Anyone over 50 at 4 watt/kg? Can I make it? (Long)

Interesting thread for me as it’s my target and my big 50 is in June 2020! 7 months to get the power up, then its a case of 4w/kg before or after 50… if ever, nothing is guaranteed! Realistically losing some weight would be easier to get me closer…going to see how the winter training goes before looking at my diet. I’m what I’d call new to cycling in the structured sense, have cycled on off for 40+ years, but leisure only, my fitness comes from a few years of running but a decade or two of racquet sports, tennis and notably squash which was a good leg/lung workout and I was a fairly good standard.

Would say I’m almost as fit as I was 20 years back, this indoor structured training is something I wish was around then, currently I’m getting faster and when I plateau, whenever that maybe, I’d be happy just to stay around there.

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This is really what I was wondering with the original post. I am totally new to endurance sports having done no type of endurance training at all until this February. I have always worked out with weights and stayed in that type of shape and my weight has never varied more than 10% since I got out of high school and even then, it was because I got on a kick to bulk up muscle wise.
It is amazing how your exercising has residual effects for many years, maybe for a life time. When I was young I worked on my bench press hard, but because of this I have always had shoulder problems, so I would go for years without benching heavy at all, but any time I got the desire to try it again, my body would respond really quickly. To the point that at any time over the last 30 years, if I could keep my shoulder healthy, within six to eight weeks, I could be close to my max bench press. I believe that this is true even today. The human body is an amazing thing.
So getting to 4 w/kg for someone who has been riding for years verses someone in their 50’s who has never done any type of endurance work until they were in their 50’s is probably a completely different thing.
I still think that it can be done. But either way I’ll find out.

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Sample of one i know, but i’m 56 next week, structured training since 2016 and cycling for a couple of 1-2 years before that and i am above 4 w/kg

I didn’t come from a strong sporting background prior to that. I ran when motivated for fitness or when needed to pull my weight back in line, otherwise i was fully focused on work and family and didn’t look after myself particularly well.

Point is, no special background for this late comer to cycling and i managed to get there, so i expect many others could too

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Excellent question. My WAG is those who have the ability to transport 02 really well started very young.

I started cycling again in 2009 and gradually built up from a very short commute (5 miles each way) to riding long audaxes (200 + 300km) and completing London Edinburgh London in 2013. I did my first winter of training on the turbo in 2014/2015 and started using TrainerRoad in 2015 as I switched my focus to Time-Trialling (in the UK). I tend to follow the HV plans but substitute the weekend sessions with longer, slower rides. I mix it all up with some of my own creations too to keep it interesting. I’m 52 at the moment and around 4.5W/Kg. It definitely gets harder and harder to eek out improvements so really I just focus on the process if that helps, rather than the numbers

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Think for women the menopause and lack of hormones is making muscle build a lot harder as we age.

That being said, I regularly get my arse wiped by a 60 year old, so there’s no saying it has to be that way!

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Yes, I think that hormonal changes plays a huge part. Women have a slightly different muscle fibre type than men (a smaller percentage of the larger fibres). But these larger fibres are more likely to degrade through sarcopenia. You would think that that would lead to VO2 capabilities being better conserved in females but that isn’t the case. So, you’re likely right, but as you said hugely individual.

Thanks. That is encouraging.
It looks like I am going to go from start to 3.5 w/kg in a little less than a year, so I find it hard to believe that I reached my full potential in that amount of time. So I “think” with another year of consistent training I can add 1/2 watt per kg. For me that’s about 40 watts. Sounds easy enough. lol

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Hi mate
I started riding 3 years ago at age 48 and this year did a full TR program (SSB, Build, Climbing road race low volume) and have built my power from 3.3 w/kg to 4.5 w/kg now. As well as the tr program I do a couple of fast bunch rides, some masters racing, weight training and dropped 3 kg (65-62 kg) (through eating according to Matt Fitzgerald’s Endurance diet.
So yes, you certainly can get to 4+. I’m still aiming to improve on this.
Dave

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Wow congratulations and good job and thanks for the feed back.

This is a great chart and pretty consistent with another data set I’ve seen. (If I am reading this correctly), the top 5% of the 50-60 age group will achieve 4W/kg+ and above at the peak of their training. The other point made about this being a data set from self selected athletes is also very pertinent. 4W/kg is achievable - get there and you are in with the elite crowd, there will no doubt be a smattering of ex pros and the inevitable genetically endowed individuals.
My experience ,(not an ex pro, not genetically gifted and a late starter) is that I needed to pull out all the stops to get up towards that level and it took several phases of training that built on each other. The correct balance of training volume, recovery and nutrition etc etc all had to come together.

