Repeatable 2-Week Taper Program for your A-priority MTB XCO race(s) - (Power-Based)

Author

Tom Bell

All plans by this Coach

Length

2 Weeks

Typical Week

4 MTB, 2 Bike

Longest Workout

3:00 hrs

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking

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Summary

Includes Structured Workouts

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A TWO-WEEK PROGRAM TO TAPER FOR A HIGH-PRIORITY MTB XCO RACE


This MTB plan is designed specifically for XCO athletes to taper for an A-priority XCO race.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TAPERING


Tapering is a reduction in training load to allow recovery and super-compensation from previous higher-load training and thus a decrease in fatigue and an increase in form. The taper needs to be balanced so as not to result in too much fitness loss [1].

Numerous studies, including a high quality meta-analysis [2], and training data from 11 elite-level endurance athletes in the year before winning gold at the Olympics or World Championships [3] suggest the success of tapering strategies are sensitive to numerous factors, including the rate of reduction of training volume, the length of the taper, the frequency of training, and the intensity distribution. This research suggests that a successful taper should maintain training frequency and intensity, while reducing overall training volume via a reduction in lower-intensity training. The taper should also maintain race specificity in the run-up to the race.

COMPOSITION OF THE PLAN


This is a two-week plan designed to be implemented in the two-weeks immediately preceding an A-priority race. It is designed to follow on seamlessly from our other training plans, and in particular the Specific/Build Phase for MTB XCO Plan. The plan is also suitable if you have several A-priority races in quick succession or for stage racing, in which case the plan would run up to the first of these races.

We draw on the scientific literature, alongside our own personal experiences of coaching over 100 athletes to develop our tapering strategy, following best practices as outlined above. We also employ the ‘block periodization’ technique (grouping hard sessions together, followed by substantial recovery) to cause a spike in fitness, thereby minimising fitness loss during the taper [4].

NOTE we advise this plan is followed only for high-priority races, and only a handful of times per year, as fitness loss is unavoidable during a taper. Thus frequent use of this plan will likely result in a fitness decrease. For lower priority races, you can follow any of our other MTB-specific plans and adapt the training as described in the accompanying user guide to accommodate racing.


PLAN OBJECTIVES



  • Reduce overall training load following tapering best practices.
  • Shed fatigue while ensuring minimal fitness loss to result in maximal form.
  • Maintain training intensity, frequency and specificity to maintain sharpness for race.


REFERENCES


[1] Thomas, L., & Busso, T. H. I. E. R. R. Y. (2005). A theoretical study of taper characteristics to optimize performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 37(9), 1615-1621.

[2] Bosquet, L., Montpetit, J., Arvisais, D., & Mujika, I. (2007). Effects of tapering on performance: a meta-analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(8), 1358-1365.

[3] Tønnessen, E., Sylta, Ø., Haugen, T. A., Hem, E., Svendsen, I. S., & Seiler, S. (2014). The road to gold: training and peaking characteristics in the year prior to a gold medal endurance performance. PloS one, 9(7), e101796.

[4] Rønnestad, B. R., Ellefsen, S., Nygaard, H., Zacharoff, E. E., Vikmoen, O., Hansen, J., & Hallén, J. (2014). Effects of 12 weeks of block periodization on performance and performance indices in well‐trained cyclists. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 24(2), 327-335.

Stats

Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 08:32
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 08:32
Average Weekly Breakdown

Tom Bell

tombell.co

Individualised, data-driven performance coaching and training programs for MTB XCO, MTB Marathon and Cyclocross athletes. We combine our real-world, elite-level experience at national team, UCI MTB World Cup and World Championship-level with leading science and expert data analysis skills to provide effective and actionable programs for our athletes, all whilst offering the educational and motivational support needed for true potential to be reached.

Back to Plan Details

Sample Day 1

1:00:00
25TSS
Recovery: Easy Ride (Road or MTB)

1H recovery ride @ 40-60% FTP.

If riding MTB, try to include some technical skills practice, such as cornering practice, line choice, off-camber sections, roots etc.

PURPOSE: Allow for adaptations from previous hard workout, whilst keeping rhythm of training and muscles working without adding any further stress to the body.

Sample Day 2

1:30:00
100.4TSS
VO2Max: MTB 40S/20S

20M building up to 60-70% FTP.

4x 8M (8x 40S @ ~118% FTP/20S @ ~50% FTP) with 3-4M easy spinning as active recovery between each block of micro-intervals.

Remaining time up to 1H30M @ ~55-65% FTP.

See workout details below for full session breakdown.

PURPOSE: Increase the maximal volume of oxygen the body can take in and deliver to the working muscles via the blood. Improves speed of recovery between hard efforts, as well as ability to overcome force and re-accelerate multiple times.

Sample Day 3

0:50:00
20.8TSS
Recovery: Easy Ride

50M recovery ride @ 40-60% FTP.

Stay on road or indoor trainer to avoid any unwanted fatigue from vibrations of off-road riding.

PURPOSE: Allow for adaptations from previous hard workout, whilst keeping rhythm of training and muscles working without adding any further stress to the body.

Sample Day 4

1:30:00
97.6TSS
Anaerobic Capacity: 1M Repeats

20M building up to 60-70% FTP to warm up.

Then 2x (5x 1M @ 135% FTP with 2M15S easy spinning between each rep). 10M steady in between each block of repeats.

Remaining time @ 60-70% FTP up to 1.5H.

PURPOSE: Develops ability to produce high amounts of power well above maximal oxygen uptake levels (VO2Max) and promotes recruitment of Type II (fast twitch) muscles in power production. Applied during short, sharp climbs or for attacks within races.

Sample Day 5

1:00:00
25TSS
Recovery: Easy Ride (Road or MTB)

1H recovery ride @ 40-60% FTP.

If riding MTB, try to include some technical skills practice, such as cornering practice, line choice, off-camber sections, roots etc.

PURPOSE: Allow for adaptations from previous hard workout, whilst keeping rhythm of training and muscles working without adding any further stress to the body.

Sample Day 6

3:00:00
135.2TSS
Endurance: Steady MTB Ride + Fatigue Resistance Intervals

Ride 3H @ 60-70% FTP, keeping intensity in check on any hills. Include 3-4x 2.5M intervals @ 95-100% FTP with 2M easy spinning between in final 30M of workout.

PURPOSE: Enhances aerobic fitness by stimulating greater mitochondrial biogenesis (production of mitochondria - the power house of the cell), enhanced capillarization in the muscles, development of slow-twitch muscles fibres and trains body to more efficiently use fat as primary fuel source. This workout specifically also develops muscular endurance and ability to produce high sustainable power in the presence of fatigue.

Sample Day 7

1:00:00
25TSS
Recovery: Easy Ride (Road or MTB)

1H recovery ride @ 40-60% FTP.

If riding MTB, try to include some technical skills practice, such as cornering practice, line choice, off-camber sections, roots etc.

PURPOSE: Allow for adaptations from previous hard workout, whilst keeping rhythm of training and muscles working without adding any further stress to the body.

Repeatable 2-Week Taper Program for your A-priority MTB XCO race(s) - (Power-Based)

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