Assess Your Season, Rest and Cross Train

Nov 19, 2016 at 15:00
Nov 19, 2016
by Dee Tidwell  
 
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I believe that one of the most important times of the year for any athlete is the off-season but especially us mountain bikers. I know, I know. I hear it all the time, “what off season? I ride all the time bro.” To that I say, “I can appreciate that, but please just hear me out."

When a client or friend says this to me, the first question I ask them is, “Do you not want to get better?” And with an objective crinkling of their face, the inevitable answer is, “of course, that’s why I ride so much, to get better.” Trust me, I’ve experienced this type of conversation in every sport I’ve coached, no matter if they're amateurs and professionals, with the same response. You see, It’s very difficult to maintain a high level of performance without sufficient amounts of rest. Importantly, if you don’t schedule it into your weekly, monthly and yearly schedule (officially called a “Periodization” see example below), you will continue to ride at the same level you have year after year.

Assess Your Season Rest and Cross Train

Therefore, part of every athlete’s annual Periodization plan (whether an amateur or pro) needs to include a time period during the off-season where there is at least 30 days off the bike. It’s during this time that the body can unwind and decompress from miles and miles of trail riding and the toll that the mountain biking position takes on the body. Since many amateur, and even pro riders, don’t really know what to do in the transition between the end of season into off-season training, I created a simple way for you to determine exactly how to assess your 2016 season, called the “End of Season Questionnaire.“

It’s a list of probing questions to make you think a bit about your riding or racing performance over the 2016 season, which will help you create a better plan for off-season training for 2017. Click here to download the FREE assessment.

Assess Your Season Rest and Cross Train

Here are a few of the questions in the free End of Season Questionnaire for you to glean insight into exactly how you performed this riding/racing season.

1. Did you have a rest and recovery plan in place for race weekends, including a practice plan? Did it work?
2. What were the particular areas of your body that you found weakest, or were the most problematic in your riding?
3. Any nagging muscle issues you had?

Many times after riders fill this out I hear that they didn’t realize certain things until they actually sat down and starting thinking about it.

I’ve heard:

- “I had an epiphany about why I was struggling half way through my rides, and it’s I wasn’t eating enough during most rides!” Or,
- “I didn’t recognize how much my riding was actually affecting how tired I was.”

Of course, that last one is actually a pretty funny statement if you think about it, but what this person was saying proves my point about rest. When you don’t provide your body rest days and periods of time of rest, it will eventually catch up to you and your performance will drop like a bag of rocks! All right, if you truly have a desire to improve for the 2017 season, one of the best things you can do is to take 30 days off between now and the end of the year. Here in Colorado, we’ve had one of the warmest falls we’ve had in a long while so we’ve had an extended riding season because of it. However, in no time the snow will be flying and the temperature will plummet and when it does, I will begin my 30 days. I’d say most people take Thanksgiving or Christmas time off since it is a busy time of year.

Here's my challenge to you... when is your time off going to start? Make your decision now and mark it on your calendar! Now that you have a brief understanding of the importance of rest, let’s look at a few ideas of what to do during these 30 days off the bike.

#1- Get in the gym.

Start training this week! Each week, do 2-3 weight training sessions; two cardio or cross training workouts (see below) and take 2 days OFF.

As far as a workout, I always encourage riders to be sure to include each of the following “primal movement patterns,” each of which is crucial for on and off bike athleticism:

• Squat
• Lunge
• Push
• Pull
• A ‘hinge’ exercise like deadlifts
• A rotary exercise

In fact, try this quick "primal movement pattern" workout. Do 15 reps of each move and two to three sets in a circuit format with 1-minute rest between sets…

Views: 5,732    Faves: 117    Comments: 0


#2- Do other forms of cardio.

Use all forms of cross training. I’d suggest mixing it up. Do the rowing machine. Its emphasis on leg drive, hip hinge, and posterior chain strengthening is beneficial.

“Run Forest Run!” Yup, Run. It’s a very primal exercise that many of us mountain bikers haven’t done in a long while (like me, I think it’s been 10 years since I ran a few times a week!) and it’s beneficial to the transfer of ground reaction forces through the body; the deep spinal stability system; micro-stabilizing of the pelvis and an overall great cardio workout.

