Learning how to mountain bike does not happen overnight. From jumping to cornering, you have a lot of skills to master before you can ride like a pro. With the right training program, you can build physical strength, prepare mentally, and know the fundamental techniques that will make you a better rider.
A structured training program is important if you are preparing for a race or a multi-day adventure off the trails. It is not one thing that you can accomplish in a couple of days. Instead, it will require a couple of weeks. At a minimum, spare at least four weeks. To make the most out of these weeks, read on and learn from the MTB training tips we’ll share.
A Basic 4-Week MTB Training Plan
Mountain bike training will vary from one person to another, especially in terms of goals. Are you a pro preparing for a race? Are you a casual biker about to embark on a week-long mountain biking adventure? Are you a newbie or an expert? The answers to these questions will affect how you should train.
For most people, the training plan that we will be recommending below will be more than enough. This will require at least a month of commitment on your end to acquire the best results.
Take it easy on your first week. The priority is to get yourself acquainted with what is to come and not to give up after starting.
Start by having a cardio exercise. Go out to ride your mountain or road bike. If biking is not an option, walking or running will also help.
Perform three sets of exercises with a minute on a jumping rope as you rest in between sets. For the first set, do overhead kettle lunges, kettlebell swings, and rest. On the second set, do Romanian deadlifts and bent-over rows, then rest. And for the third set, do mountain climbers and push-up to side planks.
The third day is all about cycling. Start with a warm-up for ten minutes. Spin easy for three minutes, go harder for the next two minutes, and cool down.
Perform a set of three exercises and jump on a rope for one minute between sets. Start the set with renegade rows and box jumps, then rest for two minutes. Your second set should include lateral monster walks and wall sit, then rest for two minutes. For the final set, do single-leg bridges and half-kneeling shoulder presses.
Dedicate this day for cardio. Go biking, walking, hiking, or running for one hour.
Do one hour of yoga or Pilates. Otherwise, you can rest.
Take this time to rest. Prepare your body to take the exercises up a notch for the next three weeks.
Compared to your first week of mountain bike training, your second week is a bit more intense.
Start your week with a long and slow cardio exercise. Aside from biking, you can also do running or hiking. This time, the duration should be at least 65 minutes.
Do a set of three exercises. Between each set, do a jumping rope exercise for one and a half minutes. The first set starts with overhead kettle lunges, followed by kettlebell swings and rest for one minute. The second set includes Romanian deadlifts, bent-over rows, and a one-minute rest. The last set includes mountain climbers and push-up to side planks.
On your third day, do cycling intervals similar to what you have done in the first week.
Perform three sets of exercises, and in between each set, do jumping ropes for 90 seconds. The first set includes renegade rows and box jumps, then rest for two minutes. Next, do lateral monster walks, wall sits, and rest for two minutes. Finish the set with single-leg bridges and half-kneeling shoulder presses.
This is another day dedicated for long and slow cardio similar to what you did on your third day.
Do one hour of yoga or Pilates. Otherwise, you can rest.
In the third week, make the training more intense by riding more often.
Start your week with a 60-minute ride on a mountain bike. After riding, spend at least 15 minutes for strength training and 5 minutes for stretching.
Go on another mountain bike ride. This time, you should be doing it on a hill and at least 90 minutes.
Ride your mountain bike for 50 minutes. If you don’t feel like going outdoors on this day, you can exercise in an indoor trainer instead.
Ride a mountain bike for two hours. You can also use a touring bike since it is designed to promote the rider’s highest level of comfort in a long-distance ride. End your ride with stretching exercises.
Go easy on your fifth day and go for a swim. You can also do yoga, Pilates, and other low-impact exercises that will help build the core muscles that you will need for mountain biking.
Take this as another day for indoor and low-impact exercises. An indoor trainer or stationary bike will help.
Rest and get ready for your fourth week of training.
Now, you are at the most difficult week of your mountain bike training program. After the fourth week, you will have stronger endurance and muscles to help you tackle demanding trails. If you are training for a race, on the other hand, you should extend your training to at least two more weeks.
Go easy on your first day. Walking, running, and swimming are some of the best exercises that you can do to start the week.
Bring your mountain bike out for a ride. Don’t forget to bring your mountain bike helmet to keep you safe, especially because you will be going uphill. Ride on a hill for one to two hours.
Ride a mountain bike or use a turbo trainer to train for at least an hour. Do strength training and stretching exercises to recover.
Go out for another ride for an hour. Like on your third day, you should also finish with strength training and stretching exercises.
Warm-up before you ride your bike and go out on a ride for at least two hours. Finish your routine with stretching.
Ride a mountain bike for two hours
Important Components of your Mountain Bike Training
Now that we talked about a basic 4-week plan that can help prepare your body to handle the demands of mountain biking, below are some of the most important aspects of the training program.
