Mountain bike races have a variety of demands. Some rely more on neuromuscular systems, while others require longer sustained efforts and short power bursts.
Incorporating a mix of endurance and interval sessions into your training plan is crucial. Long endurance rides can improve your aerobic energy system, while intervals train discipline-specific threshold power and fatigue resistance.
Mountain biking requires both a robust aerobic energy system and the ability to deliver bursts of power at a moment’s notice. To improve both of these abilities, regular Mountain Bike Training is vital.
However, many cyclists need to pay more attention to the importance of a proper warm-up to prepare their bodies for the intensity of the workout or race. Attempting to go hard right out of the gate can put unnecessary stress on the body and cause discomfort.
A good warm-up will help your legs adjust to the effort, reduce initial muscle stress levels, and conserve glycogen (a primary fuel source for short periods of intense work). It also prepares the lower body by warming up the hips, knees, and shoulders, the most important muscles to engage when riding a mountain bike.
The ability to repeatedly output sharp bursts of power is a crucial skill for mountain bikers. It is significant for tackling hard-start intervals and navigating technical terrain. Workouts such as Backbone +3, including all-out sprinting intervals, are a great way to train this power requirement.
This strength training for mountain bikers can be completed on a trainer and a road or mountain bike, but it’s best to limit interruptions such as stop signs and traffic so that you can focus solely on the intensity of your intervals. It’s also best to complete these workouts on terrain that most closely matches the characteristics of your goal event, like hills or specific sections of your course.
As you get closer to your goal race, you should progressively narrow the focus of your interval sessions to match the intensity and duration of your race. It will help to ensure that you’re fully prepared for the demands of your event.
The demands of mountain biking stimulate your body to release natural endorphins that improve mood and boost energy. It also strengthens neural pathways that reinforce muscle memory and balance.
In mountain bike training, long endurance rides and short burst intervals work together to build the overall fitness to navigate rugged terrain. This type of endurance workout helps develop aerobic and anaerobic energy systems that allow you to ride longer distances without fatigue.
Mountain biking requires repeated sharp bursts of power to break away from other riders or make the initial push-up steep and punchy climbs. Using workouts that feature all-out sprinting intervals, such as the backbone +3 and other race simulation workouts, is an effective way to prepare for these power requirements. This type of interval training helps train the muscles to accelerate with a lower heart rate, making them more efficient at using oxygen and helping you reach your top speed faster.
Mountain bike racing and all-day backcountry rides require technical skill and overcoming fatigue for a long ride. Increasing endurance is an essential part of any mountain biking training plan and can be achieved by long endurance days on the bike, along with some off-bike strength training and stretching exercises.
Low-intensity, aerobically-powered endurance workouts get little attention in the cycling community but are crucial to getting faster on the mountain bike. Performing workouts that target the aerobic endurance zone, like Glassy-2, will help you become more efficient at using oxygen, increase your power output and build fatigue resistance.
Stacking endurance rides in the weeks leading up to your event will also benefit those preparing for longer races or mountain bike challenges. It will help you build up a sizeable aerobic base and allow your body to adapt to the cumulative stress of endurance riding.