MTB Training Plan – Mountain Bike Training Plan For Beginners
Following a well-built MTB training plan can not only improve your fitness and results, but often can save you time. By following a structured plan you can make use of you time more wisely and become more efficient with your training. While most people think more is better, this not normally the case. So structure out your year correctly and build a plan that not only suits your lifestyle but your goals and fitness.
In this article we go over the basics of an MTB training plan and what you should include in your training.
MTB Training Plan – A Complete Guide
Mountain biking is a demanding sport and requires specific training like most two-wheeled sports. So, your MTB training plan should incorporate some key elements to improve climbing, cadence, power, and speed.
Since mountain biking requires a mix of skill and fitness, it’s important to plan your MTB training plan to the event you are targeting.
When putting together your plan, start by working back from the event. It doesn’t matter if it is 100 km, or a cross-country (XCO) event, you want to plan in each period of training correctly.
Start by planning your base phase of training. This should last anywhere from 8-12 weeks and should include low aerobic riding and speed skills (cadence, one-legged drills). This is the time when the intensity is low (Zone 2 and short periods in zone 3) and the focus is on building your mileage.
After the base building period, you can start to incorporate some more specific sessions while continuing to build the mileage. You can do this by adding tempo rides (zone 3), low cadence work (50-60rpm), and steady-state climbing into the training.
Once you have spent 8 weeks building more volume and developing your strength on the bike you can move into threshold work. This will help improve your FTP on the bike and start getting you ready for the more intense training later in your training plan.
Start by adding sub-threshold efforts (92% of your FTP) into the plan and each week build the duration of the interval. For example, one week you might do 4×8 minutes at 92% and the next you might increase this to 5×8 minutes. Once you have built the length of the intervals up to 20 minutes, start increasing the percentage of FTP you are working at. This structure should continue until you make your way up to 100% of your FTP.
Once you have finished your threshold training, you can start to incorporate v02 intervals, climbing, and focus more on race-specific workouts.
The overall build-up to your event should take anywhere from 16-20 weeks to run through each phase of training. If done correctly you will see a large increase in both your aerobic fitness and power.
Mountain Bike Training Plan For Beginners
If you’re a beginner mountain biker, your training will look slightly different from what we mentioned above. A mountain bike training plan for beginners require more time spent building the foundation and threshold power than race-specific workouts.
Because the beginner has less background in mountain bike training, they require extra training at zone 2 in the beginning. This helps to increase their aerobic fitness and strength on the bike, without overloading them too early with hard intense workouts.
Once the beginner has a solid foundation of aerobic riding, you can start to incorporate threshold work. The beginner’s threshold power is usually quite low and this is where a large portion of the fitness gains will come from. But it is important to work through each phase slowly and not overload the mountain biker too early in the training.
A mountain bike training program for beginners often requires specific knowledge from a coach that can build the training plan correctly and plan for the right recovery based on the rider’s TSS, ATL, and CTL Scores (If you don’t know what this is, you can read this article here).
It’s common for many coaches to push beginner athletes too hard in the beginning with no thought of consistency. This often leads to burn out, lack of motivation, and fatigue from lack of adequate recovery.
As a beginner, focus on building consistency and mileage in the beginning. Follow this by a period of threshold training and you will see a large improvement in your overall fitness.
12-Week Mountain Bike Training Program
At SportCoaching we provide a range of mountain bike training programs for all levels of riders. One of these is the 12-week mountain bike training program. Built over 12 weeks, it focuses mainly on a period of strength work and threshold workouts. This helps us to increase your base aerobic power and threshold power, which is the key to making large improvements in your results. Depending on your level of fitness when starting this can also incorporate a period of v02 sessions and specific race workouts.
Since all our training plans are custom-built, the 12-week mountain bike training program can be customized to any part of the session. Think of it as a 12-week schedule that you can adapt to your season. This can be at the beginning of the season, during the season or even in the winter.
6-Week MTB Training Program
Our 6-week MTB training program is a plan focusing more on intensity. It is developed for the final weeks of you training before your key event. This 6-week plan focuses on more specific race workouts and v02 max workouts, while improving both your leg speed and sprint power.
Since it is a short training plan, the 6-week MTB training program is more suited towards the experienced rider. This rider requires a solid foundation behind them and at least some periods of mid to high intensity workouts before starting the plan.
This training plan caters to any type of event during any part of the season. Since all our plans are customized to each athlete, we focus on the key elements that can improve your fitness before your event.
100 Mile MTB Race Training Plan
Training for a 100-mile mountain bike race is quite different from preparing for a cross-country (XCO) event. Your 100-mile MTB Race training plan requires more time spent building volume and workouts at steady state and threshold. While you don’t entirely forget race specific sessions and v02 max efforts, they aren’t the bread and butter of a successful 100-mile training plan.
You’re training should focus around building your volume of training until you are comfortable with the 100-mile distance. Once you are, you can then look to build strength into the plan by adding in low cadence work. This will help build strength for later in the event and help you get up those short nasty climbs.
Once you have gone through a period of strength training on the bike, you can start looking at improving your threshold power. Periods of 92-100% of your FTP will help bring up your base aerobic power that is important in an event like this. Steady state efforts should not be forgotten either, as a lot of time during the 100-mile event will be spent in zone 3.
After that you can look to fine tune your training with more high intense workout through v02 workouts and anaerobic efforts.
If you are looking for a 100-mile MTB Race training plan, we provide a custom-built program for any event. The training plan is built over 16 weeks and targets any 100 mile (160.93 km) race. It is also built around your current level of fitness, goals and lifestyle.
You can find our 100-mile mountain bike training plan here.