Maffetone program

Hi, I was using TrainerRoad mid volume and got fried and am seriously thinking about moving to TrainerDay and have a few questions. I want to move to a Maffetone hr based program (new to this style), is there any programs for this or would I have to create my own and if so any recommendations on programming? Thanks

I am a huge, huge maffetone fan!!! :slight_smile: We would love to add automatic HR workouts to our platform but have not done it yet. While I am a proponent of pure Maffetone for a base period are many variants of Maffetone that will be useful after this base period. I think this thread will provide some insights. Maffetone, Zone 2 and Polarized all have similar aspects of training.

If you are following pure Maffetone, you really only need 1 workout and and our + - button and watch your heart rate. I am really happy to discuss anything you want related to this.

My personal experience with over-training in running, got me to Maffetone. I think you can learn a ton but doing pure base under your aerobic threshold. AeT (around 65-70% of HR usually) Even though Maffetone formula is based on age, and people think that is wrong. It was very accurate for me and most other people I have heard of. But strickly following maffetone and taking his MAF tests are ideal but a bit hard to do outdoors on a bike unless you have a perfect enviornment. Indoor, it’s optimium for MAF tests. I also suggest his pre-workout dietary suggestions and long warmups.

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I would say this video is good too. The talk test is a good way to determine your level and compare that to your Mafetone 180 foruma. You will start to get a feel for it. Maffetone would say error on the low side as it is better than going too high which can stop your progresss. I would say in this guys videos for him that is probably closer to the 220w range but since that can change regularly, focus on the HR limits as that factors in more of your current metobolic state and things like higher temperatures for example.


Hi Alex,

Thank you for the great reply and thank you for sharing your story. Maffetone was a much needed eye opener for me as I was most likely headed down that deep hole as well. I saw that you were a fan (been glancing at the forum). So the easiest way would be to create one workout with some long warmup and basically a flat line at whatever percentage ftp gets me to target hr rate? Would I need to create a different workout if I wanted to ride for a longer period? I’m still trying to wrap my head around the dietary suggestions, I am still drinking the kool aid but much much less!

Yes, on how to create the workout. The thing is your HR to power ratio changes on a day to day basis so each day you would need to do small adjustments to power to keep it right at your HR limit. The easier way is way is let’s say 63% is your target power to exactly hit 150 bpm HR TODAY after 15 minute warmup. Just set it to 60% and hit under that 150 bpm most days. Also you can also watch your cardiac drift. When you become a good fat burner and you are under AeT it should be zero or might even be negative. In that power stays constant HR stays constant or goes down. Or HR stays constant and power goes up or stays constant.

Yeah, I went full bore on Maffetone for about 2-years but really I think it is great from a learning perspective but I don’t think it is 100% necessary from a training perspective, meaning maybe it is something you do once for 3-6 months, understand it then you can vary the program to make it more variable and more fun :slight_smile: If you are in the close to burned out phase now, maybe take 1-2 weeks completely off (to be super safe) then do pure zone 2 for 2 months at the minimum and then you can start to do a Coach Jack build plan for example Serious Italian and if you still want to focus on fat burning you can put the zone 2 work in the beginning.

If you want more ideas on any of this, as I said I am happy to share. Generally a yearly 2-month base zone 2 phase is usually enough to get that aerobic engine working especially if you can put in some bigger hours but many people can see benefit doing it longer. Also you can do rucking, fast walking, yard work, and all kinds of other activities to get in that Z2 work since it is really heart/fat focused.


Hi Alex,

Maffetone formulae is quite useless in most cases. Norwegian university of science and technology (NTMU) reports:

The traditional formula for determining HRmax is “220 minus age”, but can underestimate HRmax by up to 40 beats per minute in seniors. In fact, the method is inaccurate already at an age of 30–40 years, and gets more inaccurate the older you are.

After quite big study (3320 healthy adults) they propose this: “211 - 0.64*age”. So far, so good. In my case I should have HRmax of about 164 BPM. My AeT (70%) would be 114 BMP. Really, I think, I would fall asleep at that pace.

I can use my Elite TUO with TranerDay going on steady effort (breathing by nose), keeping that pace of about 140 - 145 BMP. Alas it would mean that my HRmax is about 200 BMP (140 / 0.7). Perhaps something is wrong with me, but that fat burning phase of exercise is really no problem in my case.

