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  1. #1
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    Beginner. Need to get strong!

    Would really like to start getting in local 6/9hr races. I recreationally mtb intermediate trails 4 days a week and commute to work. I ride pretty much every day. I just don't know how to begin "training" I've been doing interval excercises on the indoor trainer but know nothing about heartrate levels or what kind of excersices I should focus on.

    Right now I have an injured shoulder so I'm strictly confined to the trainer. I figure now would be a good time to start conditioning.

    Looking for tips/advice on how I should be attacking this??

    I ride an FS 26" 5" travel bike and sit-spin climbs. Rarely do I stand except on downhills or tech sections. I need to improve my tech skills but I know that comes with time/practice.
    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

  2. #2
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    On the trainer, I do hill repeats. I do 2x2 in a real big gear. 50 to 55 cadence staying seated. Do them till you puke, then do 2 more. The next day it feels like I did a a full leg workout in the gym. I'll mix that up with some over unders.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  3. #3
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    I don't know what 2x2 means sorry man. 2 sets of 2 maybe? How long and does that mean a rest between the two sets?
    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

  4. #4
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    Sorry, after 10-ish minute warm up I do 2 min full effort, then 2 min rest/recovery. That's the 2x2. I'll do about 5-6 of those in a row then 15 min spin to end it.
    Small ring in front makes it easier. Small ring in back makes it harder. That blows my mind.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kikoraa View Post
    Would really like to start getting in local 6/9hr races. I recreationally mtb intermediate trails 4 days a week and commute to work. I ride pretty much every day. I just don't know how to begin "training" I've been doing interval excercises on the indoor trainer but know nothing about heartrate levels or what kind of excersices I should focus on.

    Right now I have an injured shoulder so I'm strictly confined to the trainer. I figure now would be a good time to start conditioning.

    Looking for tips/advice on how I should be attacking this??

    I ride an FS 26" 5" travel bike and sit-spin climbs. Rarely do I stand except on downhills or tech sections. I need to improve my tech skills but I know that comes with time/practice.
    a few things; your commute is the ideal training time - using interval based training methods - find sections on your commute where you can go hard (climbs) and sections where you can big ring it (flats). The idea is to look at your commute route and work out where you can do some quality riding which gets your heart rate up. Not flat out, rather try a range of riding, spin, big ring, climbs. If you can get 1 hour a day that's going to get you pretty fit if you do an interval style ride, so basically you are incorporating interval like repetitions into your route. If you can find some single track on route that's a bonus otherwise you need the hilliest route to gain fitness - remember hills are your friend.

    Ideally you ride to work easy and ride home on a longer route harder, soon you will find you'll need a 4 week cycle of easy, hard, medium, recovery. Looking for longer term fitness, give yourself 3-6 months.

    Bike: FS no good as training bike, too bouncy won't encourage quality pedal technique, bike will be heavy so a pig on the climbs, get yourself a HT 29 or 26er also less parts to wear out.

    Body Weight/Nutrition; no good training hard and getting fit if your body weight outweighs your capacity to power it (power to weight ratio), so think about this and what you are eating to power your training load.

    How long is your commute?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb101 View Post

    Bike: FS no good as training bike, too bouncy won't encourage quality pedal technique, bike will be heavy so a pig on the climbs, get yourself a HT 29 or 26er also less parts to wear out.
    it's not about the bike, relax

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny7 View Post
    Sorry, after 10-ish minute warm up I do 2 min full effort, then 2 min rest/recovery. That's the 2x2. I'll do about 5-6 of those in a row then 15 min spin to end it.
    And this kind of approach REALLY helps make the time go by on a trainer! I'll even hop off the bike two or three times diring an hour workout and do 6 sets of stairs, two at a time slowly, while carrying two 30-pound dumbells.
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by passthestoke View Post
    it's not about the bike, relax
    Exactly! I'm using my road bike in a trainer because I injured ny shoulder.
    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

  9. #9
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    et well soon.

    Plus, mtb101's first statement is a good one. You are lucky enough to commute (some of us have roads of death bewteen home and work ), use that time.

    Ride your bike...ride it a lot. You are not only building muscle and cardio endurance, but body position, nutrition, and taint endurance as well.



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  10. #10
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    I heartily disagree on the FS being a poor training bike. IMO, that softness actually encourages a smooth pedaling technique. You can get away with murder on a stiff road bike!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  11. #11
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    I'm in the same boat. I've done a few (6-8) 6 hr races and want to do a 100 miler this coming summer. With the birth of my daughter and living in upstate New York the time to get significant road miles is challenging, thus the need for the trainer. Any and ALL suggestions are greatly welcome. Once the spring hits I'll be out on the mtn bike at night to help build up some endurance, but will definitely need to work a few centuries into the mix to get my body prepped. Look forward to the input!!!
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  12. #12
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    You are doing fine, you are already training.

