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Do High Intensity Workouts Keep Us Fast As We Get Older?

Do High Intensity Workouts Keep Us Fast As We Get Older?

Here is a blog aimed at the brialliant Masters skaters.

No doubt that as we get older our athletic performance declines. The three primary determiners of performance decline with age according to the sports science are: -

1. Declining Aerobic Capacity

2. Increasing Body Fat

3. Loss of Muscle Mass

Of the physiological factors that make up ‘fitness’ (Aerobic Capacity; Lactate Threshold; Muscle Economy) then it has been shown that Aerobic Capacity is the most influential of the factors that affect performance as we age. So, retaining or improving our Aerobic Capacity is the best way to remain fast…or even get faster!

The most effective way to improve or retain our Aerobic Capacity as we age is through high intensity workouts. According to Joe Friel, “…train vigorously with high intensity and you’ll stave off a high rate of decline in performance as you age..”

This short post is not about training plans but just to highlight that as we age if we train slower, then we oldies, will likely lose performance at a greater rate per decade than if we train with high intensity a few times a week.

As skaters we probably include at least 1 more 'intense' session a week at ice training. However as we get older we should aim for 2 if not 3 high intensity workouts per week (cycling or running if no ice is available) that push us into the VO2 Max (or circa 103%-106% of LTHR*) and Anaerobic Capacity (circa 107% of LTHR) training zones. This should be balanced this with longer base and off-ice recovery cycle rides or runs to ensure that training volume (frequency & duration) is at a reasonable level for the time we have available to train. We also need to include strength & stretching sessions per week.

If you are at an age like me (55 at time of writing) then a suggestion and my recommendation is to start to incorporate a few of these into your weekly schedule….it just might hold off our performance deterioration as we get old….subject to our physical bodies holding up!


*LTHR – Lactate Heart Rate – Average heart rate (minus 5%) over a hard, very hard, 20min sustained cycle or run effort. It is NOT 220 – age!!

Joe Friel – Fast After 50 pp108(

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