For many the end of another riding season brings tall tales of grandiose drops, corners, massive jumps and epic rides. For some of you it's sharing a cell phone X ray, or a post-surgery story and for almost all of us, we're just plain old tired. As athletes who ride bikes off road, the repetitive nature of our sport is very demanding and it takes its toll no doubt.
I mean, if you think about it, because of the love for our sport, we lose perspective on the many different stressors that are part of the mountain biking experience… -The obvious... trail influence on the body, the rougher the more demanding -Type of riding, XC, Enduro, DH. Each category will have different stress impositions on your body -Body position related to type of bike mostly used in question 2 -Set up of bike - I bet many of you still have bars that are too wide for your physique -Cockpit set up – seat location, handlebar width and stem width -Conditioning -Injury -Posture -Lifestyle
I can tell you that the last two mentioned in that list, posture and lifestyle, are probably the most important than any of the others listed. They are the foundation of human performance and vitality and are the ones I'll focus on by sharing five performance strategies you should implement starting now that will help you off-season training and riding next year.
Here’s what you can do about it to help set you up to begin training for next season.
Season Strategy 1- Posture
Research shows, and my colleagues agree, posture is probably one of the single biggest factors to training and riding… it dictates function! If your posture is less than optimal, you will move with compensation because your body has no choice; you learn with compensation, you will perform in compensation. After all, if you can’t maintain postural forces at easy work, how are you supposed manage those forces during hard work?
The result? Substandard training, riding potential and execution.
A real example regarding posture is one the Millennial generation is already having to deal with more than any generation prior, texting neck. Do you think you can text hundreds of times per day with your chin almost tucked to your chest and not think that’s going to affect your breathing, blood flow, nervous system, and muscular system? This idea is crucial for us mountain bikers because we spend so much time in a dysfunctional head position.
After all, where your head and eyes go, your body will follow! Head forward = chest down = pelvis forward = knees backward and visa-versa.
To fix: 1. Seriously, do the test in the video to learn how to stand up straight, then do it until you master your new posture. It will be hard because it will take your constant attention. A timer that chimes every 15 minutes can help make you aware of your posture throughout the day. You can also try any of the posture reminder apps that exist for all phones as well. 2. See your posture change as the foundation of increasing your on and off bike athleticism for next year and every year for the rest of your life. 3. Get a sit/stand workstation if possible. Many companies are open to the idea and if yours isn’t at the moment, why not head up the quest to change the culture in your workplace? 4. Stop locking out your knees when you are standing. As soon as your knees lock out your pelvis has to move forward, then your thorax has to move backwards, then your head forward. 5. Move your head back onto your shoulders, ear hole over middle of shoulder joint
Strategy 2 - Breathing
We breathe 17-30,000 times per day! But like with anything, how well do you do it? Studies show most people have lost their ability to breathe in a proper order due to insufficient function of their diaphragms.
Many reasons, including: -Poor posture -Tight Thorax aka, rib cage -Tight Psoas from sitting too much -Rounded shoulders -Surgery in abdominal area -Pregnancy
Try This: Can you get your fingers under your rib cage? If not, begin working from the bottom corner of your ribs to your sternum everyday till you can get your fingers under your rib cage.
Rotation With Side Bend Breathing- Do 10 reps each side
Bridge with Block and Breathing- Do 10 breaths in up position
T-Spine Rotation and Breathing- Breathe into upper and lower part of ribcage- 4 breaths per move
Season Strategy 3 - Sleep
Question, how many hours of sleep do you get a night? Based off data from my client base (and matching national average), the average seems to be 5 to 7 hours. Hey guess what?! If that’s your sleep median then your riding is suffering. Our society is under-rested, yet it expects to live life at 100%. It’s like trophy truck off road racing, without coming in for pit stops- no matter how good you are at driving or how powerful your truck is, eventually you will run out of gas.
Sleep is the most important aspect of our pit stop. With too little of it, you don’t stand a chance of living a healthy, vibrant and high performance lifestyle. In fact from a recent study that showed 26 year old men who were sleep deprived for a week found a decrease in overall testosterone of 15%. You don’t think that’ll affect your ability to train and ride?
