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During these winter months I am currently attending the gym 3 times a week. On each of the days I start my training on an exercise bike with the following:

  1. 5 minute warm up
  2. 30 minutes, 1 minute hard, 1 minute recovery
  3. 5 minute warm down

I am using a specific interval training setting on the bike. I preset the training to level 15, which is a high resistance and as much as I can take.

Hard is a cadence of between 80-90rpm high resistance. Recovery is a cadence of 60prm and the resistance backs off considerably, I imagine to approximately level 7.

My heart rate towards the end of the session reaches 170–190bpm, and I am working flat-out. I turn 30 in March, am 5' 8" and weigh approx 168lbs.

Does this training routine seem sensible for building strength and speed on the mountain? Should I be changing up the training with other types of bike training?

It is also worth noting that after the interval training I perform free weight strength training too.

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What kind of racing are you going to be doing? XC, downhill, etc? –  Vincent Agnello Jan 23 '12 at 15:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Whether an interval training is effective or not depends mostly on your particulars relative to the interval. Heart rate is only a very inexact measure of effort, but you seem to be roughly in the ballpark. However, such quick switching between on/off interval state does not generally produce interval-like results and should be viewed as a single 30-minute interval at the average power of this period.

A better gauge of interval quality would be this: how long can you keep up the effort? A more typical interval training might be e.g. 6-7 times 3-8 minute efforts, with 2-5 minute rests, at such intensity that you simply cannot complete another interval round.

A goal of "strength and speed" on the mountain is unspecific enough that you can be sure it's being helped somewhat, and in some way, by the intervals. However, it's counterproductive to do interval training and weight training both in one session. If you are still in shape to do weight training after your intervals, it means the intervals weren't done hard enough. Do intervals and weights on alternate days.

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Thanks for this. I have worked with a personal trainer in the past who has suggested 5 rounds of 7 minutes, with 7 minutes at high intensity. Fully rest in between each, which would normally take around 5 minutes. This seems to fit in with your suggestion here, would you agree? –  DigiKev Jan 22 '12 at 21:50
Yes, as long as, again, you don't mix it in with weight training. The idea is that if you want a session of higher intensity training, such as threshold, intervals, or sprints, to be effective, you should train hard. You should feel like you should be carried off the bike at the end of the session. Then rest at least two days before attempting another hard session. –  ttarchala Jan 22 '12 at 23:42

To some extent whether it will be effective depends on your goal. Are you trying to develop endurance or speed?

There's an article at sportsci.org on the "Effects of High Intensisty Intermittent Training on Maximum Oxygen Uptake and Endurance Performance" which compares several different interval training techniques if Endurance is your goal.

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At the end of this workout are you 'smoked'? If so, then these are 'anaerobic endurance' intervals. Some training plans suggest just starting these 6-8 weeks before your first "A race"

Some plans suggest you work on "muscular endurance" first with long fairly hard efforts = 10m plus - then 6-8 weeks prior add anaerobic endurance intervals. The two biggest abilities for MTB are said to be muscular and anaerobic endurance.


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