How Hard Do XC Mountain Bikers Train?

published on July 20, 2020

Hank: Cycling has many different disciplines, road, track, cross, gravel, time-trial, and the list goes on All the same common denominator, they all involve a bike If you look at each individual discipline, they're actually quite different It's always been in my interest to put myself against a pro in another discipline, do their training, do their regime, find out how it differs from my full-time training as a road bike pro I'm going to change out this, for something like this Before we start though, I have never done any specific training towards mountain biking

This is something I'm really interested in I've recruited someone who knows a little bit more than I do about cross country mountain biking Welcome, Oli Beckingsale Oli is an ex-professional mountain biker representing Britain in the Olympic Games on three occasions He's been national mountain bike champ five times and also picked up second at the Commonwealth Games This is a man who's been there, done it and got the T-shirt Oli has now moved into a coaching role, put his expertise and a wealth of knowledge and wisdom into up and

Coming mountain bikers, a bit like me, which makes Oli the perfect candidate to put me through my paces Right, let's find out what Oli's set me Oli Beckinsale: First of all, the difference between your road racer and your cross country mountain bike racer, actually is not a huge amount of difference between the two It's more just fine-tuning The important things that Hank's got, he's going to have a big engine already He's going to have that high anaerobic threshold He's going to have a

Decent sprint on as well, he's won a few kicks in his time He's actually got the basic things you already need What we need to do is really make sure we keep his base fitness in place and add some key mountain bike sessions on the top The week I've set Hank is almost a week probably I'd set an athlete preseason or maybe in a gap between big races There's a couple of sessions in there to keep his base fitness, of course, maintaining that base, and it underpins the intensity A couple of hard turbo sessions

Really working, one, above and below threshold, and one, working on some really hard accelerations We're going to do two mountain bike sessions One with some really intense 2-minute climbs and then dropping into some technical descents A classic of mine, the old short tracks You go 15 minutes and you're working harder than race pace, so it's working not just fitness, but skills as well I think overall, Hank is going to do amazing I think he's got the right skills, some of those races don't transfer to mountain biking

Very well, but I think he's got the skill He's already got a bit of a burst and a sprint, and I think, as well, they transfer over pretty well Hank: I've got to be honest, when Oli said he was building me a mountain bike program specific to mountain biking, I was expecting to go on the trails, at least ride the mountain bike, but actually, a lot of the training is done on the turbo You can imagine, it's really good for fitness and it's good for interval training The session I've got is

Very much interval training It's a 20 minutes gradual warm up at zone 2 Straight into a 1 minute on as zone 5, then 1 minute off at zone 3, repeat this five times A quick 10-minute recovery at zone 2 Another 1 minute on, 1 minute off, session repeated five times Finally a 10-minute recovery at zone 2 until the end Seems fairly similar It's something I've done before Now for a 20-minute warm-up Right, that's warm-up complete 10 minutes, got a minute now at zone 3, trying to hold 300 watts It's really starting to

Hurt now It's just not getting the recovery 10 seconds left That was brutal I am glad that is over That was a tough turbo session I've got to admit, I didn't think mountain bikers went that deep, but there we go I reckon I could have used some of them back when I was riding I would definitely think that would have helped in those short-hour long crit Now to head out on a mountain bike, see a bit of dirt Hopefully, this session won't be so hard

Today the session's on dirt, an hour and a half session, I've got half an hour easy, zone 2 and then I've got two 15-minute sessions down a short track down a descent, back up, again and again for 15 minutes, zone 4, zone 5 It's been pretty tough I guess this is my first experience of what a proper mountain bike training ride's like To be honest, I’m quite enjoying it Woo, nearly fell off I guess this is my first, well mountain-bike mechanical I've actually just broken my chain

Not ideal and what's worse is I don't have a quick link with me It seems like today's mountain bike session has ended with me walking home That's broken chain fixed, and I'm ready to go again I've just done my 30-minute warm-up which is quite similar to my road bike sessions before I get into intervals Now, I guess I'm here for my short track efforts Yes, this is going to be quite hard I'm going to start from here, around the bottom of the field, back up Going to see how many laps I can do in the 15 minutes I've got I guess

