Training and fitness: Cutting through the BS

Guidance on effective training with Red Bull’s High Performance Manager Darren Roberts.
Marcelo Gutierrez does some pre-seson preparation at the Red Bull DTC
Marcelo Gutierrez trains at the DTC © Mats Grimsæth/Red Bull Content Pool
By Darren Roberts

Red Bull’s High Performance Manager Darren Roberts is back with the second of his training and fitness features. Here he discusses the importance of adapting training to specific needs.


Training for anything can seem like a daunting prospect, especially when it comes to what sort of training to do and how.

There are a plethora of training programmes, schedules and quick fixes to get you to the level of fitness you want. Each method claims to be the fastest and most effective. Trying to find a starting point and methodology that's right for you is no easy task.

So what training or nutrition plan should you follow - well, I'm not exactly sure you should follow a rigid plan. Almost all methodologies and regimes are based around what an elite does, which is great if you're a professional athlete and the only thing to do is train for your sport.

For everyone else there is the small matter of real life. So any training plan which an elite does, whilst totally effective for them, may not be suitable for the weekend warrior when life's little episodes pop up. The needs of the elite and the needs of the person in the street differ by degree not kind - so it's a case of scaling appropriately your training time available.

Marcelo Gutierrez training at the Red Bull DTC
Marcelo Gutierrez at Red Bull DTC © Mats Grimsæth/Red Bull Content Pool

Ordinarily I would tell someone that their goals will determine methods used, but for the weekend warrior, you need to have a good think about the time you have available not just for 'training' but for riding as well. Which is another key point, if you want to be faster on a bike, you need to technically improve not just lift more weights.

Simply state your training goal, which has to be specific and realistic. You can't just say 'I want to be fitter and stronger', they are intentions not a specific measurable goal. If you want to be 'fitter' what does that mean to you? Define it. .

Assign time frames to these goals of when you want to achieve them buy and before you know it a rough plan will start to form itself in front of you. However, remain flexible with any schedule you set, because when things go sideways you need to be able to adapt any plan to your given circumstances.

For most it's do what you can when you can, so get the maximum out of your training session by having key multi joint exercises and training at a good intensity. Riding a mountain bike is an interval high intensity modality with differing lengths of recovery depending on how long the flat parts are.

You're using your whole body so it's essential to train your whole body and learn to control your body weight. Press ups, pull ups, squats are all body weight exercises where you learn to shift you're own weight around.

Just as on a MTB you use your body to help guide the bike, so this dynamic type of training where you have to control your body weight is ideal and completely transferable. Circuit based training using body weight also has an aerobic element to it. Ultimately these types of sessions are limited by imagination only.

Simplicity is inversely proportional to effectiveness - so be specific, be clear and realistic about what you want to do. Then plan accordingly with an understanding that you need to be flexible and switch things around when life gets in the way. The most important thing though - is have fun riding your bike!

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