Do you get any sort of fitness value from a hard and fast MTB ride?

I like to do a hard, fast, 17-mile single track ride once per week because it’s fun, I get to ride my great MTB, and I was hoping that some of that type of fitness crosses over to CX racing. However, I’m kind of wondering if I need to make Sunday MTB day another trainer day. Thoughts?

I should note that ~6 miles of this trail is extremely technical, like riding the technical option line of a UCI XC course for a few miles.

1 Like

Upper body workout? Check.

Technical skills practice? Check.

Solid tempo/threshold TiZ? Check.

Fun? Check.

Yeah, you will definitely get a nice amount of value from these rides.

Provided you aren’t swapping any of your important sessions for these rides, seems like a good option. Only thing to be aware of is making sure you are recovered for your next hard workout, in which case you can just dial back the intensity somewhat.


There’s definately a fitness value. Stevemz is on the money.

My experience. If I spend all my time on the trainer I get really bored and end up hating trainer sessions.
You gotta keep it fun.


We suffer through countless hours of boredom on the trainer so we can do exactly this!


IMO, there’s no reason an outside ride done on the right trail/route, and executed in the right way, can’t be as effective as a similar indoor workout on the trainer.

And for specificity, single track MTB is probably reasonably close to CX (I’ve not ridden CX, but that’s my impression).

Riding outside is also more fun.


One big thing a trainer cannot do is simulate the mind and body having to do something technical whilst gasping for air and heart is thumping.

On that basis alone it adds value.

Guessing you are asking if you get any sort of TR style power type training off that ride? Possibly if you are working hard and have enough repeats.

Going back a few years I got to about 3.5 watts per kg just doing 2 X hill rep sessions a week (1 on road, 1 off road) and then a weekend club ride (50 miler with cake). Technically though I was crap and slow away from tarmac and hardback.


This question actually made me sad…

Why do you ride to begin with? Are you a professional cyclist? Do you earn a majority of your living from racing? I’d ponder these questions.

If you have the opportunity to do a fun MTB ride in the real world and you’re willing to sacrifice that for a trainer day… I would seriously question your motivations.

Yes, a fast MTB ride will have MANY similar training benefits to a CX ride. Maybe the perfect trainer session could be superior physiologically, which I would seriously debate, as CX and MTB have a very significant skills component.

I love TrainerRoad, I love the podcast, I love the video content, but for crying out loud, some of the recent comments on trainer vs actual riding are getting well out of hand.

If you have the chance to get out into the world to ride your bike. Take it. Take it every single time. We do not have unlimited time on this Earth. I was recently asked what I valued an hour of my life at. Just a normal hour of your life. It had me seriously contemplating my choices on how I spend my time.

If you’re healthy and fortunate enough to be able to ride your sweet MTB, then ride it.


I wholeheartedly agree!
Do the mtb rides outside!


I try to think of trainer rides as putting money in my piggy bank — at the end of the day I’m saving it to spend it. Of course there are things you can only learn in the wild, but that sounds a bit too much like it is just another training ride. Relax. Enjoy. Even do something foolish such as ride way too long or too hard. Life is short :blush:


Training benefits aside there is only so much good weather left. Ride while you can and enjoy it. Keep as much structure as you can during the week. You can suffer in the basement all winter. Enjoy the good weather while it lasts.


I had a ton of work travel this year and trying to put together enough fitness to get to cat-3 in CX. Work keeps getting in the way, though it could be worse as I always travel with at least one bike.

It’s 103*f here today in Texas. The weather is about to get nice, just another month or two and I’ll be riding all winter with a base-layer and arm warmers. :slight_smile:


I like riding inside :man_shrugging:

Amen Brother! I am over to your right a few states in Mississippi. It’s still miserable hot here but fall is coming! I can’t wait!

Now that it’s a different time of year and I need to be riding Z2 and building base exclusively…how do you justify riding the mountain bike at all when what you really need is base trianing? I have two days of vacation left, kind of miss the new-ish MTB, want to ride the damn thing. However, I need a 5-hour solo Z2 ride.

Do an easy ride on the mountain bike, simple as that. I wouldn’t worry about it. Even if you find yourself having to go above Z2 every once in a while that’s not going to hurt anything.


I always questioned this also - in my mind if I don’t get out and do some training rides at race pace, I wont be confident or able to “race” at race pace when the time comes.

If you MTB just for fun and dont race, I wouldn’t even worry about it as long as you are hitting some of your big workouts still. I typically use a lot more muscle when I MTB and think that it has helped improve my 1 sec - 30 sec power.

Nobody NEEDS a 5 hour solo z2 ride, the thought of that makes me want to ride my bike off a cliff, lol. Riding bikes is also about having fun and if you want and miss your MTB then for the love of god go do it! It’s the beginning of January and you’re in Base, relax a little and enjoy the process. There is plenty of time to build fitness and managing your mental status is just as important. Substituting a MTB ride as you see fit is completely fine and will likely have no effect on your training. If you feel like you need some extra z2 then feel free to add that to the end of your MTB ride. Go enjoy your vacation and your motivation will thank you come mid season!


Living in an area with a lot of rain, I move all of my TR plans around to take advantage of nice weather and dry trails. A great day on the trails is better than any ride on the trainer.

Life is too short to not enjoy being outside on a bike.


I agree. I understand it’s called TrainerRoad but you’ve got to get outside as well. End of the day it should be fun.