• Ally Mackay

Personal Training. Week 2

Hello and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING weekly blog.

Each week I will be giving you tips and tricks about maintaining your fitness and your bodies condition during a tough season of MTB racing. I will also have some tips about managing your mindset and getting into racing if you feel inspired by this blog and the season ahead. I’m really looking forward to getting into this blog and helping you with any questions you may have so, if you enjoy the content feel free to get in touch with me (my links are on the bottom of the blog) and share your stories and questions.

Let’s get into it!

Week 2: How to plan your own training.

Picking up where we left off last week then. You have done your needs analysis; you know your weak areas and what you would like to change. So, it’s time to plan our training, how do we do this?

This week we will look into programme design and explain what you need to do to get the most out of the gym.

Where to start:

The effectiveness of a training plan is in that very word PLANNING. You have to consider several factors when writing your training plans:

Time: How much time do you have to train, and how many days do you have to set aside for off the bike training.

Riding: When do you ride the bike? This is made easier if you set certain days to dedicate to riding and plan your time effectively. If your riding is sporadic you may struggle with planning proper training.

Goals: You must think about your goals in a realistic way. If you have 5 goals but you don’t have the physical time to achieve all of these, break them down into an order of importance. Just as we have certain races we want to excel in, we have certain goals we want to achieve.

Experience: If you are new to the gym then you won’t want to dedicate too much time to this. You are just getting yourself set up and it can be a scary thing, so don’t go all in. Ease into it and learn as you go.

*at this point I must stress the importance of these factors and the benefits that do come from working with an experienced coach in terms of planning your training. A good coach will take all these factors into account and create you a plan for the week that will benefit your riding*

So, you have all these factors, what is the next step?

The next step is all about putting these together and deciding what is the most important aspect of your riding you want to improve. With a lot of mountain bikers and cyclists the number one thing is usually to climb to the top and not feel f*&%ed, followed by climbing speed, followed by fitness over distance.

These are generic, but usually what I hear from people wanting to improve their fitness on the bike. So, let’s break these three goals down:

1: Increase climbing fitness.

Now this is an easy one, climbing is a test of two things. The first being leg strength and endurance. The second being cardio fitness. Cardio fitness being the amount of oxygen your body can take in when it is working at it’s hardest. I.e. When you are gasping for breath and feel like your breathing little and often, the goal is to steady the breathing down and take in more controlled breathes.

Let’s look at increasing leg strength and endurance first. The great thing about this is that you don’t need a gym. You can do this on the bike:

Find a hill that is a fire road climb, and no longer than 2 minutes long at full pelt (so about 5 minutes in granny gear). Have a warmup ride to the hill for about 10-20 minutes. Then complete 6 rounds of hill sprints up the hill.

Hammer it up the hill as quick as you can and give yourself 2 minutes active rest (rest with pedalling at a steady rate involved). Then repeat this six times. And you will find your climbing fitness increases dramatically in time.

This is also a great exercise for cardiovascular fitness as well as your heart rate will be sky high. So, you have actually killed two birds with one stone here.

2: Increase climbing speed.

Increasing climbing speed can also happen with hill sprints here but when it gets steep, we are looking at two things: the first being your climbing technique and the second being your cadence.

When you climb and it starts to get difficult do you start rocking about on the bike, jerking back and forth struggling to move the bike. It is a mistake a lot of people make. This is a very inefficient movement and one that will waste plenty of your physical energy, as well as make your bike move in a very inefficient way as you are bouncing all over your suspension. Look at the world cup XC riders when they pedal, still upper bodies, controlled breathing and lots of cadence. Speaking of cadence, there have been studies conducted recently that suggests cyclist of all disciplines don’t use cadence enough. Especially when climbing. Training your legs to spin at a high cadence is efficient, and it is less taxing on the body as you aren’t all over the bike as mentioned above. So how do we increase this in the gym?

Increasing your bodies cadence is all about movement training, think fast paced movements that allow you to become more agile, and quick. Plyometric work like box jumps, hurdle hops and skipping are great ways to speed the body up and get it moving at a higher pace that is efficient. So, think of ways you can make your body move quickly when training. You can also try spinning them up fast on the spin bikes or adding sprint intervals into your training on a treadmill.

3: Increase fitness over distance.

Increasing your fitness over distance, is this as simple as just ride more? Essentially yes. But when you look at your riding, be honest with yourself and ask yourself two questions:

1: Do you stop too much?

2: Do your mates get distracted when they stop?

One of the best ways you can improve on your distance riding is to set yourself mileage targets that you do not stop before. Start small at 5 miles, this can even be five miles on fire roads and then up it to 10, then 15, then 20, then before you know it you will be knocking distance out for fun. And when I say stopping, I mean for 5 minutes or longer. There is nothing wrong with a quick banana and then back on the bike.

And you have to be honest, if your mates don’t take their fitness seriously and you want too, tell them that your riding alone for a bit to work on your riding fitness. Training for an XC season has made me have to stop riding with some of my friends because they are more interested in “jibbing” and messing about. There is nothing wrong with this, but you are here because you want to get fitter.

So, if you ride a couple of times a week do some solo riding and get your pace up or encourage your mates to embrace not stopping and just get the ride done. It’s a great feeling, honestly.

So, set yourself some distance targets and crack on.

Not really covered the gym much have we?

Okay so I’m going to bring our old friend Peat Steve back into this.

Peat Steve works a typical 09:00-17:00 job, he wants to get into training in the gym but also is willing to night ride. His family time is valuable to him, but he also goes out once every weekend. He is willing to commit to the following:

2x gym sessions a week (1-hour max).

