Why You Need to Crawl Like a Baby to Ride Like a Man (or Woman)

Jul 16, 2016
by James Wilson  
Views: 12,596    Faves: 135    Comments: 1

While mountain biking has a lot of positive benefits, one thing it isn’t good for is your core. That’s right, this beautiful sport that we all love is slowly eroding your core function and strength, setting you up for back pain and decreased performance.

Let me explain why this is. First, mountain biking finds a lot of riders in a mostly seated, forward leaning position. When you sit down your core isn’t as engaged and it is hard to not round at the lower back, which means you are creating a lot of fitness on top of a weak, misaligned core.

In addition, pedaling a bike tends to be an ipsa-lateral movement. This means that we use the same side of the body to create the motion, using the right side upper body to anchor down for the right foot to pedal for example.

The problem is that our bodies are made to use contra-lateral movement. This is where you use the opposite sides of the body to create movement. Think running, walking, jumping or throwing for example.

Now, all of this wouldn’t be a huge problem if we didn’t live in a sedentary society and we didn’t specialize so much in our play time. But we do sit around too much already and most riders tend to do little else other than ride their bikes, which adds up to a weakened core and poor basic core function.

Of course, this isn’t really news to a lot of people. There are countless books, articles, and videos geared towards core training for cycling/ mountain biking, which means that a lot of riders already recognize the need to improve their core strength.

However, it takes more than some planks and other “core training” exercises to fix the real problem. In order to really improve your core strength and function there is one thing you need to be doing…


That’s right, getting down on the ground and moving around is one of the best ways to restore core function and strength. The reason that crawling is so good for us is because it 1) re-connects the X patterns in the core and 2) re-establishes your basic core function.

Like I mentioned earlier, your body is made to use contra-lateral movements. When you connect the opposite sides of the body you come up an X pattern. In the world of performance and health improving this X pattern is a main goal of core training.

Most of the crawling variations you can do require you to use these X patterns to move and stabilize the body, which helps to improve their strength. While there are other ways to target these X patterns, crawling is by far one of the easiest and most effective ways to do it.

These X patterns also represent the foundational core strength that all your other movements were built on. As a baby, crawling didn’t just get you around, it was also acting as core training to give you the core strength and function you needed to start standing, walking, running and jumping.

As you get older and become more sedentary this basic core function tends to erode. Now you have an adult who can still do these high-level movements like run or ride a bike but can’t get down on the ground and crawl effectively. This erosion of foundational core strength will start to catch up with you, costing you performance and pain at some point.

The easiest and best way to get started with crawling is to do a series of “marches”, where you stay in place and just focus on the limb movements and core position. While it may not look like much, you’ll be surprised how hard it is to crawl without actually moving anywhere.

After you master the basic crawls in place you can start to add in forward, backward and side to side movements. You can also set up things to move around while crawling, creating a kind of obstacle course to challenge your crawling skills.

And while crawling doesn’t have to be complicated, there are a few coaching cues to keep in mind…
- When crawling it is important that you focus on 1) keeping the shoulder blades tucked into your back pockets and 2) keeping a long spine, looking for length between the top of the head and the tailbone. Any loss of this position means you are not getting what we want out of the movements.

- You also want to keep your elbows locked out when possible to support your weight. Learning how to let your bones hold your weight is one of the keys to efficient crawling.

- Breathe. This may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised how hard it is to remember to breathe when you are in an unfamiliar, uncomfortable position.

A few more things to keep in mind with crawling…

1 - Stick with the ABC’s of crawling. While there are a lot of great crawling variations out there you should start off with the basics, which are the Ape Walk, Baby/ Bear Crawl and Crab Walks. These three represent the basic crawling patterns that everything else is built on and, like everything else in life, mastering the basics is what will make you successful in the long run.

2 - Go slow and aim for balanced, graceful movement. Just getting on the ground and scooting across it is better than nothing but if you really want to enjoy the benefits of crawling then you need to slow down. Speed covers up technique flaws and core instabilities and doesn’t allow you to strengthen your weak links.