    A lot of the advice here is vague, here are some things that have helped me:

    1)Keep a ride log. Distance, terrain, how hard you went, etc. Pay attention to weekly hours. 10-12 a week is a good goal.
    2)Ride your mtb as often as you can. Sound easy and simple? Yeah, it is. Go hard when you want and easy when you want. Don't worry about doing intervals.
    3)Try and get in some longer rides on the weekends. This is to figure out nutrition and pacing.
    4) Do some core work and stretching if you have time. I don't know if it helps but I have always done it.
    5) Don't stress about having the perfect bike, road or mtb. My favorite training bike I have had is an '83 Trek 500 one speeder. Just get miles in.

    Hope that helps

  13. #13
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    I think folks underestimate two things for endurance events: 1) comfort on the bike and 2) nutrition. Make sure you get some looong rides on the bike you are going to use. That small pain that bothers you on the side of you knee after 2 hours? Just think what it will feel like after 7, 8, 9 hours. Everything gets exacerbated the longer you go. I once had to walk my bike up the last hill not because I was tired or out of energy, but because the tendonitis in my knee had gotten so bad, I couldn't bend it during the pedal stroke. I finished, but it was really painful.

    The same goes for nutrition. Use your training rides to dial it in. Stomach issues are common among racers during endurance events so experiment to find out what works for you.
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  14. #14
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    this year was my first year racing the "tour de dirt" series as well as my first experience with xc racing in general. on average i logged around 240 miles a week. starting off with easy base miles (riding at a relaxing heart rate) for the first month. then i threw in two days of intervals for the rest of the season. all this on a road bike. i would also usually dedicate two weekends a month (off season) to riding trail.

    i won the beginners circuit and am moving on to CAT 2 next year. but in my experience this made me a very strong rider and i probably should have cat'ed up mid season.

    if you want to be a strong rider. log the miles. twelve hours a week is about what i spent on the bike. there are many different tricks you can do. but really its about putting in the time.

  15. #15
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    I'm new to the MTBR forum, but not new to cycling. I started riding again in June of 2011 after being off the bike for a long time. Like you, I wanted to get stronger as a rider and thought that it would be best to train in a more specific way. Also like you, I spend most of my time on a trainer due to family obligations. Here's a few thoughts from my experiences over the last several months.

    There are many "training plans" that you can follow and find info on through an internet search. They are all different, but most have a similar pattern and include days of easy spinning, moderate efforts, hard efforts and combinations of effort levels. Also included is/are rest days, very important. "Effort" is generally defined by heart rate. A heart rate monitor is fairly inexpensive for a basic model. You can find online calculators to give you an idea of your max heart rate. (Though the best way to determine MHR is through measured testing.) From there, your "effort" levels will be derived as a percentage of max heart rate. I have found gains in my cycling by following a set plan and actually the trainer is a great way to be very targeted with your training efforts. Most important of all that I have found is to have rest days and not over train. If you find you are not gaining ground, or even losing ground you may just need to take time off the bike...difficult for you because you commute, but rest/recovery goes a long way.

  16. #16
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    Great thread. Im new to the sport, started last March 2012. Ride a Santa Cruz TB 29er. Based on my first year of riding, I couldnt agree more with mtb101 and ITL. After my second month or mtb riding I invested on a high end scott road bike to help with conditioning during the days I couldn't hit the trails. Around the same time frame, I looked into HIIT. Although most veteran riders will tell you that riding is the only way to progress from a conditioning perspective, I can tell you per my experience that the integration of HIIT has been extremely beneficial. So beneficial that I returned my scott not too long ago to REI.

    I encourage you all to look into all the research with overwhelming consensus on HIIT. At the gym, I use a pyramid HIIT program (similar to what mtb101 described). The workout takes about 25 minutes, including warm up/down. When your done...you will be done (if you do it right and put in a max effort). I use the stationary bike to do this. Recently, i've taken my HIIT training out of the gym (weather permitting) and to the trails. There are 2 to 3 monster climbs in a nearby trail that i hit using the HIIT pattern during off days. I warm up, then hit these climbs that take me about 2 minute (going all out) and rest about 2 minutes on the way back down and at the bottom....then hit it again and repeat about 6 to 8 times. Its the best of both worlds.....you will concur any climbs after doing this, and it will do wonders for you from an aerobic and anaerobic perspective. As I said, Im new and have tons to learn. But per my initial experience in biking, hitting high intensity trails for 45 minutes to an hour/ climb training HIIT/and HIIT using the stationary bike at the gym is far more effective then spending hours on the treadmill or long endurance training. The shorter HIGH INTENSITY training will help you build strong legs and will do wonders for your vo2 max/aerobic/endurance conditioning. Just my 2 cents.

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  17. #17
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    When I was first getting into endurance training, I purchased a canned "off-the-shelf" 100-mile MTB race plan from Chris Eatough's website. I found it really useful. When I was new to the sport and training in general, I found that I got a lot of contradictory messaging when researching on my own and asking folks. I liked taking the guesswork out of it. Many others on this site have had good luck using Lynda Wallenfeldt's (sp?) plans.

