Q&A with Joe Friel
• Is it really possible to perform well on the bike (in races and trainings) after 50?
Joe: Certainly. Just depends on what one would mean by “perform well.” It won’t be at the same level as when the athlete was in good shape as a 25-year-old.
• What is the key to improving performance after 50? (high-intensity workouts, focused strength training, recovery, cross training, nutritio, mind…)
Joe: Yes, correct: Appropriately dosed and spaced (density) high-intensity training, strength development, adequate recovery, and nutrition.
• How does the body respond to changes in training with age?
Joe: Not sure what you mean by “changes in training…”
• How do you need to adapt your training plan?
Joe: Typically need to ensure adequate recovery time and appropriately dense workouts that are properly spaced given the individual athlete’s capacity for training load. This is quite individualized.
• How do you avoid overtraining?
Joe: By closely monitoring one’s sensations (desire to train, fatigue, HR variability, etc) relative to both training and lifestyle.
• Would a personal coach help on this?
Joe: Most certainly.
• How do you shed body fat and regain muscle?
Joe: For many athletes that would involve, in part, eating a diet which lowers insulin release. That’s a low carb diet. Eating more protein has been shown to contribute to the building of muscle. High intensity training and strength work also do this.
• Could you give us some guidelines for workouts and field tests that you consider to be the important.
Joe: A field test all should do is the FTP test—functional threshold power/pace. Determine 95% of that and one has his/her FTP. Then workouts done just below (>90%) or above FTP are the high intensity workouts referred to here.
• Your famous books “Fast after 50” and “Cyclist’s training bible” are considered real milestones by cyclists: are you coming up with new literature?
Joe: I’ve just finished entirely rewriting The Cyclist’s Training Bible. It will be available by late winter.