Never Skimp on Strength Training – XC World Champion

Kate Courtney

“I think hard work is one of the most important factors in making progress … that is always something I have taken pride in, really being willing to do whatever it takes.”

– Kate Courtney

What does it take to be a World Champion? In episode 2 of Rising we follow Kate Courtney behind the race tape to learn what it takes to be the fastest mountain bike racer in the world.

Competition at the top of elite mountain biking takes more than long days on the bike. It’s about training that makes you ready to endure and perform under any circumstance come race day. This means designing a program that is dynamic putting you in new situation that challenge your mind and your body.

“I work with a strength coach and we work together to design a program that really specific and really about getting me into many different situations, so I have better situational awareness, coordination, strength and can perform under any circumstances.”

– Kate Courtney

What does a typical week of training look like?
Typically, I ride every day and spend 2-3 days per week in the gym. My rides often involve a series of intervals and are done on the mountain or road bike while my double days usually involve slightly shorter rides. I ride anywhere from 15-25 hours a week and spend roughly 3-6 hours in the gym. Outside of this, I spend training time doing yoga, stretching and focusing on recovery. You can only train as hard as you can recover!

If you could suggest three workouts to a friend to improve their riding, which would they be and why?
For those just starting out, my biggest advice is to just spend more time on the bike and to identify specific skills you’d like to the work on during your time out on the trail. While you can get increasingly specific with intervals, time in the gym, etc. – the most valuable thing you can do as a beginner or intermediate rider looking to improve is to put in more hours on the bike.

Outside of the added volume, I highly recommend working on functional core (not just planking!) and making sure to have a good stretching/recovery routine. A lot of the work that I do in the gym and for recovery are for injury prevention and to help me stay strong and healthy while pushing my body over a long period of time.

What is something important about training you think most people underestimate?
People underestimate recovery! I approach my recovery as seriously as my training and I think it makes a huge difference. If you can recover between sessions, you are able to push much harder overall and have a much higher chance of avoiding illness and injury.

first published