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12 Week MTB Full Fitness Plan- Bike Workouts, Advanced Strength and Skills


Matt Miller

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12 Weeks

Plan Specs

cycling mountain biking beginner intermediate masters power based strength

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Plan Description

This is a full fitness plan for mountain bikers to be done at any point in the season. This plan differs from the other 12 Week Full Fitness Plan on offer on that this particular plan requires some experience strength training and regular access to the gym. If you do not have regular access to gym equipment or you have less experience in the gym, the other plan is a better place to start.

Included in this training plan is:
-Strength training- upper body, lower body and full body workouts are included in a gradual build up. Generally you are in the gym 2x/week
-Bike workouts- there are easy ones and some hard ones; these address what mountain bikers need to work on. All bike workouts can be uploaded to a smart trainer.
-Rest- recovery is important; we build you up and recover properly
-Stretching- we work on your flexibility regularly each week in 20 minute sessions
-Volume- all volume is appropriate. You can go longer as needed and shorten it up if necessary. There are planned additional rides for advanced athletes.
-Fun- there are fun MTB rides planned within this training
-Skills- we work on things like pacing, cornering and braking to help you ride faster with your fitness
-Testing- we regularly reassess your fitness every 4 weeks to see how far you've come

The volume and intensity gradually increase throughout this training plan. After 12 weeks you will be prepared for a great season!

This training plan works great when done ahead of an important race when using the available two-week taper.


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
2:40 hrs 1:45 hrs
0:20 hrs 0:20 hrs
1:26 hrs 1:00 hrs
—— ——
1:56 hrs 2:30 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
2:40 hrs 1:45 hrs
0:20 hrs 0:20 hrs
1:26 hrs 1:00 hrs
—— ——
1:56 hrs 2:30 hrs

Training Load By Week

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.)

Sample Day 2

MTB PhD Home Full-Body Circuit

See attached for MTB PhD Full-Body Circuit or link here:

These are dynamic movements that can be done with only body weight. These are designed to get your muscles working in different directions.

These are 20 reps total for each movement, so 10 reps each side. Complete these in order for one set before recovering for a few minutes ahead of the next set. Aim for 3 sets.

Best done after 5 minutes easy aerobic activity (e.g. walking). Ensure a 5 minute+ easy cooldown.

Sample Day 3


See attached for MTB PhD Stretching routine or follow this video as a guide:

Do this routine after easy aerobic exercise such as after your planned ride or after a 5 minute walk. Hold each stretch for 20-30s each side, pushing to mild discomfort.

Repeat the circuit twice if possible
You can add this on any other day as well

Sample Day 4

Easy Endurance Ride (Fasted)

Endurance (Zone 1-2) power and heart rate zones. Keep pedalling and avoid big spikes in power. Aim for 90-100rpm, for 1-1:45 hours.

Sample Day 6

4x6 min Sub-threshold Climbs

4x6 minutes efforts in Zone 4 at 90-95% of your threshold power or heart rate.

These are meant to be done up a climb; if no climb is available, just shift in to a harder gear, aiming for ~70 rpm.

Start at the bottom of the hill, and ride steadily to the top in your threshold zone (Zone 4). Try to remain seated for the entire effort. If using heart rate, take the first two to three minutes to gradually increase your heart rate in to the working zone.

Note that recovery intervals are normal (high) cadence. Recover for 3-4 minutes before repeating.

These can be done on the road, on the smart trainer, or on trails. If doing these on trails, ensure that you aren't going TOO hard on the climb. Recover on the descent, focusing on smooth riding and carrying speed rather than sprinting.

If you have much bigger hills in your area, it's OK to go longer--aim for about 24-30 minutes total in your Zone 4 if you decide to use a bigger hill

Sample Day 7

Easy MTB Ride

The focus is on fun and aerobic riding today. Ride mostly easily in Zone 1-2. Focus on any skills that need work, but avoid "racing" down the trails.

Sample Day 9

Lower Body | Circuit

Complete these exercises with very short rest between sets of exercises (i.e. after completing a set of squats, move on immediately to a set of good mornings). Weight may need to be reduced compared with normal lifting days.

Record the weight you use for each exercise. The intensity should be high, but since you have very short rest between exercises you will use a lower weight.

Warmup:5-7 minutes of an aerobic activity.

One circuit looks like this:
-Single-leg squats (non-moving leg behind you)-10 reps each leg
-Wall sit- start with 30-45s and add time each week
-Lunges-10 reps each leg
-Good mornings- 10 reps
-High knees (running) in place- start with 20s, and add time each week; move quickly
-Bear crawls- 50m, moving quickly across the room literally on all fours

Rest 5 minutes after completing one circuit and aim for three circuits total.

Cool down: 5-7 minutes eacy of an aerobic activity

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