I’m 55 and new to cycling - this is the end of my second season on the bike. Have ridden between 2500-3000 miles each of the past two years, largely club rides and “sportive”-type events with some trainer rides in the winters. Most of the athletes here appear to be training for a target event where periodization is important and some “down” period is expected after that. What is an appropriate off-season training strategy for a low-FTP rider like me that isn’t aiming for a specific event but just wants their long-term fitness curve to increase steadily? My goals are fairly pedestrian - I would like to be able to ride stronger because (1) it’s more fun, (2) because I would like to be able to cover more distance in the same amount of time and (3) I wan’t to minimize the limits I place on where I go due to fitness. In the vein of “just ride more”, do I just look to get in as many “traditional base” sessions as I can over the winter? Thanks.
One option is to do Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2, followed by the Build of your choice and then repeat that pattern.
You can swap the Build if you want a different focus or just to add variety
I don’t periodize any more and just do a few races each season to keep me motivated. I suggest simply following the SS base plan then move to build. As a newbie to structure start with the low volume plan.
I have no target event either and my current plan this “season” is Sweet Spot Base I and II, General Build and then a trip back to Sweet Spot Base II.
That takes me into the spring (and outdoor riding weather) with a substantial amount of fitness and plenty of room for group rides and the occasional race, with the only aim being to have fun, go fast, and keep fit.
During the spring, I’ll probably do low volume build and supplement it with long weekend rides, mostly with friends. I also like to do a few PR rides, targeting personal improvement on some of the local climbs.
I’m in pretty much the same boat as the OP.
I don’t race but I do enjoy long days out on the bike in the warmer months.
Last year my A event was a 300km audax which I completed. This year I am likely going for a 400km.
As @mcneese.chad recommends I’ll just repeat SSB and a Build. I will however elongate the plans by only doing 2 workouts per week and add in endurance rides at the weekend which will get progressively longer as the weather improves in the spring. A kind of polarised approach but as the endurance rides get longer it acts as my periodisation and speciality.
A few additional thoughts:
Start with riding more. Just spending more time on your bike will help. Try find new, interesting routes that will motivate you to get out and ride.
Weave in some structured workouts each week. Eg VO2max, threshold or sweet spot intervals. You can do this via TR workouts - on the trainer or outside if you have the right stretch/loop or road/trail. Be careful about not overdoing it with these higher intensity sessions. One per week to start, then add from there.
Note: many of even the TR low volume plans have 2 intense sessions mid-week, and a longer reasonably intense session at the weekend. Monitor your fatigue as you add these more intense sessions.
Pick an event to target. Something that you will look forward to and will motivate you to get out on the bike.
I had been riding MTB on my local trails for a few years, and one year signed up for the Leadville Silver Rush. Planned a vacation trip around it. It got me riding more to train for it, and set me on a path for much better fitness and being able to do much longer rides.
I did TR for the first-time last year and am considering it again. Like you, JSCjr64, I don’t race but want to be fit (by May). I’m constantly trading KOMs with people in my area. While I enjoy all types of riding, I get motivated by attacking 2-10 minute segments. I’m turning 53 and started when 49. I’ve done 5,000 miles the past 2 years. If I go with TR again, here is my tentative training plan. For the Build Phase its hard to decide between the “Short Power Build” or the “General Build,” but the General seems better for me. Any suggestions?
Will do easy longer rides outdoor on the weekend when weather allows.
Base Phase (Dec 2 – Jan 12)
Sweet-Spot Base (SSB) – Mid Vol 1 (6 Weeks/5.8 Hrs)
Sweet-Spot Base (SSB) – Mid Vol 2 (6 Weeks/6.3 Hrs)
Build Phase (Jan 13 – March 8)
Short Power Build (8 Weeks/7.2 Hrs) or General Build (8 Weeks/7.2 Hrs)
Specialty Phase (March 9 – April 27)
Road Racer – Rolling Road Race (8 Weeks/5.6 Hrs)
Good luck with your training.
If new then my suggestion would be (likely low volume):
SS base 1
SS base 2
Build (likely general)
And repeat! Could even just keep repeating SSB1 and SSB2 and see good gains but might get dull.
I don’t train for any specific race, I just train to burn some calories and be fitter in the summer.
I do a few sportives where the fitness certainly comes in handy.
If you are new to training try SSBI and SSBII low volume. I enjoy the workouts they are decent challenging. Plus 3 workouts a week is easy enough to fit in to even the busiest schedule. Can Sub the weekend ride for one outside and get good returns too. Although I feel the longer workouts are where I get the best gains.
I would say go with general build. The hills around me are very similar in duration to yours (the longest ones top out at about 15 minutes riding in sweet spot zones.) I like general build because it still lets you go pretty hard in the 10-15 minute range. Especially if you’re doing rolling road race specialty, I’d say general build fits better there.
Thanks for the input. I think you’re both right in terms of the General Base. And the idea of repeating SSB1 & SSB2 is a good one but I’ll see how it goes after doing each of those once.
Last year I did the mid vol plan and was fine. Was considering the higher mileage plan but will probably stick with the mid.
Agree with General Build. Would keep a Build phase in rather than just repeating SSB1 and 2, I think you need the variety and different training stimuli both physiologically and psychologically. I’m not sure I’d bother with a Specialty plan though if you’re not racing. I do race and I don’t tend to bother with it either, I cherrypick some workouts from the Speciality plans and the rest of my race-specific preparation comes from races and group rides…
Great suggestions. Thank you. I was unsure about the Road Racer piece, since I don’t race, but I want to hit my segments hard this spring. I’m not getting any younger so want to do the “fast stuff” while I can!
After looking at this, and as I would start this tomorrow . . . I have a question or two. First, I tend to agree with the General Build (aiming for mid vol) instead of another SSB mainly due to the desire for variability. Yet, the General Build seems like a significant increase in time and effort. If it’s too much, can you change mid-stream? Do you guys often take your easy day (Wed?) much easier if needed? Second, what would you recommend after the General Build (Mid vol, 8 wks)?
make those goals Events! pick a distance that you want to ride, and set that as a goal, and set a weekend when you want to accomplish it. Then build your plan backwards from there.
Also, look for a place that you think you can ride to right now; point #3 that you listed. Do the same!
I see athletes being way more successful towards event based goals rather than just metric based goals…and, you’ll hit the metric goals on the way to the event goal.