3 - Have fun. While you do need to focus on a few things when crawling, it isn’t rocket science. Yes, you will look like a dork at first but that’s alright. Just don’t take yourself too seriously and remember to smile.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to get down on the ground and give crawling a shot. A strong, functional core is one of the most important things for you to have as a mountain biker and crawling is one of the best ways to develop it. Spend just 5-10 minutes a day working on your crawling skills and in just a few weeks you’ll notice the difference both on and off the bike.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems / @mtbstrengthcoach

James Wilson is the owner of MTB Strength Training Systems and has been helping riders improve their fitness and skills since 2005. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 4 National Championships his unique approach has been proven at the highest levels. He has also helped thousands of riders around the world through his blog, podcast and online training programs. You can find out more at www.bikejames.com where you can also sign up for the free 30 Day MTB Skills and Fitness Program to get started on the way to riding with more power, endurance and confidence today.
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59 articles

  • 138 0
 I think most of us Brits, pretty much have this covered. 10 pints on a Friday night, then we kinda have these exercises down. We start making our way home in the Ape walk, Crab Walk is a natural side effect during this, before being reduced to a Baby Crawl towards what is hopefully our front door.
One addition, we then Slither up to the front door, which unlike riding, engages all upper body strength, whilst the legs remain motionless.
Depending on what side of the door we make it to, we then concentrate on our breathing, often referred to as Snoring ????
  • 28 1
 Classic! .........what about the kebab? That surely engages the core as its coming back out!
  • 6 1
 And what about trying all those crawl with the girl almost as drunck as you?
Sure makes you a better rider..
  • 2 1
 Perfect reply.!!!!
  • 4 1
 @slowrider73: often very little core is used. That kebab leaves your body on its own terms and of its own volition.
  • 2 0
 On point! Tequila also works well for the crawl effect!
  • 2 0
 JB74, Hopefully you remember to smile during this exercise Smile ... as per strict instructions given at 4:22 in video.
  • 1 0
 @bmccall: after all the beer, the lines between smiling and wind become blurred, but none the less, accomplished Big Grin
  • 59 0
 I do this all the time, my core must be incredible! My missus walks me on a around the house on a lead and the safe word is bananas.
  • 2 9
flag pintoproof (Jul 17, 2016 at 13:58) (Below Threshold)
 I like bananas! Big Grin i bring a banana with me when i am on a ride, only aide efect Are The brown spots when i want to eat it but tuats usualy ok as well cuz You dont eat The shell ????
  • 32 9
 What a load of rubbish!!! For a start, the research that previously suggested that a "weak core" contributes to low back pain has been thoroughly discredited, and secondly, riding a mountain bike develops a wide myriad of strength and conditioning. The neurology principle of Appropriate Activation states that the body will react and adapt in an appropriate manner based on the stresses and functional demands placed on it, and if this is mountain biking for example, then your body will become efficient and recruit your musculoskeletal system accordingly. Quid Pro Quo riding a bike can NOT result in you becoming deconditioned and susceptible to injury or harm.
Articles like this perpetuate the nonsense pseudoscience behind "exercise guru advice" and create a nocebo fear avoidant culture, the consequences of which are far more damaging than any wild unsubstantiated claims made by people who publish this sort of bovine excrement. Well done and congratulations for taking the field of neuromuskuloskeletal science back a decade, you must be so proud of your hard work.
There are so so many statements in this article that are just complete and utter nonsense, please Pink Bike, filter this sort of thing out, it has no place being published on here.
  • 7 1
 I got the same feeling but am not well versed enough to back it up with evidence of any sort! Can you post a link to your (or someone else's) full rebuttal?
  • 5 1
 Give some references m8
  • 15 5
Fair comment, every statement should be supported by evidence, including mine, so here is a brief summary. Obviously this is just a snapshot, and there is a significantly larger base of evidence that further supports the notion that core training is not the be all and end all as some fitness 'experts' would have you believe.

Weak trunk muscles, weak abdominals and imbalances between trunk muscles groups are not a pathology just a normal variation.

The division of the trunk into core and global muscle system is a reductionist fantasy, which serves only to promote core stability.

Weak or dysfunctional abdominal muscles will not lead to back pain.

Tensing the trunk muscles is unlikely to provide any protection against back pain or reduce the recurrence of back pain.

Core stability exercises are no more effective than, and will not prevent injury more than, any other forms of exercise or physical therapy.

Core stability exercises are no better than other forms of exercise in reducing chronic lower back pain. Any therapeutic influence is related to the exercise effects rather than stability issues.

There may be potential danger of damaging the spine with continuous tensing of the trunk muscles during daily and sports activities.

Patients who have been trained to use complex abdominal hollowing and bracing manoeuvres should be discouraged from using them.

For those of you short on time, here's a quick video from Professor Peter O'Sullivan on why 'core stability' training is both unnecessary and unhelpful.