It is also true, that I’m on ‘ketogenic’ diet for last 21 years and I remember that I stopped to run (middle distance cross country), loosing all pleasure of endurance workouts for about 4-5 years. Instead, I went back to dynamic sports like volleyball, uni hockey, rollers.

Later on I restarted running / cycleing for pleasure only, but keeping it under 1-2 hours. These days I try to prepare for sprint triathlon (would be a modest start, only age category is not so modest: ‘hyper-veterans’) and perhaps move to somewhat longer distances. Thank you Alex, for your blog and kind advices, I understand that I need simply a modified ‘Maffetone’, as the original one
would not fit me.

I am 100% clear that 220-age is not a good prediction but if you look deeper into Maffetone his formula is surprisingly on. It would see since they are both starting with a fixed number they are similar formulas but this is not the case. He is also not predicting max hr and this has nothing to do with max hr it has to do with AeT which is not directly related to max hr. I am not saying it is 100% accurate it’s just pretty close for most people. I have talked to a lot and if you read his literature you will see he is an expert in this as he has been doing this for 40+ years.

Secondly under AeT does feel like you are falling asleep :slight_smile:

Yes being Keto likely makes you a good fat burner. If you read Maffetone, a few other signs are that you could go out on a 3 to 4-hour run (ride) fasted and not take any food with you and feel/do ok. I used to go about 2.5 no problem but never ran farther than that.

As that last video points out that nose breathing is not necessarily a good indicator of aerobic threshold, talking with close to zero effort is likely better. Also you may not be 70% of max HR as your aerobic threshold. Some people can be as high as 80% is my understanding. Secondly Maffetone clearly says his formula does not work for people over 65, and I guess as you approach 65 it likely gets less and less accurate.

One more interesting point is that Mark Allen 7-times Hawaian Iron Man winner was one of Maffetone’s students. When he started the Maffetone method he partially had to walk to keep under this, and after a year or two of practice, he was running so fast in zone 2 that he was doing zone 2 intervals as they were tiring. My personal experience matches this (almost). Meaning when I started, I had to run / walk to keep under 140 bpm (my max was 187) and after 2-years of mostly follwing it I could run steady state for 30-minutes under 100 bpm (very slowly) but I could not run the slowest possible at 140 when I started. I would say I got close to the point that the upper end of z2 felt fast.

My good friend and partner coached pros for 30-years. He said for pros zone 2 is not easy at all.

The best way to determine your AeT is a lab test followed by a talking test. And talking with someone else in longer conversation, not yourself :slight_smile:

The point I tried to state above is that Maffetone suggests if you go too high you risk not making the gains you would. If your Maf test is not improving month after month, try lowering it. I think in the GCN video they are saying too high based on what Maffetone suggests. Below is my understanding of Maffetone limits vs GCN suggestion. Realize I have read all of his books, most multiple times and was a big contributor to a forum for years. Was deep into Maffetone :slight_smile:

I don’t want to stare at my phone during my workout constantly checking my hr, has anyone ever used those earbuds or some other audible form of hr cue when it hits the target hr or goes over etc?

Hi Alex,

Your comments are insightful indeed!

I did not know it, reading about Maffetone in your blog only and taking big shortcuts. I’m 75, so average physiology of such an old human is studied in geriatric departments of hospitals.

Once upon a time I’ve put my hands on ‘Time-saving training for Multisport Athletes’ by Rick Niles and re-read it recently. That time-saving training would be of 5 - 9 hours a week only for triathlon. This is what I would like, as I have also other pleasures (I mean also other sports included). Bottom line is that Rick proposes 80 - 95 % of training in his zone 2 (around 80% of your MaxHR) and kind of long intervals (in uncomfortable zone 5), in remaining time, up to 20%, but mostly in swimming.

Nowadays, when I go for a short cross-country run (it’s hilly here), after 50-60 minutes I’m back and a bit frustrated, as I had 130 - 150 HR, but near ‘dry’ (little sweating). Fitness band will say it was "maintenance’ only and I guess Maffetone pace will be not even noticed by that band.

There is also not well studied aspect of heart adaptation for endurance work while on keto and I guess you had known (not keto) adaptation by growing the heart (volume). It seems that, while on long term keto, your heart ‘shrinks’, but it is still efficient with higher bmp, good oxygenation and recovery. It can explain my high MaxHR). But the mentioned objectif (running slowly while keeping 100 bmp) could be out of my reach.

