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Category 1 TIME CRUNCHED Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan


Lynda Wallenfels

All plans by this Coach
4.75 (4)


12 Weeks

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking advanced power based hr based pace based tss based base period

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Plan Description

Our tried and tested LW Coaching Category 1 TIME CRUNCHED Cross Country Mountain Bike Base Training Plan has been updated with TrainingPeaks structured workouts to make the most of both indoor and outdoor riding opportunities. For outdoor training, power (watts), TSS and IF targets can be downloaded to your Garmin. For indoor training, download your plan to your favorite Smart Trainer app such as Zwift, Rouvy or Trainer Road.

This TIME CRUNCHED Category 1 Base Training Plan can be followed 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 works for athletes with power monitoring ability on some but not all of their bikes.

Are you trying to have a real life and race your best? Do you have other time commitments (demanding jobs, school, kids, other extracurricular/interests) preventing you from putting in the massive hours usually required in most training plans? This training plan maximizes the time a busy person *does* have. You know, kinda like - train smarter, not harder.

This is not the quick & easy way to suddenly be a Category 1 Expert mtn biker, but a time efficient training plan maximizing workout time for busy folks who want to set their own personal records - which may or may not include a podium finish.

Most weekday workouts have two or more options to help you work the sessions into your busy life and tips on whether to move the workout to another day or just miss it out. Optional extra point bonus workouts are included in the plan for you to take advantage of when you have unexpected free time and each Friday has a bike commute option to take advantage of casual Friday's. The longest ride of the week is at the weekend.

Weekly training hours average around 6-8 hours with 1-2 extra bonus workouts per week on top of that available for you if you have the time and energy.

When you have completed this plan you can progress on to the 12 week LW Coaching TIME CRUNCHED Cross Country Build, Peak and Race plan. Schedule this second plan to finish on the date of your most important race.

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


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
8:35 hrs 3:30 hrs
1:02 hrs 0:30 hrs
0:11 hrs 0:30 hrs
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
8:35 hrs 3:30 hrs
1:02 hrs 0:30 hrs
0:11 hrs 0:30 hrs
—— ——

Training Load By Week

Lynda Wallenfels

LW Coaching

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

Browse our website and give our LW Coaching mountain bike training plan finder App a try to see which mountain bike training plan stack fits your goals.

Personal coaching, pre-built mountain bike training plans, telephone consultations. See or contact

Sample Day 1

DAY 1: Stability Exercises for Cyclists

DAY 1: Today's exercises are early season pre-hab work to counter and prevent strength imbalances caused by cycling that lead to overuse injuries. This workout is preventative maintenance.

Do the recommended exercises and repeats at this link Stability Exercises for Cyclists:

If you are crunched for time today, split this up into 2 or 3 ten minute sessions where you can fit them into your day. Any little bit you get done will be great for your body.

Sample Day 2

DAY 2: Pedaling skills - max, spin-up, one-leg (structured)

DAY 2: Pedaling Skill Improvement Day.

Do the below trainer ride with your bike on an indoor trainer OR take a 60 minute spin class and focus on pedaling smoothly and efficiently OR go for a 60 minute technical mountain bike ride.

-5 minutes easy spinning in power L1 or heart rate zone 1 and cadence 70 - 90 rpm

- Max Cadence Set: 10 X 1 minutes as 10 seconds max cadence and 50 seconds easy spin recovery. Heart rate stays zone 2 and below, power stays in level 2 and below (see Saturday for heart rate zone and power level information).

- Spin-Up Set: 8 X 2 minutes in power L2 or HRZ2 as 1 minute high cadence 100 - 120 rpm, 1 minute medium cadence 70 - 90 rpm. Shift gears if needed to keep power and cadence on target. HR stays zone 2 and below.

- One Leg Pedaling Set: 8 X 3 minutes as 1 minute right leg only at 60 rpm, 1 minute left leg only at 60 rpm, 1 minute both legs at 95 rpm. Heart rate stays zone 2 and below, power stays in level 2 and below.

- 5 minutes easy cool down spin at 70 - 90 rpm.

Sample Day 2

DAY 2: Foam roller and stretch

DAY 2: Use a combination of rolling on the foam roller and stretching to work out your hot spots.

Sample Day 3

DAY 3: Core strength

DAY 3: Strength training. Do a variety of exercises for your hip, abdominal and lower back muscles. Examples are bridging, pillar exercises, crunches, back extensions, Pilates.

Follow this link for exercise suggestions:

Core Training for Mountain Bikers:

Sample Day 3

DAY 3: Optional Bonus ride

DAY 3: Ride easy for 30 minutes. This ride is an optional extra bonus session.

Only do this ride if your fridge is full of groceries, you can log 8 hours of sleep tonight, are caught up on your essential chores and you have given the attention to your loved ones you need.

Any bike errands or bike commuting counts towards this ride time today.

You can split this 30 minute session up as 15 mins before core work and 15 mins after core work. Cross training with the elliptical, a swim, row, run etc is super also.

If you can, do this with a loved one to combine social and workout time. Maximize your time. Be creative. Make it fun.

Sample Day 4

DAY 4: Zone 2/3 high/low/med cadence skills (structured)

DAY 4: Do this indoors or outdoors. Review our Training Intensity Guidelines doc to dial in your intensity and pacing. You will set your training zones on day 6 with the benchmark test.

- 5 minutes in easy pedaling in HRZ 1-2 or power L1-2

Repeat this sequence 3 times:
5 mins at 95 - 105 rpm
5 mins at 55 - 65 rpm
5 mins at 75 - 85 rpm

1st time through hold power L2 or HRZ2 or an easy pace
2nd time through hold power L3 or HRZ3 or a tempo pace
3rd time through hold power L2 or HRZ2 or an easy pace

- Finish the ride time in power L1 or HRZ1 at an easy pace and any comfortable cadence.

Sample Day 4

DAY 4:Core and upper-body training

DAY 4: Move this to another day if it does not fit in your schedule today.

Core and upper-body training: Do a variety of exercises for your shoulders, hips, abdominal and lower back muscles. Examples are push-ups, pull-ups, bridging, planks, crunches, back extensions, Pilates.

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