Improve Your Body Position 100% in 30 Days Blueprint

Feb 15, 2013
by James Wilson  
In my recent post on how to Improve Your Riding 100% in 30 Days I touched on the basic principle of focusing your training on improving something specific about your riding for a short period of time. This approach becomes even more important as we progress as riders because the amount of effort it takes to move the needle on skills and fitness levels becomes higher as we get better.

However, this approach is equally important for the new rider needing to establish a solid base to work from, or even an experienced rider who never got the chance to work on the fundamental things when they starter riding. This brings us to the new Improve Your Riding 100% in 30 Days Blueprints, this time covering Body Position.

Body Position on your mountain bike is the core skill that everything else you do on the trail stems from. If this is off you won’t pedal as efficiently, corner as confidently or jump as consistently. Your overall balance and trail skills are tied to your Body Position as well. This makes it something every rider should spend time improving no matter how long they’ve been riding.

With that in mind, here are the key Mobility Drills, Strength Training Exercises and Skills Drills that you should use over the next 30 days to help improve this essential riding skill.

Mobility Drills


The two areas you need to focus on for good body position are the shoulders and the hips. If you are tight and jammed up in either of those areas (and most riders are tight in both areas) then you will never be able to achieve optimal body position on the bike. This makes mobilizing these areas a top priority. Pick 1 or 2 things from each of these videos and make sure you do them 5 days a week for the next 30 days.

Hip Hinge Exercises
Views: 7,560    Faves: 49    Comments: 0


Shoulder Mobility Exercises
Views: 5,010    Faves: 63    Comments: 0



Strength Training


Developing shoulder stability, core strength and the ability to move effectively from the hips are main things to focus on here. This makes the 3 core kettlebell exercises – the Turkish Get Up, Swing and Goblet Squat – and single leg deadlift variations a must in your program. Every time you train 1 or more of these exercises should be in your workout and, if in doubt, just follow this simple routine:

Turkish Get Up X 1 rep each side
Swing X 10-20 reps
Goblet Squat X 10 reps
Stagger Stance or Single Leg Deadlift X 10 reps each leg


Go through this circuit 2-4 times. Do this routine 3 times a week.

Top 3 Kettlebell Exercises for Mountain Bikers
Views: 6,829    Faves: 95    Comments: 6


Single Leg Deadlift Progressions
Views: 3,995    Faves: 46    Comments: 0



Skills Training


The next step is to tie your improved mobility and strength to your bike. Body position boils down to your ability to keep you center of gravity balanced with your bike's center of gravity while also keeping enough weight on the front end to steer effectively. However, this position can be counter-intuitive and takes focused practice to really learn. In this video I explain more about how body position affects your balance on the bike and how to apply your strength training to the bike.

Views: 8,571    Faves: 58    Comments: 9


Every day you should do something on this list. Those mobility drills should be part of your warm up. At least 1 of those strength training exercises should be in your workout every time you workout. You should schedule 15 minutes of drills a couple times a week. Every time you ride you should be thinking about putting it all together on the trail.

It really is that simple. Follow this plan for 30 days and I guarantee that your body position and balance will have improved a lot, probably 100% or more for some of you. It is very empowering to realize that you be the rider you want to be – the power truly is in your hands.

I'll post a new Improve Riding 100% Blueprint in 30 days (or so) covering your pedal stroke, in the meantime put this advice to use for the next 30 days and let me know how it goes.

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MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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46 Comments