Resuming our discussion, I would like keep the pleasure from that ‘sprint triathlon’ preparation and possibly progress without hurting myself. Mr Maffetone needs my attention for the rationale behind proposed method. I hope the is not the ‘agency problem’ (or attribution) as Marc Allen assumes his success is due to that (but perhaps it is an illusion).

It’s time to switch the activity to ping-pong and the challenge is that everybody (youngsters) will try to beat me, but is is not easy. :100: :ping_pong:

Everyone running with Maffetone does this, or watch arm vibration. We really need to build automatic HR mode so you just pedal. That is why I said determine your HR threshold and drop your power by about 5% below this and you should not have to worry too much about paying attention.

Yes, there is so much “it depends” in every piece of generic advice. Interesting your stroke volume decreased on keto, I never heard this one. Yeah with a decreased stroke volume and if it is not something you can improve via low HR training or any other sort then it might be difficult to enjoy Maffetone, even ping pong might be over doing it :slight_smile: I personally obsessed with the 75 year old athlete even more than the younger ones. I can say if I were you on a turbo trainer, some time I would try 3-months of below AeT, and if you trust Joe Friel (I do) maybe do 1 day a week of short duration HIIT or some intensity, just so you don’t lose it all. Do regular MAF tests and see if your aerobic capacity improves. MAF test meaning 12 minute slowly increasing warmup followed by very constant HR for 20 minutes or so and see if your average power improves. I noticed that if I focus on deep breathing my HR will drop and power stay the same. I don’t know if that helps in performance.

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Reading now the Maffetone e-book. In first pages he states:

Fat-burning also increases production of ketone bodies, useful for energy by the brain and throughout the body, and helps keep energy high, and blood sugar and glycogen stores stable.

I would like to mention that few weeks ago I’ve got a Ketonix device for analyzing (aceton) in my breath. Indeed I’m near constantly in ‘therapeutical ketosis’, which means that my cells do prefer metabolize fat, hence the presence of aceton in expired air.

I will try to find that 5 miles flat path here (converted to kilometers, of course) and do MAF tests for few months. Let’s see.

Cool, I am glad you are reading it. I would love to hear what you find interesting and what happens with your MAF tests. From what I remember Maffetone always associates strong aerobic engine and fat burning together. So in your case you are seriously fat adapted but in this case how does this relate to your aerobic improvement potential. This is interesting, and totally out of my knowledge area. There is large FB group that I have not paid attention to in a long time but I can assume these days there are many keto maffetone runners and possibly cyclists there. They would likely provide insights if they also see the same benefits.

I will read through that group and see if I see any common trends there. As I said I would be very interested to think of what you find. I have one friend that is a keto guy for a few years, never heard of a long term keto athlete like yourself. From my understanding you might have a reduced W’ or AWS (anerobic work capacity) just do to the reduced amount of glycogen available but at 75 you are likely already reduced in this so you are likely to be more of a TTer or flatter power duration curve. I don’t see this as an problem, it’s just you perform your best on long steady state. This is a generalization. I don’t know if this is the case with you.

Great Alex,

I finished that small Maffetone booklet with smile. I could write 95% similar one if not afraid of economic collapse of society. Being on (moderate) keto for 20+ years I used no supplements, vitamins, thousands of processed food items from supermarkets and no doctors.

I’m not surprised that people around me do not believe in what I’m doing (until they lose tennis match). While starting +21 years ago, I’ve re-read 3 times the book, spent 2 weeks with MedLine for confirmations and argued with my last doctor (“do not try this!”). Breaking with those alimentary habits was like a bungee jump: seemingly impossible feat.

Concerning AWS, I need it in other dynamic sports (tennis, for instance). I try to keep it by short, explosive exercises, like 50 - 80 pumps, legs on chair, around 70 pumps per minut. AWS may need more of my attention as I tend to stick to exercises I think necessary for a sport (with age you will loose speed, so try to prevent it), but more general AWS would be better.

Maffetone nutrition part is not really declaring that it is ‘some keto’. In my opinion it looks complicated, but with time I possibly over-simplified it. You need ‘inverted piramid’ to official one: fat is the base for energy, some proteins in the middle of that piramid for rebuilding tissue. Now carbohydrates on top (in grams matching your weighs in kg, +10-20%). Craving will stop in few days (if not, add fats). If morning cramps appear in your calves (and lack of magnesium is not the culprit), add some carbs. KISS (Keep it Simple, of course).

