Why train? You’ll ride faster, for longer, and have more fun, we guarantee it... and it starts with as little as two hours a week
Why train? You’ll ride faster, for longer, and have more fun, we guarantee it… and it starts with as little as two hours a week.
Riding your bike is great for fitness, but chances are you got into the sport because it was great fun too. There is a way to have even more fun on the bike and get fitter and stronger too, by doing some training off the bike. Yes training sucks, but the overall net gain will be worth it because its your strength and those shorter, more intense efforts that are almost certainly holding you back as a rider. Your bike handling skills, performance on steep stuff, your agility, power and ability to recover quickly will all radically improve with some training.
How much? Surprisingly little, in fact. We’re talking just two hours a week, which is as much off-bike training as some of pro riders do. By training sensibly you can fill in strength and intensity deficits in a short amount of time each week. We’re not saying it’s easy, it just won’t take hours and hours of monotonous gym time like you might think.
Four training options
You don’t want to be wasting your time though. It’s all about direction, using a purposeful, bang-for-buck approach to ensure your valuable time is spent contributing to your riding ability. These are your options for training.
1. Find a one on one Coach with experience of MTB
Good for riders who are less experienced in the gym and would benefit from hands-on movement coaching. Professional riders. People with lots of money.
This can be very expensive and you don’t always get what you pay for. You are at the mercy of the coach and their knowledge and experience. So firstly, find a coach you trust and has a positive track record with other riders and make sure they are knowledgeable in the areas you need.
2. Find a good general trainer
Good for riders who can’t access or finance a MTB specific coach but would benefit from movement coaching. Riders who want to set off safely with in-person guidance.
This still isn’t a cheap option so make sure you get the most from it. Insist on movement and technique coaching, otherwise you might just be paying for a cheerleader. Look for a trainer who has experience in coaching technical movement such as Olympic weightlifting, this way you are more likely to find someone with good knowledge of movement. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should take up Olympic weightlifting, it might just be a good indicator of your trainers ability and desire to coach for performance. Avoid “studio PT’s” who may not have as much experience with performance goals.
3. Follow an online MTB programme
Good for Riders who have a smaller budget, have a flexible/sporadic schedule and/or riders who want easy access to training regardless of location.
Following these programmes requires some proficiency with movement so you need to be confident you can perform the exercises. However, if you can learn well from movement demos you’re in luck. This is the most accessible option and best use of your time however, it will still cost you a monthly fee your gym membership (or home gym investment). If you’re serious about getting good results, and in comparison to other options, this is great value.
4. Go it alone
Good for riders with time on their hands, little money, feel safe on their own.
This is cheapest option but be warned, the longer you train, the less positive adaption you make. So make sure you educate yourself well from the start. Keep things simple and research the fundamentals of strength, endurance and functional training as well as technique and safety. Use the Fit4Racing website for inspiration and education for free but also use other resources like books, YouTube, mbr’s fitness pages online, or even courses if you can afford them.
If you are planning on going it alone, you should considering leveraging the educational opportunities of at least one of the previous options before you do, even just for a short time until you are confident in the direction you are going. And if money really is the biggest factor in your decision making, try Fit4Racing or Fit4Riding for 2 weeks for free, simply visit fit4racing.com and start training immediately.
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