BTW I am 61, 1.80m, 72kg (at race weight), and got to about 3.9W/kg at best (about 3 years ago). I had dropped from 89kg 3 years previously and had to shed the upper body muscle from multiple years doing weight training as my main form of exercise.

Thanks to all the other contributors - great thread

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It’s my goal, 3.7 seems to be my top end
… life and food get in they way!

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Try the free app myfitnesspal. no offense intended here, just honesty. 145 pounds at 5’8" is not overly lean. Drop 10 pounds and see what happens!

And ditch some of the work (yes, it can be done). 6-7 hours of sleep is not enough if you are training hard. Aim for 8-9 hours a night.

How bad do you want it?

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I am 60 (or almost), and currently at 3.64 w/kg. But that is because at 81 kg, I am about 10 kg heavier then I should be. Besides, I am doing LV plans, with an added Sunday ride, so there should be room for improvement of my FTP. Going to try the MV plans next, we will see how it goes.

My advice: take it easy, it is better to build up slow, then to burn out. Consistency is king, each week 3 trainings according to a plan for a year, is better than some weeks 6 and some weeks 1 or 2.

I agree with taking your sleep serious. You need it. Don’t slim down for the sake of w/kg though. Choose a weight that is healthy for you, not the lowest you can go.

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I’m almost 65 and my watt/kg is 3.55. Started using TR one year ago in December. I’m about 68.6 Kg . My training focus is divided as swim, bike, and run for triathlons. When I started TR, I was 2.8 watt/kg. I don’t focus so much on what that number is but rather how you leverage the capability and improvements. For me, the fun is climbing and surprising folks on my club rides as I drop them during our climbs. For an old guy like me, that’s great fun.

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I’m 60 and have an FTP of just under 3W/kg (my weight fluctuates so not being precise) according to the graphs in the linked thread that puts me at about the 85th percentile. For me to get to 3.5W/kg (which I think would be hard but achievable, during my last time on TR I was at 3.2W/kg) then I’d be around the 95th percentile. 4W/kg would put me in the 99th percentile, just being realistic I don’t think that’s going to happen!

Obviously to be say 95th percentile means that there’s 5% of riders who are better so for some it most definitely is achievable. I haven’t looked where 4W/kg is as a percentile for the 50-60 group but knowing just how you relate to your peers might be one indication of how achievable it is.

As noted those on TR and doing ramp tests are self-selecting so if the general population were to undertake the ramp test then TR members would be sat towards the right of the graph. :grinning:

What’s missing from those graphs is history: Did those riders currently testing at 4W/kg start their TR training plans at 3W or 3.5W/kg? Looking at my FTP history (and ignoring the old default of 200W) I showed a 22% increase in FTP during my first year. That was four years ago and my last test showed a 10% drop since then so there’s obviously some residual benefit, either that or my mix of outdoor riding mimics what TR is doing. For me to get to 3.5W/kg requires either another 22% increase in FTP at my current weight or if I lose 6kg it’s just a 16% increase.

But it’s just one metric and might not be the one that matches the required output for your riding. I think your power curve is more useful as it relates better to your efficiencies at percentages of FTP - for instance I only lose 10% power output when comparing 10mins and 45mins.

Even without a sarcopenia diagnosis, dropping estrogen levels means that building muscle mass through the same exercise is harder, and that the metabolic response to carbs starts leaning more towards long-term storage. People going through menopause have to kick up their exercise regimen just to maintain what they’ve got, nevermind building gains on top of that.

Things to look forward to. :sweat_smile:

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I’ve been using myfitnesspal since 2012 and have always eaten really clean.
No offence taken, and I understand that 145lbs at 5’8" isn’t extremely light, but my body fat percentage is at about 10%. I can and will lose a little more fat, but 10% at whatever weight is pretty lean. I will probably get to about 9% come spring, but most of my gain in watts/kg will need to be in power and not weight loss.
I can loose muscle easy enough and have lost a good bit since I have started cycling, I just don’t want to loose a much more. I just don’t want the pro cyclist build.

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Wow that is some great results. Congratulations.
You have 10 years on me, but I already feel that satisfaction when dropping the younger riders. I’m sure that it only gets better as you get older. lol

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I’m just short of 53 years old, and have been doing endurance sport for most of the last 25 years. I’ve been either side of 4W/kg for a long time. A year or two back I was still improving, getting podiums in local triathlon races, and wondering what all the fuss at 50 was about. Today is different. I don’t know what has happened - could be “sick of hard training” and the drop in motivation you mention, but it feels like something physiological or biochemical has happened.
To the OP, yes, you can probably get over the mark with steady training, and changing up your training when it plateaus. Countering age-related challenges WILL get to all of us though, and I wish I had a more answers to that part!

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