    I've also looked at other published training resources such as the Joe Friel book and Coggan and Allen's "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" (if you don't have a power meter, ignore that). Those, in my opinion, are very tailored to getting someone into good shape for generic mass-start road racing events and cross-country MTBing. For the average athlete and the noobie, I don't think they're specific enough to endurance racing to be very valuable. Plus many find Friel's book to be cumbersome (it reads like engineering technical documentation at times), though I find its treatment of general concepts to be very accessible; just not the workout menus, etc.

    The nice thing about an off-the-shelf plan is that gives you structure, and an insight into how to prescribe intervals and training volume for yourself in a simple way. After spending lots of time reading about this stuff (I have a day-job at a computer and enjoy learning about new stuff), my conclusion is that there are many different ways an athlete can train and arrive at great fitness for bike racing in general, and endurance racing in particular. The particular method that you choose isn't so important.

    What is important is choosing an approach and sticking with it. When you see a 'training plan' devised by someone (whether it is in a book, from a coach, or purchased onlie), it is conceived of holistically. Trying to pick-and-choose or flitting from one to the other is likely to lead to sub-optimal results.

    If you have a busy lifestyle (full-time job or student who takes work seriously), you may find some of the prescriptions in such plans daunting. I think, in reality, most athletes are unable to execute 100% to a T the plan they set out on - workouts are inevitably missed here and there. But keeping the big picture in perspective and staying the course is key. This can be hard to do "flying solo". That approach leads many (I believe) to make up their workouts on a nearly day-to-day basis based on how they're feeling. This can keep you from resting adequately when you need rest, and also from going farther/harder when you need to. The detriments of this can be compounded when you've got a lot on your plate in the rest of your life.

    One last piece of advice from this rambling diatribe. Most mortals have to skimp workouts here and there. That's fine. Don't skimp on the long rides. They are, without question, the most important elements of training for endurance racing. I learned the hard way that a person can't "Time Crunched Cyclist" their way to endurance success. Training is all about specificity and specificity for endurance training means committing to the long workouts. That said, one long ride a week isn't gonna cut it, either. There is tremendous value to riding most days even if those rides are short; I don't understand the physiology but many use the vague term "muscle memory" to describe this benefit.

    Welcome to the club, I find endurance events rewarding in a way that most other athletic endeavours I've done isn't.

    PS if you send Lynda or Chris a nice email, they might be willing to send you a tiny sample of what you could expect to see in their canned training plans. That could help you figure out if what they're offering is right for you.

  18. #18
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    Beginner. Need to get strong!

    Jared - I've only been riding for ~1 year and don't consider myself an expert by no means, however, I do need to disagree with your "long ride" guidance. IMO any ride without the right level of "intensity" is not optimal. It reminds me of the folks on the treadmill at the gym who go on for 2+ hours while reading their book.


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  19. #19
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    Dont confuse the term long ride with no intensity. A 3-4hr training ride holding a zone 2 pace is not comfortable. That usually means holding around an average of 140-155 bpm. Hard?..yes, but not too hard that you can not ride the next day. You have to think about tomorrows ride too.

  20. #20
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    One thought I had throughout all the suggestions is "Where are others in this discussion?" Specifically, what about getting with other riders to help with the training? You don't have to have a formal team, but having others that you can do longer rides with -- nevermind the race itself! -- will help TONS. The mental aspect can be harder than anything physical.

    Start asking around. See who else is getting ready.
    If you can be blissfully ignorant to the notion that something is impossible, then you might surprise yourself. -- Andrea138

  21. #21
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    Beginner. Need to get strong!

    Quote Originally Posted by PutSumStankOnIt View Post
    Dont confuse the term long ride with no intensity. A 3-4hr training ride holding a zone 2 pace is not comfortable. That usually means holding around an average of 140-155 bpm. Hard?..yes, but not too hard that you can not ride the next day. You have to think about tomorrows ride too.
    Most of us mtbrs don't have 4 hours to train everyday. I can go off of my own limited experience and tons of research primarily off of coaching sites/books. I've tried both the long rides and the relatively shorter and more HIT rides. I've noticed significantly higher results with the shorter HI rides....and my research supports the rational.

    My shorter rides are about 1.5 hours/10-11 miles with avg ~160 bpm with many intervals/hills at 120% of my max. My VO2max, muscle strength and endurance (yes-its actually more effective in building endurance) experienced a major boost as I transitioned to the more technical/HI trails. My power threshold increased from mid 260 to over 340watts recently. I wouldn't of been there with 4 hour low/mid intensity training.

    It's key to monitor progress and wattage/power thresholds regularly. We are all different, some of us may need to vary our routine based on monitoring what works.


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  22. #22
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    Get a cheap singlespeed!

  23. #23
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    Beginner. Need to get strong!

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBitey View Post
    Get a cheap singlespeed!
    Did this since my OP!


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    There's something about those long grueling climbs that gets my front end all stiff... And I'm not talking about lockout...

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