Endurance refers to the ability to exert one’s self and remain active over a long time. In mountain biking, it is all about conquering longer distances as a part of building yourself. It is all about staying strong and focused while you are on the MTB saddle. It is especially important when you are preparing for a mountain bike challenge or cross-country race.
How do I build my mountain bike endurance?
To build your mountain bike endurance, start by increasing the distance of your normal rides. Make your workouts more challenging. From distance to elevation gain, focus on making your exercises more difficult to build better endurance.
Climbing is a technical aspect of riding that you also need to learn. Aside from your physical effort, your mountain bike set-up is also important. For instance, you will need MTB handlebars with a lower rise.
How do you climb uphill on a mountain bike?
To climb uphill on a mountain bike, shift the weight of your body to the rear wheel. Stay seated and open your suspension. Stiffen your bike’s fork and shocks to handle the demands of the climb. Pace your breathing and look ahead.
You can become a more powerful and resilient rider if you include strength training in your routine. It increases your bone density and builds the most important muscles that you will use for biking, such as your legs.
How do is strengthen my legs for mountain biking?
To strengthen your legs for mountain biking, try these exercises:
- Squat Jumps: It balances your hamstrings to improve pedaling.
- Lunges: This will engage your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles.
- One-Legged Pedaling: It will make your legs stronger for better pedaling.
- Calf Raises: It mimics the action of biking to build better calf strength.
During your training, you also need to work on the improvement of your posture. This will help to make you more efficient on the trail. You can draw power better from your body. This is also vital for your comfort and in the prevention of injuries. Adjust the bike seat height so that you will be in a more upright position. This is unlike riding a road bike wherein you are in a forward-bending position. Slightly bend your arms and keep your head straight to the direction where you are heading.
Rest and Recovery
Your body needs a rest day. You should not be riding seven days a week. This will wear out your endurance. Your body needs the opportunity to rest and recover, so do not feel guilty if you have a day or two of rest. However, this does not mean that you should not be doing anything. You just need to take it easy these days, such as with yoga.
Other MTB Training Tips You Need to Know
Here are other mountain bike training tips that will help you become a better rider in no time.
- Watch Your Nutrition: During your training, pay attention to what you eat. Your training load, body composition, and health needs will affect your diet. Your diet should consist mainly of nutrient-dense carbohydrates, as well as lean proteins. Natural carb sources and healthy fats are must-haves, which will have an important role to play in sustaining your energy.
- Prepare Mentally: Mental preparation is another aspect that you should not miss in your training program. Mountain biking is a mental game, so you have to be prepared for it. Especially if you are participating in an endurance event, mental training is crucial. Meditation exercises will help. When you overcome mental barriers, it will be easier to maximize your physical performance.
- Mix It Up: Training can be boring for some people, especially if you will be doing it for a couple of weeks. To make training more effective, variety is the key. Add spice to your routine by mixing a variety of exercises. Surprise yourself and challenge your body to do more without stretching your limits.
- Ride Often: Take advantage of every opportunity to ride your bike. If you are going to work or to the grocery store, if feasible, use your bike instead. Short rides will compound and deliver a plethora of benefits for your training.
- Play with Speed: While it is good to have a steady pace during your ride, you can add variety to your routine by playing with speed. Start slow and eventually go faster as if you are in a race. Then slow down, breathe, and go faster again. Challenge your body to boost your endurance.
- Train Indoors: As it has been noted in the week-by-week training plan above, your routine should be a combination of indoor and outdoor exercises. During the times that you are uncomfortable going outdoors, make the most out of your time indoors.
- Dress Properly: From mountain bike shorts to MTB shoes, pay attention to what you are wearing when you are training. This will help to keep you comfortable and to optimize your performance as well.
Q: Does MTB build muscle?
YES, mountain biking builds muscle. When done properly, it is an effective full-body workout, especially when you are hitting difficult trails. The quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdomen, and arms are some of the muscles that you will be working out when you are riding a mountain bike.
Q: How many days a week should I mountain bike?
For MTB training, it is recommended that you ride once to thrice a week. This will depend on the intensity of your training plan. If it is not realistic to go off the trails often, ride a regular bike instead three to five times a week.
Q: Is running good for mountain biking?
Yes, running is good for mountain biking. It is one of the best types of cardio training that you can incorporate in your MTB training program. Running will also work and strengthen your legs, which will help improve pedaling. It is a great alternative if you cannot ride a bike as a part of your exercise routine.
Globo Surf Overview
At a minimum, you need a four-week MTB training plan. This will prepare your body for the rigors of riding while also mastering basic techniques. Your training program will include a variety of indoor and outdoor exercises, including flat and rough terrain rides. More than physical training, nutrition and mental aspects are equally crucial.