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Joe Friel

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12 Weeks

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Includes Structured Workouts

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Plan Description

Train smart with a criterium training plan by Joe Friel, best-selling author and internationally recognized endurance coach.
• Plan is intended for a cyclist over age 50 who has been racing for two or more years.
• Plan is for 12 weeks of Build-Peak-Race training, culminating with your criterium race.
• Receive two follow-up emails from Joe with more information on the plan (must provide email address at time of purchase).
• If plan is not working for you within the first 2 weeks, you can switch to a plan of equal value or receive a full refund.

“Joe Friel is arguably the most experienced personal cycling coach in the U.S.” Bicycling magazine
“Joe Friel is one of the world’s foremost experts on endurance sports.” Outside magazine
“Your training approach really helped propel my cycling and helped me train and race at my best.” —Mitchell, amateur cyclist

This criterium Build-Peak-Race plan for the over-50 cyclist was designed by Joe Friel using the principles from The Cyclist’s Training Bible. Having this book handy will help with many of the workouts presented in the training plan but is not necessary.

Who is this plan for?

This plan is intended for the over-50 cyclist who has been racing for two or more years. The plan uses common cycling language to describe the workouts and is easy to follow. By the end of 12 weeks you will have excellent fitness and be ready for your A-priority criterium race.

When should you start the plan?

This plan is best started 12 weeks prior to your A-priority race. You should be able to train about 12 hours a week. Your bike training zones (heart rate and power) should be established before beginning this plan. (For a detailed description of how to set your zones for heart rate, power, or pace, read this.)

What is the weekly volume?

The weekly training volume varies from about 9 hours to 11 hours, depending on periodization. The emphasis is on power for sprinting, but there is variety each week to develop all of the necessary, race-specific abilities. Optional training races (C-priority) are included throughout the plan. Strength maintenance workouts are included once each week. (If you did not lift weights in the preceding Base period, it’s best to not lift while following this plan.) Besides training hours this plan also forecasts what your Training Stress Score (TSS) will be for each workout. Of course, it’s likely that your workout TSS will be somewhat different when you finish the ride. Besides workout duration, TSS also takes into account what the intensity of your ride was, so it’s a better predictor of performance gains than is workout duration alone.

Do you need any devices or apps?

You must have a heart rate monitor and a power meter to gauge workout intensity. The plan was created using the TrainingPeaks “Workout Builder” format so that workouts may be uploaded to a device (power meter, heart rate monitor, indoor trainer, etc.) or a third-party app to help you follow them precisely. The format also makes it easier to visualize what the workout will be like. (For more information on compatible devices and apps and how to export the workouts, read this. However, it’s not necessary to upload the workouts in order to use this plan.)

After your event, please provide feedback on how this plan worked for you.
“Thanks again for your interest in my training plans, and I hope your training and racing go very well this season.” —Joe Friel


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
9:27 hrs 2:30 hrs
0:27 hrs 0:30 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
9:27 hrs 2:30 hrs
0:27 hrs 0:30 hrs

Training Load By Week

Joe Friel

Joe Friel Coaching

An endurance coach since 1980, Joe Friel has worked with triathletes, cyclists, and runners around the globe. He trains coaches and assists various national federations and national Olympic team staff. He also consults with professional athletes and sports-related businesses. Coach Friel occasionally offers personal camps and seminars for clubs and teams. He has authored 17 books on training including the best-selling Training Bible series. For more info, go to his blog at

Sample Day 1

(SM) Strength Maintenance Phase

Strength Training for Road Cycling
Strength Maintenance (SM) Phase
©Joe Friel
PURPOSE: Maintain muscular strength.
FREQUENCY: 1 time per week (in Build and Peak periods).
EQUIPMENT: Either free weights or machines.
Load/Resistance: First set at about 60% of 1RM (moderate load). Second set is about 85-90% of 1RM. This should be the heaviest load possible for 3-6 reps. When you can do 6 reps on second set, add more weight. It's OK to initially estimate loads and then adjust them as you progress, but start conservatively. (Note the exceptions under “Exercises,” below).
REPS: 12 (set 1) and 3-6 (set 2)
RECOVERY between sets: 1-2 minutes.
SPEED of movement: Slow-Moderate.
PROGRESSION: Do all sets of each exercise before progressing to the next.
EXERCISES: See The Cyclist's Training Bible for the details.
PHASE LENGTH: Throughout the Build and Peak periods (but not race week).
WARM-UP & COOL DOWN: Warm-up on stationary bike/trainer or by running easily for 5-10 minutes. Cool down for 5-10 minutes spinning at 90+ rpm in light gear/resistance.

