard workouts a week and filling the rest with Z2. I’m still hitting 10 to 12+ hours a week in terms of volume, and it works as I’m the fittest I’ve ever been (late comer to cycling).
I was just starting to struggle with the Mid volume build plans in terms of recovery etc. However saying this, i could still handle the full Mid Volume Sweet Spot plans last off season, so hope to repeat this again this coming off season.

I found the same as you that I could handle the SSBMV plans and usually bailed on the Build phase. I really don’t think it is age related or TR wouldn’t be changing their plans yet again.

Hi John! That sounds like a great event & I’m a little jealous.

I won’t be ‘in my 50’s’ for a couple weeks but maybe close enough. You can review my calendar if you would like to see exactly what I’ve been doing but basically mid volume build with some extra riding thrown in to total about 10 to 12 hours of riding a week. Over the past couple months I’ve been in calorie deficit & I’ve dropped about 22 to 26 lbs.

This year I’ve had four gravel events. I won one, finished 2nd in another, wide angle podium in a gravel stage race, DNF due to mechanical in a gravel handicap race. So you can find success using TR plans at the mid-volume level.

I looked at the century mid-vol plan and, quite frankly, also find them a little intimidating. Why not start with the low vol century & then just add in endurance rides as you feel able?

1 Like