Motocross Training - TrainerRoad Cross Training


A few of these podcasts Jonathan (spelling) always mentions his experience with motocross and I wanted to make a post regarding just that, as I exclusively use trainerroad for motocross cross training.

I have been using trainerroad for about 1 year now for motocross cross training and have been working with a coach for about the last 8 months who has been feeding me various trainerroad workouts mixed with plyometrics, strength training, and other workouts off of the bike. I weigh about 155 lbs and have a FTP of 266W currently, although being I am not targeting a specific FTP objective, nor do I compete on a bicycle, this number doesn’t really mean a lot to me. I do frequently ride downhill mountain bikes but this is generally for fun and not nearly as often as I am at the motocross track, so I may see some benefit for those days, but not overall for my main focus.

My question is in regards to how to use trainerroad as an effective cross training platform. I tried to do this myself without a coach, and stuck to the lighter plans where I could bike for 3 days a week, lift for 2 days, and then motocross for 1 day. If it ended up being nice weather I would motocross for 2 days and take my lifting down to 1. The issue I found from this is that following these trainerroad schedules, it seemed like I was really pushing hard on a bike specific improvement and found myself lacking a lot of energy when it came to my lifting or motocross days. I also didn’t feel like these workouts really honored what was best for me, I felt like it was really pushing to make me a faster bike rider, but not so much a faster motocross racer. This is exactly why I went through a coach to accomplish my objectives.

The issue I have in general is that I would like to better understand how to effectively use this platform for cross training and insure that I am doing the training that works best for my sport, which lies outside of cycling. That said, for me it isn’t really about how high I can get my FTP, or how long I can hold some amount of power, it would be more about my cardiovascular system, absorbing hits, and likely some strength endurance, but I am not very versed on these topics nor do I fully understand how to relate these two sports together in the fashion of Ryan Hughes or Aldon Baker.

Overall I would just like to hear from anyone who may be using the platform for something similar to myself, see what their experiences are, and hopefully work with my coach to improve what I am currently doing, or even reach a self sustaining point where I am very familiar with what I need to accomplish where a coach may not be required. One thing I have learned from the podcasts, using trainerroad, and my trainer is that I can make large improvements just doing the right kind of work, even if it is for less time, than I can doing the wrong thing, and this is exactly what I am looking for, how do I find the right thing? Any feedback is appreciated!



An alternative option would be to use the triathlon plans. Maybe use the Mid Volume Sprint Tri plans and cherry pick two workouts from each week.

They are meant to be shared with other sports, a but like your multiple training sports. You can maybe pick one hard and one easy from each week, depending on how you feel and what you expect to follow the trainer workouts.

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Thanks Chad. I had not considered that although it seems obvious now that you have mentioned it haha. I will take a look now, I appreciate it!

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Good deal. Not sure it’s the best approach, but it might be worth a try since you weren’t happy with the other option.

Hopefully someone else can offer another perspective too. Good luck either way, and I’d love to hear your progress as you move forward.

Former hack MXer here too, and I miss it often.


Instead of doing the TR workouts on a regular bike + trainer, try them on an air assault or airdyne bike instead.

These kinds of bikes also give your upper body and core a workout - something which I think would translate pretty well to fitness required for motorcross (also works great for mountain biking).

These bikes generally are not Bluetooth enabled so won’t connect to TR, but do provide a power measurement that you can use to pace the sessions manually.

I could see some benefit there as a lot of motocross guys do rowing as well. I do have a rowing machine also which I use for more of the upper body stamina movements currently. There is also this machine which a lot of people seem to talk highly about, although I am not sure it is worth near the cost they are asking, I’ve never used it but it is a similar idea.

Currently I have been trying to keep these two exercises separate, or spend time doing upper body stuff with weight lifting or high intensity timed intervals with weights, etc. Many of the pro moto guys put down some pretty big miles on bikes, usually a lot of their rides are on the longer side and likely a lower intensity, although I have seen videos of riders like Justin Barcia winning crit racers and their trainers claiming “pro” level bike performance. It is hard to know exactly what they are doing though since their coaches keep their training super secretive.

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Yeah. Best to talk talk it over with your coach. Consider the options and choose what seems best for your needs and goals.

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Hi there!

I am using TR for a very similar purpose, although in my case it is Motorcycle Road Racing;

A few things I have been considering:

  1. There is some good studies on heart rate data in a race setting on motocross riders

-The main take-away was basically from the drop of the gate, to the checkered flag, heart rate was pretty well pegged between 90-95% of the individual riders MAX HR.

-So when speaking about HR, this is going to mean the entirety of the event is spent above your ‘threshold’ HR.

What I have noticed on the track using TR in this regard;

By training my aerobic system up to the point where 20 min sweet spot intervals no longer kill me (a level of output that usually has me above my threshold HR) I have the ability to spend more time thinking about race-craft, and less time “focusing” on hanging onto/ controlling the bike.