I think it's time for everyone to move on from core stability. Doctors once prescribed cigarettes for chest infections as they believed the smoke would kill the bacteria.....times have changed and healthcare must continue to evolve with the evidence base, and core stability for the prevention of injury / low back pain needs to go the way of the cigarette!!!!
  • 2 2
 It would make a lot of sense that a strong core helps supporting the spine. I don't see your point. I race XC, my lower back is messed-up and I know that any type of light exercises or stretches I do for my lower back definitively helps with endurance during the race and better recovery after the race too. I agree with you, the body adapt and get conditioned to riding but still, these exercises showed here can only help I think.
  • 3 0
 I totally agree. Mtb is definitely a holistic exercise. Obviously it works primarily the lower body but the upper body, including the abdominals, gets a hell of a beating too. Im a bit old school in my approach to off the bike training and in that i feel that any multi joint compound exercise with mid to heavy weighted resistance is the way we train our body holistically. Squats, deadlifts, cins, dips, farmers walks etc etc. Now all of those multi joint compound exercises engage the core to the max without specifically targeting it. Kind of subconscious core work. Just like we do when were battling a rooty off camber section or bracing for a rock garden at speed or battling G forces in a berm etc etc. Holistic compound work whilst concentrating on the job at hand. That same "subconscious " core work we acheive through other specific compound exercises. For me, through experience to specifically target the core ( or any other single body part ) is not as productive as all out all body exercises. Intensity is the other key ingredient to conditioning and is probably the most important factor. So yes whilst 'crawling' does ingage multiple muscle groups the intensity of the exercise just doesnt cut it. Try doing some heavy front squats for 10 sets of 3 reps and tell me how your core feels the next day!!
Now for me anyway injury prevention through general mobility has always served me well. Foam rolling, trigger point work, increasing range of motion etc etc . Paying particular attention to my posterior chain and ITB's to prevent back problems on a whole. Ive always noticed when my hamstrings/glutes/ITB's etc are tight or sore my back feels it. Ive certainly never seen any benefit from hitting my core to help with back issues.
  • 8 2
But that's my point exactly! Mobility / stretching work and general exercise is the key to maintaining good spinal function. But selling the notion that you'll get problems with your lower back if you don't do core exercises is scaremongering, and has been well and truly disproven in medical research. If anything, creating MORE loading, and therefore MORE compression, through the lumbar spine via unnecessary 'core' activation has been suggested to actually be a contributing factor to increasing the likely chronicity of low back pain. I have no doubts that the author of this piece is an experienced and competent strength and conditioning coach, but that said, I DO have doubts about how appropriate it is to have him advising on such matters as preventing conditions that should really be left to those who work in the field of neuromuskuloskeletal rehabilitation and orthopaedics. There is too much out-dated and misrepresented information being sold to people about how you need to do 'specific core work' or you'll get low back pain, especially in the athletic population who ironically will have sufficiently well developed 'core' conditioning anyway. They are teaching people to mess about with muscles that really should be left to get on with their job free of interference.
Please don't mistake my interest as another keyboard expert rant. All the points I am making are freely available to read in scientific literature if you look beyond the realms of magazine science. I am only offering an alternative view for those who may otherwise feel that not complying with the sort of advice offered in this article will lead them to potential harm. They are adults, and at the end of the day must make their own minds up based on the information available to them, but that availability should include more than one viewpoint.
  • 3 0
 @Eastbournemtber: agree with to a point but your response is pretty aggressively anti-core. Some of the best Strength & Conditioning coaches in the world and Dr Stuart McGill, a doctor and professor in spine biomechanics still use and prescribe core exercises for athletes. Just telling everyone to do random 'core exercises' may not work but incorporating specific exercises into a tailored strength and conditioning program can definitely assist people. Cycling definitely cause muscular imbalances through the hips (call it core if you like) that over time can create opportunity for lower back pain. Core activation drills or exercises still play a role in correcting movement patterns through the hip in order to allow correct technique and performing of those heavy compound lifts such as your deadlifts, squats, OHP etc. Perform a heavy squat, deadlift, OHP, bent over row etc with no anterior core or glute activation and see how long an athletes lower back feels good for.

I'm interested to know what they mean about not using breathing or bracing techniques. I've noticed a common trend across my athletes that suffer lower back pain are commonly also the ones who struggle to breath into their diaphragm or perform deep abdominal breathing.
  • 2 1
 @Eastbournemtber thanks v much for this - a very useful contrarian (albeit correct) view.

Sometimes, we're so stuck in an accepted "wisdom" that we do things which are bad for us, notwithstanding our good intentions.

