Category 1 Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan

Average Weekly Training Hours 13:48
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 13:48
Training Load By Week

Our tried and tested LW Coaching cross-country mountain bike base training plan has been updated with TrainingPeaks structured workouts including, exportable files for your Garmin and smart trainer, daily power (watts), TSS and IF guidelines.

You can follow this plan with a heart rate monitor only or with both a heart rate monitor and power meter. When given the choice use power guidelines in preference to heart rate guidelines.

This twelve week Base training plan is designed for Category 1 Class racers serious about taking their performance to the next level. It is the ideal plan to build a base prior to our cross-country build, peak and race plan or any of our endurance race plans. This is an intensive and challenging plan that assumes you have a serious commitment to racing and have podium goals. Prior to starting this plan you should have at least one year of racing under your belt, have been riding 4+ times per week recently and have been doing a full body, general strength training routine. You should be confident riding fast on single-track and versed in race tactics.

The plan is designed to give you a solid base and threshold fitness over 12 weeks. You will be riding 5-6 times per week. In addition to riding, you will be strength training, core training, doing yoga, stretching and stability sessions. Weeks 9-11 have an option to do a low priority, early season race on the weekend.

Training intensity is monitored using heart rate, power/watts (optional) and perceived exertion. A heart rate monitor is required for this plan. A power meter is an optional advantage. In week 1 you will set heart rate zones, power training levels (if you have power available) and a performance benchmark with a field test. This test is repeated in weeks 4, 8 and 12 to track performance improvements, power increases and check your training zones are accurate.

The plan begins with a skills and endurance focus. Next, on-the-bike strength is emphasized with low cadence hill climbs and then threshold work is introduced. At the end of the 12 weeks your aerobic endurance, strength, pedaling skills and threshold will have markedly improved. Endurance will be emphasized on weekends, with the long ride peaking at four hours. Monday is the recovery and non-ride day each week. Every fourth week on the plan is a recovery and testing week. Weekly riding hours on the plan range from 6:30 in recovery weeks to 15:30 in week 11.

Visit our LW Coaching website to ask training plan questions on our forum, read mountain bike specific training articles, learn new workouts and see what events our coaches and athletes have been racing.

LW Coaching mountain bike training plan

Sample Day 1
1:00:00
DAY #1 Core Stability and Strength

DAY #1: Do 30 mins of core training with a variety of exercises for your hip, abdominal and lower back muscles. Examples are bridging, pillar exercises, crunches, back extensions, Pilates. Vary your chosen exercises and routine each time you do it. Variety is a key component to a strong core training routine.

Here are exercise suggestions: https://lwcoaching.com/core-strength-for-mountain-bikers/

Here is a 30 min core and stretch routine suggestion: https://lwcoaching.com/30-min-core-stretch-routine-mountain-bike-racers/

Then do these Stability Exercises for Cyclists: https://lwcoaching.com/stability-exercises-for-cyclists/

These exercises will make you a stronger and more resilient mountain bike racer.

Sample Day 2
0:10:00
DAY #2 Foam roller and stretch

DAY #2, session #2: After your 20 min time trial field test use a combination of rolling on the foam roller and stretching to work out your tight areas.

Sample Day 2
1:30:00
86TSS
DAY #2 Power and HR Performance 20 min Field Test

DAY #2, session #1: Heart rate, Power and Performance Field Test. This test is to set your power (watts) training levels and heart rate training zones. It is also used to establish a performance benchmark to compare and track your progress. You will repeat this test in week 4, 8 and 12 of the plan.

Prior to conducting this test review the Testing Guidelines doc found at this link: http://lwcoaching.com/?p=138

Do a long deep warm up prior to the test. Then time trial 20 minutes on a flat out-back course or up a continuous gradual climb. Pace the 20 minutes evenly with a maximal effort. i.e. go as fast as you can for 20 minutes without blowing up and stopping or slowing down significantly before the end of the 20 min test. Record average heart rate, average power and distance covered in the 20 minutes. Finish ride time with long easy cool down.

CALCULATING YOUR HEART RATE ZONES: Use the TrainingPeaks training zones calculator found in the SETTINGS > ZONES tab as follows:

1. In TrainingPeaks open your athlete account setting page and select Zones (click on your name > settings > zones).

2. Enter the average heart rate from your 20-minute test into the Threshold Heart Rate box.

3. Choose type “Lactate Threshold” from the drop-down menu in the auto calculation box.

4. Choose method “Joe Friel for Cycling” in the drop-down menu in the auto calculation box.

5. Click Calculate > Apply > Save.

CALCULATING YOUR POWER LEVELS: Use the TrainingPeaks training zones calculator found in the SETTINGS > ZONES tab as follows:

1. In TrainingPeaks open your athlete account setting page and select Zones (click on your name > settings > zones).

2. Enter the average power from your 20-minute test x 0.95 into the Threshold Power box. For example if your average 20 min power is 200w, enter 190w into the threshold power box (200w x 0.95 = 190w).

3. Choose type “Threshold Power” from the drop-down menu in the auto calculation box.

4. Choose method “Andy Coggan” in the drop-down menu in the auto calculation box.

5. Click Calculate > Apply > Save.

Sample Day 3
1:30:00
53.9TSS
DAY #3 Endurance Spinning

DAY #3, session #1: Spin on the high end of your comfortable range in the small chain ring in heart rate zone 1-2 or power L 1-2 on a flat to gently rolling course, rollers or indoor trainer. Allow your feet and legs to relax while spinning. Note and record your average cadence for the ride when done. You can split this ride up into morning and afternoon rides or bike commutes today if you like.

Sample Day 3
1:00:00
DAY #3 Strength Work

DAY #3, session #2: Warm up with 5 minutes of easy aerobic exercise or calisthenics. Then do 10 push-ups, 10 pull-ups, 10 pillar ball twists, 10 psoas crunches to each side, 10 regular crunches, 10 oblique crunches, 10 side lifts to each side, 10 supermans, 10 glute bridges. Repeat 2-3 times through. Follow this link for exercise descriptions: Core Training for Mountain Bikers: https://lwcoaching.com/core-strength-for-mountain-bikers/

Sample Day 4
1:00:00
35.9TSS
DAY #4 Pedaling Technique

DAY #4: Warm up for 15 mins in power or heart rate zones 1-2. Then at 50-60 rpm pedal 30 seconds left leg only, 30 seconds right leg only (opposite foot unclipped), then increase rpm by 5 and spin for 1 min with both legs. Above equals one set. Increase cadence slightly every set. Do 10 sets with 2 minutes recovery between each set. Work to eliminate the dead spot in your pedal stroke. This is a technique focused workout. Power and heart rate stays zones 1-2 for the entire duration of this workout.

Sample Day 4
0:10:00
Foam roller and stretch

Use a combination of rolling on the foam roller and stretching to work out your hot spots.

Lynda Wallenfels
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LW Coaching

Mountain Bike Coaching, Consulting and Mountain Bike Training Plans. We are mountain bikers and specialize in mountain biking.

Browse our LWCoaching.com website and give our LW Coaching mountain bike training plan finder App a try https://lwcoaching.com/mtb-training-plans/planfinder/ to see which mountain bike training plan stack fits your goals.

Personal coaching, pre-built mountain bike training plans, telephone consultations. See www.lwcoaching.com or contact lynda@lwcoaching.com