Why aren't "Masters" plans the default?

TR has been promising masters plans for quite a while. If they called it something else, everyone would be asking for years when the masters plans will be released…

Around here, masters are the biggest category and the deepest/strongest fields overall. Sure, the very pointy end are often 20’s and 30’s, but they are a small minority (at least in the racing I do, mostly gravel and marathon MTB these days). And I’d say 40+ (and certainly 50+) are doing more serious training (and more volume) than most of the 20’s and 30’s. Just more time on their hands and different priorities vs. when younger. That’s all just speculation on my part based on the world I live in, would be interesting to see TR put out some demographics on age vs. training approach/volume.


The first edition of the cyclist training bible came out in 1995. My fourth edition of the book at least contains many references to master and/or ageing athletes.


This very question (3 hard days is too much) was addressed by Nate in the youtube comments when they released these plans, and he said TRs data says otherwise - that 3 hard days are beneficial. I personally can’t do 3 hard days per week, and the research seems to indicate most people cannot either, so we can only go with what works for ourselves.

Edit: I hunted down the comment for more detail

I’ll be honest I was a little offended by the language around the masters’ plan. For those that can’t recover from the hard efforts. Oh you mean like olympic level athletes? Yeah like them. :wink: It just felt a little…uh snarky. Though I assume (and hope?) it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m still somewhat formulating my thoughts on this. I built out a plan (it didn’t have near enough volume for me) and tried to deconstruct what my disagreement was in principle. I have a feeling it is my approach and probably an error between the app and the chair.

  • I’m telling the app what I want through non precise measures. high volume, masters. This strikes me as type A app interaction. I will tell you specifically what I want in a manner that doesn’t necessarily align with an outcome, rather a desired structure. That structure at its core does not satisfy my constraints.
  • The app is not directly taking in the picture it already has of me. I’ve been uploading my rides for YEARS. It has my last 6 weeks of effort, it knows my tss, it knows my ftp, it probably has a better understanding of my power curve than I do.

What I want to know is what is possible, and be given a ‘price tag’ to get it. The discipline matters of course and the targets of those disciplines matter. If I say I want to get better at 40k tt then build a plan based on what you know. (height, weight, gender, age, power curve, tss, training history) and tell me what you think I can do at varying levels of commitment. Build a suite of plans that satisfies the condition of ‘better’ based upon my engagement.

And while I’m here asking for fantasy apps. :smiley: It would be great if it could tell me ‘why’.
Like…so I ask for a high volume 40k tt plan. I currently put in 500-600tss a week, about 80/20 distributed between z2/z3-4. If the full plan comes back with peak tss of 500 and is distributed at 80/20…I have to ask…why? I’m not looking for an answer to that question in the forum. I want the app to say, Hey, I see you do 600tss right now, we’ve identified an opportunity to increase your power in the target zone, raise your ftp and increase your muscular endurance by up to 15% by reducing your training time by 3 hours and lowering your tss to 400. <would you like to know more?>
That ^ is my fantasy. :smiley:

I’m on the fence still about the masters plan. It’s taking a lot of tweaking and I sort of think that it will take so much that I won’t really have a plan anymore. What I want (again) is to know what is possible. I’m old enough that every gain I don’t capture might just be lost forever. I don’t have time to fiddle around and find out.


same impression (re: your first paragraph).

1 Like

Hard to see how they could exist before then as Bluetooth (and early versions did not have protocols for smart trainers) has only been around since 1998, and Ant+ since 2003. Plus in 2000 most of us were still on dial up Internet.

I see both these points but agree with a lot of the others that you’re always going to somewhat alienate some group. Since TR loves numbers, I assume they made a data driven decision and determined that more of their subscriber base fall into the masters category and named it according to what would resonate with the larger sample size.

People in their 30s are most likely to be the ‘boundary zone’ where you aren’t sure if you should use one of these plans or not. Personally, having had good results with higher intensity for years there’s nothing they could have named these plans that would have made me default to them until I had firsthand experience that I indeed could no longer keep up with the intensity.

Perhaps others are less stubborn and a more proactive naming approach would have helped save them from themselves. My current state is that I have no problem doing 3x intensity on the low volume plan over the winter where I’m not supplementing a lot of unstructured rides or extra volume, but I know that I no longer respond well to an outdoor mid-volume plan with full intensity. So I’m a non-masters winter athlete, and a masters summer athlete for now.

In my case, a different name besides masters would probably more accurately reflect my situation, but I’m not everyone and I can take the extra 30 seconds to read the description and think about what works best for me :man_shrugging:


Two intense sessions per week may be fine for masters men but a different approach may be necessary for masters women . Masters men require more Z2 and while masters women benefit from more HIIT and SIT. I hope that TrainerRoad considers this in their messaging to female masters athletes.

What Women Need to Know about Zone 2 Training

What Women Need to Do Instead of Zone 2


I think this is exactly the point. It’s not masters…it’s not because people can’t take the intensity. The reality is we all have different levels of fitness in these target zones. Different targets and goals and are starting from different places. Knowing where you are at now, what your intention is and how much suffering you are willing to put up with are key ingredients to deciding if this plan is right for you. Not whether you are over 30 and can’t take the intensity. :stuck_out_tongue:

The questions lacks the context of total volume. 3 hard days on a TR low volume plan, which is usually 3.5 total hours, is very different than 3 hard days with 3 long Z2 rides on top. The latter would typically push someone closer to 10+ hours per week. Recovery looks a lot different in those two scenarios. I have no problem at all completing and recovering from 3 hard rides in the classic TR low volume plan. And, to be frank, with that little volume intensity is a must.

