Managing Body Weight
Another key to limiting the decline of aerobic capacity, as we get older is managing your body weight. Simply put, as your body weight increases your aerobic capacity decreases. Avoiding weight gain becomes more challenging as we age, due to a decrease in hormones that maintain muscle mass and adopting more sedentary lifestyle behaviours. Training frequently including obtaining sufficient levels of daily incidental activity; eating meals; avoiding snacking; getting to sleep before 10pm; and staying hydrated are basic disciplines that provide a pretty solid foundation to maintaining a lean and healthy body weight.
Non-bike training is also important to consider – if you want to maintain your riding performance into your twilight years. Too often we get overly fixated on making a certain cycling mileage per session or week. If performance were the objective a smart approach would be ‘what activity at this moment will potentially give me more gain?’ This might well mean a ride is substituted for a Yoga session, or gym, or even a massage. A tight body will not be able to express anywhere near its full force potential on the pedals. Likewise strength weakness – instability being an obvious example – will inhibit the expression of force on the pedals.
Example Week of Training
- Monday Ride – include some ‘all-out’ efforts
- Tuesday Ride – include some hills
- Wednesday Restoration – Yoga Class
- Thursday Ride – include some ‘hanging in by the skin of your teeth’ efforts
- Friday Ride – include some ‘steep’ hills
- Saturday Ride – long, variable ride
- Sunday Spa and cold beer!
In the example week of training above, the layout or structure of the week can alter. In fact I would encourage you to frequently alter the landscape of your training week. Why not a week which includes some back-to-back days of training in hills? Or if the legs are feeling unproductively heavy, substitute a interval session for an easy flat ride; or ditch the bike all together for the day and do some extra restoration activity i.e. spa; sauna; stretch; spa etc. Again don’t be too rigid and keep your training cycle alive and fresh.
The importance of adequately and appropriately adjusting training and lifestyle behaviour is key to maintaining or discovering performance on your bike. Whilst we are subject to adverse physiological changes relating to performance as we age, the most significant contributors to performance decline or advancement remain within our control. And how reassuring is that for those of us still motivated to experience more of the wonderful cycling opportunities on offer, and the health and vitality alongside it.