Starting over at 50: Order of operations to protect limited supply of "matches"?

I had a cycling accident 18 months ago that resulted in some broken bones - and since then I’ve not been riding my bike. I’ve gained weight and I’ve been working mad hours.

It is time to get back on the bike, and to slowly rebuild my fitness as there are still goals I have for my cycling career.

I’ve got myself into a situation of paralysis by analysis (because I’m a perfectionist and also I’m scared of how much work I need to do).

I’m over 50 - so I not only need to lift weights to preserve what muscle I have, I need to actively pack some muscle on to a) aid my weightloss and b) preserve long-term health and c) make up for my 18 months of inactivity. So that’s probably three sessions per week?

Then my mobility sucks badly. So I need to address that. That’s more non-bike time.

And I need to lose 10 to 12kg, so there is proper meal prep to take into account.

Finally we get to riding the bike. And the idea of doing something like sweet spot fills me with dread - it sounds like it burns everyone out.

So, three times per week in Zone 2, plus 3 weight sessions for strength and intensity until I feel fitness slowly returning? For like the next 4 or 6 months and then drop two weight and four bike per week, plus whatever mobility I can fit in?

How would you approach it?


You’re coming off of 18 months of inactivity. That’s a very long time. You should pick something you can stick with, anything really, do that consistently for a couple of years and only then worry about perfecting your routine. Consistency >>>>>> the perfect plan.


At 50 I had shoulder repair and a few other operations. Now a decade later, if I was starting over at 50 this is what I would do:

  1. Kettlebell work. Buy an adjustable kettlebell, or a set of kettlebells. I’ve got a set of Vulcan Strength kettlebells, but if starting over I’d probably buy the adjustable kettlebell here: Equipment — Wildman Athletica

Basic instruction playlist:

You can easily spend 6 months just doing some of the warmups from the first 5 or 6 videos in that playlist. Then 10 swings on the minute, for 10 minutes. About 20-25 minute routine.

If you are interested in programming he has this overview for deconditioned or injured athletes:

The basic point is you can go a long long long way with kettlebell swings and some kettlebell warmups.

Get ripped and athletic with a very simple program and a set of kettlebells (adjustable or a set).

I haven’t bought his programs, doing my own programming based off the book Simple & Sinister. Mark Wildman videos are good, and I also like the videos on StrongFirst and Hardstyle Kettlebell YouTube channels.

  1. Ride & walk as much as possible. Just getting out there and doing some easy aerobic exercise is going to put you ahead of the game. Don’t worry about follow a plan/program until you are ready - have an event, want more of a challenge, getting bored of doing easy aerobic, whatever.

  2. Its all about putting time on the calendar and being consistent. Start with shorter workouts and get consistent. Build from there.


Yeah, 50 yo here, and have been injured for 3 months a few times.

Your priorities and plan look really good! Strength, mobility then bike. I wouldn’t stress about doing copious sweet spot right now. Z2, or whatever lower intensity you are feeling good about in the moment and not overwhelmed by is great! I always started back with a few weeks of easy trainer rides, then easy flat road outside, and gradually go from there.


Just had my MRI this morning, back and numbness in my leg. It has happened before.
On the happy pills ( oral steroids) They seem to be working. Hope to avoid the injections in my back this time. I’m bored as can be. No lifting biking and very little stretching.
At 72 I have had a few times off the bike and gained serious weight. I found breaking the comeback into parts and working on 1 thing at a time was better than trying to work on all things at once. It all came together eventually.
All the advice above is great. Sticking with it is the key to success.


Really simply - don’t overthink it, just get back in the exercise habit, and aim for better not perfect. Do the riding that you’re going to enjoy most, whether that’s group rides, gravel, hills, coffee rides, trainer rides in front of the TV, whatever you’re most likely to stick at. Same with strength and mobility, at this point it doesn’t really matter whether it’s body weight, kettle bells, resistance bands. Just do something that is easy for you psychologically and logistically to be consistent with.

Just getting back in the exercise habit will likely start to shift some of the weight and improve your mobility. Once you’re back in the habit of doing some kind of exercise most days then you can start to think about how to progress and optimise your training more.


don’t underestimate the value of walking/hiking…

if you can work in a 45min+ walk or hike into your daily routine, I guarantee you’ll see results without any meaningful physical strain


When I started biking I didn’t time anything, just went out and rode my mountain bike. Didn’t even have a GPS watch. Just rode with friends. And it was fun and it was awesome.

My advice… try to ride with people a few times a week. Get the rust off and find the love of riding the bike again. Sprinkle in some light quality only when you start to get the itch.


