Age Is No Barrier to Cycling Training

Cycling Training When You're above 50 or 60: No Problem

Getting older… it happens to us all.

Most people are content to pick up their pipe and slippers, and enjoy a more relaxing, sedentary lifestyle in their twilight years.

Pottering about in the garden might be the sum total of their exercise regime.

But if you are passionate about sport, keeping fit and challenging yourself to greater heights then hitting the age of 50 is probably the perfect time to set yourself a new goal.

Cycling is a fantastic activity for the over 50s age group and reaching 50 is a fabulous opportunity to challenge yourself and your body. There is absolutely no need to think that just because you have hit the half century, you suddenly have to consign all sport and training to the history books.

Of course, your body might not feel as fit or as supple as when you were in your 20s or 30s, but if you are realistic and sensible in your approach you will be surprised at the heights you can reach.

There is nothing wrong in simply saddling up and cycling for pleasure. But, equally, there is absolutely nothing to stop you being more ambitious with your goals, aiming to boost your performance and competing with yourself by taking part in VO2 max training sessions

Fight the Fear Factor

Half the battle for older cyclists is feeling scared or over-awed by the thought of pushing their bodies to the limit. They might be frightened of failure or the possible disappointment of not being to cycle as quick or as hard as they could when they were younger. But if they can conquer these fears then older people can enjoy intensive cycling training sessions just as much as younger riders – maybe even more so.

You can achieve great results whatever your age.

You just need the self-belief and confidence to get over any fears or misconceptions. Imagine the thrill of knowing that you can improve your times and performance – even at the age of 55 or 60? The confidence boost and kudos you will gain from this will be great for your mind and body.

Health Checks: They’re Vital for Your Age Group

Here’s the sensible bit… Yes, you are older, and more susceptible to illness and disease.

So if you ARE seriously thinking of stepping up your training sessions and want to challenge yourself to ride harder and faster, then you must seek medical advice beforehand.

Go and see your doctor and talk to him about your intention to train hard. He will probably agree that it is an excellent idea as long as you are sensible and have a common sense approach. But it is advisable to at least get your blood pressure checked out.

Once you have seen your doctor and he has given you the thumbs-up, it will also provide the final confirmation and confidence boost that you need to take the plunge and saddle up.

High Intensity: The Human Body Loves a Challenge

You don’t have to have a rippling torso or a six-pack to train hard. You also don’t have to be in your teens, 20s, 30s or 40s to improve your cycling performance.

The great news for older cyclists is that strong training principles work for ALL ages. The cardiovascular system is extremely flexible and can adapt to changes and challenges when you get older. You will receive both peripheral and central adaptations that will help you perform better.

The heart can adapt specifically to the physical demands met during a training session. Like any other muscle, the heart needs regular training to maintain its fitness. The ventricle becomes more compliant, meaning less resistance during filling. This enables stroke volume to increase and less work for the heart. Crucially, it also allows the heart to maintain an increased stroke volume during tough exercise.

Never underestimate what the human body can achieve. Biologically and physiologically, the improvements you make to your body if you train hard will almost be the equivalent of when you’re younger.

When you train, your heart will develop a higher stroke volume due to an increase in the cardiac chamber size and an expanded total blood volume. This will enable your heart to deliver more oxygen to your muscles with fewer beats.

In turn, this will help you to ride faster. But this improved cardiovascular fitness will also bring benefits in other parts of your life. You will feel physically stronger, have more energy to do other vigorous activities and will also feel sharper.

Most older people develop a slightly higher fat percentage and it becomes more difficult to maintain muscle mass. But you can slow down the onset of a “thicker” body and fat production with a structured training plan.

Both endurance and strength training can have a wonderful knock-on effect on your lifestyle and generally boost your quality of life.

Strength Training

Strength training is a thorny topic among the cycling fraternity and there is an ongoing debate as to whether it improves performance. But cyclists can definitely gain a better quality of life by using strength training to maintain muscle mass. This may not necessarily make you perform better on the bike but it will contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

However if you are intent on boosting your performance, you should consider doing strength training in the off-season only, when the weather is colder. Completing just two strength training sessions a week as part of your training schedule should be enough to enhance your fitness and general quality of life.

It is also probably worth bearing in mind that strength training should never have a negative impact on your overall training regime, so sessions on the bike should always come first.

Plan Your Training So It Has a Purpose

You will achieve more if you have a structured training plan and if each session has a real purpose to it. If you are on a rest day, work on some technical skills that do not require physical power. Make sure every session has a real focus. You could enter a local race and tailor your training plan accordingly so you peak on race day. That will focus your mind and give you added motivation to get out of bed and saddle up when it might be cold or wet outside.

In essence: use your time effectively and make the most of every minute’s training.

Recovery Time and Rest is Vital for Your Age Group

OK, maybe you once thought you were Superman and you could conquer the world!

Well, the harsh reality is that whereas once you may have needed little or no recovery time after a training session, now you certainly need to recharge the batteries after a session and allow the body to recover properly. If you give yourself more recovery time between sessions, it will improve the quality of the next session.

Not recovering properly will only enhance the risk of injury.

In addition, make sure you get enough sleep as this is a vital part of the recovery process. A lack of sleep can cause fatigue and affect performance. Diet and nutrition are also important. And for post-exercise nutrition, always have a recovery drink immediately before consuming 1g of carbohydrate per kg and 1/3g protein per kg of body weight within 30 minutes of finishing moderate to high intensity training sessions.


If you are consistent and serious about your training, then you will certainly become faster and stronger, despite your age.