Would @pinkbike care to comment or provide a rebuttal?
  • 4 0
 I suffer from arthritis in my back, and at times it is so bad i can not ride at all. I have been attending a class at my local gym that includes various Yoga and Pilates exercises in a group setting for an hour long class. I have experienced extraordinary results from just a year of doing these types of exercise. I am certainly no doctor or physical therapist but in my particular case I have found that this type of training can be very helpful for whatever reason it may be.
  • 3 4
 @endureperformance: I would like to nominate you for The Troll of The Year Award.
Write your own f*cking blog.
  • 3 0
 While crawling probably is good for your core, I got back into mountain biking heavily about a year ago after a ten year hiatus filled with binge drinking and being a 20-something degenerate, and quickly noticed my core getting more and more shredded the more I rode... Because of this I don't really believe mountain biking is bad for your core, but adding extra core exercises surely can't hurt.
  • 4 3
 Remember that this is the same guy who told us that doing squats and deadlifts weren't helping his mountain biking during his mountain bike specific workouts so, instead of changing the workout to suit the exercise he was training for he designed a different pedal and tried to change mountain biking (for a fee of course).
  • 4 3
Thank you for your response. I don't think it is an aggressive view; I think it is wrong to accuse someone of being aggressive when they are actually passionate about change. I think this is often mistaken, and leads to an arguementitive environment rather than a developmental one.

To respond to your point, may I make the following proposal, as you interestingly chose to mention Dr. McGill.
Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics and chair of the kinesiology department at the University of Waterloo Ontario (last time I read his work atleast, don't shoot me if he is no longer in this position), and a pioneer researcher in the area, now believes that strengthening transverse abdominus muscles can WORSEN back pain and REDUCE back stability.

Other experts are dubious about our ability to override the neuromuscular system and teach muscles when to switch on and off. Trying to control the actions of specific muscles is in opposition to the nervous systems role in ensuring that movement is executed with minimal stress to the body. We should not attempt to directly control muscle recruitment for movement or exercise. It should be the thought of an act that initiates our total muscle response.
If I may offer an explanation to those kind enough to have commented on their experiences of successful treatment of back pain via core training - firstly I am glad you found something that worked for you, but I propose that it was due to the training effects of general movement and graded progressive exercise habits more so than anything specific relating to the core or attending to its 'proper' functioning.
I think we have digressed a little from what the original article was proposing, that mtbing will lead to a deconditioning effect and therefore, via a weak core, will leave one susceptible to low back pain - this I feel is entirely inaccurate. Core stability training isn't tailored to most sports!!! In other words, it doesn't replicate the activities involved in said sports. The message from the research is: don't worry about your core muscles and train in the activity you enjoy. And most importantly, there is little or no good quality evidence to show that core training has a link to managing low back pain, but a wealth of good quality evidence to suggest that it can either be a waste of time or even harmful, or worst of all....both.
Anyway, I think I've hijacked this thread enough, so I'll leave you wonderful people to inform yourselves and make your own mind up, and remember, keep shredding the gnar!!!!
  • 2 4
Thank you for your kind comments and insightful opinion.

It would certainly be interesting to here from the Pink Bike editorial team about their rationale for deciding to publish this article, and discover whether they feel it is an unbiased, evidence-based piece, or simply a choice based on previously publishing work from this source, or worse still, based on some financial arrangement for publicity and/or marketing motivations.
@pinkbike can you offer any insight?
  • 8 4
 @Eastbournemtber: I never said anything about "core training", I wrote about crawling. In fact, I even said in the article that "core training" isn't enough and I agree with your assessment that most core training is a worthless fad used to sell training. However, crawling is not the same thing and none of the stuff your referenced actually refers to crawling.

The idea that sport training causes imbalances in the body is also not new, there is an old saying that "where good sport begins, good health ends". There is a difference between "fitness" and "health" and using training as a way to restore balance to the body is something good coaches have been doing for a long time. Even the ancient Greeks recognized the need for this - Socrates used to have his throwers practice with both hands as a way to keep balance in the body.

This article is base on my own experience working with riders at every level of the game (how many WC pro riders have you trained?) and what I have learned from coaches like Dan John, Stuart McGill, Gray Cook, Mike Boyle and Tim Anderson to name a few. If you look into it you will see that crawling is being used by a lot of high level coaches and teams to help keep their athletes healthy and performing well.

I could be wrong but it seems like you never read the article itself and instead saw the words "core training" and went off on your anti-core training talking points. Nothing you wrote has anything to do with what I wrote and so there is nothing for me to respond to other than to point out that you missed the entire point of the article.

