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The Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes, by Masters Athletes

Upgrade your training, whatever your age.

The Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes, by Masters Athletes. Time to raise your game.

These Training Secrets for Masters Athletes will help all mature athletes to maximise their performance, gains, fitness and fun.

Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes

They are consolidated from a wide range or different athletes, to allow you to draw from a bigger spectrum of advice and specific tips.

Dive in and find the right advice to help you.

Firstly, check out these great tips from Professor Peter Reaburn – Head of Exercise and Sports Science at Bond University.


“For the aging athlete, the rule of thumb should be “start low and build slowly”.

While little research has been completed on the adaptation of aging athletes to training, a number of studies on older non-athletes doing endurance or strength training have consistently shown that older people do adapt to the same degree that younger people do, BUT THEY TAKE SIGNIFICANTLY LONGER TO ADAPT.

As a general rule, the older and less fit the athlete, the lower they should start and the more slowly they should progress

Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes – TRAIN INTENSELY

The bottom line, Reaburn continues, is that training intensely is the key to success in sport, regardless of the age of the athlete.

For we aging athletes where age-related declines in all our capacities are slowing us down, keeping the heart, nerves, muscles, lungs and other body systems working to the highest level is even more important in maintaining performance or at least slowing the age-related declines in speed, endurance and strength.”


“As a general rule, no more than three intense workouts should be done by the experienced and competitive aging athlete per week. For recreational aging athletes two intense workouts are enough.

Training Secrets for Masters Athletes

These workouts should be preceded by easy workouts and you should be fresh to make the most of the intense work. Other days should be devoted to lower intensity work and technique development.”

The following tips come from an excellent article that brings together tips from both experienced CrossFit Games® athletes and everyday.

Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes – REST

“Complete rest.”

– 2016 CrossFit Masters Champion Shellie Edington on her days off…

“There’s a strong consensus of opinion among our Masters that rest days should in fact be just that.”

Check out how other Masters athletes spend their rest days.

“I really try to preserve my rest days,” says 41-year-old Michelle Lim-Watson out of CrossFit 2A in Acton, MA. “I’ll go play with my children or go for a walk, but that’s pretty much it.”

Kevin Little, 54, of CrossFit Luminary in Grand Rapids, MI is sure to listen to what his body is telling him throughout the week. “I usually take one to two rest days, but I will also take an additional rest day when I feel I need it,” says the former track athlete.

“People forget that when we train, we are placing a stimulus on the body. If we don’t rest, there’s no adaptation. I need that rest to create that adaptation,” says Coach Hinshaw.

No matter what your age, rest is just as important as training in achieving your strength gains and avoiding injury.


“Stretch, keep doing mobility, and never stop.”

-Keith Smith (49)

CTOWN CrossFit, Cleveland, OH

“As an athlete ages, certain movements may inevitably become more challenging due to an inherent lack of range of motion. Nevertheless, this can be easily combated with mobility training.

“Who doesn’t have 15-20 minutes to spare? I mean, c’mon,” prods Michelle Lim-Watson, who every evening does a ROMWOD routine with her husband. “After the kids are in bed, we do it together. It’s our time to catch up on our day, and it’s made a huge improvement.”

Neglecting this important part of training leads not only to a lack of mobility, but can also lead to injury. “Over the years, I have not spent nearly the time I should have on mobility,” says Kevin Little.

“I really believe that mobility should be a major focus for anyone who trains regularly.”

That’s not to say that the most challenging moves for Masters athletes are all due to a lack of mobility. “Truth be told, it took me nine years of doing CrossFit to get a muscle up, rings and bar,” admits 42-year-old Becky Harsh.

Athletes at any age level have challenges they struggle to overcome, even those who are the top performers in their age group.

However, Masters athletes have a tendency to know their bodies more intimately and respect limitations more keenly.

“The injuries of your youth will catch up to you, so take care of yourself,” cautions Michelle Lim-Watson.”


“I generally pay attention to my body now. I didn’t do that for years.”

-Lisa Alleman on her health and nutrition before CrossFit

How do Masters athletes keep their machines running?

By eating clean and getting as much rest as they can. Most of our Masters said they strive for 7-8 hours of sleep a night but land somewhere closer to 6-7 on average.

“I remember the exact date I became tired. It was at the age of 34, when I had my third child,” laughs Coach Hinshaw.

Training Secrets for Masters Athletes

Sleep patterns wildly differentiate depending on a range of factors. For some, traveling as a part of their career can disrupt sleeping routines.

For others, having to wake up early to make the kids their breakfast and get them on the school bus certainly plays a role.

Though they tend to have more “sleep deterrents” in their lives than the average-aged CrossFit athlete, our sensible Masters wholly respect the value of sleep.

Michelle Lim-Watson uses a macro-based program, which has allowed her to get the right amount of energy she needs to get through her training and her busy day.

Across the board, our athletes know the health and longevity benefits of eating fresh whole foods, eliminating overly processed foods, and reducing sugar. Still, our Masters also have their occasional cheat, though they are sure to never overindulge.

“Every night, I need a glass of wine and something sweet, so I just make sure I fit that in ahead of time,” notes Becky Harsh, who is a staunch proponent of the Zone diet.

Quite simply, Masters athletes know full well the importance of being kind to their bodies.


Masters runner and coach Walter Faion gives us his training tips masters athletes and runners in their 40s, 50s and onwards.

Walter Faion began running in elementary school and hasn’t stopped since.

He turned 60 last year, and he hasn’t missed a day since 1994. He owns an impressive marathon best of 2:28 and half-marathon PB of 1:08.

Throughout the decades he’s had the opportunity to train with world-class athletes, and now he’s taking his experience and using it to help others.


“Faion explains that recovery takes a lot longer as a master’s athlete, and so you need to take this into account when you’re designing a workout.

For example, if you were doing mile repeats and you used to take three minutes of rest between each interval when you were younger, you may need four minutes of recovery as a master’s athlete in order to continue hitting the times you want.”


“As a master’s athlete, you have to respect your body’s need for recovery. Perhaps when you were in your teens and 20s you could push yourself on a mileage day and still be able to perform well the next day in a workout, but this is likely not the case when you’re older.

Training Secrets for Masters Athletes

For this reason, it is important to slow down on your easy days and use them for what they’re meant for — recovery.”

Anyone can achieve anything they want,” says Faion. “Nothing’s impossible if you go about it the right way, but you have to be realistic about what the goal is at that time in your life. You can really surprise yourself.”

The Best Training Secrets for Masters Athletes, by Masters Athletes

If you found these training secrets for Masters athletes useful then check out these Push Ups, Toes to Bar or Plank WODs.

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