After the last podcast I feel like it’s time to give up and move on from cycling. I just hit 70 and I have been struggling with slow progress and periodic knee injury (first time was the use of cleats in the 90’s causing need for surgery). I have lost about 40 pounds over the last 5 years and do have sarcopenia. From Coach Chad’s presentation it seems clear that there is no way for me to gain back lost strength or promote significant muscle growth, so I will always be as prone to injury as now and I won’t get faster either. Apparently, my only hope for maintaining any capacity is to take up weight lifting.
People like me, who lost the free time to work out, are the usual in America. We get old and lose capacity and then we retire. Now when we have time, the training resources don’t address regaining capacity for people my age, just offer stuff that amounts to slowing decay . And, none of the studies about age take deconditioned people and put them in, say, five year training plans to see if regaining capacity is possible (doesn’t even the idea of such a study seem outlandish?). They make comparisons with younger cohorts and note lack of progress from 2 weeks or a couple months and pronounce that oldies are sol. It’s a little dispiriting.
There are literally millions of people in exactly my position. I’m certain your program works well for that master’s guy who never stopped training and used to be cat 1, but training for that guy and training for old guys with sarcopenia who are prone to injury is not likely to be the same, even at the same loads. For instance, Vo2 max intervals are not hard for me aerobically, but I can injure my knee instantly by doing hard starts or shorts where you try to hit it quickly. Meanwhile Coach Chad says hard start shorts are easier for most people, an idea that is not likely to be true for a large proportion of your users who are my age.
I am grateful for the care that the folks at TR take and for the dedication to interaction with their users and improvement of the resources they offer. I really don’t like to believe that plasticity and strength are completely irretrievable as Coach Chad indicates. The training here has helped me. My VO2max is higher and I can definitely get up climbs that defeated me 2 years ago. Has anyone at TrainerRoad thought of using the massive database to research how to improve the training and condition for old people in my condition?
You know yourself better than Chad or AT. Use the format to create training that works for you. You lead with all the improvements you’ve made reflect on that, then consider some future realistic goals.
Also, do you enjoy riding a bike or training in a bike more?
Thanks for all of these kind replies. They encourage me to believe that there may be more possible. I love trainging on the bike inside and riding outside is a joy. I have noticed that I can do three days a week cycling, or two days a week weight training, but not both. I get too fatigued. I am also wondering, per Coach Jon, if the weird stress of the whole pandemic thing has added a silent load of **** on top of training load, making things more difficult.
@estarkie the pandemic has certainly taken its toll on all, whether one wants to admit it or not. Life for all has change substantially, some had good changes and some bad….it’s relative indeed. Even with my good changes I have found over the last several months that there is a mental fatigue that has built up and despite meditation, diet and exercise this mental fatigue has snuck up and is now in my face front and center.
Now for your conundrum specifically! DO NOT THROW IN THE TOWEL! It sounds like you don’t want to and there is always a way to balance things out. Don’t over do it, but the resistance work is very important for the sarcopenia. Dial back the cycling workouts and keep things steady state without the punchy hard start V02 work? Slow way down? Maybe just take on slow rides, enjoy nature and get aerobic work in? You have options to find the right balance for you.
Check out PD mangan on twitter to fight of aging, granted I was only 44 when I found him but thanks to his tips I got from skinny fat, tired and sore to be in the best shape I have ever been in. He also does coaching but I found the tips he tweets to be proficient for me
I would highly recommend getting a fit from a BikePT-certified PT if you have one in your area, they’re great! It should really help in preventing any future injuries, improving comfort and performance.
Strength training (doesn’t have to be “weight lifting”) is truly life changing and I can’t recommend it enough. Everything is easier when you’re stronger. If you’ve never done any of that before, I would definitely work with a good coach though!
Disclaimer: I’m about half your age, so take the above for what it’s worth!
I’m 68 and like you, can do 3 TR workouts per week with no strength training. Since Last November I have been working out every other day, alternating TR Train Now workouts with Strength Training. This approach has helped me manage fatigue and I have made gains in my strength (increased the amount of weight I can lift). I’m not sure how this approach will effect my outside riding when spring comes, but I think I am seeing an overall improvement in my day to day life, and that’s really what it’s all about.