2x Riding per week (1-night ride).

That’s four sessions in total a week. So how should Peat’s training plan look?

As he is a beginner the weight sessions, he does will be a bit less intense than a seasoned rider, and the work he does in a gym will be more bang for your buck exercises. They should fit around his riding schedule too in order to keep his legs as fresh as possible: Here is how I would structure this:

Monday: Full body weights session. Plyometrics at the start into compound strength lifts. I would use the squat, bench press and either a bent over row, or pull up movement depending on his upper body strength.

*compound lifts are multi joint lifts, like the bench press, squat or deadlift. For more information on this you can download a free e-book from my website (www.adamcopleypt.com)*

Tuesday: Rest day with family.

Wednesday: Night ride, short distance but intense effort, keep the difficulty of the trail low so he can work on fitness. I am lucky to live near grenoside woods and Parkwood springs; these would be my night riding power hour slots. When the weather gets better one lap of trail centres like Sherwood pines, or even llandegla could also work.

Thursday: Rest and wash the bike, so he can spend time with his family when he gets in Wednesday night.

Friday: Gym, Spin session for 1 hour. Or if the gyms classes are 30 minutes, I would do 30 minutes of conditioning beforehand.

Saturday: Rest day with family.

Sunday: Ride, distance based as it’s his “me” time.

As I said this is all about using the time you have effectively. In the week above I have scheduled enough time for Peat to get 2x rides in, 2x gym-based sessions in and everything mentioned above is worked. I have also allocated family time as I understand the importance of this in someone’s life. He doesn’t want to be on a world cup stage, he just wants to become a fitter rider.

But what if you want more than that?

If you are lucky enough to have plenty of free time, or you are a high-level athlete looking for big results how would your week look? If you are a beginner some of this may be hard to understand as I am going to use terminology here that may confuse you, have a read but don’t feel overwhelmed if this looks like too much training, or sounds too complex for you. This is based around our friend Peat Steve, so still with his 09:00-17:00 job.

*remember this is a no holds barred week, no compromises*

Monday S&C: Warm up by activating muscles, then into plyometric work (small level as he is riding tomorrow) followed by upper body functional strength.

Tuesday: Ride to work via his local trails, aim to get 15 miles done before work (he is lucky enough to have secure parking and his boss lets him shower at work).

Wednesday S&C: cardio warm up followed by more intense plyometrics and heavy squatting. Sprints on the spin bike to really punish the legs as he has time to recover before his next ride. Finish with more lower body stability work and 20 minutes steady on the exercise bike.

Thursday S&C: Low intensity posture-based session to keep his body in condition and prevent him from hunching forwards.

Friday: 1 hour of fast paced riding, laps of his local trails will work here, or create a course you know you can get straight too.

Saturday: FULL REST DAY, not even a dog walk.

Sunday: Ride, distance based of 20 miles or more.

Hopefully the above shows you the difference in making sacrifices to your time and just being fitter.

The reality is your sacrifices will become greater the further you want to go with this. Family time is still important but if you are training for race wins you must be doing everything to make sure you are on the podium. The above schedule is very reminiscent of my XC race schedule. However, I understand I am in the lucky position to be able to ride during the day, and I don’t have to rush out at night. If that was my schedule, I would probably replace one night ride with a road ride or a run after work.

So that’s time management covered and hopefully you have got to terms with using your time effectively. So how should you actually train, what does the terminology mean. I understand it can all be confusing so what I have done is included a picture of one of my own training plans, which I will now break down to you:

Warm up:

500m row and bosu ball squats:

This gets my heart rate up to a nice level and allows me to focus. The bosu ball squats help me work on my stability and develop my core strength and positioning.

Set 1:

Bosu ball lunge: I complete four sets of 10 repetitions each leg with 60s off.

Again, using the bosu while lunging helps me work on knee stability and strength in that joint. My knees have taken a pounding over the years, so this is something that has helped me move so much more fluid than previously.

Set 2:

Box squats: I complete 5 sets of 5 reps, then 5 sets of 3 reps with 60-120s off.

This is where I squat heavy, starting at a 20kg barbell and finishing at about 150kg for three reps. The box squat is a great exercise for cyclists as when you are seated you are in a position very similar to the top of your pedal stroke (picture below).

Set 3:

Air bike sprints: I complete 5 sets of 15 seconds on, 1 minute off.

Pure pain, the air bikes are brutal (assault bikes) and this really works on your power and your aerobic speed. Remember climbing fitness!

Set 4:

Overhead walking lunge: I complete 4 sets of 10.

This is another stability exercise and great to throw in when my heart rate is still high after the air bike. An exercise that works stability, but also your bodies ability to think and react when it’s working in a stressed state.

Final exercise:

20 minutes at 65-70rpm on an exercise bike.

Then I stretch and finish my training.

These sessions are designed to be short, and include a lot of rest for a reason:

Remember when planning your training your PRIMARY goal is to improve your fitness for riding the bike. If your gym sessions tire you out so when it comes to riding, you feel like your energy has gone then you aren’t doing it right. A proper conditioning plan will make you feel fitter, more agile and comfortable when you are on the bike.

I hope this has been an interesting insight into planning a training plan and the work that goes into it.

I wouldn’t say there is anything wrong with designing your own, but feel free to employ a coach or ask me any questions you have when doing so as it is VITAL you get this right. I hope you have enjoyed this weeks blog and as always, if you have any questions fire them off to accopley11@gmail.com or @acopleypt on Instagram.

Have a great week, see you on the trails.




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