What is a Masters Athlete?
Usually defined as an athlete over the age of 40 yrs, masters athletes often face different challenges to younger counterparts. Some athletes find it easy to carry on with normal training load, others need to change their approach to training sooner for non-age related reasons. Typical indicators that you may be ready to switch to a Masters Training Plan are:
- Training time availability is reduced with work and family commitments.
- You feel sleep-deprived from daily stresses.
- Your body has different needs in terms of recovery, strength and flexibility training.
- Re-current injuries.
- Feeling constantly fatigued or overwhelmed by your regular training.
Can I Still Race Successfully?
Choosing to train intelligently and specifically for your own needs is the first step to maximising your potential. Training consistently without missing workouts due to injury, fatigue or time limitations will give you a big advantage on the start line. You can be competitive in your Age Group, challenge yourself to a PR or step up to a new race type or distance. To promote improvement all our training plans adhere to the principle of "Progressive Overload", the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body over time during training.
How is a Masters Plan Different?
Rest and Recovery
Strenuous exercise will cause muscle damage. As we mature it can (arguably) take longer for your muscles to adapt and remodel to be stronger and more prepared for the given stress. This decline in the ability to recovery will vary according to genetics and training history. Insufficient recovery time can lessen the effect of the workout and leave you more prone to injury. Masters plans have more rest days each week (typically 2 days per week) and a 1:2 ratio of active recovery weeks to hard weeks (this is 1:3 in regular plans).
Strength and Conditioning
When training for a specific sport, it can be tempting to train just in the discipline(s) you will need on race day. This "specificity" is a fundamental training principle. However, as we get older our muscle density begins to decline, and it becomes crucial to counter the effects of age-related muscle loss.
Our masters plans have two scheduled strength and conditioning workouts that promote:
- Improved muscle mass for strength, power and therefore boosted performance.
- Injury prevention through strengthening connective tissue, muscles, and tendons.
- Flexibility to maintain power through a full range of movement.
- Improved bone density.
- Fat-free body mass (a leaner physique).
All Strength and Conditioning workouts can be carried out at home. There are also alternative exercises for a gym-based workout.
Training Intensities and Volume
Training intensely is the key to success in any sport, regardless of age. Strong performances will derive from a solid base and workouts that maximise your anaerobic fitness, speed, power and skill. Evidence suggests that higher intensity work with less volume is beneficial for the masters athlete. Shorter, more intense workouts will also free up valuable time for recovery and work/family commitments. Masters plans optimise your training time with the right ratio of volume and intensity relevant to each plan.
Approach to Training
As a masters athlete with a full life, prioritising is an essential skill. Ideally schedule your week and plan times for family, training, work and sleep. However, accept and be ready for the curve balls that cause chaos in your best-laid plans. Consistency in training is arguably the most important trait amongst successful masters athletes. Here are some ideas to help you keep the regime:
- Use your commute as an opportunity to train.
- Add in strength and conditioning at home, with the kids if necessary!
- If you can't do a whole session, do part of it, something is always better than nothing.
- Commit to a lunchtime workout.
- Double up sessions if necessary, for example, run or bike to the pool or tack your strength and conditioning straight after a bike or run (save showering 2x!).
- Life will occasionally get in the way and if you need to miss an odd workout, let it go. It is what you do over weeks and months that will give you the golden ticket.
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