For mid volume (7-10 hours), I prefer the Masters plans. I get my two hard workouts and then I can either do the prescribed Z2 rides or extend them (or sometimes extend an interval workout with Z2) to add total volume.

It would be interesting to see what plans people are using in regard to Nate’s data for 3 hard workouts per week. I would guess a lot of those people are on low volume plans.

Thought by whom?

My son is a high school swimmer. In addition to five training sessions this week (all interval work, of course), he has three swim meets (with four races per meet).

Notably, this is for a non-elite program. The really serious programs do significantly more.


When Nate says “we have lots of data that lots of people can handle three hard rides per week”, I doubt he is suggesting that data is comprised mainly of 3.5 hours of training per week. Just because people are on low volume plans, doesn’t mean people are only doing those workouts. TR has data for all the rides people do, so he can’t just be referring to folks doing very low hours only. If he was, then this whole master plan vs everyone else wouldn’t make much sense anyway.

Edit: I too could likely handle 3 hard sessions per week if my total hours were low enough, but its all about finding the right balance for each of us. I know from experience I can’t do 10 hours per week with 3 hard sessions, but maybe I can do 6 hours per week with 3 hard sessions. The conundrum though, would I be more fit doing the 10 hours with 2 sessions?


So I think this is really instructive. To get deeper into my dissatisfaction I would say again that TR is an eco-system. Within the ontology of TR you have a set of data that is entrained by the members using the product. The “FTP” number of TR does not agree with any other FTP number I’ve ever found. It has been directly stated (in the way back machine here) the FTP is a number derived to allow members to achieve workouts.

The math all works folks! well yeah, if you are in non-euclidean space.

Every layer of new TR specific nomenclature further entrains the model to match the expectation.
The real problem is when you are not working from within the model. The ‘levels’ is an attempt to level (pun intended) the playing field a bit by somewhat arbitrarily assigning a difficulty that pulls the member back to the wonted way to achieve the targets desired.

But again it’s an ontology and one that feels like it is maybe not based on reality, it’s the Uncanny Valley of training stimulus. :wink:

Yeah, the apps having the data vs. “knowing” can be light years apart… At this point, it seems like plans are constructed with very little (if any) consideration of the past training and just depending on some high level questions. That’s not a bash on TR, just something I assume they haven’t prioritized. Makes sense to me based on the other needs of the tools. If I had my choice of focus, it would be all hands on deck working on how to make adaptive training work with non-TR workouts (AT 2.0 or whatever it’s referred to). I don’t care if version 1 is craptacular, anything would be better than nothing.

1 Like

That’s great, but in what zone are these intervals performed? How is that being measured. What duration? Is this 10 hours a week of z3(threshold) and 3 races? seems excessive.

…“indicate that Olympic and World champion middle-distance swimmers (200–400 m) follow a predominantly pyramidal model, with 55–70% of training at [La]b < 2 mmol⋅L-1 and 30–40% between 2 and <4 mmol⋅L-1 (Maglischo, 2003).”

Also, can we compare swimming and cycling when prescribing hard sessions? I have no idea, but curious what @The_Cog thinks with his expertise.

Like I said, I’d be curious to know what plans (plus non TR rides) the people are using who routinely complete 3 hard workouts per week.

This is total speculation, but I think there is a big misconception of the type of athletes that make up the TR user base. I mentioned it earlier in the thread – Nate’s presentation of the TR user w/kg graph was eye opening. There are very few elite level athletes using the platform. And seeing as how TR has always been marketed toward the time crunched athlete, I bet the number of people doing only low volume plans (without other rides) is a lot higher than you’d expect…especially in the off season which for most people is winter where outside “fun” rides are harder to come by.

Personally, I spent a couple off seasons only doing the 3 intense rides a week, and sometimes added a day of z2. I don’t follow a plan at all really once the outdoor riding season comes along. Usually I just do one VO2 TrainNow workout per week to stay sharp. Willing to bet there’s a lot of people using TR that fall somewhere in that type of category.


Fastcat plans are 3+ hard workouts a week last time I checked. I bought a plan from Tim cusick for 26 weeks and also had 3± hard workouts depending what phase you’re in.
Just pointing out 2 plans off the top of my head that have 3 hard workouts a week. TR I think gets so much attention is because their success for average joes.


I’ve been doing a sweet spot block, and it’s comprised of 14 hrs/week with 2 sweet spot rides (intensity 90%) and then weekend with one tempo ride, and usually it’s something like 3x40 at 85%ish within an endurance ride. I don’t know if these qualify as “hard” workouts but that’s a way I approach my weeks

1 Like

Yep, I was also rather surprised by the lack of elite riders in Nate’s data he presented, but the data likely also shows there aren’t that many elite riders anyway out there!

Believe me, this is not a brag, but based on Nates w/kg data, I’m in the top couple of percent - that surprised me, but also made me wonder if the average person is only riding like 3 hours per week.

1 Like