Climb. Indoor climbing is a terrific workout on all levels. Like running, climbing is very primal and a strong 'cross-pattern' trainer for the nervous system. It can help us riders 'balance out' our body from the same-sidedness that our downhilling position creates, as well as strengthen the shoulders, forearms and especially the hands!

Another sport I’d highly recommend is going to a 'parkour' gym. These workouts are not only a blast but one of the best at bringing together each of the workouts listed above. It’s the granddaddy of human expression of movement and can expose movement weaknesses that, when turned into strengths, greatly improve your athleticism on the bike.

Lastly, don’t forget enjoying what the winter season has to offer! Ski, xc-ski, board, snowshoe, ice climb, get into the backcountry, shoot… get on a snowmobile!

Look, in the end, all I’m saying is spend 30 days off your bike. As much as I know most of you think that’s such a grim thought, remember, doing other sports and activities for us mountain bikers in the off-season is SUPER IMPORTANT to contributing to your success not just for next season, but for years and decades to come.

Ok, so here’s how you can put this together as a training schedule:

Monday- Gym workout
Tuesday- Run/ Parkour/ Row
Wednesday- Gym workout
Thursday- OFF day
Friday- Indoor Climb/ ski/ board/ xc-ski / snowshoe, OR, gym cardio day
Saturday- Indoor Climb/ ski/ board/ xc-ski / snowshoe, OR, gym + small run
Sunday- OFF day

Now that you have a “plan,” go ahead and choose your "30-days-off-your-bike-time," while simultaneously starting the video workout and #1 and #2 listed above to get your off-season training off on the right foot!

Questions? Please don't hesitate to reach out- info@enduromtbtraining.com or www.enduromtbtraining.com


MENTIONS: @yeticycles / @shimano / @enduromtbtrainer

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82 Comments

  • + 44
 Lifting Turkey legs for strength training Powering through seconds for stamina Deep resting on couch or recliner for posterity cool down Reward yourself with a nice dessert!
  • + 29
 Go hunt a deer, kill it and then drag it to the car. Discover where the term "dead lift" really comes from. Eat delicious meat, post pictures on instagram and wait for animal lovers to chime in calling you a murderer and defiler of the nature.

Ok, ok... I've never done it... I want to learn to hunt. Kill ,field dress, skin it, process the meat. Everything from buying a weapon to putting the meat on the table.

Why the hell am I writing this...
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns:
For the same reason PB is giving a million average Joe's an athletes off season regimen.
The real "athletes" know what to do in the off season. The rest of us really just want to eat dead deer. Or carrots. Or whatever
  • + 1
 Thats my daily workout! Bike riding is in there somewhere for me though
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: ...because you're an MTB troll that makes us smile 60% of the time Wink
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: you need to move to 'Merica.
Most of places to ride near me are only safe on Sunday and at night this time of year.
And the bright TLD shorts are a safety item, not a fashion statement.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Just remember Waki, you will drag him more easily for a mile downhill than you will one hundred yards uphill.
  • + 1
 @leecozens: speak for yourself. if I ever meet @WAKIdesigns I'll do my best to ride him off the trail.
  • + 2
 here comes the winter !!! oh wait, 365 days of riding here, dont tell anyone !!
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: ben greenfield is the man to ask about hunting tho not sure about the chop and roast part. also if you are hunting moose near its back look just above the kidney should be 2 small balls in the fat that's the adrenal glands used by the old indians to prevent scurvy (lack of vitamin c)
  • - 2
 @robdpzero: it's all because of that Joe Rogan fkr. I'll get into it when kids grow a big older and I will have more time. Having a house would be cool too.
  • + 2
 @leecozens: 60% really? That's massively generous!
  • + 18
 You forgot 'trail building' as off season activity.
Going to the gym is a waste of time and energy. I rather do something outdoors that will pay off for the riding community.
Maybe you could develop a 'cross fit plan' that includes moving stones, shoveling dirt, etc. so trail building is also something for the cool kids?
  • + 3
 Hell yeah... digging in the woods, over the gym, any day! Weather don't matter, it's a brutal workout if you go at it.. #trailbuilding
  • + 5
 It's not a waste of time, but I agree with your trail building activity! Good stuff!
  • + 2
 I love building as much as riding but I do notice (at least in my case) that it does take quite its toll on the body, especially my lower back.
  • + 1
 @bonkywonky:

yeah, its brutal no doubt. I used to dig all winter/spring - the first few building sessions after a long season of riding, really hurts, but your body soon toughens up. Here is a great pic showing how I used to look when I was digging all the time!

