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8-week Preseason Plan - MTB XC and XCM


Coach Jeff Winkler

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8 Weeks

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking intermediate advanced masters power based hr based base period

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Plan Description

This plan is designed for the competitor who is focusing primarily on the MTB Season: March - September. This a plan to transition you from the off-season to the early competition period. Use this plan to prepare for XC and XCM events. XC events are typically in the 1.5-2.0 hr duration and XCM events 3-4hr.

Ideally, you would begin this plan in January and complete it in March. Many locales start racing in March/April and important summer events will begin to appear on the calendar.

You can adjust the order of the workouts to fit your schedule, but I don't recommend changing the order of workouts too much. I have placed them with purpose and certain workouts may be harder to complete if done in a different order.

Many of us are forced indoors for early season training. Not all these workouts translate well to the trainer, e.g., sprints. It is usually necessary to adjust the workout for the trainer, while still achieving the basic goal of the workout. For example, a SPRINT workout could be done as a seated maximal effort of similar duration. This will avoid most of the limitations of an indoor trainer: insufficient resistance, wheel slippage, etc.

If you have weekend group rides during this period, feel free to substitute. "Spirited" group rides are good substitutes for the Saturday workouts. Riding with a group on Sunday long rides can make the time go by too. The 2 major concerns are: 1) group rides are too HARD compared to the planned workout OR 2) group rides are too EASY. You will not be peaking at the end of this block, but you will be ready to race. After this block you should employ an "in-season" block that balances volume and intensity with your weekend racing schedule.

There is a lively debate on the internet about how to properly determine FTP and set training zones. A major part of this debate centers on the relative merits of 8-min, 20-min and 60-min field tests to determine FTP. In a nutshell, it is not uncommon for these different tests to result in a different FTP value and, therefore, different training zone boundaries.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
11:24 hrs 5:00 hrs
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Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
11:24 hrs 5:00 hrs
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Jeff Winkler

Winkler Cycling

Over the past 25 years, I have coached athletes to multiple State and National Championship titles in the disciplines of Road, MTB and Cyclocross. I have worked with all levels of individual racers from novice to professional and have coached collegiate, club and amateur teams.

Sample Day 1

TESTING: Field Test (short power baselines)

While these efforts do not get used by Training Peaks to set zones, it is useful to know your "bests" for these short durations.

Often the Coggan/TP model for training zones underestimates what you can do for the anaerobic durations. Feel free to adjust the target efforts for short intervals based on what you have demonstrated you can do, rather than some arbitrary percentage of FTP.

Sample Day 2

RECOVERY: 1.5hr easy spin

Mellow spin to loosen up legs. Primary goal is recovery, not training.

Sample Day 3

TESTING: Field Test (2x8min efforts)

30-45min progressive warm-up (as if you were warming up for a short TT)
2 x 8min ON at "best effort" with 10min OFF at Z1-2
30mins at Z2

Threshold Power can be estimated by multiplying the best 8min Average Power by 90%. It can also be estimated by multiplying your best 20min Average Power by 95%.

As you might expect, a larger anaerobic contribution is made in the shorter field test. The longer test may also be affected by a limitation of muscular endurance (not necessarily aerobic capacity). If there is a "big" difference between these numbers, it might be best to use the lower value until you have a little more training under your belt.

Deciding which value to use as your threshold is a matter of some debate (and yet another standard is to do a 60min field test and use your average power from that effort). Don't get distracted from the purpose of the field test, it is primarily to establish reasonable training zones, not establish an 100% accurate "best effort" for some arbitrary duration.

One additional advantage of the 2x8min test, is that you can track the "difference" between each effort. If they are within 5% of each other, you have developed an ability to make repeated high intensity efforts. If the 2nd effort is more than 10% less than the first, it indicates a weakness and something to work on.

Sample Day 8

Maximal Aerobic Capacity #1

This workout is designed to develop your "maximal aerobic capacity" or VO2max.

Sample Day 11

Recovery Spin (optional)

This is like a "walk in the park". We are not looking for any "training stress" just movement to assist with recovery.

Sample Day 15

Maximal Aerobic Capacity #2

This workout is designed to develop your "maximal aerobic capacity" or VO2max.

Sample Day 22

Maximal Aerobic Capacity #3

This workout is designed to develop your "maximal aerobic capacity" or VO2max.

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