Q&A with Joe Friel

Friel is a coach with an extensive background in coaching, having trained endurance athletes since 1980. He is the founder and president of Training Bible Coaching, with endurance coaches around the world who learn and apply his coaching philosophy and methods.



• 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.


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