Scalability, variation, function and intensity

We cover the fundamental training principles you should be doing as part of a mountain bike fitness program. All of the exercises we feature will be scalable and we’ll have technique videos for each exercise.

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If you simply can’t get out riding as much as you’d like, and you’re looking for supplemental training to improve your riding, or you’re already training at home or in a gym and need some direction, a purposeful, bang-for-buck approach will ensure your valuable time is spent contributing to your riding ability.

We’ve teamed up with Jonny Thompson from Fit4Racing, he’s an expert in helping riders of every ability and fitness level to improve. And crucially, he can offer the purposeful, bang-for-buck approach that will ensure your valuable time isn’t wasted, instead it’s spent contributing to your riding ability.

Fundamental training principles

1. Scalability

Endurance, power, recovery and bike handling, we need all of these skills to become better riders. And it may come as a surprise that the needs of pro riders are the same as yours – maybe not by degree but certainly by type. So the techniques and training methods we will outline have options and variations to suit your needs whatever your starting point.

2. Variation

Doing anything without adding or changing the stress or stimulus will reduce its effectiveness over time. In other words, the longer you keep doing the same thing the less improvement you’ll make. That’s why we’ll keep the exercise varied and progress the level of difficulty by adding weight, increasing resistance or changing the leverage of movement, so your fitness keeps improving. Variation also helps reduce the risk of burn out and boredom.

3. Function

Ask yourself (and us) why the movements you are doing will make you a better rider. If you can’t find a good answer you might’ve lost sight of something really fundamental — everything needs to have a function, and for us that function is riding. We only use methods we know will help you become a better rider.

4. Intensity

You can tick all the “must do” boxes, but without giving them due effort your improvements will be lacking. Where appropriate, the effort you put in directly correlates to what you get out, sometimes that means spending time being very uncomfortable. Intensity done right will not only transform your riding, but could change your life in other positive ways.

The coach

Jonny Thompson is head coach for Fit4Racing, an online fitness programme for mtb riders. Once a forensic scientist, Jonny has devoted the last 10 years to coaching athletes from Paralympians to world number one enduro racers. His main focus with the Fit4Racing team is developing and delivering fitness programmes to pro and amateur riders. Training the likes of Adam Brayton, Jonny also sends digital programmes to riders all over the world, many of whom ride professionally.