Cycling Training Plan: The Easy Way to Reach Your MTB Goals

Cycling Training Plan: The Easy Way To Reach Your MTB Goals

Mountain biking is a great sport to get into, it keeps you fit, and is an exciting way to stay active.

However, if you want to do more than just have fun with your bike or are looking to build your stamina and strength, a cycling training plan could be the next obvious step for you.

How do you make a cycling training plan for mountain biking?

The first step to making a training plan is to have clear and defined goals, and for mountain biking, could mean riding for a specific time, preparing for a race, or tackling a certain track.

The end goal should be reached steadily and with improvements made each week, giving yourself enough time to build speed and stamina.

If you’re ready to take your mountain biking to a whole new level, a custom-made training plan is the way to go.

We’ll show you how to make your own and offer up some basic training plans that you can follow that are guaranteed to boost your skills.

Does Cycling Require Training?

Does Cycling Require Training?

Mountain biking is a sport, and like any other sport, it requires training to improve your skills.

While many people are happy just riding mountain bikes on the weekend and improving their skills and experience gradually, others might have specific goals they want to meet.

Whatever route you take, you’ll be engaging in some sort of training, even if youre just doing it for fun.

The mere act of taking your bike out onto the trails is a form of training, albeit an unofficial one, as is coming up with a detailed training plan and seeing it through until you reach your goals.

The way that a cyclist trains to ride a mountain bike might differ from other types of cycling though, so it all depends on the individual and their goals.

The best way is to incorporate mountain biking with other forms of exercise that will help you build the strength and speed needed to excel in this sport, as well as setting goals along the way that get progressively more challenging.

The Key Components of MTB Training

The Key Components of MTB Training

Mountain bike training is about more than just riding your bike and getting better at it, and a training program will usually focus on improving in a few specific areas.

These are the key arts of MTB training that are essential to focus on if you want to get better, faster:

  • Climbing: Climbing is a crucial part of MTB riding and it means focusing on weight placement, posture, and bike suspension. Once these areas have been improved you’ll find it easier to tackle the trails that have usually been a challenge.
  • Endurance: Every time you hop on your bike, you’re able to go a little longer and ride a little farther without exerting yourself. This is thanks to your endurance improving and you won’t get very far without it, so it has to be part of a training plan.
  • Strength: Strength is essential in mountain biking and anything you can do to improve it will help. The key here is to train with compound movements like squats and lunges that improve functionality, so you can put them to use when you’re on the bike.
  • Recovery: Incorporating a rest day into your weekly schedule is important but it doesn’t have to mean just laying on the couch and doing nothing. A rest day during mountain bike training can mean taking a casual ride around the block, going for a walk, swimming in the pool, or doing some yoga, all of which will help your body recover.

How Often and How Long to Train

How Often and How Long to Train

Frequent training sessions are critical, no matter what you’re training in, and this means taking your mountain bike out regularly.

Every two to three days, you should be going for a ride, and in between, doing some sort of physical activity that directly improves your skills on the bike.

The intensity of the training session can differ and so too can the length, so it all depends on what your plan requires.

If you’re just starting, committing to a shorter 30-minute ride every couple of days will be all you need.

For those wanting to see a serious boost to their skills, you’ll want to head out on the trail for no less than an hour, and often more.

A good training schedule isn’t all about riding your bike though and will include other components like strength training in the gym and recovery days where you go for a walk or do some yoga.

Whatever it is you’re doing, there should be something happening each day and it should all be working towards the ultimate goal you’ve come up with for yourself.

The Best Exercises to Accompany Cycling Training

The most obvious method of training is taking your bike onto the trails and letting loose, but there are other ways you can improve your skills indirectly.

To mix things up and make sure you’re training the right areas, these are some additional exercises that will help you improve in mountain biking without ever sitting on the bike itself.



Rather than training a muscle group, you should be training a movement, and more specifically, one that’s going to help you master your bike on tricky terrain.

Compound movements are a great choice when you’re focusing on strength training and they’ll give you strength in muscles and movements exactly where you need it.


It might sound unusual to take up running if you’re a mountain biker but it’s one of the best ways to boost your overall endurance.

Learning how to run and adding a few more minutes each time you do will make it easier to handle longer rides without getting puffed out.