I've got to finish absolutely nailed, I guess, so here goes On your marks, get set, go A-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba That's 15 minutes done, I'm on to the top now and then I finish I can't believe that's session one done I went so deep, a 15-minute effort, wow For 15 minutes with the heart rate just through the roof, that's painful It's now into my second 15-minute effort Oh, my legs are still sore On your marks, get set, go A-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba

That's lap one done That hurt Two 15-minute efforts, I guess it's time to see the results That was brutal How does that compare to a road bike crit? I feel like that was harder Session complete Oli Beck, that was brutal, mate It's quite nice actually getting out on the mountain bike, enjoying the countryside, as always, making sure the gate's locked, and enjoy a 30-minute nice spin home

Today I've been set two sessions, one is by road, cross, and mountain bike legend, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot Triple World Champion, holding the road, cross and mountain bike titles all at once Yes Today's a core session I've made it to my local gym This is a BPF Gym who've kindly lent me the space to try this insane session set by Pauline It seems pretty difficult to be quite honest and I'm not really looking forward to it, but the thing I really want

To find out is how the core sessions work into what she does, but also how we can transfer that into road because, to be honest, I don't think road riders do as much core and work on their ability and their stability on the bike than our mountain bike counterparts Look at Sagan, Mathieu van der Poel, these guys have seriously good core They work hard on preparing their body and their upper body to look after themselves while on the bike hence why they're so agile on the bike and they're able to transfer all that power into

The bike to move it forwards It's all done with this TRX Now a TRX is used a lot with cyclists, mountain bikers, all different sorts of athletes and it really does work on your balance and your stability It's all done with your bodyweight so no weights needed and it's really quite I've done it before but I haven't done anything like this session Pauline Ferrand-Prevot: Hello, guys This is Pauline Ferrand-Prevot from Canyon–SRAM team Here is my core work with the TRX, so

I hope you will enjoy it It's pretty hard but you have to keep smiling and be strong Bye-bye Hank: Right, let's do it The exercises she has set me are pretty tough Eight different sets using different positions on the TRX This is engaging all my core Combined, there is a total of just under seven minutes holding various plank positions and 55 reps I've got to do it twice, savage You can tell from my facial expression this is not an easy session and I'm only in the first set

First, a core session done of Pauline's Now I've got a 10-minute rest I feel like I need longer, but 10 minutes rest, and then I can do it all over again Great plank That's my core section done Thank you so much, Pauline, for sending that through I mean admittedly that was horrific, horrendous, but it just shows that mountain bikers doing that kind of strength and core work really does work and it benefits you enabling you

To have better stability, better balance Using the TRX and just working on your whole core, we can really benefit from some of that as road riders That's my core session done, now it's onto my turbo session, so this afternoon's workout Hopefully, it's not going to be as hard as that one because I mean I'm sore Right, see you for another day I'm back on the turbo after my hardcore session This afternoon's workout is working on my sprints That's 6-second max sprints with 24 seconds recovery in between the 6-second

Max sprints and it goes on for 10 minutes, so I've got 20 max sprints, I've got 5 minutes in between to recover Then again, another 10 minutes, so a 6-second max, 24 seconds off, 6 seconds on, 24 seconds off Hard sprint session coming up I never did 6-second sprints I always did around 30 seconds but then I was never a sprinter but I guess this is definitely going to help my explosive power Right, without further ado, I mean here goes That's a good solid warmup done Now into

My sprints, Staring in five, four, three, two, one Got a serious burn on my legs, heart rate is quite high 24 seconds is not enough recovery for me Ah I think I'm done, beyond my limit Right, I'm going to enjoy this recovery now That's my second turbo session mountain bike specific done and again it was brutal I mean

Max effort, 26-second max effort is going to make you finish completely empty and I did The interesting thing though is, would I use that on the road? Maybe not The reason they're great for mountain bike specific training is that you're getting used to all that power transfer in the saddle so you can spurt up little climbs but getting the most traction as possible keeping your weight over the rear wheel Road riding, you can probably do that out the saddle You're not looking for that extra bit of grip because you're riding road