I’m in my early 60s and in making that transition from “Fast cyclist” to old guy working out, partly because my age and mostly because of the newly found chronic illness that’s going to require some work. For decades I was motivated to train to win races and play at the front of the local group rides. Now I’m 10 times more motivated to work out in a much more diverse fashion so that when I hit 70 I can still walk and dress myself!
The honest truth is that as you age, your physical abilities decline, even if you have no major health issues, and you’ll never be as fast at 70 as you could have been at 25.
Another truth is that all training programs like TrainerRoad et al your average MAMIL are using are basically cycling specific race training programs based on data from high level athletes in their 20s and early 30s watered down so normal people can do the program. These programs are highly effective at making middle-age people faster on the bike. But, they are not specifically targeted at general fitness and definitely not targeted in any way at general functional fitness for older people.
But, exercise of some sort is critical for older folks. And 100x more critical if you have some issues. Definitely find something you like and do it regularly. Also, get more well-rounded with what you’re doing. At 70, just riding your bike is not going to cut it for quality of life and overall health. So yes, you definitely need to add some strength work. And go for walks.
Going fast and winning races is great motivation. But at some point, you need to transition into getting motivated by doing what you need to do to make sure you can still enjoy life when you hit 80.
Cycling is a fun activity that we all love. It can be many things to different people. Not everyone needs to be the A-type masters athelete trying to build up to 5x20min @ FTP.
Let’s face it. As an exercise modality, cycling is a one trick pony. It’s not any good for building bone mass and it only builds the body in a single plane. There is no side to side action or stress put on the bones. There’s a lot to be said for activities like shooting hoops, playing tennis, running, or weight lifting.
Here’s what I’d do if I were you:
Evaluate your relationship to cycling as a sport. Most cyclists I know don’t do structured training or Zwift races or TrainerRoad or anything like these things. They just ride.
Think about other fitness activities that provide benefits that cycling doesn’t provide.
Get your knee and fit evaluated by a real expert fitter. Not just the kid at the local bike shop.
That is true so embrace it. There are two truly great things about taking up strength training late in life (or any time for that matter). 1- you improve quickly. Nothing like hitting new PBs regularly for motivation. 2. If you have just been cycling for a long time you are likely pretty weak so any strength gains will be noticeable in day to day life and may even make some things noticeably easier to do (and your appearance will improve too - if you want to look younger, get stronger).
I’m only 51, and I am only dimly aware of how my body’s response to training might change over the next two decades, so I can’t offer that perspective as a peer. But I do have two things to suggest that I’ll mention, since they haven’t been mentioned by others in the thread (unless I missed it).
One is that you might benefit from reading the Joe Friel book Fast After 50. I found it helpful certainly. Good insights on recovery needs, time vs intensity, etc.
The second possibility that I’ll mention is yoga. I haven’t seen the research on this, but I wonder if yoga is something your body might tolerate more than weight training, and could potentially still help fight the progression of sarcopenia? It certainly seems to help me with injury resistance, strength, and flexibility.
I’m only 46 but having been in good shape to battle a severe health issue and come out at the other side, as I age I intend to stay fit to battle anything that is thrown at me. The day will come when I can no longer improve but the desire to stay fit and healthy will hopefully continue to motivate me then.
I’m 15 years behind you, so can’t relate directly, but my take at 70 would be that I am not going to be concerned too much about “performance”. I’m just gonna want to still be riding my bike and enjoying the health benefits.
As others have suggested, see a bike fitter. And I would also say that you are a perfect candidate for an eBike…actually surprised no one had mentioned it yet. Use the assist when you need it to alleviate the strain on your body (climbing, etc) and don’t use it when you don’t need it.
But definitely don’t stop riding…adjust your goals to what you body is capable of, make equipment adjustments (position, eBike, etc) and keep moving.
At 67 yo, I find that one total body weight workout per week is all I can handle. Back in the day, John Little, owner of a Nautilus Gym in Toronto I think and co-author of the book “Body by Science”, found that once a week or less often provided the greatest strength gains. The lifting protocol was using machines to muscular failure in 5-8 reps super slow. Right now I’m managing 3-4 bike workouts/week and one weight workout, with another body weight core workout squeezed in.