But, of course you won't admit this and will instead write another few hundred (thousand?) words missing the point and trying to put words in my mouth so it isn't really you I'm trying to convince but the people reading this who might be mislead by your multitude of words that mean nothing in reference to this article.
  • 2 5
 this dude is a clown, anyone with any real strength and conditioning experience will see why
  • 5 5
Thanks for the reply, I always welcome healthy debate.

The issue I take with your article is in the very first line (and yes, I did read the whole article for the sake of completeness and to get a true flavour for what you were proposing), and the idea that participating in a sporting activity can cause you to become deconditioned and susceptible to developing low back pain is, I'm afraid to repeat, a total falsity. I am happy with my level of current understanding of the subject of managing low back pain disorders in my day-to-day professional life to stand by that statement. If you read through the comments on here you will see that I make reference to you no doubtably being a very experienced and competent strength and conditioning coach, and no I have never worked with WC riders, but that is not my field.

But I can't help but continue to hold the belief that perpetuating previously held ideas based on the fact that they have been historically popular rather than based in current evidence-based practice is not healthy for your/mine/our/the profession of healthcare in general. If you are writing an article on the benefits of crawling as an exercise to develop the necessary conditioning for mtbing or any other intense sport etc, then make that clear, and avoid crossing over into causing readers to believe that they may be at risk of harm by not following your teachings.

It is good to know that you are using such reputable authors in your explanation, but I can't help but feel that you may be misrepresenting there findings. The posts I have added to the discussion on here clearly outline my rationale, and I don't feel it is necessary to repeat them. I invite you to read through them, and hopefully understand the viewpoint that I am coming from, but please understand that it is just a response to an article that I feel may be misleading to those who do not possess the background knowledge to make a judgement on its accuracy.

To quantify my so-called anti-core training comments, and at the risk of sounding like I'm trying to score points, my experience comes from over 18 years of work in the field of neuromusculoskeletal therapy, including a BSc Hons in Sports Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention and a Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences, and I currently work as a physiotherapist with a specialist clinical interest in the management of low back pain disorders, so please don't assume that I am just trying to mislead your readers. And as I already mentioned, no, I don't work with WC riders, but I think that may be a mute point.

Thank you again for your reply, and regardless of the difference in opinion I commend you nonetheless on taking a proactive approach to empowering others to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
  • 3 0
 Thanks for these responses. I really need to take the time to let it all sink in and have a look at the references. I kind of agree with both sides of the story, if possible. I do absolutely believe that too focused training on a certain muscle group leads to imbalance which is never good. Like people who do loads of push- and sit-ups but little to no back training. Then again I see the point James makes here as well. It seems directed at riders who, other than riding their bikes, live a sedentary existence and by doing so created an imbalance. If that is the case, these exercises supposedly are going to help restore it. I can't tell for sure, but let's assume the are. But if you assess your own activities and notice that your activities are very varied, then this simply isn't for you. Then again if that'd be true then maybe it wouldn't be wise to leave it to the "athlete" to judge. Then still there is one other perspective, or actually two. One is that strengthening these muscles will allow you to ride better and (two) not rely on the wrong muscles. After all if one muscle is not strong enough someone can instead use the wrong muscles without knowing which could eventually cause damage. For instance if your shoulder isn't strong enough you may use the muscle near your neck (I don't know all the proper names for them) to lift a weight. You'll still be able to lift the weight, but you're using (and strengthening) the wrong muscle. And it isn't always obvious how it affects your riding. One day I had a crash and hurt my left shoulder a bit. Not bad enough to end the ride, but it didn't feel too well. A few days later I did a lot of climbing (obstacle course) and even though it hurt, I still made it. Then on my next few rides, I noticed that I somehow didn't hold my long fast right handed corners too well. So I practiced them some more but was disappointed that I couldn't corner as well as I used to. It took me a few more rides to find out that it just hurt too much to keep my left elbow bent properly for riding that turn so I simply didn't get myself in the proper posture for cornering. What I'm trying to illustrate is that your riding is being affected if muscles don't perform as they should. In my case it was through injury, but obviously the same is going to happen if the required muscles simply aren't strong enough. You may not keep your weight low enough, your head up enough and you simply won't notice because you're still riding.

