‘My legs give way before my lungs’

Follower Richard, when asked what his biggest struggle on the bike is, wrote back saying :

“My biggest problem is that my legs always give way before my lungs in an XC race. To be specific I feel I have a lot more to give on the breathing side of things but my legs always give up the ghost first.

Don’t get me wrong I’m training hard and I am racing at a reasonably high level but wondered if there is something specific I should be working on”

So first of all, this advice applies to everyone, NOT just those racing.

It’s quite common this with Mountain Bikers. There are

a couple of main areas I would look at.

First of all… you need to increase your lactate tolerance.

​​​​​​​This is the amount of time it takes for your legs to start burning.

A couple of good ways to do this :

– Intervals with a high resistance. Pick a HIGH resistance that you can only manage to hold 60-80 rpm at with your max effort. Do that for 60 seconds (you should be flagging about 40 seconds in), then rest for 2 minutes (low resistance and chilled) and repeat 5-10 times.
– Train high reps in the gym. Here’s an example… Do 25 leg extensions, straight into 25 cyclist squats, straight into 20 walking lunges. Rest 2 ​​​​​​​minutes and repeat for 4 sets.
​​​​​​​This will help build your lactate tolerance.What you need to do as well as this, is build the strength of your legs.

The best way, is to do this in the gym, lifting heavy weights for low reps.

A good workout for this is ‘5×5’. You do 2 exercises back to back, for a max effort of 5 reps. For example… squats and deadlifts. 5 max weight reps, rest 3 minutes… and repeat for 5 sets.

You can do a month-2 months of low rep, high weight work, followed by the lactate work mentioned above.
Do this for 6 months and watch how much better your legs feel.Also, cheeky plug, check out my 12 Week MTB Programme if you haven’t already because I show you exactly how to do all the above 😉

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