Training Load for Masters Cyclists

Training Load is a rolling average of how much training you have been doing in the recent weeks. Six Weeks to be specific. Called Chronic Training Load in TrainingPeaks and simply Load in Optimize, your training load is a great snapshot metric of 'how much training you've done recently'. But how much load is right for you? Well, that depends...on age, ability to recover and time to train.  Let's dig in.

For starters, the right amount of training load for a Masters cyclist is different than that for a younger cyclist.  In this training tip, we'll cover Masters cyclist training load numbers from our experience coaching masters athletes for the past 20 years.

I helped create the Performance Manager Chart that TrainingPeaks has been using for years, and Training Load is a key part of it. The PMC lets coaches and athletes measure how much training the athlete has been doingand also project how much training the athlete will do from the prescribed training.

Whether you are using TrainingPeaks or Optimize, you should be familiar with this number.

Training load in both cases is rolling, exponentially weighted, 42-day average, based on your Training Stress Score in TrainingPeaks and your Optimized Training Score in Optimize. (TSS and OTS in turn are quantifications of your daily training load, based on your power output: duration x intensity.)  

There are two training load numbers to strive for:

#1 Pre-Season or Peak Training Load

#2 In Season Training Load

The ideal load varies by individual, and of course your personal life situation will dictate how much time you can train and therefore how much training load you can carry.  But on the other side of the coin, how much you can recover

But in broad strokes, older athletes recover less than younger athletes and therefore can only carry certain training loads compared to younger cyclists who recover better and can carry higher training loads.

Thus the entire subject "Masters' Training Load" - it is much much different than professional level athlete training load or the training load you could carry as a twenty or thirty year old. 

So here are two ranges for athletes based on your age and ability: your #1 pre-season or peak training load and # 2 your in season training load: 

As you can see in the chart above we have separated masters training loads out into decades: 40's, 50's & 60's.  

Below 40 years old, in our experience athletes can recover and carry training load north of 100. Twenty year olds can carry even higher training load and then of course professional levels.  Of note, Tour de France Pros will hit 150-160 in the second week or 3rd week of the tour exiting the Alps or Pyrenees. 

In Optimize, track your Load from the number labelled, 'Load' in the lower right of the grid that calculates your Optimized Score:

 What Type of Training Do You Suggest to Achieve Peak Training Load?

Traditional 'base' training - lots of zone 2, tempo and sweet spot is the best type of training to build your training load.  Ride as much as you have time for and then as much as you can recover from. We recommend 16 weeks of total base training to be completed pre-season.  October thru January or November - February, December through March or January through April.  See our 16 weeks of Sweet Spot Training Plan here

Group Rides, long ride training blocks and training camps help achieve large OTS's that will push one's training load to its highest values.

Timing of Peak Training Load relative to one's A race and/or event is next level.

In Season Training Loads are 10-15% less than Peak Training Loads

Lower Training Loads once the season begins allow your body to recover better and be 'fresher' for your interval workouts.  During in-season training load phases athletes are either in an interval phase or a race 'n recover phase.  To see how training is designed on a week by week basis, see our interval training plans or our race n recover plans

Related reading: Seven habits of highly successful masters cyclists

Related reading: How Much Sweet Spot Training Should You Do?

Related reading: Switching from Base to Race

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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