Coach Jesse's Corner
Mountain Lions MTB training plan
In order to properly prepare for the challenge of mountain bike racing it is important to address the various physical skills needed to be successful. We will focus on the basic and advanced skills at practice as well as the various safety and nutrition considerations but if you want to excel and really challenge yourself then most of the physical training will need to be done outside of the weekly team sessions. I have given you a basic training plan here to supplement the team training and this is meant to be a general guide as you navigate through the season. If you have specific questions or want individual advice feel free to contact me.
The primary mission of Mountain Lion Cycling Club is to create an environment that emphasizes inclusion, respect, fair play, personal growth, teamwork, and fun. Whenever you ride or train keep those core values at the heart of everything you do. You are an ambassador for the team, the State and National league and the mountain biking community at large.
This is not meant to be a prescription for what is expected from everyone on the team but rather a resource for those wishing to increase their dedication and fitness.
Key workout concepts
It is important to work on the different aspects of riding each week in order to build a properly balanced racing profile. Endurance, speed, and power are separate but complementary sides of the race equation. Each is a leg of the table and when one is lacking then the table will fail.
Endurance is how long you can ride at a specific speed. Speed is how fast you can ride and power is your ability to accelerate or climb up a hill. It is possible to address more than on of these during the same workout but to attain the quickest gains it is better to have a single focus for each session. Obviously you don’t just work on one without affecting the other two since they are so interrelated but by having targeted workouts you build up one of the legs more than the other two.
For reference we will use Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to measure effort levels while working out.
- Playing video games
- Walking to the kitchen to get some food
- Easy pace, slight exertion
- All day riding, able to maintain full conversation
- Still able to talk but noticeably faster
- Only able to talk in short sentences
- What you could maintain for an hour if you had to. Able to yell out “I’m fine!” if someone asked
- Can only sustain for a few minutes, one word answers, keep it clean!
- Almost as hard as you can push the pedals
- 100% sprint to the finish line
Endurance ride - 1x a week
This is best spent on a paved road, fire road, or path that allows you to keep spinning almost the entire time. Keep this ride at a RPE of 6 or less spending most of the ride in zone 4-5. Go easy on the hills and keep spinning as you crest the top and descend. Try not to coast at all. Most riders will try to crush the hills and coast on the way down but it is a better endurance workout and more efficient overall if you keep the effort consistent throughout the ride. Remember what leg of the table you are building up. These rides can be anywhere from 30 mins-2 hrs depending on how you feel and where in the season you are. As you progress through your training you can add mileage but start small and build your foundation.
Speed - 1x a week
Warm up by spinning easy for 10 minutes then ride for 4 or 5 minutes at RPE of 7 with an easy spin at RPE of 3 for a couple of minutes. Repeat 2-6x depending on how you feel and where you are at in your training. Find a section of road or trail that you can maintain a solid effort the whole time (this may be difficult on trails). Cool down for 10 minutes
Power - 1 x a week
Warm up by spinning easy for 10 minutes then do one of the following workouts:
-Sprint every hill you come to on the trail at RPE of 8-9.
-5x Sprint for :30 seconds and rest for :30, spin easy for 5 minute and repeat 2-6x depending on how you feel and where you are at in your training.
This is a fun workout to do with a partner. You can race each other on each sprint or hill. It’s great to ride with someone slightly stronger than you to push you harder than you would otherwise be willing to go.
Strength training - up to 3x a week
It is important to build primary and secondary muscles for mountain bike riding. Your arms, back and core (stomach muscles) are needed to effectively navigate all the aspects of trail riding as much as your legs and glutes (your butt). Here is a great body weight workout you can add to your weekly workouts. Most of these can be done while watching TV or checking your texts so there’s no reason not to be doing these.
Race time preparation and execution
We will know the locations and most likely the course of the races ahead of time. Make an effort to get out to the trails in the weeks or days before the race and become familiar with the course. This will add immeasurably to your confidence before starting the race if you know where the roots and bumps are and how fast you can take each corner.
There will be mass starts at each race and getting a good position at the start of the race can make all the difference at the end. There might be limited passing opportunities once you get onto the trails and if you get stuck behind someone slower than you it can not only be frustrating but also keep you from catching those in front of you. This is where your power comes into play. Practice starting from a dead stop and sprinting out for 15-20 seconds and find the best gear and shifting technique that works for you.
This is where speed and endurance is crucial. Make sure you pace yourself and try to keep from blowing up (term used then you run out of energy and have to back off your speed). Break down the race into 3 parts. The first section should feel easy, like you could do this for a long time. The second part should feel challenging but manageable and it is only in the last part that you should feel like this is hurting and maybe you can’t hold this for much longer. This is where the mental training comes in. Realize that all the pain you feel in your lungs and thighs will stop as soon as you do. We will talk more about this in practice but is important to come up with a mantra or phrase that motivates you. This is your “why” for racing and will become your rallying cry when you need to dig deep and keep pushing through to the end.
The final sprint to the finish! The fruit of all your endurance and power work will manifest here. Did you save a little for the end or did you spend all your muscular capitol on the course? Is it a good idea to invest some time on your workouts when your legs are tired and you feel like you don’t have anything left and finish with a solid sprint before your cool down to train your legs to simulate race conditions.
I’m a firm believer that body weight workouts are sufficient for attaining your fitness goals for racing. Some can be augmented to increase the difficulty but I guarantee that if you do enough repetitions of any of these you will feel it. Try doing 100 burpees without stopping and see if you feel the need to add weight.
Here are several exercises I love and use regularly:
- Glute Bridge
- Squats, with or w/o weights
- Lunges, with or w/o weights
- Jumping lunges
- Wall sits, with or w/o weights
- Bulgarian Split squat, with or w/o weights
- Burpees (with push-up and jumps)
- Plank in various forms such as
- Knee to opposite elbow
- Weighted (weight placed on back)
Pick 3-4 of these and perform 2-4 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise. You can always add more repetitions for increased challenge. Be smart about the how you train and how quickly you progress to more demanding sessions.
Google the exercises if you need a demonstration or explanation. Form is extremely important as you can injure yourself if done improperly. Take the time to learn the proper technique and ensure you are doing each rep correctly. If you have any questions or want some guidance please reach out and I’ll be more than happy to give you any guidance you need.