I have designed this six week training plan for athletes aiming to confidently participate in their first ever mountain bike race. If you have been riding your bike once or twice a week recently and are comfortable riding on dirt roads, you have everything it takes to follow this plan and have a successful race experience.
You will be riding three times per week. Tuesdays focus on pedaling drills and skills. The first three Thursdays of the plan are devoted to hilly rides to build leg strength, and then weeks four through six are for practicing race starts. The weekend ride is your endurance day where you will build up to your longest ride of 90 minutes in week five. On Mondays and Saturdays you follow a stretching routine and Fridays are for core strength training. Weekly training hours range from 3:30 to 4:14.
Training intensity is monitored using a Perceived Exertion (PE) scale you are given. There is no need for a heart rate monitor or power meter to follow this plan correctly. Read through the Training Intensity Guidelines document to learn how to monitor your riding effort, intensity and pace using PE.
Visit the LW Coaching website http://lwcoaching.com/ 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.
DAY #1: Use a combination of rolling on a foam roller cylinder to self massage and stretching, to work out your hot spots and any tight areas. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see a foam roller exercise Stability Exercises for Cyclists: http://lwcoaching.com/stability-exercises-for-cyclists/
DAY #2: Warm up by riding easy for 10 minutes. Then do 5 X 30 second Spin-Ups with 2 min easy pedaling recovery between each. To do one Spin-Up, shift your chain into a very easy gear (very light resistance). Start the 30 second Spin-Up interval pedaling comfortably. Over the 30 seconds progressively increase your cadence until you are at 100 - 110 rpm and hold it there until the 30 seconds is up. If you start to bounce you are going too fast - back off until you are smooth. You can do this workout on the road, trainer or on a spin bike. Relax every muscle which is not contributing to pedaling during the Spin-Ups. Experiment with muscle groups and see just how relaxed you can be while at 110 rpm. The goal of this workout is to fire your neuromuscular pathways quickly but not to cause any muscular fatigue or cardiovascular work. If you feel like you are pushing hard and your heart rate is rising, shift into an easier gear. When doing this session correctly your heart rate and breathing level should remain low at all times. This is a technique session, not a fitness session. You should not feel tired at the end of this ride. Finish the ride time pedaling comfortably at an easy pace. Read through this Training Intensity Guidelines Doc: http://lwcoaching.com/training-intensity-guidelines/ to be sure you are riding at the correct intensity.
DAY #3: Do the recommended exercises and repeats at this link Stability Exercises for Cyclists: http://lwcoaching.com/stability-exercises-for-cyclists/
DAY #4: Today ride on a hilly course. Start the ride with an easy 10 minute warm up. Then increase your effort to moderate. Stay at the moderate effort level for the next 15 minutes. Stay mostly seated on climbs. On the downhills allow your effort level to drop to easy and concentrate on riding with good technique. End the ride with 20 minutes of easy riding.
DAY #5: Do 15 minutes of core training. Choose a variety of exercises for your hips, abdominals and back. Examples are bridging, pillar exercises, crunches, back extensions, Pilates. Then do 15 minutes of stretching. Focus on your legs and hips. Follow this link for exercise suggestions Core Training for Mountain Bikers: http://lwcoaching.com/core-strength-for-mountain-bikers/
DAY #6: Use a combination of rolling on a foam roller cylinder to self massage and stretching, to work out your hot spots.
DAY #7: Ride on a course that resembles the race course. The first 15 minutes are easy pedaling. Then increase effort to moderate for 5 minutes. Immediately increase effort to race pace (moderate-fast) for 5 minutes. Finish the ride with 35 minutes easy pedaling.