You're not riding loose gravel or dirt I don't know if I'd use that but it's again a really hard session Oli: To split the hard days we're going to have a bit of a base day, three hours or so We're going to include some nice blocks of tempo at zone 3 It's a bread and butter day for most guys and we're splitting two harder days The key is we're going to add a little bit of mountain bike specificity, we're just going to do some zone 3 blocks working five

Minutes at lower cadence so probably one gear too hard, one gear too high We've got probably 80 and 100 revs The benefit of doing this is just extending that rev range Sometimes on your road bike, you're always in the right gear On your mountain bike, you'll quite often find you're over-geared, under-geared We just need to work on that rev range a bit in a basic ride Hank: I'm really braving the weather here I'm in shorts and a jersey Luckily, I've got my little Casket All right, now for a

Little road session two and a half hours long Fine, here we go It's fair to say that's warmed me up A little break and then I've got another 30 minutes changing cadence Strength work into high cadence work Right, let's do it Done Two and a half hours on the road It's actually not too bad I guess that was the most similar to something I would do when I was racing full-time I probably would have done a bit longer though I guess that's where we roadies

Spend most of the time on the road, hours and hours Oli Beck, that was a good session, I enjoyed that Pity about the weather Oli: The big differences that Hank's going to find between his training, probably when he was a road racer and the mountain bike is the real changes in intensity If we look at that mountain bike cross country effort you're generally doing a hilly technical time trial He's going to spend lots of times going slightly over his threshold power and then

He's slightly below, but he's not going to get full recovery either We need to work on that one There's lots of accelerations and sprints In that respect, if you look at a power file from a mountain bike cross country race it won't look too dissimilar to a city center crit There's never any full recovery but you've constantly got these peaks and troughs in power We need to make sure we're working on that one It's not just a steady-paced effort Obviously, a big thing as well, and

Not forgetting, it's a technical sport We need to make sure that we're working Hank technically but we need to make sure we're working him at speed He's obviously got good bike skills already I've seen some of the previous videos he's done with Donny on GBN We need to make sure that we're really working those skills He's dropping into the sense when he's breathing hard There's no point in practicing skills when he's on top of it He needs to be breathing hard and have his eyes going all over the

Place as he's dropping into a few drop-offs Hank: Today's session is again on the dirt This time I've got six times, 2-minute max-effort climbs Yes, brutal You're going to see a lot of these faces Ouch I've got a first, easy nice trail ride to get there and then I look at my climb It's quite a difficult climb It's around a 2-minute-long climb and then I've got a short shot descent I'm basically going to up and down there six times Brace yourself this one's not going to be pretty

I've done my little bit of trail riding I'm here for my test descent or mountain or climb I've got to do this climb six times max effort and do the descent I guess this is going to test my ability to get the descent done after a max effort and then just see how I get on To help me with this challenge I'm riding the Canyon Strive This was lent to me by Blake on GMBN I hope I just do it justice A pretty cool looking bike, full-sus, and 29-inch wheels To be honest, I don't know an awful lot more hence why I'm on the road

Channel and not the mountain bike channel Anyway, let's hope I can get down and up the hill six times I hope I survive I've got to get down first Here goes Woah Hank: are never nice Next session Come on Come on Six 2-minute max efforts I'm spent That's probably the deepest I've gone for a really long time Probably deeper than I went riding a road bike I guess in the crit

The interesting thing is though, I really do think this kind of training full-gas, power, V02 max, this stuff, really does help when you're riding road races, when you're riding crits People like van der Poel, I can understand why they're just so good because that was brutal I think it's time for a beer That was hard work Six sessions, ouch My six sessions all complete, I just want to say a massive thank you to Pauline and Oli for helping me

Set that training program given it was pretty hard What did I find out? Well, I found out that the mountain bike training and the specific mountain bike training was definitely more going towards the intensity, the short sharp efforts, max efforts It was actually interesting because my average heart rate on those sessions, on average, was a lot higher than my road sessions The road sessions I used to do were more done on endurance, working on my FTP power, my Functional Threshold Power, instead of the minute power and the five-minute power