Try these tips to get your sleep back on track: 1. Take naps. A 20 min power nap during the week or a few on the weekend can do a lot to fill your sleep tank back to full 2. Go to bed earlier 3. You can make up for sleep but you can’t “store up” for sleep 4. No, you can’t sleep too much 5. No TV in the bedroom 6. Try to turn off screens an hour before bed 7. Finish drinking your water for the day around 6pm so it doesn’t contribute to you having to get up and pee in the middle of the night 8. Supplements like Magnesium and Hemp Oil can help
Season Strategy 4 - Hydration
I know you’ve heard it before, but your body is 70% water. ALL of your body processes depend on it. Hormone creation, joint synovial fluid creation, gastrointestinal secretion, cerebral spinal fluid all will suffer if you (like most of the population) live life dehydrated.
A 150-pound adult will lose a little more that a half-gallon of body fluids a day just living, not including training. Heavy training or riding on a hot or humid day can increase this loss to two gallons daily through heavy sweating!
From a training and riding perspective, proper hydration is crucial to: -Normal muscle function -Prevention of cramping -Ability to think clearly which will affect trail focus -Healthy fascia -Muscle flexibility -Joint and spine health and function
Let’s start restoring your normal hydration levels. This is obviously important now, at the end of season, because of all the volume of warm weather riding you’ve participated in the last 6-9 months. 1. Drink half your body weight in ounces each day… sorry, beer doesn’t count! 2. Use a small pinch of high quality sea salt like Himalayan or Celtic in each 12 ounces. Sea salt is nature’s cellular hydration supplement. 3. Drink 12-20 ounces in the morning before breakfast 4. To prevent waking up at night to pee, finish drinking before 7pm. 5. Understand that the “hunger pangs” you get may be a sign of dehydration and not lack of food. Experiment. 6. Realize that if you are a moderate to heavy sweater by nature, you will need to use an electrolyte replacement product AND increase your consumption.
Season Strategy 5 - Clean eating
Look, if you want the most from your riding, you must eat clean. The old adage, "What you put in is what you get out," is true now more than ever. Our "food" in America is filled with animal by products, plastics, metals, cement dust, cardboard, hormones, steroids, glycophosphate, GMO's, and the list goes on and on. When you ingest these "things" your brain literally has no idea what to do with them other than try to destroy them. Sometimes it can get rid of them, and sometimes it stays in your body... arguably, this is where diseases like cancer can begin.
Yes, organic food is a bit more expensive, but of all the things you buy yourself, don't you think your food SHOULD be numero uno? So I challenge you to make the shift toward organic, especially with meats, and fruits and vegetables, and watch to see how much better you feel, ride and live.
This list can be long, but here are a few quick and easy ways to transition to organic: 1. Buy organic 2. Shop the outside of the grocery store where all the "fresh" food is 3. Look for "Non-GMO" labels 4. Shop at farmers markets for locally farmed produce and meats 5. Spend the extra money on "Grass fed and finished" meats 6. Buy "fresh caught" fish, not "farmed" 7. If you can, eat full fat dairy from farms that raises cows from grass, not grain
On another note, supplements can be important for us mountain bikers too. A pinch of high quality sea salt in your water everyday is very beneficial. I also suggest a few other things like Magnesium, BCAA’s, Glutamine, superior quality Fish oils, Vitamin D (10K IU per day) and Hemp oil.
At the end of the day, if you want to train harder, ride better and live life to your fullest, these five strategies will help you across the board. Think of them as your foundation of your "performance pyramid." It's upon this foundation that you build your training, sports, and riding for your off season prep for the 2019 season. Give them a 30-day trial and pay close attention to how your overall well being begins to change and don't forget to correlate those better trail days to these five fundamentals of performance!
I'm Coach Dee, the trainer for team @yeticycles and helped thousands worldwide. I'm 49-years-old, an enduro racer, and just won my second overall season championship as a Masters racer in the Big Mountain Enduro series. For your off-season training needs, Pinkbike readers can download my brand new here program here and automatically get $25 off.