Mountain biking is significantly different from road cycling – you can’t just use the same training prescription. Elite coach Janis Musins reveals how he transformed Martin Blums from a rank around 50 to an impressive 11th place on the World XC ranking, using INSCYD performance software.

Janis Musins using INSCYD test

Spread the knowledge! Share this article with your fellow coaches and athletes. Click the share buttons below and inspire others on their journey to athletic excellence.


Cross-Country (XC) mountain biking has seen a surge in interest and viewership due to the success of some road cyclists competing in XC.

The discipline has evolved significantly over the past five to ten years, with high technical skills and physiological conditioning requirements. The XC race season runs from February to October, with athletes needing to attend altitude camps, work on technical skills, and undergo regular testing in the meantime. 

Athletes competing in mountain bike races must maintain a well-balanced anaerobic threshold while having high VO2max (aerobic engine) and VLamax (anaerobic engine) levels.

To give you an example: my athlete Martins Blums had an average heart rate of 183 bpm during the World Championships in Glasgow (XCC), where he finished 6th.

Training and testing in XC mountain biking

Train2Win Endurance Coach use Vo2Max test

If you want to train effectively in such a busy season, you need to know exactly what to work on in training. Establishing a baseline, collecting data, and creating a plan for necessary changes is crucial.

INSCYD provides a non-invasive way to test and track progress during race season, allowing for fine-tuning and reevaluating training prescriptions. Martins Blums has already performed 5 field tests during this season, which would have been close to impossible with lab testing.

Test however and whenever you want

Whether you prefer a lab test with spirometry, a field test with lactate samples, a remote test based on power-only, a self-made test or a combination of these tests, INSCYD can do it!

Learn more about INSCYD test possibilities.

When we first got the baseline measurements, we prioritized on increasing VO2max. Then, after a significant amount of time, we refocused on increasing his anaerobic threshold and lactate shuttling capabilities.

Now, our sole focus of this season was improving his anaerobic power, also known as VLamax. We had to focus on improving VLamax, because Martins struggled in the first laps of his races. Improving the VLamax through frequent INSCYD tests helped him to perform better in both Cross Country Short Track (XCC) and Cross-Country Olympics (XCO) events.

All of these training strategies are based on the metabolic data from the INSCYD test

As a result, Martins Blums has steadily improved his performance markers, rising from ranking between 50-60th to currently being ranked number 11 in the world.

For coaches and labs

Unlock the Power of INSCYD Testing Today!

Take your athlete’s performance to the next level by leveraging INSCYD’s comprehensive metabolic testing. Get actionable insights to fine-tune your training strategies. See INSCYD in action now!


Elevate Your Performance

Unlock your full athletic potential with INSCYD’s comprehensive metabolic testing. Discover what you need to focus on to up your game. Don’t let another season pass you by; take action now! Book your test with certified INSCYD coach or lab here. 

Already have a coach? Experience INSCYD in action with your coach and redefine your training approach.

I use INSCYD in many ways. Here are two practical examples.

Training Zone Builder

I mainly use INSCYD’s Training Zone Builder, where I customize training zones based on physiological parameters.

Training zones based on %FTP are a thing of the past. INSCYD allows you to create highly individual training zones, based on metabolic metrics. For instance:


For each zone, you can add additional physiological metrics like:


  • Fat and carbohydrate combustion rates (g/h and kcal/h) per training zone
  • Energy distribution (%aerobic vs %anaerobic) per training zone
  • Lactate concentration after X amount of minutes in a specific training zone

Learn more about the INSCYD training zones

Despite training for over 1000 hours per year and racing 40-50 days per year, XC racers often have shorter training sessions but more of them, with a slightly higher power output. For that matter, you cannot simply use the same training prescriptions as for road cyclists.

