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7 Mistakes Mountain Bikers Make When Training Indoors

At the time of writing this, we are in the midst of the COIVD-19 crisis. Athletes worldwide have had races postponed and have been training more indoors now than ever before–all around the world.

Very quickly, I noticed a number of trends. Athletes are worried about many of the same things, and many times are making the same mistakes. Social media has not been helping at all, and is likely one of the main culprits for a reduction in emotional well-being and training mistakes

Personally, I think training indoors can be great! When I first started training indoors, it was with a noisy magnetic trainer and a decent home gym (thanks dad!). Our winters were pretty long and cold in the eastern USA, but I still got out side to ride plenty alongside my indoor training.

Fast forward to 2014, and I got suckered in to a research study where we trained indoors on the newly introduced smart trainers (we used the Wahoo Kickr below, but this Tacx smart trainer is becoming the new standard). We were inside for a month, and I found the workouts to be great and controlled.

Nowadays, many of my athletes are on smart trainers. As their coach, I am able to create workouts and plans for them that sync directly to their smart trainers. Yeah, I work with MTB riders, but these are great while we are waiting to get on the trails.

Mistake 1: Going too hard too often

This is hands down the biggest mistake mountain bikers make whether indoors or not. We love pushing ourselves and its in our nature, so we are very susceptible to going too hard too often.

Many riders find indoor trainer session boring, and often mix in intervals to keep it interesting. While intervals are definitely a great way to engage-and necessary in many periods of training- our bodies simply can’t keep up with too many hard sessions. I encourage riders to have no more than 3 intense days per week, from beginner up to pro. This way we have time to recover between sessions and ensure our workouts are polarized (this is when the hard rides are purposely hard and the easy rides are purposely easy).

Training hard is good, training consistently is gooder.

By limiting the number of hard workouts we do, we can actually go hard when we do go hard. Otherwise, every workout becomes a slog that feels tough, but isn’t actually at the right intensity just because we are so fatigued.

The times when we are not going hard are spent going easy, which is incredibly important and very often overlooked for MTBers. Remember that all forms of MTB have a very large aerobic component, which obviously increases as the events get longer (and the intensity MUST reduce, even if it still feels hard). The higher we can grow our aerobic fitness, the better we will be able to recover between the many hard efforts that are required in MTB. To learn more about being fit for things like DH and Enduro, check it out here. To learn a bit about XC and how to avoid blowing up, check out this article. If you want more out of your data and to understand your rides better, go here.

Coach's Tip: you may find yourself gravitating towards some home aerobic sessions from one of the many providers. These are great because you can just search online and find a good workout to kick your butt. But be careful. Oftentimes these workouts are actually too hard! You may notice that the instructors periodically change in these workouts--that's because not even the instructors can keep up with the intensity they are demanding of you! If you find your performance declining during one