Lactate Threshold/FTP Increase Plan for MTB XCO/MARATHON (Power-Based): 8-Week; 7-12 Hrs/Week

Author

Tom Bell

All plans by this Coach

Length

8 Weeks

Typical Week

4 Bike, 1 Other, 2 MTB, 1 Day Off

Longest Workout

3:30 hrs

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking

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Summary

Includes Structured Workouts

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A MTB-SPECIFIC PROGRAM TO IMPROVE POWER AT LACTATE THRESHOLD, DEVELOP GREATER CYCLING ECONOMY AND INCREASE FRACTIONAL UTILISATION OF VO2MAX


This MTB plan is designed specifically for cross-country and marathon athletes to improve power at the lactate threshold, where a higher threshold power (and especially one occurring at a higher % of VO2max) is one of the key markers of success in both disciplines [1].

THE IMPORTANCE OF A HIGH LACTATE THRESHOLD


The lactate threshold and Maximum Lactate Steady State (MLSS) is the highest power output you can produce without continually accumulating lactate over time. This threshold or turnpoint thus represents a limit to high sustainable power production, so raising it is enormously advantageous for the competitive MTBer's performance, both during steep climbing and over the entire race duration [2].

The lactate threshold is also linked closely with your VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity). Your VO2max represents the ultimate "ceiling" for how high threshold power can go, and like lactate threshold, is also critical to high MTB performance [3].

In experienced athletes with longer training histories, improving the VO2max can often be more challenging than raising lactate threshold [4], so this particular MTB program, whilst focusing on raising both concurrently, uses training methods shown to stimulate the largest improvements in threshold power, which is where the greatest potential for fitness improvement in more advanced athletes resides.

COMPOSITION OF THE PLAN


The plan is laid out over the 8 weeks using two 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 significant fitness improvement for both time-rich and time-crunched cyclists [5].

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



  • Develop threshold power and time-to-exhaustion over duration of the plan
  • Concurrently build and maintain cycling economy/efficiency
  • Provide additional improvement in VO2max (aerobic capacity)


REFERENCES


[1] Bejder, Jacob, et al. "Physiological determinants of elite mountain bike cross-country Olympic performance." Journal of sports sciences 37.10 (2019): 1154-1161.

[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] Abbiss, Chris R., et al. "The distribution of pace adopted by cyclists during a cross-country mountain bike World Championships." Journal of Sports Sciences 31.7 (2013): 787-794.

[4] Impellizzeri, Franco M., and Samuele M. Marcora. "The physiology of mountain biking." Sports medicine 37.1 (2007): 59-71.

[5] Neal, Craig M., et al. "Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists." Journal of applied physiology 114.4 (2012): 461-471.

Stats

Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 10:03
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 10:03
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
59.5TSS
Endurance: Fasted Steady Ride

1.5H @ 55-70% FTP in fasted state (low glycogen availability in the muscle).

This is most easily achieved by training in the morning and skipping any breakfast or other carbohydrate sources. Alternatively, it can be achieved by training later in the day after not fuelling with carbohydrates for many hours. Ensure you refuel in line with recovery best practices after workout is complete.

Can be performed on road, off-road or indoors on a trainer/set of rollers.

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 2

1:15:00
78.8TSS
Threshold: Mid-Duration Repetitions

15M building up to 55-70% FTP to warm up.

4x7M @ 95-98% FTP, taking 3M of easy spinning for active recovery between intervals (roughly 40-50% FTP, but coasting and light pedalling is fine too).

Remaining time up to 1H15M @ 55-65% FTP.

Can be performed on road, off-road or indoors on a trainer/set of rollers.

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 MTB @ 40-60% FTP.

Ideally performed predominantly off-road on MTB. If possible, try to work in some skills-based practice, including riding some off-camber sections, cornering, line choice and other challenging terrain.

PURPOSE: Allow the body to adapt and super-compensate to the stress of previous challenging workouts to enable greater fitness and performance. Also important for mental and muscular recovery to avoid burnout or injury. A recovery ride maintains the rhythm of training without adding additional stress.

Sample Day 4

1:30:00
108.5TSS
Threshold: Over/Under Repetitions

15M building up to 55-70% FTP.

3x (15M blocks of 2M @ 102-105% FTP/1M @ 80-88% FTP) with 4M of easy spinning as active recovery between each 15M block.

Can be performed on road, off-road or indoors on a trainer/set of rollers.

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

See workout details below for full session breakdown.

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 6

2:30:00
99.2TSS
Endurance: Steady MTB Ride

2H30M steady MTB ride @ 55-70% FTP. 

Keep intensity in check wherever possible, but don't stress straying into Zone 1 on downhills or Zone 3 on steeper climbs.

Ideally performed predominantly off-road on MTB.

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 7

1:30:00
65.6TSS
Tempo: Fasted Steady Ride w/ Tempo Block

1.5H @ 55-70% FTP in fasted state (low glycogen availability in the muscle) including a 14M interval @ 75-85% FTP with 4M active recovery.

This is most easily achieved by training in the morning and skipping any breakfast or other carbohydrate sources. Alternatively, it can be achieved by training later in the day after not fuelling with carbohydrates for many hours. Ensure you refuel in line with recovery best practices after workout is complete.

Can be performed on road, off-road or indoors on a trainer/set of rollers.

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 8

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

1H MTB @ 40-60% FTP.

Ideally performed predominantly off-road on MTB. If possible, try to work in some skills-based practice, including riding some off-camber sections, cornering, line choice and other challenging terrain.

PURPOSE: Allow the body to adapt and super-compensate to the stress of previous challenging workouts to enable greater fitness and performance. Also important for mental and muscular recovery to avoid burnout or injury. A recovery ride maintains the rhythm of training without adding additional stress.

Lactate Threshold/FTP Increase Plan for MTB XCO/MARATHON (Power-Based): 8-Week; 7-12 Hrs/Week

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