My Adaptive Masters Training Plan

I wanted to share my N=1 training plan as a masters athlete. I’ve been tinkering with it for a while and I’m seeing really good results. With the quarantine, I’ve had more time for trial/error and to gauge progress than I normally would have. And to be clear, this plan is aimed at masters athletes, like me, who have different recovery needs than a 25 - 35 year old.

Some background on me:

– I’m 45 years old. Will be 46 in about a month
– I started “enthusiast” level riding about 9-10 years ago
– Started “training” 4-5 years ago.
– Started structured training about 2+ years ago
– After a year of working/struggling with TR plans (3-4 good weeks + 2-3 weeks of failing … rinse/repeat) I worked with a coach (Steve Neal) for about 9 months to great results.
– Stopped working with Steve last December due to life circumstances, and have been self training since January. (I have nothing but great things to say about Steve, by the way, and was going to start working with him again, but the family is belt-tightening due to the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and an elite coach doesn’t fit in to that right now)

What I really realized from the TR plans is that the TSS demands were geared much more to the higher end (Threshold, Vo2, Anaerobic) end of the spectrum, and I would fall into over-training fatigue and lose the ability to complete workouts for weeks at a time. Exacerbating the over-training issue was that I would over-test on the TR Ramp tests … the result being that, as a masters athlete, I take more time to recover from Vo2/Anaerobic … AND, my FTP was set too high, so it would hasten my descent into the hole. As an aside, I am a current TR subscriber, and love the product … I listen to the podcast religiously, but can’t follow the plans. Currently, I believe my TR FTP would be 310 - 315, however I am subscribing to 2 phased FTP test 1) a RAMP test with 3 min steps and applying .8 factor of 1 minute power, and 2) Verifying with an FTP60 ride a week later. As such, I am currently training off an FTP of 290.

I would say this approach is neither polarized, nor a threshold plan – more of a pyramidal approach. Also, it focuses on extending “time in zone” over increases in Watts. This, in effect, makes my high power more repeatable before making it higher – this has had a great effect on me. Last year, training off of a TR FTP of 303W, I was pack fodder. After making my power more repeatable at an FTP60 of 280W, I was on 2 podiums.

Sample week:

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Sweet Spot - 90mins or more. Work up to Tray Mountain and then Wright Peak in the 88% - 90% FTP range. If you’re feeling burned from a long weekend of riding, make this a tempo workout. Point of this day is to add as much volume as you can without burning yourself for the Vo2 work later in the week.
Wednesday: 60 - 90 minutes of Endurance like Baxter
Thursday: Vo2 Day –
***For two consecutive weeks I do lengthy efforts at 105% FTP. I started at 4x6 @ 105%, moved to 4x7 at 105% (i.e. Washington +4) and am currently working toward 4x8 @ 105% and will try to get to 5x8 @ 105% before dialing up FTP/Watts 2%-4% and then will likely go back to 4x6 or 4x7 before working back up the time in zone again.
***Every 3rd week I do a high end Vo2 workout - like 30/30s in Gendarme - or a variant.
***NOTE: For Vo2 workouts, DO NOT use ERG mode. For Gendarme, go as hard as you can for 30 seconds and recover. Same for the 105% intervals - use your internal governor. Go as hard as you can for 6/7/8 minutes and look at the average power at the end. Use RPE and Watt integrity to determine if you can start extending time in zone. I’m currently working down to 30/20s.
***Masters specific note: I take much longer to recover from ultra-high-end intervals like Gendarme, than I do from the 105% intervals. My 30/30 self-regulated power average is in the 385W - 400W range, which is approaching 140% of FTP. This is why I only do them every 3rd week.
Friday: Run - I take a 3-4 mile run every Friday. As a masters athlete, I can’t believe the benefits of running once a week. It changes my whole body – go listen to the Cycling Coach podcast on collagen.
Saturday and Sunday: 2-3 hour Z2 rides outside. Go longer if you can. Ride a bike and have fun. If I can’t get out I sub a 90-120 minute Tempo ride like Spruce Knob +3 and work up to Polar Bear

Execution Note: For my Sweet Spot and Tempo workouts, I ride in ERG mode at 60-70 RPM; 4 mins sitting, 1 min standing for the entirety of the interval. This is something my coach started me on, and I think it really increases muscular endurance. I don’t think it’s necessary, but I recommend it.

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a while, and if you made it this far I hope you’ve found it helpful.

Last thing: If you try something like this, you’re only doing Vo2 once a week, the execution REALLY matters on that - don’t use a governor…go as high as you can as long as you can and repeat. I run TR off my Mac, and I literally drape a towel over the power numbers during Vo2 intervals so they don’t make me go harder or easier – I just ride based on feel.

Good luck :metal:


Thanks for posting. This year I’ve taken a pyramidal approach to base and also very happy with results compared to threshold/SS heavy base plans (TR SSB). Similar results although I’m not racing for podiums. I’m currently using a sweet spot base plan from FasCat and it has similar pyramidal distribution as an older CTS plan that I followed in 2016 (it came from Strava Premium), and another base plan I purchased on TP.

Example week:
Monday: off
Tuesday: 2 hour 3x15 sweet spot
Wednesday: 90 minute 3x12 tempo
Thursday: 90 minute zone2
Friday: off
Saturday: 3 hour “group ride” (with COVID I’m doing these solo with sweet spot work)
Sunday: 3 hour zone2

Thats the basic template. I’m adapting workouts, in particular on the weekend.

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