ep1.pinkbike.org/p4pb894132/p4pb894132.jpg

I always find digging to build a great strong core and upper body, with very powerful grip strength - there was always an old saying "never fight with trail builders!"
  • + 21
 Not a racer but I can't go 3 days off a bike let alone 30.....whew.
  • + 3
 I can't schedule my "time off" because I never know when I'm going to get injured.
  • + 5
 @adpeters82: I just turned 61. 30 days represents a significant percentage of the riding days I have left, no matter how many that may be.
  • + 2
 I don't ride to get better or to get results, I ride for fun and to be in the woods with my friends so no way in hell I'm putting the bike in the shed for a month and sit in the gym surrounded by a bunch of meatheads.
  • + 11
 @enduromtbtrainer I know this is good advice that you're offering here. Not only because you're a professional Mtb skills and fitness trainer, but because my quads are constantly fatigued, along with the muscles in my shoulders, my triceps, upper back etc. so yeah my body talks to me about it. If I do happen to take three days off the bike my next couple of rides I feel like I can just pin it through anything. So I get it. But.... One glance at the comments here and you can see that the reason most of us ride far more to do with what it does for our mental health than for simply physical fitness. Comments like mine above and others saying things like "people would die" " I'd be divorced" etc. reveal the true depth of what this sport means to folks. I haven't found any other activity that does for the brain what Mtb does. I used to run 7 miles a day back in my youth. No running doesn't do it. I see folks trail running when I'm out riding and I think they really just need to get over it and get on a bike. Going to the gym? Sure I like to do that but I could work out till I collapsed and not get one tenth the mental reset that going out in the woods and shredding some gnar gives me. Obviously I'm not alone in this so... Again I ask: "How do I get off the bike for a month?" What's the secret for dealing with the mental aspect of that? Thanks
  • + 8
 Secret is difficult. Everyone is different, but good question, and thanks.
Actually you'll see that I proposed many other activities to do to help with the mental aspect. No, you may not get the "exact" relief of mental stress as others, but that too is the point. MTB is very nervous system and adrenaline dominant. You can be nervous system fatigued and muscular system fatigued both separately and individually. Additionally knowing most peoples adrenals are already zapped for many reasons, adding the three together is a recipe for disaster eventually. Structured rest throughout the year and 30 days off the bike can stave off this disaster and keep all systems feeling more fresh. It's also the time to do other things, again, for the same reasons. Let the body do something different, and 'learn' that your body can produce positive results mentally, even though you aren't working at 90% during a ride!
Trust me, just turning 48, I NEED this time and I understand that younger folks may not seem like they do, but like I mentioned, all athletes need a bit of time away from their sport to maximize their body's ability to recover, grow, develop, resist injury and lastly, and most importantly, provide a platform of longevity. I plan on riding well into my 60's and at this point in my life I know I can.
Lastly, I wrote this to challenge riders. It is hard to get off your bike a while, but if the mental aspect is one of the reasons why you ride so much that your body hurts all the time, then I suggest you step back, reevaluate and see if there's something else to provide you with the relief you need. Life balance is super important and don't forget that adrenaline can be addictive like any other drug, and if you "jones" for it that bad, you may consider another alternative to MTB to help with the mental aspect.
Hope that helps a bit!
  • + 2
 Part of not being able to get the mental reset you're craving in the gym is doing the right kind of work. If you're running on a treadmill or using an elliptical of course that is not going to match the psychological demands of riding. Maybe you need to up the weight. Stick to big compound joint lifts like deadlifts and squats, then move into more powerful fast movements like the clean and jerk. Once you can do those safely try mixing them into Crossfit style workouts that alternate sprinting (running, a rowing machine, etc) with some heavy lifting, keeping rest to an absolute minimum. Those workouts are as demanding as anything you can do on your bike. If you're not getting the mental reset you need you need more reps, more sets, more weight or less rest between efforts. Can you run a mile in 6 minutes? Can you deadlift 2x your bodyweight?