Sample Day 2

AnE2. Jumps (8) 1.5h RPE.

On a mostly flat to gently rolling course or indoor trainer warm-up for 20 minutes at a perceived exertion of 3-5 (on a 1 low to 10 high scale) by gradually increasing intensity. Then do several powerful, all-out, 8-pedal-revolution "jumps"--count one leg only or a total of 16 both-leg pedal strokes for each jump. Do some of these in the saddle and some standing on the pedals. These are 10 on a 10 scale--max effort. Recover for at least 5 minutes after each jump. If form breaks down take a longer recovery or stop doing the jumps. How many jumps you do is up to you. It's possible to do too many. 8 max is probably adequate. Otherwise ride easily in zones 1 and 2. The purpose of the jump is to see how quickly you can reach max speed. Cool down at a perceived exertion of 3-5 for the remainder of the ride.

Sample Day 3

ME1. Tempo Intervals 1.5h (3 x15min) power.

On a mostly flat road or indoor trainer warm-up for about 20 minutes. Then do 3 x 15 minutes at power zone 3. Recover for 2 minutes after each interval by pedaling easily in zone 1. Cool down for the remainder of the ride in zone 1.

Sample Day 4

AnE1. Crit Intervals 1.5h 3(3x15s+3min) power

Crit Intervals. 

BT: After warming-up 20 minutes do 3 x 15 seconds all out (zone 7 - 150%+ of FTP) sprints with 15-second recoveries between them followed immediately by 3 minutes steady at power zone 5. Take 3 minutes of easy spinning for recovery and then repeat this sprints-steady effort pattern 2 more times. High cadence throughout. Ride in the handlebar drops/hooks for the high-intensity portions. Long cool down in zone 1 for the remainder of the ride.

Sample Day 5

AE1. Recovery Spin 1h power..

Very easy recovery spin on a mostly flat course (or on indoor trainer) in small chain ring. Power in zone 1. Light on the pedals. Comfortably high rpm focusing on pedaling skills.

Sample Day 6

AnE3. Crit Racelike Workout 2.5h (3 options) power

Race or Group Ride. 

Do one of the following optional workouts.
OPTION #1. BT: Race. Do a C-priority local criterium. If racing tomorrow instead reverse these Saturday-Sunday workouts. Ride before and after the race to get in the planned time/TSS today including warm-up, race, and cool down.
OPTION #2. BT: Group ride. Ride how you feel today: If tired, sit in at power zones 1-3; if fresh ride with race efforts in all zones. Be smart. Start the ride conservatively to monitor how you are feeling. Test yourself if feeling good.
OPTION #3. BT: Racelike Ride Solo.
Warm-up by gradually increasing the effort for 20 minutes. Then randomly do long tempo efforts (10-20 minutes) in zone 3, muscular endurance efforts of 5-10 minutes (zone 4), anaerobic endurance efforts in zone 5, and sprints at max effort. Mix these as you feel like it. And recover between these high efforts as you feel like it. Cool down for the remainder of the ride.

Sample Day 7

AE2. Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Steady State 2.5h (1h) HR+power.

Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Steady State.
BT: Warm up 30 minutes. Then ride 1 hour steady at about 30 beats per minute (+/- 2bpm) below the lowest HR in your 5a zone (LTHR). Observe power at this effort. Long, easy cool down. Check your EF for the steady state portion of this ride on the TrainingPeaks analysis page. Over time your EF should increase for this type of workout indicating improving aerobic fitness.

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