Specific/Build Phase for MTB MARATHON (Power-Based): 12 Weeks; 7-12Hrs/Week (Adjustable)

Author

Tom Bell

All plans by this Coach

Length

12 Weeks

Typical Week

1 Day Off, 1 Other, 3 Bike, 3 MTB

Longest Workout

5:00 hrs

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking

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Summary

Includes Structured Workouts

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A SPECIFIC PREPARATION PHASE PLAN DESIGNED TO MAXIMALLY DEVELOP ALL NECESSARY MTB RACE-LIKE ABILITIES BEFORE THE FINAL TAPER PERIOD LEADING INTO YOUR TARGET COMPETITION(S)


This MTB plan is designed for marathon athletes, where the primary aim of the phase is to balance maintenance of the aerobic fitness foundation built in the general phase with a wholistic development of the higher-level, race-specific abilities needed for competitive success in modern-day MTB racing.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SPECIFIC TRAINING PHASE


After building a solid foundation in the general phase, the specific phase plan follows on from the former, with the primary aim to convert this broader fitness base into necessary aerobic and anaerobic race-like abilities [1].

Key adaptations addressed by the specific phase include improved lactate kinetics, greater power at the lactate threshold, both an increased aerobic capacity (VO2max) and fractional utilisation of the aerobic capacity at lactate threshold, greater neuromuscular recruitment of the muscle fibres required in racing, greater cycling economy as well as improved sprint repeatability and ability to recover quicker after each sprint/high power surge [2].

This will be done through a careful balance of steady-state riding, interval training of various designs and recovery-focused sessions to facilitate larger and quicker adaptations. Amongst this, each microcycle will feature both road and off-road based training sessions in the ideal ratios to develop handling skills (off-road) or minimise unnecessary fatigue from vibrations (road or indoor trainer) whilst still improving key determinants of MTB marathon success [3].

COMPOSITION OF THE PLAN


The plan is laid out over a 12-week period, using three distinct mesocycles, each featuring a 3-week ramp in training load, which is then followed up by a week aimed at recovering and adapting to the load. This ramp rate from week to week is "functionally conservative"; enough to result in a meaningful training stress yet gradual enough to avoid 'non-functional overreaching' or overtraining.

In pursuit of greater adaptations, a more fulfilling training experience and to avoid mental and physical burnout, the plan features a large variety of workout designs and intensities, balanced with what's known as a 'polarised training intensity distribution'; a planning and sequencing approach shown in the literature and in our own experience coaching 100s of athletes to be a successful framework for fitness improvement for both time-rich and time-crunched cyclists.

NOTE: The plan's volume is totally adaptable from the default 7-12 hrs/week, where guidance on doing so is provided in our detailed user guide supplied with each plan.


PLAN OBJECTIVES



  • Lactate threshold, VO2max and greater fractional utilisation of the latter;
  • Enhance substrate utilisation to improve ability to oxidise more fat at higher intensities, sparing limited glycogen stores, as well as maintain all endurance-based adaptations built in preceding general phase
  • Introduce more MTB-specific sessions off-road that mimics exact demands of racing (e.g. fast starts, sprint repeatability, higher force/lower cadence pedalling techniques etc).


REFERENCES


[1] Schneeweiss, Patrick, et al. "Predictive Ability of a Laboratory Performance Test in Mountain Bike Cross-country Olympic Athletes." International journal of sports medicine 40.06 (2019): 397-403.

[2] Novak, Andrew R., et al. "A multidimensional approach to performance prediction in Olympic distance cross-country mountain bikers." Journal of sports sciences 36.1 (2018): 71-78.

[3] Macdermid, Paul W., Philip W. Fink, and Stephen R. Stannard. "Transference of 3D accelerations during cross country mountain biking." Journal of biomechanics 47.8 (2014): 1829-1837.

Stats

Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 10:15
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 10:15
Average Weekly Breakdown

Tom Bell

tombell.co

Individualised, data-driven performance coaching and training programs for MTB XCO, MTB Marathon and Cyclocross athletes. We combine our real-world, elite-level experience at national team, UCI MTB World Cup and World Championship-level with leading science and expert data analysis skills to provide effective and actionable programs for our athletes, all whilst offering the educational and motivational support needed for true potential to be reached.