So yeah in that light I agree that if you always ride with the proper posture and technique you'll train the proper muscles. This ideal. But from that same rethorics follows that if someone doesn't ride properly as mentioned, they'll train the wrong muscles and avoid the right ones. You can yell at someone what they should do and how, but if they're physically not able to then I suppose it is best to do some focussed training on what is being ommitted.
  • 2 3
 @SteveDekker: Thanks for the nomination mate. Not trolling, just trying to add some perspective from my experience training myself and other cyclists in order to help you guys who are interested in improving your mtb training. It's all good to quote some scientific papers but this should be combined with real world experience applying these principles/findings with actual athletes. I've written plenty of my own blogs, thanks for the great suggestion though. Chill out!
  • 3 1
I get what you are trying to say, albeit with some technical issues, and to a certain extent I agree with the point you are trying to make, albeit it slightly away from the original critique I opened with myself.

My concern stems from the opening statement of "this beautiful sport that we all love is slowly eroding your core function and strength, setting you up for back pain and decreased performance".

This simply is not true, and is the kind of statement that, when used in the manner in which it is here, can perpetuate misleading ideas that have no grounding in science or research, but rather are based on what an individual thinks is correct or assumes to be the case because it appears to be common sense of sorts. That simply isn't good enough, and constitutes nothing more than personal opinion and heresay. I've personally seen this kind of rationale used at the highest levels of sport, including professional and even Olympic circles, and it will unfortunately remain an issue in healthcare vs conditioning until we all agree to work from the scientific research model.

Please don't mistake my comments for a personal attack on the authors abilities or competency. It is not. Rather, it is an attempt to highlight an erroneous assumption that appears to be based on nothing more than a theory of 'that's what I've always been taught and what I believe, so it must be true'.

Like I said earlier, people need to be aware of high quality peer-reviewed research that has been critically evaluated, objectively repeated, and found to be robust, and only then should they begin to form an opinion and decide for themselves which is the appropriate belief system to work from.
  • 3 1
 @Eastbournemtber: All good mate. I love debating or discussing this stuff as well. The more educated and passionate people that are out there discussing these topics with quality research AND experience, the better. The fitness industry needs to improve!

To be clear, I agree with you regarding core training. My comment regarding aggression was referring to your initial comment calling the article 'Total Rubbish', 'excrement', 'nonsense' and 'congratulations on taking neuromuscular science back a decade, you must be so proud of your hard work'. That sort of response probably doesn't set the foundation for healthy debate but rather that argumentative environment you refer to. Just my thoughts.

You got any link to Dr McGill's new evidence regarding TA and back pain? Cheers.
  • 3 0
 @Eastbournemtber: I didn't read all the articles in your link, as there are a lot, but there seems to be a disconnect in terminology. The articles do indicate that focusing on abdominal exercises to relieve back pain is a flawed approach, but the core is much larger than abdominals.

My understanding is that the core as referred to by most respected trainers is basically the body if you were to cut off the arms and legs.

Exercises like the ones suggested here impact upper and lower back, abs, chest etc - "the core". I don't see how working all those things can be anything but positive.
  • 2 1
 Mountain biker here with a wife (Dr. Jordan Hamson-Utley) who is an athletic trainer as well as a Professor. I had my wife watch the video; as she started giggling, she said the gentlemen was preforming old school, "Mckenzie" type exercises that were generally used for older patients with back issue. She added, the exercise's primary purpose was to help get an individual back to normal daily activity. She wouldn't recommend this video's approach for the average person wanting to build his or her core.

I then had her read over Eastbournemtber statements and she nodded in agreement, said he was legit.

I also asked if she wanted to get frisky and she told me to piss off.

Just an FYI - Stretching is key for my lower back pain..
  • 1 1
On reflection you are completely right, some of my initial comments were less than gracious, but I stand by my frustrations at this sort of misinformation, which stem from spending a considerable amount of my professional life trying to correct this type of thinking in an otherwise mislead patient population.

My comment about regressing the industry ten years, on the other hand, I will stand by, as it is an accurate time scale to describe the shift in thinking when it comes to the link between core training and the management / prevention of low back pain.

I'm afraid I am typing all of this in my phone, so I can't provide robust references at this time, but if you are interested in this topic then please allow me to direct you towards some of the work coming out of Keele University (StartBack programme), Oxford University (Back Skills Training), and any of the work being done by Prof. Peter O'Sullivan et al. The field of pain management is also becoming increasing involved, and people such as Butler and Mike Smith et al are proposing some fascinating theories relating to this area.

Thanks for the healthy discussion, and good luck with your searches.
  • 1 1
You are spot on in your comment that there is a lot of confusion relating to exactly what is meant by the core.

From a strength and conditioning viewpoint I accept your anatomical description as sound, but from the viewpoint of dealing with low back pain there is a disconnect.