And the V02 efforts That was my first thought Because I was using a Whoop, I could see the strain on each day was around 15, which is quite similar to the road rides I used to do back in the day The only difference is, well, the mountain bike sessions were around two hours long maximum, and the road sessions I used to do were around four hours, but the intensity definitely made up for the lack of hours Is there crossover? Well, the answer is yes You look at the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Cadel Evans, Peter Segan, Pauline

Ferrand-Prévot who have been world-class on cross country mountain bikers and transferred it to the road and they've come out, well, winning a lot of races There is definitely some crossover Would I use the sessions that I've done in road cycling and put that into my training if I was going back to road racing? The answer's yes It'd made me a better bike handler It would increase my V02 and my short sharp efforts, so potentially, I could have won some races, and hopefully, I would have also stopped so

Many of the crashes What do you think? Who trains harder? Let me know in the comment section below Would you use a mountain biking for some of your training to maybe help your bike handling or your short sharp V02 efforts and the shorter efforts? Let me know in that comment section below Hope you enjoyed this video I took two beestings and got wet and broke two chains and I had to do a five-mile walk, all to give you this video, so, well, I hope you enjoyed it I'll see you in the next video

I think I need some more training Oh no This is probably the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me Oh gosh, I've got to ride the whole way back with my bum on show

Related Videos

I used to love getting into the breakaway when I was racing. Limitless food and drink and your own personal team car, but how do you actually get into a breakaw...
Last weekend we put out a video what would happen if i did an ftp test every day for a week it was a monster edit with tons of videos and data to sift through w...
Nigel what you doing it's cutting the grass I told him today I'll be weaving weenies you know he's still in his pajamas as well right everyone I&#39...
Now is not time in the world even so it's a great time to take up cycling you never know you might get addicted and it could change your life there is a lot...
Neil Flowers: From sunny Melbourne, welcome to the GCN Show. James: Welcome to the GCN Show. Si: Coming up this week, we hear from the CEO of Strava and discuss...
As cyclists we abide by the rules of the road but we also stick to a coat of unwritten rules that help influence our behavior now I'm not talking about what...
Speaker: We love an upgrade here on GCM. Upgrades can get your old, run-down bikes feeling brand new again or give your new bike a boost that makes you want to...
There are many different jerseys in the world of cycling but can you name them all do you know you're my own jean from Amalia Rosa well in this video I'...
Conor Dunne: Even the most experienced cyclists amongst us make rookie mistakes from time to time. They may not admit it but they definitely make a few errors e...
Speaker: You've just got your hands on your very first bike, how exciting. I still think it's the best feeling in the world, getting a new bike or getti...
Male Speaker: If I had known what I'm about to tell you when I started cycling way back when, in the olden days, or if someone had told me, at the time, I t...
Male Speaker: In this video, we are going to put one of cycling's most enduring myths to rest. Because over the years, one or two pieces of poor quality res...
Speaker 1: Zipp have just launched their second headline-grabbing wheelset for 2020. This is an all-new 303 Firecrest Disc Brake Wheelset. When I say all-new, I...
Maybe I've been a bit I've been a bit too cocky really here because I'm lost now banging on about how good I am at maps I mean how to end up in the ...
Ollie: Drafting, it's is one of the features of cycling that makes it so interesting and fascinating tactically. By sitting behind other riders and shelter...
Conor Dunne: Welcome to the GCN Show. Simon Richardson: Coming up this week. Is everesting cycling's ultimate test? Should it be the new hour record? Conor:...
Speaker 1: Ah, shoot, I've dropped my chain. I've dropped my chain. We've all been there, haven't we? Stuck at the side of the road, off our ma...
Speaker: Do you suffer with sore or numb hands? Well, if you do, then this is the video for you. I'm going to give you tips and tricks so that you can preve...
Speaker: You asked and we listened. I received a message on Instagram asking if we can make a video on women's specific bikes. I think it's a great topi...
Ollie: You've started cycling and you're interested in progressing to a dedicated cycling shoe but you're unsure what the benefits of shoes like thi...