6 Week Intermediate Training Plan for XC or Enduro Racers. Start ANY Day; Saturday race!

Average Weekly Training Hours 07:27
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 07:27
Training Load By Week

Have you been procrastinating? Did you promise yourself you'd start training for your major MTB event, but never did? Sure, you've still been riding a bit and having fun, but did that structure and those intervals ever materialize?

If you answered yes to those questions, this plan is for you!

First off, don't worry- riding is fun and that's why we do it. But racing MTB is also fun, and that's why we do it! However, racing is more fun when we are more fit- and 6 weeks of training can get you there.
Your regular, casual riding has given you a bit of fitness, and this plan can help take you the rest of the way. Through some solid theory and proven practice, we gradually build you up over the first 4 weeks to a solid workload without crushing you or taking away the fun. Then, there's a solid 2 week taper to have you fit and fresh for your big race!

Along the way, we test your fitness, which is a valuable thing to understand as you go through training. Results from this baseline test will help you understand your body for years to come and also put into perspective the benefit of training!

Before starting this plan it is expected that you have been doing moderate or difficult rides a few times per week for the last several weeks (~5 hours/week). If you haven't been riding much, please check out the other plans; you'll get more out of your training by choosing the appropriate plan. If you have any questions about the best plan for you, please email Matt at m.miller1@massey.ac.nz

You don't need a power meter to do this training (though they are great!); really all you need is a bike and a stopwatch, though a heart rate monitor will be beneficial.

This is for XC and Enduro MTB racers, with the major difference being how you complete your race simulation efforts. This is built into the plan!

What are you waiting for?

Sample Day 1

Welcome to the first day of your training plan! The first day is a test day to determine what your fitness is now and to offer you a benchmark for your future training cycles.

We will try to control this as much as we can so that we know we are comparing apples to apples. We'll make sure the lead in to test day is pretty similar, control the warmup, and it will be up to you to eat similar foods.
(PRO-HACK: write down what you ate in the post-ride comments after you upload your file)

In addition to helping you track your progress, testing will also help you to determine training zones as you start your program.

Choose a road nearby that is easily repeatable on a safe section of road with no stops. Do this on the same bike every time. Using a MTB is OK. If this is uphill you will be able to pedal more steadily (less coasting) but flat or rolling terrain are fine if there are no stops or changes of road.
Get in a 15-minute warmup as follows: 5min easy seated pedaling- 10s acceleration with high cadence RPE~7 - 2min easy pedaling- 15s acceleration with slightly higher RPE, high cadence - standing pedaling for 2 minutes with heavy gear @50rpm ~RPE 5 – 5s acceleration just below max – 5min easy seated pedaling.

Record start location and begin the test, shooting for a steady power at a maximal rate for 12-20 minutes. Record stop location, elapsed time, weather, perceived exertion, heart rate, bike and tires used.

If training with heart rate, take average heart rate from test portion only. This is a good estimation of your lactate threshold heart rate. Zone will be as follows (derived from Andrew Coggan, PhD):
Zone 1: <68%
Zone 2: 69-83%
Zone 3: 84-94%
Zone 4: 95-105%

(PRO HACK 2: you can enter these zones on your Training Peaks profile and the metrics from your rides will be appropriately calculated.)

Sample Day 2
Fast Endurance Road Ride

After an easy warmup for 5-10 minutes, ride steady at the upper end of your endurance zone (Zone 2) for 90 minutes at 90-100 rpm. Keep pedalling for the duration of the ride; avoid going above your endurance zone on climbs. Remain seated.

Drink only water on this ride, but take a small snack in the case you start to get hungry.

Cool down for 5-10 minutes by spinning at an easy pace.

Sample Day 3
Easy MTB

Take it easy, no big spikes in power, just try to stay in your endurance zone. Don't let heart rate get too far into your zone 3

Sample Day 4
Threshold 2x10-short

Sample Day 5
Skills sesh

Easy cruise on the bike just practicing easy skills like manuals, wheelies, jumps, bunny hops and the like. No structure really, but a good chance to mess around since your body does not need hard pedaling today. Note skills you worked on, and speculate how it went.

Sample Day 6
Easy road ride with diet stress

Endurance power and heart rate zones (Zone 2). Keep pedalling and do not have big spikes in power.

Sample Day 7
MTB group ride

Choose any pace, have fun!

Matt Miller

Dr. Matt Miller is the premiere international MTB researcher and coach. He has over 10 scientific publications on factors affecting MTB performance and more than 10 years of competing at the elite level in cross-country and enduro MTB.