You are right, training the muscle groups you mentioned is important, and if the author had had said "hey, here's a great exercise to add to your gym routine for mountain biking" then that's fine, but he didn't. He opened with a necebo scaremongering comment relating to risk of injury if you didn't start doing it.
  • 3 0
 @Eastbournemtber: Thanks for clearing that up. I indeed misinterpreted your post and I agree that scaring people with "do this exercise or bad stuff will happen to you" is never good. Then again not much (if anything at all) written on the internet should trigger anyone to take immediate action without doing some proper research. I think I just filtered that urgency bit in the video out.

I think it is safe to say that both you as well as James (and Dr. Jordan Hamson-Utley) are more proficient in the field than I am. I have some basic understanding of how the body works and that's where it stops. If the experts disagree, I'm confused. Which is obviously better than simply adopting what a single source says. So, thanks for taking the time for posting all this, much appreciated. But please don't write all that on a cellphone. You know it is bad for your neck!
  • 11 1
 Is it okay if I do these exercises while scrubbing the floor in my Cinderella dress?
  • 7 1
 This is good stuff. 7 years ago on a long ride in New Hampshire my lower back started screaming at me. Didn't go away. A few years after that I've got a diagnosis of 2 bulging discs and SI joint dysfunction. Get a full regimen of core strengthening through PT - including swimming. Takes a few years but he pain is back under control. Glad to have another technique in the regimen.

I think the point is clear - if you're logging big miles and not taking care of your core, you're potentially injuring your back. Then the big miles aren't happening. Keep your core strong and ride longer (miles and years).
  • 16 10
 Or just ride your bike with the saddle slammed all the time.

Never met a (non racing) BMXer who's ever done core exercises or complained of a sore back from riding. On the whole MTBers are complete pussies in comparison to those guys

BMX solves the ipsa-lateral issue as well. but probably not the poor spelling.
  • 7 10
 pound for pound, bmxers are the strongest mutha's out there. period!
  • 3 1
 Those racers are definitely hitting the gym since strength is paramount. Really any pro is in the gym these days barring a few guys doing nibble hoppity boppety street shit that doesn't require as much strength. And even then a lot of those freestyle BMX guys are still jacked and hitting the gym. Don't kid yourself, awards aren't won and limits aren't pushed any more by being an out of shape bum.
  • 3 1
 @atrokz: Keep yer wig on Son. I said non racers I've met.

No Pro is coming to Pinkbike looking for training tips
  • 1 1
 @G-A-R-Y: calm down kiddo, you called the whole of MTB pussies in comparison, which is obtusely false. Go meet a few pro gravity mtbers and see if that comment still registers for you. Of course you will now say 'non pros' which is a moot point at best.

And on that note, a non racer bmxer.... www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/ryan-nyquist-how-to-train-like-a-bmx-champ-20131007

Of course the litmus shouldn't be who we've met. Wink jokes. I've met plenty of BMXers who were absolute soft babies and plenty of roadies who were absurdly tough, so our anecdotal parallax is just that. Big Grin
  • 1 1
 @atrokz: No dude. I'm no kid and I do already know both Pro gravity racers and pro BMXers. There's no comparison.

I said "on the whole" not "the whole"

now toddle off and find some other link to make you feel special for winning the internetz
  • 1 0
 @G-A-R-Y: You behave like a kid, that's for certain. Sorry my facts and logic and examples of (winning) pro bmxers training rained on your circle jerk attempt that has no credibility outside of anecdotal nonsense. "Rawr, BMX strong. so tough! MTB weak! I so cool! I know pros!"