  • + 19
 I'm 44 years old and getting stiffer of shoulder by the minute. Life savers for me James, thanks. Doing proper training will keep me from injuring myself and thus prolong my riding years I hope!!!
  • + 4
 Your only as old as you think you are Smile , though with that said i am definitely working in these stretches into my work out.
  • + 12
 Sorry, as essential strength training might be, I spend the precious minutes off work on the bike rather than in the in the gym.
  • + 12
 So true I ride my bikes to keep me out of the gym
  • + 20
 im all for going on a bike ride instead of the gym, but some days you cant get out on the bike. So why not use these training tips in the gym?
  • + 14
 If you want to keep riding your eventually going to have to start strength training because of the injuries you will get from muscular imbalances. It doesn't take much time and it will save you from getting injured if you do it right.
  • + 10
 1.You dont need gym for those excersises - only two kettlebells. 2.you can train at home - such home gym pass won't take you more than half of an hour, and a bit done consequently every day or every second day does wonders. 3.Just riding your bike is not an effective way to become better rider, by being stronger and more skilled. You can either choose to have lots of mediocre rides, or 1 really quality ride per 3, of which 2 are deliberate practice sessions focused on one specific aspect of riding. 4.stronger you are, more force you can apply to handle your bike, over longer period of time. Thus more you can focus on riding technique, thus you learn faster. Stronger you are, less beaten you get by the trail, more you can enjoy longer rides or descends. 5.You need to be really strong, and by just riding you might get, a bit strong, at best, if you really spend ON THE BIKE for more than 10h a week.
  • + 3
 As I have have grown older, I have found weight training and running essential to improving my endurance and preventing injury. My back hurts me less, my shoulders are not as sore after a weekend of throwing a 43 lb bike around. ... and when I ride my xc bike, I almost never tire. I attribute that to running mostly, which gives me a cardio workout I find diffcult to obtain on my bike alone. Simply riding your bike does not make you strong in all the areas you should be strong, to master your bike handling.
  • + 6
 Think you can still stay out of the gym. Rock climbing and touring on skis do pretty well to give attention to some muscles otherwise atrophying on a bike.

I climb, bike, tour, etc. I feel ripping strong but I've spread myself too thin between hobbies and I'm not very good at any of them Smile
  • + 4
 You are lucky! ... Yeah I mean don't get me wrong. I would much rather be on my bike than in the gym. And if I didn't have a 50hr work week I would prob be involved in some more activities that would cut that time down, but for me it's the only way to keep as fit as I want to be. And the fitter I get, the more fit I want to become.
  • + 4
 @DARKSTAR. no way to avoid the gym sometimes for sure. Being fit and crushing whatever stokes you gets to be such an obsession. join a climbing gym? if not for yourself, for the ladies Smile
  • + 3
 Just came back from little running, I hate to run and haven't been running all my life. But I felt I need to do it, signed up for a half marathon and it is too late...