For example, coming out of a corner, I don’t have to “focus” so much on my breathing and actively relaxing all the tension that is building in the various muscle groups so I am nice and loose going into the next corner; that all comes easier, and I can spend more time focusing on sighting my braking/ turning points and sensing who is around me, who is ahead of me, how I want to plan my line for the next section coming up, etc.

My ability to even think about in-race tactics has been improved significantly by just building up a “wide” aerobic base, getting my body very used to doing a moderate level of “work” without having to ‘focus’ on the work being done.

  1. How is energy (watts) used on the race-track, and how can that be matched to TR work-outs.

-So, first, lets start with the basics:

Every straight-away or reasonably straight section between segments is a “valley” (relatively low watts).

Every obstacle/ jump/ corner is “work” that has to be done (relatively high watts).

Now think of the time component;

Comparing this to a TR workout:

Consider one heat, or one main as basically a single TR workout. Each lap of that heat/main is a single interval in that workout. Each interval (each lap) is comprised of a set of repeats (think sprint intervals, or over-unders).

The straight-away is the recovery valley between intervals.

Inside of each lap you have X number of corners/ obstacles, each one of these is a section of work, the time between them is a valley of relatively less work (visually, a set of over-unders probably best represents how energy is used around the race-track on a given lap)

Each one of those obstacles represents a required burst of power, and that power must be recruited FAST (at 60mph the entire dynamic event of negotiating a corner/ jump/ section of whoops may take less than a couple seconds. (a lot of times crashes happen when your brain plans to move the bike in a specific way, and the muscles just cant react quick enough to follow the CORRECT command from the brain, I.E. a signal from your brain to stiffen your leg, and the MUSCLE RECRUITMENT just doesn’t happen fast enough).

So when we consider the time component of these sections of “work” that happen negotiating the race-track we can see that they:

A. Are by their nature HIGH WATT events, think V02Max/ Anaerobic Zone

B. Happen fast, with a very short time component (the watts have to be recruited VERY fast; the faster you want to negotiate a given corner, on the same line: the faster you have to recruit the muscles involved in negotiating that corner)

C. Have VERY LITTLE recovery time between them within the context of a single lap.

So, in order to race a bike around a track you must be able to:

Generate anaerobic levels of power output near instantaneously for very short duration’s, over and over again with equally short duration’s between bursts.

And we have to be able to do ‘sets’ of those kinds of efforts over and over again with a very short 5-10 second recovery valley, called the ‘straight-away’.

None of the sections of recovery will be enough to let your heart rate fall lower than 90% of your max HR, generally speaking.

So NOW, we have the ability to relate the power demands of a given race-track, and race event (how many heats, how many laps per heat, how many laps in the main, etc.) to how we generate watts on the bike.

As I can see it, there are a few KEY focal areas:

  1. Base AEROBIC Endurance - for obvious reasons, and those mentioned first, cultivating that aerobic base will NOT be wasted time, guaranteed.

  2. Base MUSCLE Endurance - you rightly noted the importance of this, and as we analyze the power demands on the race-track it becomes clear, you are doing a LOT of anaerobic repeats over the course of a single race event. Combine that with multiple heats, A/B mains, and you can see how important the ability to REPEAT anaerobic efforts (with very little recovery) becomes.

  3. Muscle Recruitment - I think what we really need to focus on, in terms of “specialty” is muscle recruitment. Said another way; the ability to get the most amount of muscle fibers involved in a given movement as QUICKLY as possible.

  4. Time Component - Compared to “Endurance” sports our events are rather short in nature. The VAST majority of motorcycle racing is going to see a single session complete in anywhere from 12-45 minutes. So, training to be able to complete a 4-6 hour ride on the trainer probably isn’t going to do you any favors on the motocross bike.

Given ALL of the above, an ideal training progression begins to emerge :smiley:

So far, I am doing this:

Sweet Spot Base 1 then 2 -I do Mid Vol- (Aerobic Base/ Strength Endurance +preping for Sprint Work)

Short Power Build -I do Mid Vol- (Muscle Recruitment/ Strength Endurance)

Criterium Specialty -I do Mid Vol- (Race Specific Endurance)

A quote from the Criterium Specialty Plan description:

“You’ll face workouts that grow increasingly crit-like in their demands by furthering your ability to generate high watts for short periods of time, over & over & over again with little & sometimes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it recovery durations.”

^Sounds like motorcycle racing to me!

Hope it helps!


This was a great post!

I will check into those training plans as I never really broke it down like you did, great way to get down to the basics! It also makes a lot more sense now why my trainer has me doing something like plyometrics which involves muscle recruitment on very short time spans with full force. I think of even boosting a jump while standing as a max muscle exertion for a very short time span, or absorbing an impact, braking bumps, etc. Thanks a lot for your feedback and information!

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For very short, intense bursts (e.g. 2-10 seconds), I think an airdyne or air assault bike is better than a trainer.

I could see a workout you might do which is 5 second burst, 10 seconds recovery, repeated multiple times. Would be a lot easier on airdyne or air assault as the resistance increase is pretty much instantaneous.