Back to Plan Details

Sample Day 1

1:30:00
97.9TSS
VO2Max: 30S/15S Microbursts

15M building up to 60-70% FTP.

4x 9M blocks, each comprising: 12x (30S @ 118-125% FTP/15S @ 30-40% FTP) with 3-4M easy spinning as active recovery between each block of micro-intervals.

Remaining time up to 1H30M @ ~55-65% FTP.

See workout details below for full session breakdown.

PURPOSE: Increase the maximal volume of oxygen the body can take in and deliver to the working muscles via the blood. Improves speed of recovery between hard efforts, as well as ability to overcome force and re-accelerate multiple times.

Sample Day 2

1:30:00
105.2TSS
Supra-Threshold: Steady-State Intervals

20M warm up building up to @ 60-70% FTP.

4x 8M @ 103-105% FTP with 3M of easy spinning as active recovery between intervals.

Remaining time up to 1H30M @ 55-65% FTP.

PURPOSE: Increases FTP (Functional Threshold Power - max sustainable 1H steady-state power) by helping to improving the lactate threshold, i.e. where blood lactate begins to accumulate exponentially in the blood. This training aims to shift the threshold “to the right” by training body to process and clear lactate more efficiently and at higher intensities.

Sample Day 3

1:00:00
25TSS
Recovery: Easy MTB Ride

1H recovery ride @ 40-60% FTP.

Try to include some technical skills practice, such as cornering practice, line choice, off-camber sections, roots etc. whilst keeping intensity very low when pedalling.

PURPOSE: Allow for adaptations from previous hard workout, whilst keeping rhythm of training and muscles working without adding any further stress to the body.

Sample Day 5

3:00:00
126.8TSS
Endurance: Steady MTB Ride

3H @ 60-70% FTP.

Feel free to stray into Zone 1 on descents and Zone 3 on steeper climbs, but try to choose as flat or rolling course as possible to maximise time in target zone.

PURPOSE: Enhances aerobic fitness by stimulating greater mitochondrial biogenesis (production of mitochondria - the power house of the cell), enhanced capillarization in the muscles, development of slow-twitch muscles fibres and trains body to more efficiently use fat as primary fuel source.

Sample Day 6

1:45:00
65.4TSS
Endurance: Steady Ride + Sprints (Road or MTB)

1H45M @ 60-70% FTP, including 2x 4x 10S max sprints with 1M50S easy spinning between each sprint.

Remaining time after sprints up to 1H45M @ 55-65% FTP to cool down.

PURPOSE: Develops endurance whilst working on speed of muscle contraction, strength of muscle contraction and how long the muscles can remain contracted by training ability of body to recruit more muscle fibres.

Sample Day 8

1:30:00
105.2TSS
Supra-Threshold: Steady-State Intervals

20M warm up building up to @ 60-70% FTP.

4x 8M @ 103-105% FTP with 3M of easy spinning as active recovery between intervals.

Remaining time up to 1H30M @ 55-65% FTP.

PURPOSE: Increases FTP (Functional Threshold Power - max sustainable 1H steady-state power) by helping to improving the lactate threshold, i.e. where blood lactate begins to accumulate exponentially in the blood. This training aims to shift the threshold “to the right” by training body to process and clear lactate more efficiently and at higher intensities.

Sample Day 9

1:30:00
62.99TSS
Endurance: Steady Ride (Road or MTB)

1.5H @ 60-70% FTP. 

Feel free to change up cadence and switch between the lower and higher end of Zone 2.

PURPOSE: Enhances aerobic fitness by stimulating greater mitochondrial biogenesis (production of mitochondria - the power house of the cell), enhanced capillarization in the muscles, development of slow-twitch muscles fibres and trains body to more efficiently use fat as primary fuel source.

Specific/Build Phase for MTB MARATHON (Power-Based): 12 Weeks; 7-12Hrs/Week (Adjustable)

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