A good plank each day can do wonders for your core strength which is important during any type of cycling.

When it comes to mountain biking though, having this core strength is what will assist you with maintaining control of the bike, making quick and tight turns, and giving you a built-in suspension system within your body.

Riding variations

Training should include a combination of cycling variations and not just with your mountain bike.

Incorporate a variety of rides into your schedule like a long, flat ride along the road, a hilly ride, and a challenging trail that you’ve been trying to master for a while.

Each of these will target areas like endurance and strength while improving your cycling skills as well.



Yoga and pilates should make up part of not just your recovery and rest, but also your strength training.

Many of the poses and positions used in these disciplines will help you achieve a stronger core, improve posture, and keep your mental state in check when you’re riding a particularly challenging track.

Basic Cycling Training Plan

For those looking to get more serious with their MTB training, speaking to an expert coach could be the way to go.

But, if you’d rather put your own plan into action simply ahead of a race or contest, there are loads of great resources out there that can inspire you.

Follow this four-stage training plan with each stage being four weeks, and you’ll see a huge improvement after just the first one.

Stage 1: Aerobic Development



The purpose of this stage is to boost your aerobic development and make you able to ride for longer without being exerted.

We start with this as it forms the basis of all other stages and will improve your efficiency on the bike.


Aim to ride two to three days a week for at least two hours per ride. Rides don’t need to be difficult and shouldn’t be too strenuous so recovery is easy.

The whole vibe of the ride should be easy and fun, but just longer than normal. Incorporate some other forms of training on other days like swimming and running, as well as a rest day each week.

Stage 2: Interval Training


Interval training has been proven to have a range of benefits and it’s especially helpful when you’re trying to build strength and your anaerobic threshold.

Training in this for four weeks will put you in good shape for racing and increase your overall power on the bike.


To perform interval training on your mountain bike, start with four minutes of medium to hard pacing, then rest for five minutes. As you get better, move to five minutes of hard pacing with just three minutes of rest.

Try to do 30 to 60 minutes of interval training a few days a week. Eventually, you’ll be able to hold a climb longer and pedal at a harder intensity without getting exerted.

It’ll also build the muscles that you use on a standard ride.

Stage 3: Speed

Cycling Training Plan: The Easy Way to Reach Your MTB Goals 1


Speed is essential for mountain biking and is just as important as having control during climbs, jumps, and turns.

You want to get your body ready for the high-tempo style of racing while still pacing yourself so you can go the distance, so training here is essential for four weeks.


Find an off-road track that you already know, and get yourself a timer. Complete one timed lap of the track going as fast as you can while still pacing yourself, and then take a rest before going it again.

Try to keep your times fairly even without using all of your energy in the first lap.

Stage 4: HIIT


This stage is like your earlier interval training but more intense. HIIT is about high power and short recovery and will help your body adapt to intense bursts of energy during a race.


Use an equal rest interval time of 30 seconds high intensity followed by 30 seconds of recovery, and perform four to six of these each training session.

After a couple of weeks, you can add a few more to the mix. The goal is to learn how to recover quickly after a huge burst of energy, and then be able to do it all again.

A Plan for Greatness

No matter your goals or when you want to reach them, you’ll find it pretty hard to get anywhere without a plan.

When it comes to improving your speed, strength, and stamina on a mountain bike, having a simple plan in place could be your ticket to success, so it’s time to start putting one into action.

Related Questions

Mountain biking is a popular sport and hobby for many because it incorporates excitement with exercise. If you want to take this hobby to the next level and improve your abilities, a training plan is the way to do it.

Read on to see our answers to a few FAQs that can help you get a mountain bike training plan in place.

How Fast Do Pro Mountain Bikers Go?


Professional and semi-professional mountain bikers are capable of speeds averaging around 9mph, and sometimes more.

However, precision and agility are just as important as these speeds, and a professional understands how all of them must work together to make for a successful ride.

How Do You Get Sponsored By Red Bull?

if you’re hoping to become a professional mountain biker and looking for sponsorship from Red Bull, the best way to get noticed is to enter contests or keep an eye on their social media for opportunities like community projects and meets.

Gaining sponsorship from a major sponsor like Red Bull is hard to do though, and takes a lot of practice and professional-level talent to achieve.


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