TL;DR if your workouts are boring find yourself some better workouts. It's good to get off the bike and do some other kind of hard work. Not everything has to be the same as the bike.
  • + 12
 30 days of bike = divorce
  • + 4
 Exactly why I never married
  • + 3
 @Mojoronnie: also coz ur fugly lel
  • + 1
 @Theeeeo: actually the opposite and I like to shag euro sluts
  • + 1
 @Mojoronnie: How should I see this? Are you hopping on a plane to Germany for a weekend to go to a random bar and casually nail some girls while listening to kernkraft3000/aqua/2unlimited?
  • + 11
 I typically have 3-4 months off the bike for snowboard season.
  • + 3
 ..nobody likes a show off .. (I jest,am jelly)
  • + 2
 @topsedit: Have to find something when all this white dirt happens. And I can hit my HIIT training more during the Winter. Doing HIIT and riding just leads to sore ankles for me.
  • + 1
 @meesterover: hearing that ..
  • + 8
 Don't forget Crossfit.. and if you do crossfit don't forget to post about it on Facebook every chance you get. And make sure you throw a couple mud races in there too because that shits just crazy.
  • + 2
 Mon- crosshit tues- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit weds- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit thurs- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit fri- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit sat- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit sun- corrective rehab for injuries sustained during crosshit
  • + 3
 Monday- Gym workout
Tuesday- Run/ Parkour/ Row
Wednesday- Gym workout
Thursday- OFF day
Friday- Indoor Climb/ ski/ board/ xc-ski / snowshoe, OR, gym cardio day
Saturday- Indoor Climb/ ski/ board/ xc-ski / snowshoe, OR, gym + small run
Sunday- OFF day

Pizda. You dont need that "modern western healthy life".
  • + 3
 Swimming, Yoga and other stretching/mobility work is key to the "off season" mtb'er I think. I had more time outside of long work days and family duties I world implement these type of things more. I don't have that extra time, so I always choose riding instead. My therapy.
  • + 3
 I"m going to be 3 times more awesome than people on this program because I take 90 days off in the Winter !

Joking aside, I mentally need the rest as much as physically but the reality is I strart riding/training in February and feel like I'm still getting "back into shape" in June. So it does set you back. And every year older it sets me back a little more.
  • + 2
 What is this off season you talk about, riding is basic human necessary gym sucks. Even wifey understands because I'm a better person coming home muddy, beat up and sometimes bleeding. Injuries are another very depressing story, stay safe!
  • + 6
 I drink beer and wallow in sadness in the off season.
  • + 2
 I've ridden all my local trails so much I get flat out bored of biking after so long. 30 days off aren't so bad. Truth is there is so much more in life than just bicycles. Its just one of many hobbies for me. And after compressing my back so much after my early 2000s hucking days, I love rest. Only 27 and my back feels like an 80yr old. Damn you Josh Bender.
  • + 2
 This was simultaneously the most beneficial yet discouraging post I've read on PB. I'm not even two weeks into fat bike ownership, loving it, and am signed up for BCBR next summer. Oh right, I'm not 30 anymore so would be wise to take the advice of those more knowledgeable than I.