So... if you have one of those days when you feel pressed to ride but not really want to (because you have SO much free time), go do some running. I can't believe how little my chest feels. My lungs are going: let us out! and ribs are going: stay in there, stop stretching! I guess getting better at breathing by training your chest to stretch freely can imprve any aspect of riding... stupid roadies with their step counters... oh my chest hurts...
  • + 0
 @ampa - "I spend the PRECIOUS minutes off work on the bike rather than in the in the gym." Uhh you just spent what 20 mins reading this article and watching the vids, another few mins making a comment. There's enough time for a workout bud! Get your lazy ass of the comp if your time is so precious!
  • + 3
 C-trides, that's a stupid thing to say. Everyone has downtime, lame of you to write a comment like that.
  • + 1
 Mieszko - hihi homework pressure messed you up. Stop watching reality shows on MTV... Downtime ihihi
  • + 1
 Waki, you are as strange as your name suggests... hihi ihihi?
  • + 10
 Everyone is a critic when you are trying to pass on information to help. Thanks for the info. Good work outs/stretches make the time on the bike better.
  • + 0
 I'm usually a critic but I liked these workouts. Alot of times criticism is useful though.
  • + 5
 These Videos and tips have help out my riding quite a bit. Both on and off the bike, Im always looking for new ways to improve my health and fitness. This style of training helps not so much day to day stuff, but for the unexpected. Keep em comin!
  • + 1
 to train your general stability allot, go get some proper power plate workout at your local gym. it is truelly an awesome and almost endless way of training allot of the smaller but just as important mucle groups, aswell as the big one's. don't be fooled by it's simple looks, it can be quite a pain in the ass if the trainer knows how to use it.
  • + 3
 My hip mobility sucks so this will help a lot. Thanks. As regards body position, I'm no expert, but I find it tends to change with bike geometry and riding style. Classic examples are Sam Hills heels down moto style on a Demo compared to Minnaars head forward attack style on a V10.
  • + 3
 I think the main difference there is that Hill rides flats and Minaar doesn't. If Hill was clipped in i dont think he would have such a heel down style. Riding at those speeds you have to keep your heels down to keep your feet on the pedals on flats. With clips thats not an issue.
  • + 2
 I think hip mobility is so important for mtn bikers because we get SO ASYMMETRICAL! Front foot side and rear foot side have different jobs and work in different ranges of motion! It's good to be aware of these differences and monitor them through stretching and to strengthen the hips through the entire range of motion!
these videos were really good!! Very nitpicky and detailed which is great and I LOVED the saying "laying fitness on top of dysfunction". Amazingly true. One thing he didn't mention is the easiest (& my fave) internal rotator stretch (shoulders): simply lying on the foam roller with both your head and tailbone supported and letting your arms fall to your side in a T-position.
MOBILITY IS AWESOME! STRETCHING IS AWESOME! you can do it in your living room, in bed, even in your chair at the office.
  • + 1
 Out of all the riders on the WC cuircut you can see gwins position reflect this pretty well, obviously working together for sometime. And we can't argue gwins speed. Most WC riders will show this position, the video sort of exaggerates it a little as on a dh run we are always changing position to deal with course changes. But the Posture is reflected pretty well in most riders.
  • + 1
 I like James` videos much, but one thing is much better in my opinion for hip mobility - goblet squat with kb/db - just "squat-in", stay in it and very slowly move your weight from one heel to another as far as you can, holding kb/db at your chest with elbows down, while pushing with your elbows to knees from inner side. Also, this took away my long-years lower-back-side-upper-butt Smile pain (it is common pain when piriformis muscle stresses sciatic nerve).
  • + 3
 my shoulder movement range is crap,but i never really realised, great stuff!!
  • + 1
 If your shoulder movement is bad you check what range of motion you have in your rotator cuff.
  • + 1
 Now watch this a bunch of times till its burned in, then go shred, I'll bet you be faster, feel more confident and have amazing time to boot! And you'll probs wanna ride more. Thanks for the vids!
  • + 1
 i tend to have my weight back, but arms locked. This article came out at just the right time as i was beginning to change my riding position to get my weight over the front wheel.
  • + 0
 IMO, the body position video is a good video for some riders depending on the riding style and type of trail you ride. If I position my body like that I would probably end up in the chiropractor for the rest of my days.
  • + 2
 Id think the pain would be less. That back position maintains the natural curve and is the same sort of position as a deadlift. I think the position in the video is over exaggerated though. Your always changing body position on the bike to deal with the terrain.
  • + 1
 That back position is key to developing a strong back which will relieve pressure from the spine. Being able to hold a flat lower back not rounding out will enable you to build a lot of strength into your lower back muscles. People who say that you should bend with your knees when picking something up don't know how to hold a flat back and that a deadlift (done correctly) will lift 25% more weight than a squat for a muscularly balanced person.
  • + 1
 Riding is about having a good time, so why would I want to be inside doing exercises when I could be shredding trails?
  • + 1
 Just got back from an enduro then, this would have been nice a few weeks back
  • + 1
 Traing tips are great. Running and SUP are good additions to strength and core training.
  • + 2
 Thanks James, your posts really help my riding! Keep it up!
  • + 1
 Excellent explanation of how to visualize it all. More Kettlebell ex's please!
  • + 1
 silly question but what weight kettlebell?
  • + 1
 I wonder how many teeth were shattered after watching this video 0.o
  • + 1
 Jump off cliff hold on tight...all i need to know
  • - 1
 I have an even better way to improve EVERY aspect of your riding! Stop reading about how to work out on the internet and go ride your damn bike.
  • + 1
 2nd that!
  • - 1
 Wot a load of bollox!! unless ur a heavy weight pork life fan just get out and shred! Makes me laugh!
  • + 1
 To rip faster we can all benefit from xtra training on the side. I used to ride like you......just ride. But since traing I am more dynamic and can choose new way to flow trails better never mind get to the top faster. Embracing information from people that have worked with top riders is a way to aid progression.......if you want to be the best you can be you need an holistic approachSmile
  • + 1
 I like that yeti 4x
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