Imagine the satisfaction of comparing your performance and times with your friends, both older and younger: if you train hard and effectively you will become so much stronger than your peers in no time.

So if you are among the over-50s, don’t write off high intensity training. It can give you a new lease of life – both on and off the bike.

The performance improvements will be tangible and real and offer great satisfaction. And your general quality of life will improve as a result. Age is no barrier to the very best training practices. And high intensity workouts will help you to achieve better results in less time.

So to sum up, before you embark on high intensity cycling training, make sure you:

  • Seek the thumbs-up from your doctor.
  • Stick to a training plan which contains solid training principles.
  • Ensure enough recovery time, rest and good nutrition
  • Include some high intensity sessions
  • Be consistent. Work out all year round
  • Do strength training.

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61 comments… add one
  • I have ridden a bike quite often but didn’t know what I was doing, now I have read a lot and learned even more. I am ready to get serious about ridding thank you all so very much for your comments, I am 69 years old and am just starting to live as far as Biking is concerned.
    Thank You All So Much

  • Jeannette Moreno Link

    Thank you so much for this website, I’m gathered some great information for my husband here. I will like to know if anyone can tell me if the bike seat can affect a man who has an enlarged prostate?

  • Klaus Link

    I started more serious biking, i.e. >2500 miles per year, at age 78. Last year at age 80 I did 10,023 miles. New target is to do 1 global circumpedalation (25,000 miles) every 3 years.
    Biking is a fabulous way to stay in shape, physically as well as mentally. It’s never too late to get started. Drop me a note!

  • David Hutchins Link

    Funny, I am an 80 year old Cyclist who has not given up on long distance rides by any means nor has any plans to do so. When someone thinks they are old at 69, I recall that I used to think that. Li have had my frights. I am on my second pacemaker, had a stroke a year ago when the first one packed up but made a 100% recovery within a couple of weeks. The theory was that the miraculous recovery was due to all the miles I did on the bike. Just keep it up, look after yourself and you have years of fantastic enjoyment ahead of you. Enlarged prostate? There. Are special saddles for that and they are quite cheap. Check it on the web.


    I gave up smoking after 50 years and starting cycling all with a three week period when I was 68. I am not a big time rider, but I do 50 to 60 miles during the week and about `15 to 20 on Saturday. I will be 71 in May, and I am not any prettier, but I sure as heck feel better. You will enjoy it, but it is addictive. I am also on my third bike.

  • Robert Link

    I am 76 will be 77 in 3 months. I ride 15 to 25 miles every day unless it rains. The last week I have been riding no less than 2 hrs every day. I have never attempted a century. But I’d like to enter a MS Ride the Beach of 75 miles. I don’t feel old but I know I am not young. What do you think?

  • Herbert Link

    I started riding bicycle at age 68. After 2 years I changed from MTB to Road bikes. As with all sports in my life it had to be competitive and I competed in every road race since. I prefer the shorter races up to around 60km but do 100km on the big races. In two months I am 75 years old and I don’t have any intention to give up. In my age group I win 50% of the races I enter and usually finish in the first quarter overall. I do have an enlarged prostate that does not bother me at all. I had a bioscopy and an MRI done already and I am in for another MRI soon. My PSA value is presently high at 7.81 it used to be 4.88 in Feb 2016. I see my Urologist every six months and by the way he is also a biker. He never said that I cannot ride. A bigger prostate is to be expected at old age.
    I train at high intensity all the time, even when I do a training ride I always try to beat my previous time. I don’t enjoy riding with a group I always ride alone so I can concentrate entirely on my training effort.

  • Phil Link

    I am 62, I have been cycling for 3 years, had a heart attack 2 years ago. The cardiologist urged me to continue cycling, which is great. My difficulty is coping with high intensity efforts e.g steep hills. I am on medication which prevents my heart rate from going past 165bpm which limits my ability to supply enough blood to my legs. I struggle to keep up with my fellow club riders on big climbs, any advice would be welcome.

  • Pat Link

    Hi, I stumbled upon this article after putting in a search for “I’m old, I’m fat, can I cycle? I’m so glad I did, lots of positive comments. I used to cycle a lot years and years ago. Loved long distance. Haven’t been on a bike in over 20 years. I’m 60, about 80 pounds overweight. Am diabetic and a cancer and stroke survivor.

    So with that, I thought I’d start out on the exercise bike at the gym to build up some endurance. I live in the mountains and don’t want to get discouraged right out of the gate.

    Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thanks

  • Bob Johnstone Link

    I would like to find out what I should be trying to achieve on a watt bike at the gym for a 60 or 30 minute ride, male 69 years.

  • Paul John Malpass Link

    I am 70 years old, am suffering/recovering from serious musculo/ skeletal trauma with a neural problem when even analgesics caused pain (the stronger ie morphine the worse the pain). I had not cycled for 30 years and it had only been my default activity when injury prevented my main sport.
    I had been bed bound for months and increasingly inactive before that. I has taken me 40+months to learn to walk again (nearly there) and I have been cycling for about 16 months, could do 110 miles over 3 rides in a week before the freeze, slowish, and am not thinking of racing.
    I did live at the foot of le Mont Ventoux for much of this “down time” and must conquer it. Saw the Tour, Dauphine, Paris-Nice and it inspired me. (Medication now ok, and my {cyclist} rehab Consultant has given me his keen agreement). Who knows about racing, I intend to join a club this year, and have always been competitive, so any advice is welcome. I have bucket loads of kit including a carbon framed bike.
    Please don’t use my name publicly.

    Paul Malpass

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