Restrictions relate only to processed food, anything else in moderation, whatever you like (no list of products).

Soon, I will prepare some tests, run 5K over the weekend, check the pace of slow erg cycling, etc. Today we were making new PR in swimming, I’m back to butterfly: really strange feeling.

I’m glad I can share my experiences with you, as it looks you may be already convinced, but waiting on gentle ‘stroke’.

Amazing, I would buy this book :slight_smile: Sorry I wrote that wrong AWC not AWS :slight_smile: Typo. Sounds like you do a reasonable amount high intensity stuff too. For me tennis would be seriously high intensity. I guess if you are good at it you can dial in the intensity. But yes by leg pumps I guess you are meaning some form of squat which doing quickly is high intensity for sure.

Not sure how much sprinting efforts you do on the bike but it would be interesting to look at your power duration curve. My friend the 75 year old champion has a very flat curve and does very little high intensity.

I actually wear a continuous glucose monitor for testing. I have one on now and try to manage my glucose spikes. The biggest things I do is try not to eat high glycemic carbs before eating fiber/fat/protien and eat between 4-8 hours a day. These days I am closer to the 3 hour mark.

Here is today’s reading. At about noon for the first time and 3pm the last time.

So while not keto or even close, I do manage carbs, and try to limit processed carbs although I do have deserts at kids parties for example. I focus more on glucose/insulin spikes then I trying to severly limit carbs. My carb managment comes from just starting my meal and eating the biggest portion of fiber, fat and protien and/or followed by non/reduced-processed carbs. Then after that it can be a free for all :slight_smile:

Sounds some what similar to you, I don’t really have any limits on what I can eat, but in my case it’s more about the ratios and the timing.

I Alex,

I possibly misled you: pumps (hands are on the floor), legs higher, on chair or bed.

​Glucose / insulin worries could be quickly over while on keto. By the way, it is the main advantage of keto diet. How do you intend to manage it in middle term? Or long term? Perhaps you need a whack instead of ‘gentle stroke’? :wink:

On kids party you take just 1/4 of desert and share the rest with others, they would be happy!

Have you ever been in touch with dr Maffetone? He is hollering against supplements but producing them himself. On middle keto (called 1/2 keto by Ketonix), you only need some time-releasing vitamine C in winter time (mind, that I did not know it for ~17 year of keto). I’ve got my C vitamine from grapefruit or quasi fresh grapefruit juice (when I was in Switzerland).

Take care!

Oh pumps, yes I have heard that term but as an American we don’t use it. Oh, I love pushups :slight_smile: and recommend them to everyone. These days I think squats are even better, especially squats + pushups :slight_smile:

Yeah I tried Keto for a while but that does not really fit my interests. Really, I love my current method of eating. It totally works for me and easy to dial one way or the other as needed. I don’t have a glucose/insulin problem but saw myself heading towards borderline pre-diabetic (morning glucose of 100) so got interested and decided to stop it early.

I used to have trouble staying at my desired weight but now I have no problem. I am around 19/20% body fat based on Navy method and I am fine with that. Less would be better but this is fine.

Even though I experiment with supplements, I am with you, I don’t really believe in them. I would say a waste of money. Creatine being one exception for weight lifters and ZMA (magnizium zinc,…) is an incredible sleep aid.

I never really followed Maffetone diet advice other than before my low heart rate runs I did not eat carbs and generally believed for a long time that processed carbs are one of our biggest problems. Sugar/HFCS being at the top of that list.

Sounds like you have something really working for you, and might be better than what I am doing but I just could never pull that off consistently and did not enjoy it, except for brief periods.

Very good! I also tried different diets (even vege) for a short while (like 6-7 months). Quite pleasant, but results were missing (still aching joins when starting to run). Do you know that Krishna was stealing butter on the market place? Now you know and even know why. :woozy_face:

Please say hello to your 75-something friend!

Yes, I was vegan for 3-years… That was a super temperamental diet for sure. Really I think I have tried them all :slight_smile:

Here are a couple of pictures of Roger… He is a hardcore cyclist. No other sports. No stretching. No strength training. Just cycling :slight_smile: