Lea Davison is a XC Mountain Biker who rides for the Specialized Global team. She just took third place at the World Championships, the perfect end to her best season yet. This girl knows a thing or two about how to train more effectively in order to get to that next level on the bike. Here are Lea's top tips:
1. Quality not quantity
If you are training really hard and can’t see improvement, you should focus on the quality of your training. You need to bring intensity into it. Take a normal climb that you do and test yourself. When I do intervals I am gased at the top. I’ll be hunched over my bike, fully breathing. You need to push yourself.
Usually people need to rest more so when you have the hard workout days you can really hit it. I know it can be hard when you have kids and a full time job but try to sleep as much as possible. It is also hard to recognise when you need to take a step back, even as a professional athlete, I find it hard to accept that I am not ready to do a hard workout and rest instead, I feel so guilty. But you need to realise that it wouldn’t have been an effective session and the rest will be far more valuable.
Pick your weakness and work on it. If you want to improve your climbing you need to climb a lot. Take a normal climb that you do and test yourself. Start to time yourself on it. If it is a ten minute climb and you take 30 seconds off it over a period of three months, that is brilliant. Even If you take five seconds off that is great.
Some people work harder when they chase people, others work harder when they are leading, others work best against the clock. I work the hardest when I am chasing someone. . I train with my sister, I am bit faster than her on the bike so she starts 15 seconds in front of me so I can chase her. For me that is really good.
5. Strength training
Strength goes a long way. This season I was not training on the bike for the first four months (Lea was recovering from hip surgery), I was just doing strength workouts and I was able to come back and have my best season yet.
It is a lot of leg focus but also core focus as you need a lot of balance in mountain biking. You are balancing on your pedals, on your two feet and it is a lot of little movements. I do all body weights and a lot with resistance cords. I incorporate balance with strength training.
6. Avoid injury
There are three main things that will help you avoid injury.
Strength training – if you are strong, then you are even, balanced out. I spend the entire off-season trying to balance out the strength I build on the bike. I try to undo what I do while cycling as you are hunched over, fixed at three points, your butt, feet and hands, it’s not a great position as one day you’ll end up looking like Quasimodo.
Yoga – this will keep you loose, improve your posture and help to open up your back and shoulders.
For more info, check out our guide to avoiding and treating the four most common injuries obtained on the bike.
You need fuel to recover. I have had to work on eating more protein within an hour of finishing my ride. I eat a tonne of eggs. Before a race I’ll eat two eggs over easy with toast with some fruit and granola. I go through about 24 eggs in a week. It is such good protein and so easy.
Also worth a read: