One of the big things I wanted to learn when I went to the Mike Boyle mentorship was how to help the mountain bike athlete peak during their season. While I understood the concept of peaking for something like the Olympics, mountain biking presented a different challenge. Riders spent months competing in a circuit where each race counted towards the overall championship but they also had a one day events towards the end of the season that crowned a champion.

This meant that the races early on where just as important as the races towards the end of the season and once things got going there were few chances for training races. So, how do you help an athlete peak for specific races at the end of the season while recognizing that they needed to be in good shape at the beginning of the season?

When I asked him Mike Boyle summed it up like this – the best way to help a mountain biker peak is to minimize their strength loss during the season. He trains a lot of hockey players (athletes who also have a long season but need to “peak” for the end of the it) and he said that if someone only loses 10% of their strength during the season then they are in good shape for the end of it.

This got me thinking about how this applies to mountain biking. The real take home message is that off season and in season training should look like this:

– Off Season: Train like hell and get as strong and fit as possible.

– In Season: Train smart and fight like hell to stay as strong and fit as possible.

This means that the worst thing you could do is stop strength training during your riding season. All the hard work you put in during the off season will erode away much quicker without the strength base needed to support it.

1-2 days a week of smart, focused training will do wonder when it comes to feeling as strong towards the end of the season as you did at the beginning. Here is my super secret formula for in season training:

Focus one 1 upper body pushing, 1 upper body pulling, a lower body and a core exercise. Hit it hard and fast  – 3 sets of 5 reps for example. Make sure you eat enough protein to support your training. Foam roll and stretch daily.

Combine that with riding and racing and you’ll be an animal at the end of the riding season. Like I always say, if you don’t want to ride like everyone else don’t train like everyone else. Most riders fall victim to the “don’t strength train” during the season mindset – don’t be one of them.

-James Wilson-

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