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4 Week Block for XC or Enduro Racers. 4 days/week. Heart Rate + Trail Optimized



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4 Weeks

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Plan Description

For many mountain bikers, training is a bit of a mystery. And a lot of us have the same kinds of questions for training.

What weaknesses should I be addressing in my fitness training? How should a typical week look? How many weeks in a row should I do this? When should I rest?

This plan is one 4-week block that addresses all of these questions. These are the same kinds of workouts that I use with professional and beginner athletes.

This plan works on specific fitness limiters for both XC and Enduro Racers in only 4 days of the week. Of these 4 days two are fun trail rides and two are specific interval sessions! It's awesome! This is especially good for those with limited time available to exercise.

First, you will test your fitness. The plan then goes on through 3 full weeks of training. The plan finishes with a structured recovery week and a post-training fitness test.

This particular plan is optimized for training with heart rate, and each workout delivers specific heart rate zones to utilize for maximum benefit.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
—— ——
1:48 hrs 1:00 hrs
3:15 hrs 2:30 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
—— ——
1:48 hrs 1:00 hrs
3:15 hrs 2:30 hrs

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • Heart Rate Monitor

All supported devices

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

TEST TIME TRIAL [Pre-training]

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 your file)

In addition to helping you track your progress, testing will also help you to determine training zones as you start your program.

Click on the option to do an FTP test and follow the protocol. the time trial portion is VERY hard, and the program will tell you your FTP so that you can set your zones and intensities for the following weeks of workouts.

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, weather, perceived exertion, heart rate, bike and tires used.

Follow time trial protocol as above. 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. This is highly recommended as it will automatically set the intensity for your sessions.)

Sample Day 3

Easy MTB

Take it easy, no big spikes in power, just try to stay in your endurance zone (zone 1-2) and have fun. Don't let heart rate get too far into your zone 3

Sample Day 5

5x5 min @ 90% threshold with long recoveries (HR)

Threshold efforts are a really good bang for your buck! They are not overly hard, which means you can do quite a few of them. But they are hard enough that they will definitely stress your system. Your ability to improve in this spectrum will allow you do more hard efforts when you get out on to the trail since you will recover faster between sprints.
This is just 5x5 minute efforts in your zone 4, with 4 minutes easy between each effort. Take a minute or so at the start of your effort to allow your heart rate come up to your working effort-ease into it! Fantastic workout!

Sample Day 6

MTB group ride

Choose any pace, have fun!

Sample Day 8

4x5min sub threshold & 4x30sec VO2max (HR)

The first several 5 minute efforts are in your zone 4, but note the cadence (low). You can try these on a hill, or if there is no hill you can just shift in to a harder gear. Ease in to these effrots, taking the first minute or so to allow your heart rate to get to the working zone. These have short recovery between.

After 4 of these sustained efforts, bang out some hard 30s efforts, but again at a low cadence. These are at a VERY hard pace. Ouch! :)

Note that recovery intervals are normal (high) cadence

Sample Day 10

Easy MTB

Take it easy, no big spikes in power, just try to stay in your endurance zone (zone 1-2) and have fun. Don't let heart rate get too far into your zone 3

Sample Day 12

Micro Sprints During Tempo (HR)

This is a super popular workout with my athletes!

You'll start with a good warmup before getting in to two tempo efforts of 10 minutes length. At the start of each minute during these 10 minute efforts, you'll sprint all-out for 3 SECONDS without shifting [NB: note that the software will only go down as low as 5 seconds, but 3 seconds is better in this case]. Instead of dropping down to full recovery, you'll continue the rest of the minute at tempo pace.

Recover for 7 minutes before repeating and finally cooling down.

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