I took 8 months off the bike but did a little running and rowing so I wasn’t a complete zero. Within one month, I had gained back 30 watts on my FTP. In two months it was 40 watts. In four months, it was 50 watts and I was within 90% of my high FTP from the prior year. And this was on half the training load.

All the exercise studies show that you can get in shape in about 6 weeks. Enjoy the noob gains. And don’t over think things. Just ride. You can do almost any kind of training to get your noob gains. I’m 57.


Super interesting - thank you. Kettlebells are definitely interesting to me - my only concern is the injury risk unless the movement is spot on… Have you picked them under your own steam or had some coaching/direction?

I’m hoping it’s a typo where you say years and instead mean months…! Years of taking it easy after this lay-off would be depressing :joy:

Consistency is indeed key…

In the same boat now, had knee trouble and finally got it sorted, nothing left in terms of cartilage in the middle so the running days are over.

Back to the 2 steps after the beginning.

I’m over 50 and need to add more mobility and strength work… but previous (recent) attempts have not really worked out, as I’ve started off a little too enthusiastically and ended up with minor tweaks that derail the process.

My advice, and what I’m now doing with reasonable success, would be to plan a very, very gradual build-up. If you go “right then, kettlebells” and start doing 3 sets of 5 different exercises 2 or 3 times a week then it’s a lot. Instead of 3 sets, start with 1. If you’ve got the equipment then start with lower weights to dial in the movements and techniques.

Some people won’t need to do this and can just go and smash out loads of work… but if you suspect you’re not one of those people, then apply caution.

Also, as others have said, habit forming and consistency are super important. If you can do even 5 minutes of yoga or mobility or bodyweight exercises or something at the same time a couple of days a week it really helps build a foundation.

A recent MRI showed basically no meniscus in my left knee, just bone on bone.The good news is that it rules out running for me. The even better news is that I can cycle with no pain at all. If I walk a bit to much it just aches a bit which is warning to just take it easy. My specialist said " Whatever you do keep riding your bike"


I don’t find the basic movements like the kettlebell swing and clean to be that hard to do correctly. There are plenty of good YouTube videos that can walk you through what the swing should look like and how it should feel. And you can start with lighter weight until you’re comfortable.

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Yep about a week after surgery, Had long enough complaining about being in pain so the low volume plan is due to start on the 25 September. My Ironman/Tri days are now over, so its just dog walking and aquabikes.

Quite looking forward to getting back on the fitness road after knee pain and a cant be arsed attitude due to it for the past 12 months. (only 10kg to lose…)

Doesn’t mean your running days are over.
Even if it 's just slow run/walk , combined with the right strengthening work .
And if you do run, keep it short and build up slowly. Trying to run too far or fast will probably aggravate your knee.

Some good comments between that post and mine. I gave you a couple really really good videos above, one is a playlist and you could literally get started by only watching the first 2 in the playlist. Start with easier weights and work on technique before going heavy. IMHO its far safer than barbell work, and more time efficient for a full body workout.

The programming video in my earlier post, it talks about starting from not being able to walk and rebuilding from there. Watch the first 8 minutes of that video.

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Welcome to the TR community!

Sorry to hear about the accident. I hope your recovery has gone well and I’m glad it sounds like you’re ready to get back on the bike!

Your thoughts on strength and mobility work are great! I’m not a 50+ athlete myself, but even as a youngin, I find strength and mobility super helpful for remaining injury-free and healthy overall.

Here are a few resources from TR on strength and mobility work for cyclists that you might find helpful:


Strength Training:

I’m not a certified dietitian, but TR also has a couple of articles that might be useful when thinking about your nutrition plan and how it relates to your training:

When it comes to your workouts on the bike, don’t dread Sweet Spot work! It’s one of the most effective and efficient ways for cyclists to improve. This type of training is challenging but doable – it will feel like you’re working hard, but not necessarily pushing yourself through the level of discomfort you might feel when doing Threshold or VO2 Max sessions.

If you’re training on limited time, Sweet Spot workouts (and interval training in general) will progress your fitness further and more efficiently than spending that time in Zone 2 alone.

An added bonus of Sweet Spot training in your situation is that these workouts would probably burn more calories than a steady Zone 2 ride performed for the same duration, which could benefit your weight loss goals.

Easing back into activity is a good way to avoid doing too much too fast, but also remember – you don’t need to train for training! Once you get some momentum built up, it might be beneficial to jump into a plan to keep things rolling.

Hope this info helps! Feel free to let me or the TR team know if you have any other questions. :smiley:


I have the same issue - started taking Chondroitin MSM Glucosamine tablets some years back and they really help avoid the inflammation that can result from missing meniscus