Collegiate MTB Racing Plan

Average Weekly Training Hours 08:29
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 08:29
Training Load By Week

This plan is 8 weeks long and is designed to end with your Conference Championships or National Championships (mid to late October). The training volume is 10-12 hours per week including both on and off-the-bike time. Although Gravity riders could certainly do this plan, it is intended for riders competing in Endurance events (XC & STXC). The plan is designed to start 8 weeks before your "A" race, but here is no reason you couldn't extend the plan by starting earlier. Probably the best strategy would be to do the first 3-4 weeks, take a recovery week, then complete the full 8 weeks.

Sample Day 2
1:06:00
78.5TSS
Medium-duration Intervals

Medium duration is 3-5mins. Effort is maximal for the duration = Zone 5 or VO2

Zone 5 basically describes the range of maximal sustained effort your body can do for 3-8mins, 3mins at high-Z5 -> 8mins at low-Z5.

During this workout do 3-6 efforts in this range. A lighter version of this workout would be 3x3min, while a heavier version would be 6x5min.

Take full recovery between efforts. This should be at least the duration of the ON effort, up to 10mins or so.

Sample Day 2
1:30:00
STRENGTH: Upper Body (3 sets)

Rowing Machine: 20-30mins
Upper Body Weights: (3 sets of high reps at moderately low weight: 15-20)
Bench Press, Overhead Press, Deadlift, wrist/forearm exercises

3 sets should be fatiguing, but not crushingly difficult.

Sample Day 3
2:00:00
121TSS
"longer" Ride w/ Z4 Work

This workout can be both long and hard because you'll have a couple days to recover before racing on the weekend.

Adjust the duration based on residual fatigue but get out there and get some time in before you decide you are too tired to make this a good workout.

Total duration can be 2-3hrs, go at least 2hr unless you are just completely wreaked. It's okay to ride with some fatigue.

Efforts should include 2-5 x 10-20min efforts in Zone 4. Longer efforts can be lower in the range (95% of FTP), while shorter efforts should be higher in the range (100-105% FTP).

Full recovery between efforts -- 10-20 mins.

Sample Day 4
1:00:00
25TSS
Recovery Ride

Like Monday, this day is for recovery. If you went hard the last 2 days you should be ready for a little rest.

Ride at a mellow pace, Zone 1 - 2, for 60-90 minutes. Don't assume every week will be the same. Some weeks you'll feel like you need to take it super-easy and others you won't be so tired. But, even if you feel good, you will probably pay for it on the weekend if you "train" today.

Rest is critical to get the benefits of the hard work you've put in. You also need to consider that you'll be doing a lot of quality training and racing over the next several weeks. You MUST get rest during the block to be able to maintain consistency from week-to-week.

Sample Day 4
1:30:00
STRENGTH: Upper Body (3 sets)

Rowing Machine: 20-30mins
Upper Body Weights: (3 sets of high reps at moderately low weight: 15-20)
Bench Press, Overhead Press, Deadlift, wrist/forearm exercises

3 sets should be fatiguing, but not crushingly difficult.

Sample Day 5
1:30:00
66.3TSS
RACE: Openers/Pre-Ride

This is a relatively easy ride with a few efforts to open up the legs for the race tomorrow. The routine is somewhat flexible and should be adjusted for residual fatigue, i.e., a little lighter if you feel tired.

The GOAL is to be fresh for tomorrow and open your legs and body up so they are ready do a good effort.


Ride should be at low-Z2 with the following efforts: 1 x 5min at low-Z4, 2 x 1min at Z5, 2 x 30sec at Z6+; 3-5min easy spinning between each effort

Sample Day 9
1:31:20
98.9TSS
INTERVALS - Micro-Intervals

This ride has a series of short, intense efforts with incomplete recovery. This helps your acceleration out of corners and short bursts of power to get over obstacles.

After a warm up, do 4 x 5min Micro-Interval Blocks of (20sec ON/20sec OFF). This means a maximal effort for 20secs and then 20secs of easy spinning or coasting. Take 10mins of recovery between blocks.

Try to minimize gear shifts during the on effort. Start the effort slightly over-geared and only shift once or twice during the effort.

Jeff Winkler
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Winkler Cycling

Over the past 25 years, I have coached athletes to multiple State and National Championship titles in the disciplines of Road, MTB and Cyclocross. I have worked with all levels of individual racers from novice to professional and have coached collegiate, club and amateur teams.