Just bought my parents (63 y/o) a KICKR bike and going to get them started on TrainerRoad. Any suggestions for older adults new to training?

My parents are quite active, reasonably-healthy 63 year olds, but they’re overweight and becoming more so each year. They’re both very motivated to exercise and do so several times a week, but they are still moving in the wrong direction health-wise (dad just started blood pressure meds). They have an elliptical machine (which they use) and have talked about getting a Peloton, but decided not to for the usual reasons…“It’s so expensive. Will we really use it?”

So as a long time TR user who has converted many friends into cyclists/TR-users, I bought them a KICKR Bike and will be getting them started on TR. I’m not worried about them using it… as long as they get started they’ll be hooked, and they’ll definitely get started because it was a gift from their son!

They like to ride their bikes casually on the bike path, but have never done any real training. Obviously I can’t just start them on Sweet Spot base-- ramp test and all-- like I might with a young, fit friend, so the plan is to slowly build up to a plan over the course of several months.

Does anyone have experience getting older adults started on TrainerRoad? They’re very competitive people who have a tendency to overdo it, so I want to make sure I get them started slowly and safely. Thanks!

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Was in the same situation with my father, 2 years younger. He started with simple one hour z2 workouts to familiarise with sitting on a trainer for long time (for new people longer than 30 min is a torture). To be honest at the beginning I have skipped ramp test and let him to ride in level mode by feel - like with normal bike. It was somewhat transition phase to gain some volume and some basic cycling fitness. Then I have gradually introduced tempo and SST parts to the workout (by feel, around 10-20 min long). After around 2 months was a FTP test and then going with a TR program. The introductory phase was quite gentle but needed.

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I’d send them to spin class. Something fun. A virtual gym with ‘bring your own bike’ Peloton subscription is $13/month and has a bunch of fitness classes (Yoga, Strength, Cardio, etc). More motivation versus blue bars, more fitness than TR, and likely stickier than TR. With just two HIIT spin classes per week and an outside ride or two I raised my ftp to same level (~250) as TR MV in my mid fifties. If you want to talk about overdoing things then make them do TR MV plan.

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Parents: “We’re thinking about doing some exercising.”
Son: Pushes them facefirst into a bowl of Rubicon +3

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I’ll probably get flamed for it, but would suggest Zwift,

Plenty of beginner group rides and more engaging IMO than the blue bars, especially for beginners.

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Plot twist: Subby’s dad is Ivan Drago from Rocky III.

AKA - In Soviet Russia, Rubicon +3’s you.

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I don’t think TR is necessarily a bad choice for beginners- it’s just a personal preference thing. Peloton or Zwift are probably more engaging for most people that aren’t as bothered about the training element, but instructor led classes and more gamified elements aren’t for everyone and there are a lot of people who would rather do their own thing. My Dad who hates gyms liked TR for it’s simplicity and because he “wasn’t being yelled at”, and my partner who’s a big video game guy thought Zwift looked like absolute garbage. I think it’s worth letting them try all the free trials available to them, which doubles as a handy butt-adjustment period while they’re getting used to the trainer.

With regard to TR plans, I like ‘Time Crunch’ and ‘Maintenance’ plans. I think a lot of cyclists tend to view 1 hour as the minimum, but if they’re just riding for fitness/cardio 30-45 minutes is probably a lot less boring/intimidating, and getting some high-intensity work in both helps pass the time and gives them a bigger return on what in most cases is a fairly small time commitment.

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In early fifties I started going to spin class to drop some weight and improve fitness/cardio. The class was ~45 minutes and fun. After six months I started going 30 minutes early (5am!) and made it 75 minutes with a 35 minute warmup and then 30 minutes HIIT and a 10 minute cooldown. And also started riding my mountain bike with roadies. And I got pretty good cardio fitness, dropped a bunch weight, and started to really enjoy outside rides so I bought a road bike.

IMHO motivation is more important than structure. Do something fun and then do more of it.

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This. I think getting them on Zwift or something and just letting them ride for a while is smarter.

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When they burn out and give up, I’ll take that KICKR bike at a big discount, so they don’t have to sell it on craigslist or Facebook marketplace. :slight_smile:

As others mentioned, Zwift or Peloton. They might want 2 setups, if they can swing it, so that they can workout together.

I can’t imagine any recreational rider wanting to do trainer road right off the bat, and your parents sound as recreational as it gets. No group rides, just casual bike path rides.

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I’d agree with Zwift to start. More game less training. Once the big bites maybe a few Zwift workouts. Then TR with Zwift for a training plan/workouts and the entertainment of Zwift gaming.