Carbohydrate fueling and recovery

Train2Win show graphics on laptop

During the World Cup mountain bike race, recovery is crucial as there are usually only 40-45 hours between XCC short track events on Friday evenings and the start of XCO. Carb intake plays a significant role in recovery, especially since XCC races are usually close to the all-out intensity and have shorter courses with fewer technical elements than XCO courses. 

Recovery begins with a cooldown protocol after every race, with the goal to immediately  refill glycogen stores. We use INSCYD glycogen numbers to estimate the necessary amount of food for recovery.

Proper carb intake during training sessions before the race is also crucial for ensuring good recovery. It keeps glycogen stores high, which increases anaerobic power during the race.

Learn how much carbohydrates you burn during mountain bike training and racing. Use INSCYD’s carbohydrate combustion graph:

The carbohydrate combustion graph
The carbohydrate combustion graph shows how much carbohydrates you burn at any given exercise intensity. In this example, the athlete burns 167 grams per hour when riding at 265 watts.

You can also add carbohydrate combustion rates to your custom training zones. This allows you to easily get an idea of how much carbohydrates are burned, by looking at the time spent in a training zone, multiplied by the carbohydrate combustion rate.

INSCYD training zone with carbohydrate combustion
The Training Zone Builder enables you to create your own training zones. In this example we created a template that shows carbohydrate combustion in [g/h].

As a result, you know what to eat and drink during training, to make sure you never run out of energy. Bonking is now a thing of the past!

For coaches and labs

Transform Your Athletes' Performance with INSCYD

You’ve seen how INSCYD can revolutionize training and performance in XC mountain biking. From metabolic testing to custom training zones and recovery strategies, INSCYD offers a comprehensive solution for coaches. 

Don’t let your athletes settle for anything less than their absolute best. Book a Free Demo with INSCYD today and experience firsthand how you can elevate your coaching game.



Athletes why train with generic plans when you can have a program tailored to your unique physiology? INSCYD is the key to unlocking your full potential. Find your dedicated INSCYD coach or lab here. 

Already have a coach? Experience INSCYD in action with your coach and redefine your training approach.

Janis Musins - Head Coach - Train2Win Endurance Coaching
Janis Musins

Janis is the founder and head coach of Train2Win Endurance Coaching. He’s the coach of many elite champions like Martin Blums. His motto: “Being a coach for me is a process of continuous education and discovery through science and human psychology. Coaching for me is more than numbers - it’s about one’s physical and personal development.”

Related Posts

FatMax: definition, training (zone) and exercise test

FatMax: definition, training (zone) and exercise test Whether you like cycling, running or any other endurance exercise: knowing your FatMax zone will enable you to train your fat oxidation and boost your endurance performance. This blog contains everything you need to know about FatMax. From theory to practical application. Let’s dive right into it! WHAT…

Read more
VO2max: the size of the athlete's engine

Understanding VO2max: What Is It And How It Affects Athlete Performance​

Understanding VO2Max: What Is It and How It Affects Athlete Performance In the realm of endurance sports, understanding performance data and metrics is vital. A common question that emerges among athletes is “what’s your FTP?” or even more specific: “what is your power-to-weight ratio?”. However, both FTP and power-to-weight ratio are heavily dependent on a…

Read more

Webinar: Uncommon Strategies to Increase Triathlon Performance

Watch the webinar where Sebastian Weber, who is the project leader of INSCYD will share insights on effective but uncommon strategies to increase triathlon performance. Learn how to increase your swimming economy, optimize your carbohydrate intake, improve your running economy and more.  Join us for a webinar where Sebastian Weber, who is the project leader of INSCYD will share insights…

Read more
INSCYD skiing test

Next level metabolic analysis in XC skiing

Just because INSCYD is well accepted in cycling – with partners like Team Jumbo Visma, Movistar and Alpecin-Fenix – doesn’t mean INSCYD is limited to cycling. In fact, the first INSCYD license purchased ever was in swimming – via the French Institute of Sports INSEP. If you are a coach, test lab or federation, who…

Read more