Move along, this is the internet, nobody is impressed. Welcome to pinkbike, kiddo.
  • 10 0
 I just do kiegels. I'm doing them right now.
  • 10 1
 just goes to show we have way more respect for Abi Carver than James the mtb strength coach. its a welcome surprise
  • 9 2
 It seems to me riding the bike is the exercise, I don't want to go full army/spacecadet training for lunar landings post Tour De Guadalupe victory or anything.
  • 4 0
 I feel my pedal stroke is contralateral. My left arm is stabilizing my bars during my right pedal stroke, but regardless my core could benefit from these exercises. I would love to see more hip stability exercises, as my abductors tend to be weak compared to hip flexion/extension. Keep em coming James
  • 2 0
 1 legged squats w/no weight. Doc showed me this as I sit in an office during the week. Weird thing is I found my trailing foot/leg (My left is always forward on the bike) is much much stronger than my lead. Got that caught up now.
And yeah, when you're banging out the pedal strokes, the opposite arm is stabilizing the pedal stroke. Otherwise we'd all fall over
  • 13 7
 I'm not sure what 'Ipsa-lateral' means, but ipsilateral means one limb or side.
  • 25 9
 Pretty sure that's what he means. Thanks for letting everyone know you're a genius.
  • 4 3
 isn't it ypsilateral?
  • 19 5
 @Radioface: if someone is going to use big science sounding words to sound intelligent, they may as well spell them correctly.
  • 4 13
flag meesterover (Jul 17, 2016 at 7:12) (Below Threshold)
 @smuggly: apparently you offend the not so intelligent on this site, which is the vast majority and are already receiving neg props. Just take every neg prop as a compliment that those with lower educations do not understand you.
  • 21 1
 @meesterover: I think you mean "not-so-intelligent." The three words should be conjoined by hyphenation to form a single adjective modifier of implied but not expressly stated "people." Where you use "which is," it should be"who are," since it is a non-restrictive clause where the refererence is to people. Also, "those with lower educations" is a tortured phrase with numerous issues; "lesser educated" would be much better. Let me know if you'd like some more help.
  • 2 1
 @Radioface: please, more help is sorely needed.
  • 6 2
 All these negative comments from young guns, just enjoy pain free cycling, nothing you can do to protect yourself from age. Someday you too will be stretching daily just to enjoy those out of saddle downhill moments.
  • 4 0
 isn't dropping the post and getting roudy enough core work... started mtb again after years away and my core is stronger than every
  • 2 0
 After getting into mtb a few years ago, coming from rugby, I was about to give up the latter this season because I thought it was getting a bit tough on my body, mainly my back and ankles. However after persevering with this season, i've realised that during the summer riding season my core and other muscles had degenerated significantly while riding, and was giving me a sore back - rugby training has actually restored alot of my posture and core strength, even tho i feel like i've been hit by a car on Monday morning.
  • 4 1
 If you're an old guy (like me) and you're not cross-training (meaning a bit of everything) and stretching, it's going to end in tears (yours).

Just my personal (i.e. anecdotal) experience.
  • 1 0
 Just read all of this
Some interesting stuff, but alas I still feel the first comment is the best, so off the pub I will go to train my core ( I recon 12-14 reps of Guinness followed by extra large Kebab should suffice )
I must remember to do the complete workout!!
  • 7 4
 Stopped reading after it said most mtb is seated on a bike. Sorry don't know what kinda rider that is, could be a dirt roadie. Or someone who doesn't shuttle.
  • 4 0
 Agreed, of course I'm seated during the climb but on the downs I hardly pedal, and never sit down.
  • 7 9
 Probably someone who actually rides his bike and not a just a park rat /shuttle maggot!
  • 1 0
 I have an absolute shit neck and I can't do a plank because of it, should be interested to try these moves out! That crab walk could work really well, doesn't look too terrible on the neck. @mtbstrengthcoach do you have any other cross training moves that are easy on the neck?
  • 1 0
 Everything in the video is cool, but as for me, just simple exercising (training) my back muscles and my tummy muscles (abdomen) is quite enough. And of course I stretch all my muscles.That helps me from any diseases and improves my riding skills. Actually 4 years ago I had a really big problems with my spine (backbone) and simple exercise my back muscles and my tummy muscles helped even with those problems (now I am totally healthy, doctors were really impressed). So video is cool and helpful but I think regular trainings and stretching is better then anything else.
  • 2 0
 T25 and TRX FTW! Sprinkle on several coatings of rowing and yoga to add some icing. That is my weekly routine for off the bike training.
  • 3 0
 Try getting in great shape and stop complaining.....it's way more fun when your out riding too.
  • 2 0
 What about riding a hard tail with tall gearing on some nasty rough trails? Its a great core workout and your saddle is there to prevent genital/tire conflicts....
  • 1 0
 If its X patterns you want.....try the new and improved Snow Angle workout. It only targets the X patterns, and it only makes X patterns.
DVD $19.99 ( snow not included, must be 18 or older to order).
  • 3 1
James, just a spelling detail: ipsilateral, not ipsalateral... Wink
  • 4 1
 Im a lazy illiterate mtb'er and that was really helpful thank you.
  • 2 0
 F P R Manifesto, right on.
  • 2 0
 Is this the same guy who plays 'touch-butt' with Conor McGregor?
  • 1 0
 Just go ride a Down Hill bike. You never sit down except when doing 12 oz. curls on the chair lift..
  • 1 0
 i like James a lot. but wow, is he verbose!
  • 2 1
 Oh I'm hurt now haha
  • 1 1
 Damn, Dumbiels!!!
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