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Get fit for MTB in 3 days/week! Smart Trainer and Trail Optimized, Beginner to Intermediate


Matt Miller

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6 Weeks

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Plan Description

Most of us just don't have the time to be able to train like the pros. But that doesn't mean we don't want to get the best out of ourselves with the time we have. These workouts are handpicked as some of the favorite and most effective of the pros. They are put together so that you can do the same workouts at home and watch your power improve!

It is 100% possible for you to improve your performance in mountain biking with only 3 rides per week! The key is doing the right rides and being consistent.

I know this because I have done it!

And I know that you can do this for 6 weeks.

This plan has 2 workouts during the weekdays that are focused intervals sessions. These can easily sync directly with your smart trainer, or you can do them outside by following the detailed instructions. This plan also leaves you to be able to ride on the weekends and HAVE FUN! Because fun is what it is all about!

We start by testing your fitness, then we retest your fitness at the end of the plan. You'll know exactly how much you've improved!

This plan is ideal is you have a family, work long hours, or simply just have a little bit less time to ride than you used to. You can start this plan on any day you want.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Dr Matt Miller at


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
—— ——
2:03 hrs 1:14 hrs
2:10 hrs 3:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
—— ——
2:03 hrs 1:14 hrs
2:10 hrs 3:00 hrs

Training Load By Week

Dr Matt Miller


I specialize in MTB performance and support rad athletes globally. I have a PhD in Sport Science and have raced in every discipline including the EWS and UCI Elite XC since 2003. In early 2019 I left my university role to focus on coaching full time.

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 you 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, power output, 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.)


If you are well-versed with your smart trainer, you can instead test indoors on it! Set your trainer to ERG mode and complete a 20 minute time trial after the controlled warmup. Record your average power and multiply it by 0.95 to set your FTP to control all workouts in TrainingPeaks.

Sample Day 3

3x5 min at threshold and 2x1 min > threshold

Sample Day 6

Long Ride

Head out to the trails and have fun!

Aim for 2-4 hours of moving time.

No need to go hard today. Try to stay in your HR/Power Zone 2. Riding at this intensity will help you to become more efficient with your fuel utilization and help you be able to do more short efforts over time.

Yes, even by riding easy you can get better at doing repeated hard efforts we need in MTB!

Sample Day 8

4 sets 4x2min on/off

Sample Day 10

4x5 min @ 90% threshold with long recoveries

Sample Day 13

Long Ride

Have fun and enjoy the ride

Try to stay in HR/Power Zone 2

Aim for 2-4 hours of moving time

Sample Day 15

4x5min sub threshold & 4x30sec VO2max

The first several 5 minute efforts are not that hard, but note the cadence (low). These have short recovery bewteen. Then after that set, bang out some hard 30s efforts, but again at a low cadence. Ouch!
Note that recovery intervals are normal cadence

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