As has been my goal with all of these training articles, I want to give more than you would get from just repeating what has been said before. This article is no different and in fact, I hope it helps break down the thought process of labelling yourself as time 'deprived' for training.

Having been working as a coach, on some level, for the last 20 years, I have come across a wide range of athletes at different levels. There has been one thing that separates athletes out and that is motivation and how this motivation breaks down the barrier we call TIME.

People are always looking for that piece of magic that will make them faster, stronger, a better climber, more skilled and so on but there are no magic tricks despite whether the magazines tell you to "do this 3hr a week training plan to be fastest xc racer." Really? Sounds great but we need to be realistic.

So, we are going to start from the start, this process is one I use all the time as a coach to manage athletes' expectations. Set your GOAL, this could be from taking part in your first regional XC race, to getting a podium in a National XC race or completing a stage race. Now once you have the goal, fill out a e3 lifestyle audit this will show you where your time goes each week and how much time you can commit to your goal.

This is your first step into seeing if your goal is achievable so be honest with yourself. Next phase is how important is your goal? We can all make time for the things we really want! So you go to work at 7am then can you get up at 4am and train for two hours? Your motivation will answer that question.

Working with World Champion Steve Day (24hrs racing) and he still works full time and has family but will be up at 3.45am and get 3hr sessions in before work. What I am saying here is we all have a bit more time than we think and some times it's not about finding the magic but finding the motivation.

Now for the training practical side. Making sure every session you do is specific is key if you have little time. I have coached a UCI Enduro rider who races the world series but only has 5-6hrs a week to train, so there are ways depending on your event if you train smart.

A turbo trainer with a road bike can make some short but specific fitness sessions, the road bike with harder gearing means more of a muscular workout. Turbo requires constant pedal work and is hard to elevate heart rate as the bike is supported, this means you can also get hard base sessions working the correct cardio zone to build winter fitness.
Turbo also saves time getting dressed up with winter layers!

Go for a run 20-30 mins cross country, careful with this if you don't normally run start steady as to avoid injury. Its a quick way to maintain cardio fitness with out having to get bike kit and bike ready.

Be creative - check out Nino Schurter's strength sessions

All specific movements for mountain biking. We can do this type of work in 20-30 mins at home... One example is single step ups onto a chair, measure your handle bar width then do all push ups at this width. Measure distance from one pedal to the other then do all squats at this distance.

As a coach, I am always looking for new ways to get athletic improvement and sometimes it seems odd but we have to be creative to get the best out of riders.

I work with a road cyclist who is a consultant anesthetist (busy stressful job) he will use the stairs outside his office to hop up and down each day, this came about when he said could not get time for strength work...Have you tried hopping up stairs? Mega workout.

Obviously you still need to get on the MTB once a week to keep the feel and skills needed to be kept up together plus it's the reason you're doing it?! You love being out on your MTB so 2-3 turbos 45 mins- 1hr, 2 strength sessions 30 mins and one ride 1-2hrs can get you in great shape.

Example Week (4hr15m - 6hr)


Day Session Time
Monday Turbo 45min-1hr
Tuesday Turbo 45min-1hr
Wednesday Strength Session 30min
Thursday Turbo 45min-1hr
Friday Strength Session 30min
Saturday MTB 1-2Hrs
Sunday Rest Day

We will be looking at turbo sessions next week.

  • Set Goal

  • Do a lifestyle audit

  • Recheck goal against time available

  • Motivation

  • Get up early

  • Be creative

  • Make every session specific

  • Use a turbo trainer

  • Stop the excuses - just do it

As always any questions please just drop us an email.