Comprehensive Review of the Most Popular Masters Cycling Training Programs
In my 30 years of riding and racing bikes, I have first-hand experience working with the most popular Cycling Training programs for masters cycling. Because of my experience, I figured it would be valuable to write reviews from my perspective as an athlete. Choosing the best training plan for you is tricky, especially if you are new to structured training on your bike. The following is my take on masters cycling training programs.
Before we get going on masters cycling training programs, here are a few thoughts.
- You will get faster no matter what cycling training program you choose as long as you follow the program.
- You will be doing high-intensity intervals, and high-intensity intervals hurt ALOT!
- Your cycling friends will miss you, as structured training programs are best when done solo.
What the experts say about the benefits of a structured cycling training program for masters cycling
- Improved fitness: A structured training program is designed to gradually increase the intensity and volume of training, which leads to improved fitness and performance over time.
- Goal-oriented: By having a structured training program, you have a clear idea of what you need to do to achieve your goals. It helps you to stay focused and motivated.
- Increased power and endurance: A structured training program includes a balance of endurance, interval, and strength training. This helps to increase your power and endurance, which will help you to ride faster and further.
- Reduced risk of injury: A structured training program includes recovery days and rest weeks. This helps to reduce the risk of overtraining and injury.
- Better time management: A structured training program allows you to plan your rides and training sessions in advance, making it easier to fit training into your busy schedule.
- Customization: A structured training program can be tailored to your individual needs, goals, and fitness level. This ensures that the training is challenging, but not too difficult.
- Improved technique: A structured training program may include drills and exercises that focus on improving your cycling technique. This can help you to become a more efficient and skilled cyclist.
- Increased motivation: When you have a structured training program, you have a clear plan of what you need to do to achieve your goals. This helps to keep you motivated and on track.
- Better performance: A structured training program will help you to perform at your best. It will help you to achieve your goals, whether that is to finish a race, set a personal best, or improve your overall cycling ability.
- Better understanding of your body: A structured training program will give you an insight of your body’s response to different types of training, such as duration, intensity, and recovery. This will help you to understand your body better and learn to train more effectively.
My reasons for signing up for a masters cycling training program
- I didn’t have enough experience to figure out how to get faster on my own.
- I had a corporate job and young kids, so I didn’t have a ton of time.
- I wanted to race my mountain bike and didn’t want to suck.
My personal reasons for doing a masters cycling training program
Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to race. In fact, my dream growing up was to race in the Indy 500. Well, that didn’t happen, but I did end up racing my mountain bike when I grew up. For the record, I don’t have some huge cardiovascular engine. So I knew I needed to train hard to be competitive in races.
Below are reviews of the training programs I have used over the years. Hopefully, these reviews will help you pick the training plan that is the best fit for you with the goal of improving your masters cycling experience.
My handy dandy cycling training program analysis cheat sheet for masters cycling
CTS, Carmichael Training Systems:
CTS was founded by Chris Carmichael, who is best known as Lance Armstrong’s coach during his run winning the Tour de France. They assign you a coach who after getting to know you and your cycling training goals, puts together a cycling plan for you. With the basic plan, your coach looks at your training on a weekly basis and then makes adjustments accordingly. Additionally, you have a one-on-one call with your coach on a monthly basis to discuss your progress.
I trained with CTS for five years and had an amazing experience, won races, and stood on lots of podiums. I found that the closer I stuck to the prescribed program, the better my results were. The only reason I left CTS was I took a break from cycling. I would highly recommend CTS for cyclists who are serious about riding faster and winning races.
Pro Tip on CTS for masters cycling
If you have a Strava account, (Strava is the social media training platform for cyclists) you can actually put together a free CTS training plan. A great way for you to try a structured cycling training program to see if it works for you and your cycling goals.
If you want to jump right in, click here to learn more/sign up for CTS. You WILL get faster, I promise.
Overall, I think CTS is a great cycling training program. if you want to really push yourself to be the best you possibly can be on the bike this is the program for you.
TrainingPeaks is a fitness tracking software that offers training plans, workout tracking, progress monitoring, and analysis tools for athletes and coaches. It was founded by Joel Friel in 1999. Joel Friel is a well known and respected author of The Cyclist’s Training Bible. Joel also wrote the ultimate guide to training for masters cyclists called Fast after 50.
I used TrainingPeaks along with what I learned reading Joe Friel’s book for two years and approached it as a more DIY cycling training program in 2020 and 2021 when I had more time due to Covid lockdowns.
TrainingPeaks is a great program if you have the time to figure out what you should be doing on your own. They have very affordable training plans you can purchase a la carte that are created for pretty much whatever cycling event you’re planning on competing in. Additionally, you can hire a pre-vetted coach through the TrainingPeaks website, although I never did this.
Although TrainingPeaks worked well for me, I always felt like I was just a tad slower than I was working with CTS. Additionally, missed the interaction and feedback I was used to working with a coach. So I started working with FasCat Coaching.
FasCat Coaching was able to give me the one-on-one coaching experience that I had missed when I was creating my training program myself. Additionally, I found myself getting faster as my training was optimized by a professional. I found the team at FasCat to be extremely knowledgeable and super friendly and I really enjoyed my time working with the FasCat team.
Overall, I think FasCat is a great program if you want a really personalized and friendly approach and you want to perform better in your cycling events.
In late 2022, one of my teammates suggested I try TrainerRoad as it used machine learning AI (artificial intelligence) to manage your training plan and progress. As a person who likes to try the cool new stuff, TrainerRoad seemed like a cool next step.
So I started working with TrainerRoad in October 2022 and haven’t looked back. TrainerRoad has replaced the coach with matching learning AI. So just like CTS, or any other classic cycling training program, you plug in your goals and events, and TrainerRoad comes up with a training plan customized to you. A great feature is that it tracks your progress and makes adjustments on a day-to-day basis based on how your rides have been progressing.
And the killer APP, is their automatic FTP detection tool that eliminates FTP tests (FTP tests measure your maximum power output over a period of time usually 20 minutes -and they hurt a lot).
So far I like TrainerRoad a lot. My fitness is progressing in the right direction and I especially like listening to their Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. The MTB race season hasn’t started so I’ll let you know once I get some results In the books.
I hope this has given you some good information about cycling training plans and I hope it helps you pick the one that works best for you.
Frequently asked questions about masters cycling training plan
What is Masters category in cycling? Masters cycling is bike racing organized by age group, generally open to athletes 35 years or older.
Where is USA Cycling Masters Nationals 2023? The US Cycling Masters will be on August 24 in Augusta Georgia.
A few other Masters Cycling posts you may find helpful
How to stay motivated as a cyclist.
How to create an annual cycling plan