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Train Smarter for The Pioneer


Matty Graham

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12 Weeks

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Plan Description

With the introduction of The Pioneer multiday MTB race in New Zealand I have had so many questions about the best way to train for such an event.

Training for a long multiday race is a hard ask, especially when you have a full time job and a busy family life.

The Exponential Performance Coaching Pioneer Training Plan is designed for the beginner to intermediate athlete wanting to maximise the results they get from their training time.

Watch the FREE Train Smarter for The Pioneer video series at:


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
6:36 hrs 6:00 hrs
—— ——
0:26 hrs 0:45 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
6:36 hrs 6:00 hrs
—— ——
0:26 hrs 0:45 hrs

Training Load By Week

Matty Graham

Exponential Performance Coaching

My name is Matty Graham, I live in Wanaka New Zealand.

My coaching aim is to provide effective sport science base training programmes and support to help athletes of all levels to perform at their peak and achieve their goals.

Sample Day 1

TESTING: Cycling field test

The aim of this session is to gauge your current performance and get some heart rate/ power data to set your training zones.

For details of how to conduct this test refer to the training notes.

Sample Day 2

Strength circuit

Work your way through your strength circuit.

See attached for your strength plan (click paper clip icon above).

Sample Day 3

Hill intervals – 4x4 min

The aim of this session is to start the development of your strength endurance. This session can be performed on your MTB or road bike.

Perform a steady 10 – 15 min Zone 2 warm up. Then on a long moderate grade hill perform 4x4 min uphill seated intervals in a gear that is slightly bigger or ‘harder’ than is comfortable. During the interval focus on a strong powerful pedal stroke working through the full 360 degrees, holding your core stable and insure your knees are tracking straight.

Between intervals if possible keep riding up the hill in an easy gear for 2 min for recovery. If your hill is not long enough to keep climbing turn and ride down to allow enough room to perform the next interval.
Following the intervals ride steady up to the prescribed time.

*If you have known knee issues or are under the age of 17 it is not recommended that you perform this session. Instead perform the intervals in a comfortable gear in the sitting and standing position.

**If your knees begin to hurt STOP the intervals immediately, warm down and seek advice from a physiotherapist.

Sample Day 5

Long MTB hill ride - Nut Dep

Long Zone 2-3 MTB ride taking in long sustained climbs of 10 – 20 min in length. 

During the climbs focus on staying seated and climbing at a steady efficient pace. 

Plan your ride to take in a mixture of gravel roads, single track including some rough 4wd tracks if possible. 

While this ride is on the shorter side for a long ride following the Nut Dep guidelines below is going to allow you to maximise the endurance effect of the ride with out having to spend large amounts of time in the saddle which increases the risk of injury and illness.

Nutrient deprivation (NUT DEP)
*The purpose of these sessions is to place an increased strain on your body to produce its own energy while training, rather than just getting its energy from food and drink as you go. By doing this your body adapts to become better and more efficient at producing its own energy for longer.

*Refrain from eating and minimise your fluid intake throughout this session. You will find you will become ‘flat’ after about 90 min but from this point is where the biggest gains can potentially be made. Always carry some gels and fluids with you to get you home if you ‘hit the wall’ completely.

*When you start to hit the wall fuel up and push through to the end of your session. 

** It is critical that following these sessions you consume adequate nutrition and fluids within 30 min, a recovery shake is ideal for this.

***This is an advanced training method an should not be attempted by those athletes unaccustomed to long rides or those with conditions the impair blood glucose regulation

****To find out more on this type of training check out this article I wrote for the NZ tri and multisport magazine at the following link:

Sample Day 6

Fatigued hill ride

Today get out and clock up as much climbing as possible on tired legs.

You will likely be slow and your legs will feel heavy but just keep chipping away at those climbs.

Sample Day 8

General MTB hill ride

This session is a semi-structured ride working on your strength endurance, technical skills and threshold. Get out and let the terrain dictate your effort. 

Plan this ride to take in a mixture of gravel roads, single track and sealed road over hilly terrain. 

On the up hills climb at a hard Zone 4 intensity focusing on staying seated as much as possible to develop your strength endurance and efficiency. Use the down hills as a time to recover and work on your technical descending skills.

Sample Day 9

Strength circuit

Work your way through your strength circuit.

See attached for your strength plan (click paper clip icon above).

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