Off-Road Training Plans
Effective, tailored, and specialized training to make you faster off-road. With mountain bike training plans for every discipline designed to raise your threshold and increase your repeatability, you'll be ready for anything the trail throws your way.
Plans for Every Off-Road Racer
Get a proven training experience with structured, power-based training plans designed for off-road racers.
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Use science-based planning, training and analysis tools to increase your performance with cycling’s most effective training system.
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Mountain Bike Training Basics
A structured mountain bike training plan is the most effective to get faster on the trails. It will help you build the power and endurance necessary for the demands of mountain biking. With training plans for Cross country, Enduro, and Downhill, TrainerRoad has you covered for any racing discipline or terrain.
Mountain biking training is demanding in more ways than one. The technical terrain and varied courses can require everything from quick bursts of power to all-day endurance and everything in between. Your TrainerRoad training plan is divided into three distinct and progressive phases. First, you’ll increase your aerobic base, then layer on more specific work, and eventually bring your overall fitness to a well-timed peak. This is the Base, Build, and Speciality cycle.
The Base Phase takes place well before your event and builds the endurance and fitness necessary for the training phases that follow. This part of a mountain bike training plan develops your ability to generate power aerobically over twelve weeks. Strong aerobic base fitness supports an even higher peak. Why is this important for mountain biking? Not only will it enable you to push more power on the trail, but it will also help you recover quicker from those short, intense efforts.
After the Base Phase, you’ll begin the Build Phase, where your workouts will become more specific to your discipline. Over eight weeks, the goal is to increase your sustainable power, as well as high power for short durations. Depending on the type of riding you do, you will select one of three options—Short Power Build, General Build, or Sustained Power Build.
For cross-country, cyclocross, enduro, and downhill cyclists, we recommend Short Power Build, where you’ll focus on power at VO2 Max. These blocks are designed with a balanced mix of sustainable power, quick bursts, and brief, maximum efforts. For cross-country marathon, we suggest the Sustained Power Build as it will develop your fitness for all-day riding.
Finally, the Specialty Phase will be the most specific part of your mountain bike training plan. Workouts in this phase reach the height of their intensity as the overall training volume declines. This will help you sharpen your race fitness while shedding training fatigue so that you can realize your best performance.
Planning Your Training
The easiest way to plan your mountain bike training is to use Plan Builder. It’s a flexible, easy-to-use tool that automatically designs your custom training plan around your schedule and goals. Plan Builder takes the guesswork out of choosing the right training plan by creating a custom plan that peaks your fitness for your goal event or discipline.
Power and RPE Based Workouts
TrainerRoad workouts and plans are all power-based. But if you don’t have a smart trainer or power meter on your mountain bike, don’t worry! For indoors, TrainerRoad uses VirtualPower, a calculation of power output based on measured speed and resistance. And if you want to take your training outside, every workout includes a detailed RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion version.
RPE-based workouts make it easy to follow structured TrainerRoad workouts outdoors. You can easily switch to RPE-based and get easy-to-follow instructions. You can even track your TSS using our new machine learning-based TSS estimation, so you can easily track training stress across all your rides for a complete picture of your mountain bike training.
Every workout in your training plan has an outside-optimized version to make it easier to follow when riding outside, but still deliver the training benefit you need with your Garmin or Wahoo devices. With a flexible calendar and multiple training volumes, you can easily plan Outside Workouts or unstructured trail rides.
Finding the perfect place to do intervals outside can sometimes be tricky. Sometimes trail conditions make it difficult. While accuracy is important, perfection isn’t the goal. In fact, those less than perfect riding conditions can work to your advantage. You can use the outdoor conditions, the terrain, and the variability of a route to sharpen your bike handling skills and train your ability to ride in tough conditions.
Your mountain bike training plan will be composed of workouts that progressively target the energy systems used for your goal events. These examples are a good representation of the types of workouts you’ll complete and the power needed to handle mountain biking’s various physical demands, making them a solid introduction to interval training for off-road athletes.
Sustained VO2 Max Intervals
Sustained VO2 Max intervals challenge your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems—both of which are key energy sources in mountain biking. This type of workout prepares you for those frequent short, punchy efforts.
While you’ll rarely ride on the trail in one consistent power zone for very long, you’ll need to develop the aerobic capacity and muscular endurance necessary for more intense efforts. Sweet Spot workouts like this one are incredibly time-efficient and will build your aerobic power and help raise your FTP.
VO2 Max Float Sets
VO2 Max workouts in general target your aerobic power, pain tolerance, muscular recruitment - both in terms of how hard and how quickly you can muster that strength - and muscle endurance in a manner that coaxes you into doing a whole lot of repeats. In other words, these are a great way to simulate mountain bike races.
Unique Set of Skills
Prepare yourself for any challenge the trail throws your way. Gain power and push your limits with a winning combination of short-power sprints and long distance endurance training.
Raise Your Threshold
The rough surfaces and repeated hard efforts of off-road racing reward riders with a high threshold. Make those surges hurt less and ride between hard efforts at a faster pace with science-based, mountain bike training plans.
Increase Your Repeatability
Mountain biking and cyclocross require you to go over your threshold repeatedly from start to finish. Raise your VO2 Max and your ability to recover between hard efforts with purpose-built off-road training.