Functional Interval Training for MTB riders is much different than if you Google it. We’re massive fans of all fitness but it seems the industry is simply taking buzz words and splicing them together because it’ll get traction…. Or is that what we’ve done??

I can categorically say it isn’t. In fact, I would love to call it something different to avoid any prejudgements. The truth is, there is no better way to describe it, but what exactly is it?

What is Functional Interval Training for MTB?

Functional training is one of those buzz words that, if googled, may lead you to videos of bosu ball kettlebell juggling. However, for us, “functional” simply means it improves your function or ability and for MTB riders that function is riding and to improve function is to improve performance. So we don’t claim it is functional unless it actually benefits your riding. And on a deeper level, our version of functional training is to balance all areas of strength and fitness to ensure a robust and “functional” rider.

Intervals Training is simply training at variable rates of effort from zero (recovery) to 100% (max) and everywhere in between. It has been used successfully for decades and more recently pops up as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in fitness marketing… which may also be misleading.

And put together, we have interval training that improves your function (performance) on the bike. What could be better?!

How to do it.

Although we vary the way we train often, including time domains with intervals, we suggest starting simple and with long “low” efforts and short “high” efforts.

In simple terms, start with 5 minutes easy on a static bike then 1 minute of very high pace movements. Repeat for 40-60 minutes for your first session and see how you are in the days after.

In the video we describe 3 levels of movement depending on your ability. It is very important you choose carefully, not only for safety but if you aren’t proficient with the more technical movements you are likely to reduce the intensity and therefore the efficacy of the high output interval.

What Next?

This type of training is great for people who ride lots and want to replace a ride with a single training session that ticks all the boxes. But if you’re looking for an actual training plan I wouldn’t suggest training this way exclusively.

Instead, look for a more wholistic program with stand-alone strength elements and capacity building. Something like the Fit4Racing or Fit4Riding programs we have ; )

Continue to educate yourself. Try to cut through the crap on the internet and find relevant, non faddy, training principals/advice to follow. I know it’s hard but the more you research the easier it is to see what is good and what is crap.

If in doubt, keep it simple. Training doesn’t have to be complicated so if you’re overwhelmed with information and don’t know what to do, just do anything and in the early stages it’s pretty much guaranteed to work. A caveat on that though – stay safe please.