Modifcations necessary as athlete ages

When one trains a young athlete, say 18-25 years old then the planning of the training, and rest breaks, intensity etc… is fairly simple, however when one has to adapt this same training to athletes as they get older, 28 years and up, what are the adaptations necessary to allow a continual improvement, considering that recovery and capacity for high intensity work or perhaps capacity to handle higher volumes decreases.

What should be modified?
intensity, volume, etc…


Volume decreases over time. CF discusses this in detail in Vancouver 04 DVD including providing graphs.

As athletes rise in training age and standard, they generally can generate higher intensities. But the ability of the CNS to recover from this intensity (at a fixed volume) generally doesn’t increase at the same rate.

So this means that you will need to provide for longer recoveries between sessions and/or lower volumes. A greater focus on restoration (massage, sauna, whirlpool, nutrition) can also help.

Whereas a mature athlete should do more specific work compared to a junior, a master athlete should do less specific work IMO, in particular when the weather is not optimal (winter).

Also more trainers/flat work and grass work, especially with an history of nagging tendons.

An extra rest day or two can be added to the microcycle, if he feels he needs it as he has a better judgement of his body needs and less recovery potential.

Just the first things that come to my mind.

agree, in fact I am considering next winter replacing a running outside day in the cold and wet with a rower / jump rope / calisthenics day inside.

Athlete age is not the best indicator for modifying training loads. Training age, or how long you been in the sport is the more important factor. Muscle tissues lose elasticity with repeated loading, MRI images shows how muscles lose elastic capacities with training age. When muscle deform and return to shape, eventually they will become more plastic then elastic.( they don’t deform back to normal shape). This reducing power output.

Agree that training age is more important than chronological age. However, I’m not sure that elasticity decreases account for greater recovery times.

Also, I thought the most important elastic component for sporting performance was tendon elasticity, not muscle.

Agreed also that with regards to planning training, training age is important, but my questions go specifically towards athletes that have been in the sport for a short while, 2-3 years, or that haven’t had that consistent training, usually as I’ve seen, due to work responsabilites etc…

In these cases, not only should their return to training be more progressive, as well as more geared towards general fitness (getting in a good aerobic base before working on tempo, so as to allow them to handle the work load of a single training session let alone the load that a microcycle impacts on the body.)

What is the genesis for this question, basically it’s myself, I’m starting to get back into it a few months out from 29 years old, and I trained with the kids yesterday, and what to them was nothing (probably due to my work related inactivity, where I couldn’t train for 5 months) and was absolutely alactic, I had to take longer breaks in between repetitions, and still got a significant amount of lactic acid buildup. So I wanted to get everyones feedback as to what they would do.