Top five fitness tips for mountain biking

Get Flat Out Fit with our mountain bike training plan

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Push your riding to the next level with these fitness tips from Flat Out Fit cycle coach Joe Rafferty, of Pro Ride Guides.

A fully qualified mountain bike tutor, former Loughborough sports academic and GB athlete, Joe has been a mountain bike coach and personal trainer for eight years. He currently specialises in enduro training and looks after Kona’s Alex Stock, one of the UK’s top enduro riders. Joe’s also a self-confessed all-mountain addict and gear geek.

Joe explained why mountain bikers should train to help improve their general riding:

“The main reason we ride is for fun, and in all honesty we’re almost always happier when either gravity is on our side or the trail flows well enough not to get us huffing and puffing. So what’s with all this training malarkey, then? We’re mountain bikers, aren’t we? Well, what if I told you that with a little bit of training you could make even the roughest trails flow, and you could have enough energy to make the ups as playful as downs. Would that tempt you? What about the confidence to tear up that last climb just to bomb back down?

“We know all too well that time on the bike is key, but with the way we all work and give ourselves so little time to play, our fitness becomes one step forward and two back. This training plan is designed to help you get a grip of your potential again. It’s designed to help you get progressively fitter with no gym membership, no expensive equipment and no wasted time. In fact, don’t think of it as a training plan, think of it as guidance.”

Tame the trails with added mountain bike fitness:
Russell Burton

Joe demonstrating how taming the trails is easier with greater mountain bike fitness

Joe Rafferty’s top five fitness tips

Getting fit isn’t about eating an organic banana 34 minutes before your session, then gulping a protein shake three breaths after your last rep. For the average person it’s actually pretty simple. Following these five tips should set you on the right track:

Eat the right things

Cut your sugar intake, avoid overly processed foods, wean yourself off copious amounts of caffeine and you might just be able to hear what your body is asking for.

Avoid the weekend warrior trap

When it comes to improving, consistency is key. Four quality sessions per week will give you much better improvements than one long slog that leaves you needing the week to recover.

Rest properly

To improve, you need periods of stress (physical exertion) and recovery. They are of equal importance – sleep well and have at least one full rest day per week.


If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it properly. Find out what motivates you, plan, set goals and go for it. When things get tough, remember where you want to be and why.


Doing the same ‘grey ride’ week in, week out means you’ll eventually plateau. Progressing your training intensity and volume will keep you improving.

Joe rafferty of pro ride guides:
Russell Burton
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Joe Rafferty of Pro Ride Guides