How To Train For A Mountain Bike Race

Any avid mountain biker eventually wants to know how to train for a mountain bike race. A mountain bike race gives an athlete a chance to meet athletic goals, beat personal bests, and improve athletic performance. To train for a mountain bike race an athlete requires time, dedication, and a solid training plan.

  1. Create a solid, balanced training plan. If you have a significant amount of time before your mountain bike race, or have yet to schedule it, a training plan will focus your efforts and get you the best results. Strength training, aerobic base endurance training and anaerobic threshold training are the three components of a solid training plan.
  2. Hit the gym to strength train. A mountain bike race requires significant leg strength during mountain climbs. To meet the challenge, focus on exercises that develop the lower half of your body. Exercises beneficial to mountain bikers include squats, lunges and calf raises. A serious mountain bike racer should spend at least three days a week in the gym.
  3. Build an extensive aerobic base. The best way to improve mountain bike performance is to ride your bike. Each week, bike as much as your body can handle without sacrificing sleep or experiencing diminishing results. Rotate between longer rides and shorter/easier recovery rides. More miles spent on the bike will get your body used to the strain you will experience during the race and give you the aerobic capacity required to cross the finish line.
  4. Improve your anaerobic threshold. To train for a mountain bike race do not neglect your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold will help you when quick bursts of speed (to get to the top of a climb, to sprint to the finish line, or to pass an opponent) are necessary. Training anaerobic threshold requires short, very hard efforts, or sprints. Incorporate sprints into your mountain bike training rides once or twice during the week. Anaerobic threshold training is very tough on your body, so do not schedule consecutive days to work on this.
  5. Get enough rest. Just as important as adhering to a comprehensive training schedule is getting enough sleep. Adequate rest allows your body to recover from previous training and will give you the energy necessary for future training rides.
  6. Taper one to two weeks before the race. A mountain bike race requires serious physical effort. To ensure you are fully rested and to get the maximum benefit from your training, reduce your training efforts a couple of weeks before the race.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the race course. If possible, ride the actual course of the race beforehand. If this is not possible, research the course on the Internet. Visualize how you will conquer each section of the course before the race starts–then execute your plan.


National Strength and Conditioning Association

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