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The Annual Training Plan (ATP)

by Coach Seiji


Over the past several years, I have written many articles to help serve as a guide to training for motocross. Figuring out limiters, setting season goals and determining training objectives are a few of the articles to help get the most out of training for motocross. Individually these are good but the real power comes to light when the articles are combined to create what is known as an Annual Training Plan (ATP). Do you have a training plan? When I entered the motocross world, I was shocked that so many racers did not employ a training plan of any sort. “I just ride and man I ride hard and I ride as much as I can!” is a pretty common “training plan” in the motocross world.

After going through the procedure that follows you will have the goods to be able to start your own ATP, your personal master plan that will most effectively guide you through the upcoming season. This ATP will ensure that all training activities are always moving towards your goals in motocross. It will provide you with confidence as you will be assured you are doing the right things at the right time. It is your guidebook to the podium!

An exact step by step instructional on how to set up an ATP is beyond the scope of this article but this will serve as a “beginner’s guide” to creating your own ATP. The Premium Training plans offered on this site were developed using the same principles, so if you want us to do the work, just click here and BOOM, you will have a full-on training plan at your fingertips delivered to your inbox every day. But if you like to figure things out on your own, what follows should get you close.

Premium training on Virtual Trainer takes the guess work out of developing the ATP. Each day the rider is instructed on exactly what to do and how to do it.

Schedule your training periods:
Get a calendar and mark your first “A priority” event. Click here If you need help in determining your "A priority" event. The beginning of your off season training will ideally be 25-weeks from this A event. Starting with a week before the week of your A event count backwards and mark off four week training periods. These weeks and training periods will look like this:

Cardio Strength
Month 1 Week 1 Base 1 Anatomical Adaptation (ideally the first week of off season training)
Week 2 Base 1 Anatomical Adaptation
Week 3 Base 1 Anatomical Adaptation
Week 4 Base 1 Muscular Transition
Cardio Strength
Month 2 Week 1 Base 2 Max Strength
Week 2 Base 2 Max Strength
Week 3 Base 2 Max Strength
Week 4 Base 2 Max Strength
Cardio Strength
Month 3 Week 1 Base 3 Power Endurance
Week 2 Base 3 Power Endurance
Week 3 Base 3 Power Endurance
Week 4 Base 3 Power Endurance
Cardio Strength
Month 4 Week 1 Build 1 Strength Maintenance
Week 2 Build 1 Strength Maintenance
Week 3 Build 1 Strength Maintenance
Week 4 Build 1 Strength Maintenance
Cardio Strength
Month 5 Week 1 Build 2 Strength Maintenance
Week 2 Build 2 Strength Maintenance
Week 3 Build 2 Strength Maintenance
Week 4 Build 2 Strength Maintenance
Month 6 Race Week A Priority Race
Months 7 - 12
See Plan Descriptions on the VT premium training page

Identify goals for each training period:

Each training period stresses different components of fitness. In very general terms:

Month 1:
Strength: Anatomical Adaptation (AA) and Muscular Transition (MT) phases. AA rep range is 20, MT range is 12-15 to failure, 3 sets per exercise usually, 3 weeks AA, 1 week MT (mid level load, mid level repetitions per session).

Cardio: Base 1 - fat metabolizing, low level cardiovascular aerobic only exercises with a high total weekly volume.

Motocross Riding: Endurance riding; long motos at lower intensity, high weekly volume of riding.

Month 2:
Strength: Maximum Strength (MS) phase. Exercises should be done in the 4-8 repetitions to failure range, 3-4 sets per exercise usually (high load, low total repetitions per session).

Cardio: Base 2 - fat and carbohydrate metabolizing, low to mid level aerobic only exercise, higher weekly volume than in Base 1.

Motocross Riding: Still endurance type of riding, longer moto lengths and larger total weekly volume of riding.

Month 3:
Strength: Power Endurance (PE) phase. Exercises are done with a very quick, explosive positive phase of movement with loads set so speed can be maintained through 12 repetitions, 3 sets per exercise usually (mid load, mid volume but quick movement).

Cardio: Base 3 - mostly carbohydrate metabolizing mid level aerobic only exercise with some low level fat metabolizing aerobic only exercise, the highest weekly volume of the training year.

Motocross Riding: Endurance type of riding but start to introduce slightly higher riding speeds, the longest motos of the training year with the largest total weekly volume of the training year.

Month 4:
Strength: Strength Maintenance (SM) phase. one set to fail at 12 repetitions, one set to fail at 8 repetitions, two sets per exercise only. Frequency can be reduced to once per week.

Cardio: Build 1 - interval training begins stressing aerobic threshold. One to twice per week of interval work, other days are aerobic only recovery workouts.

Motocross Riding: Begin sprint/interval type of work. Short efforts (from 3 to 5 minute sprints usually) with high intensity. Once to twice per week, all other motos should be endurance type. High intensity, low total weekly volume.

Month 5:
Strength: Strength Maintenance (SM) phase. Same as previous month, once per week, or can be eliminated altogether.

Cardio: Build 2 - anaerobic power intervals start here, maximum effort, very short duration intervals. All other cardiovascular work should be recovery type.

Motocross Riding: The highest intensity, shortest duration interval work of the training year; one to two lap all out sprints. All other riding should be endurance type. This is the highest intensity but smallest total weekly riding of the training year.

Month 6:
Race week:
Cardiovascular and motocross work should be very high intensity but very low duration. Total weekly volume of all training is very low. Purpose is to stress the body systems that equate to speed but keep the volume very low to aid building up energy stores and “tapering down” for the big event.

These parameters are stated in very general terms just to give you an idea of how periodized training is scheduled and what the goal is of each training period. The premium training plans available on Virtual Trainer utilize these principles.

Each training period can be planned using these very general rules:

  • For all Base periods weekly volume increases from week 1 to week 3.
  • For all Build periods weekly volume is lower than Base and the same from week to week – For workouts and training weeks in general: as training intensity goes up, training volume must go down. i.e., intensity and volume never go up at the same time.
  • Week 4 for all training periods is the “rest week.” This is actually when you get faster as your body takes the energy usually used for training and utilizes it to make the cellular and tissue changes that lead to increased performance. Training volume and intensity are both low and workouts are recovery type only.
  • During each training week, workouts should generally be scheduled from the highest intensity, lowest duration to the lowest intensity, highest duration (with appropriate recovery workouts in between the highest intensity days).

Remove the Guesswork with Premium Training

At Virtual Trainer, we believe there is a right way to train for motocross. It starts with having a clear goal, finding expert instruction, performing structured training and receiving immediate feedback throughout the process. Get your custom training plan now!

You now possess the general rules in getting your Annual Training Plan started. Creation of an ATP is a very important and complex task that should be practiced at the end of every season just after your end of season break. This gives you the both the hindsight into your past season as well as a view into the upcoming season. This article gives you the first steps in creating your season guidebook. And remember, we've done all the work for you in the premium training plans offered on this site. Do yourself a favor and spend the 20 bucks per month and get the plan. Whether you ride or not the benefits are well worth the cost!

About the Author: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt, Drew Yenerich, Rusty Potter, Jason Anderson, and Andrew Short. Learn more at or contact Coach Seiji directly.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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