Coffee, weights, skate ski, stretch/yoga, wine, girlfriend, mega-sleep. Repeat daily until Jan 1st.
  • + 1
 You got the plan @dlford !
  • + 1
 I like frozen dirt, crunch ice, traction leaves and sticky snow. My month off is March when the ground turns to mush. That's the best time to add lips, senders, berms, banks and armor to the trails you have beat to crap all year. Your dog will help too.
  • + 1
 Great advice, I do belong to a gym, and it helps alto in biking, but in the off season I'm not on my bike as much. I play hockey twice a week and I find it keeps the legs and lungs strong for when I get back on the bike. All these off season exercises help in both hockey and biking, thanks again.
  • + 1
 Your welcome!
  • + 1
 Great article,great discussions and thanks for the workout ideas. As an older rider who has raced since the mid 90's, we can learn the hard way or the easy way.....yet for all the non racers, what you say here is a tough pill to swallow! We do need rest and yes there is an un-matched mental solace of riding bikes through nature's wonders that can't be beat, and like any drug we crave, who wants to put the handlebars down? So maybe a day or two of rest would go a long way when needed for all the non racers out there and the workout program would make them a better rider, a stronger rider and help keep injuries down.
  • + 1
 You are right @barrysbikes! Rest is good once and twice a week, which is part of the "weekly, monthly and yearly" plan I mentioned. This info applies to all, not just pro's. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but unlike bad medicine, this one will have positive results to your body!
  • + 1
 @enduromtbtrainer Great guide, exactly what I was looking for, ticks all the boxes that the physio wants me to work on. Only question is, my gym doesn't have the floor mats like you used or anything similar, is there anything else that can be substituted in for that workout?
  • + 1
 During my offseason I stop cycling completely for 3-4 months and I play high school soccer competitively. We do a lot of conditioning (sprints, planks, squats, lunges) and we are pretty much constantly doing cardio. However when my MTB XC season starts a few months later, its like I haven't been training at all. I disagree with you, for me personally running seems to destroy my cycling ability. Only thing that keeps me in good shape for the season is spin bike stuff (increadibly boring, but effective).
  • + 1
 Completely agree. Maybe use that time to do some different stuff on the bike, ride BMX, track,
  • + 5
 Great article!!! More of these please!!!
  • + 1
 Thanks man!
  • + 1
 I commute to work every day on my Mtb. It's a 3.5 mile ride each way. Does that count? Plus I do at least 2 big rides a week as well. I don't know how to not ride for a month. I'd go completely bat shit crazy and all the worst demons of my nature would emerge. The trail is like church for me. How do I deal with that bit?
  • + 1
 If your not burned out subbing rides for runs is probably a best if you really want to perform well. One month off the bike and running, at least for me, will cause adaptation to running and knock back on bike power temporarily.
  • + 3
 30 days off? People would die..

Glad to see we all picked up on the same thing straight away lol
  • + 2
 i spent 12 weeks off the bike this season..... it sucked....... it didnt "reset" me either.
  • + 2
 Sorry to hear that! Hopefully you've been able to get back at it!
  • + 1
 @enduromtbtrainer: im riding again, no where near as fast or as well. super frustrating, super fun to deal with at the end of good riding weather.

hopefully a winter in the gym pays off in the spring.
  • + 1
 I will take 30 days off next time I get injured...so hopefully never! I like riding fast and all, but I am not a pro racer therefore not going 30 days off the bike
  • + 1
 Great information. I honestly didn't realize that I should be taking time off the bike every year, though my schedule kind of forces it anyway.
  • + 1
 Have an appt. to service your suspension on the first day of your month off.
  • + 1
 @enduromtbtrainer:. Could you offer an alternative twist exercise if we do not have sliders?
  • + 1
 Sure! Do the same move without the sliders! Almost "old school" break dance-esq Smile
  • + 1
 Stop reading at " you will continue to ride at the same level you have year after year."
Oh yes please....
  • + 1
 I skipped to the last part that said "Don't ride your bike for 30 days." Not reading any more. Sick bastard! Wink
  • + 1
 Off season work out? It's called digging and cutting new trail. Pretty damn primal imo.
  • + 0
 Get a Cyclocross bike + throw some Schwalbe 35mm studded tires on it, 40kph downhill on ice covered roads is no problem + allot of fun.
  • + 1
 This is why I stopped racing. I don't want to take days off just to recover.
  • + 1
 Oh but everyone benefits from rest, this article wasn't just for pros! Be well.
  • + 1
 It just got under 100 here?! I just got OUT of the off season.
I know, its messed up. Ill keep this mind for next June.
  • + 2
 30 days off would induce a deep malaise !
  • + 2
 Ass season
  • + 1
 @Drago sounds like it's time to actually rest and go see a physio.
  • + 1
 Especially when you get a little long in the tooth... good stuff Dee
  • - 1
 @enduromtbtrainer: I've had a groin strain for more than a year I can't heal from (xc race induced) because I keep riding !
I'm on 24th day of "off the bike " rest now and no real healing.....going to gym etc (stretching just aggravates it)
Now what Enduromtbtrainer guy?
  • + 1
 @Drago: go see a physio/massage therapist. Groin injuries are difficult to heal on your own (you are always using your adductors for stability- they need to re-learn how to do that after injury).
  • + 1
 @Drago: Oh man, if it's been that long it's probably a longer answer to deal with. If you'd like you can email me and I'm happy to answer. But basics if you haven't yet: see a Orthopedist, get an X-ray and MRI, see a highly qualified physical therapist or physic (I think you have good ones in CAN), see a Doctor of Osteopathy if you have one. Consider your nutrition, rest, stress.
  • + 1
 Great read!

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