Okay, now we’ve all weighed in on what we’ve decided they’re going to enjoy, here’s some tips;

  • Join them on a group workout, or a group ride if you’re on Zwift or something similar. It’s a bit of accountability, keeps them entertained and you get to spend time together which can be a big draw.
  • Make sure they’ve got a decent fit. It’s a lot easier to deal with discomfort on a short bike path ride than it is on a stationary trainer. Same goes for good shorts. Impress strongly upon them the need for good cooling, because for some reason we all think we don’t need it at the beginning.
  • Since you’ve mentioned a tendency to overdo it, a HR monitor might be helpful- and it can also be rewarding to see health metrics trending the right way, especially if that’s their primary motivation.
  • Ideally they should be looking at some sort of weight-bearing exercise in combination with their cycling for bone/muscle health and also just to keep some variety in there.
  • This is a tough one without knowing their situation or the kind of relationship you have with them, but diet is a huge part of weight/health and often the more difficult half of the equation, so some support there will go a long way in achieving their goals and making exercise in general more enjoyable.
  • Mix it up with some outdoor riding- again, all the better if you can join them!
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You know how SSB low vol 1 is the basic place to start? Don’t start there. 1 hour minimum is way too much.

Time crunch or always 30 minute train now workouts to start.

I’m going to pose a dilemma without having a solution for it, but I think the major benefit of getting them on TR would be the trackable progress. They’ll get fit if they get addicted to watching a number increase. But I think the ramp test might be a bit much for older trainees. Maybe it’s 20 minute test or something else? KJ in an hour or half hour?

This is how I started at 40. Did not knew it at time but followed Maffetone method for half a year and only then got really hooked and signed up for TR. First ramp test was still similar to untrained person but base was quite good, lost some weight and aerobic decoupling was already then below 5% for 3hr Z2 rides.

If they have a good computer setup, I’d suggest RGT instead of zwift - they might like riding the real world courses.

Love the idea of joining them in a group workout once a week, or a group ride on zwift or similar.

Tbh I’m always a bit sceptical about getting people who “like to ride their bike on the bikepath” into structured indoor training. They are very different things, imo. But maybe if the motivation to get fit is there, it will work.

Similar thought to @splash but I would use FulGaz. Riding real rides all over the world might really keep them interested in. Lots of easy rides or do them in steady mode.

Possibly graduate to a FTP builder plan but maybe there is no need.

Coming up on 79th birthday in a few weeks. Following are some excerpts taken from my “Memo to Self”. I’d never presume to say these things to another person, nor would I stand still for long if someone presumed to say them to me. But, this is me talking to me. Its sort of like a compass…if effort or consistency begin to wander I just go back an pull up this dose of reality.

While conditioning presupposes a choice to invest effort, that effort does not represent conditioning. Conditioning is represented by the return on that effort. If there isn’t a productive return examine the quality and content of the invested effort.

Conditioning is an investment aimed at achieving or enabling a larger end or objective. As an end in itself, it offers no answer to the question, “Why?” and is almost certainly not sustainable.

The investment from which conditioning issues requires a motive. That motive must be from me, to me, by me, for me. Motives thrust on me by others or adopted through a sense of obligation, guilt, or peer influence are not sustainable.

A choice to invest effort presupposes rejection of a choice to do nothing. Do not entertain the fantasy there’s anything involved besides choice.

Absence of a choice to invest effort presupposes allegiance to a motive for doing nothing. Name that motive.

The return on a choice to invest nothing belongs to me as surely as the return on a choice to invest effort. Avoid being the only person who cannot or will not see that reality.

Conditioning is not a project, it’s a process; it’s not a task, it’s an investment; it’s not an objective, it’s a way of living.

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My dad is 70 and has Parkinsons. He rides recreationally on the road and I just got him on TR this winter. He has no interest in a training plan or in doing long workouts indoors, so TrainNow has been perfect for him to pick 30 and 45 minute workouts a few times a week. It’s been great for his health and general well-being, he’s visibly lost weight, and he’s having more fun on his gravel bike outside now that he’s fitter. It’s also a lot of fun to compare what workout we did each day!

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Not all younger adults are the same, neither are older adults. If anything older adults are “less same” as they no longer feel the need to fit in with their peers. Comfortable in their own skin is the phrase comes to mind. It’ll come down to what makes them tick and how they feel about being pushed into doing something that wasn’t their own idea. What motivates them, what will lead to consistency?

You say they exercise several times a week but their health is going the wrong way. How is using trainer road going to address that? If someone is exercising several times a week and health is deteriorating then something else is at play.