Improve Your Cornering With the Stick Windmill

May 5, 2014
by James Wilson  
I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about what I learned at a Dan John seminar I had had the chance to attend. One of the things I mentioned was an exercise called the Stick Windmill that I promised would really help your hip action when cornering.

You see, I’m a strong believer that the reason that most riders struggle with cornering isn’t because they don’t know “what” to do. I think it is because they don’t have the lateral hip movement needed to get their body into the right position in the first place. Thanks to the internet everyone has access access to great videos and coaching but it can’t really help you if your hips are literally stuck in place.

In the past I’ve struggled to find a good place to start riders out with this concept but the Stick Windmill fits the bill perfectly. Unlike the regular Kettlebell Windmill or the the TGU Windmill it is more of a stretch than an exercise and a way to establish the needed movement first before getting into the more advanced exercises to build strength.

In this video I explain how to perform the Stick Windmill as well as how to use it as part of your routine. If you really struggle with this movement then do it every day for a week or two and you’ll start to see some big changes both on and off the bike.

Views: 25,573    Faves: 126    Comments: 3

There you have it, another way to work improve how you ride on the bike by improving how you move off of it. Try using the Stick Windmill along with some of the other cornering tips and videos I’ve posted and you’ll be ripping corners faster than ever.

If you have any questions about how this can help you or about cornering in general just leave a comment below this post. And if you liked this tip please help me spread the word by clicking one of the Like or Share buttons below.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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 to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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Member since Feb 3, 2009
59 articles

  • 144 4
 This one crazy trick will have you winning World Cups! Athertons HATE him!
  • 19 4
 I see what ya did there...lmao
  • 5 3
 Well played.
  • 6 5
 Can someone recommend me a adware cleaner?
  • 14 9
  • 9 1
 I signed on just to like this Smile
  • 27 1
 also having good tires will surprisingly help
  • 3 0
 True but confidence is key.
  • 10 3
 You need right technique as the basis and then good - or rather - appropriate equipment, but the thing he shows is a good way of training the body to stay in the right stance and keep the bike going where you want to go. Core strength boosts your skills - and this is what his advices ultimately do. Off course he always does it in a manner underlining the role of training as the most important thing ever, as if you barely needed bike for mountain biking, but well he is a coach, that's his job. My math teacher never encouraged me to learn philosophy or geography on his classes.

If you have body-mobility disfunctions though you must do such exercises to be able to corner effectively. However vast majority of Pinkbikers do not have such issues (yet?) as they are under 30
  • 22 1
 the best way to improve your cornering is a go out and practice cornering
  • 9 3
 If ur not strong enough to corner properly. youll be practicing it wrong. And by practicing it wrong you get strong in the wrong places. Thus the article was made
  • 2 0
 The best way to improve a weakness is to work on it. Well said *UNT Smile
  • 15 0
 I keep hoping that all these strange looking exercises will help... cuz my girlfriend thinks i look stupid on the living room floor. lifting weights and swinging sticks, saying it will help my mtn biking...
  • 6 2
 Unfortunately most of cool looking exercises like pushing or curling something on a machine while having headphones on, are stupid...
  • 5 0
 gotta do the crazy ones then... she'll have to deal with it...
  • 5 2
 moth423 - if you get your mobility right, through making weird exercises she is going to appreciate it - trust me! Otherwise you are going to end up looking this way (rewind to 3:25)
  • 2 0
 ow man.... lmao
  • 2 0
 Instead of telling her its for mtbiking say its for hip strength for.....well you know what im gettn at.
  • 1 1
 You girlfriend is absolutely right. It is no use and terribly boring to sit in closed room with heavy weights. Just start training/playing volleyball or whatever appeals to you. It is much more fun and it will way more efficiently boost you reflexes, agility, and everything you need for MTB.
  • 2 0
 howbout going and riding your bike will help your mountain biking?
  • 1 1
 Just riding your bike wont do it for you if you really want to improve
  • 1 0
 cool with me
  • 1 0
 milkdrop - or just train at home?
  • 9 1
 I think this guy was on an episode of The Californians.
  • 2 1
 That was stinking funny dude
  • 2 0
 For those of you making negative comments, or ones like "To get better at cornering, go practice cornering", get with the times. haha This exercise is to help you become aware of the position you're meant to be in in correct cornering. Some people think they're doing it right but their hips are pointed in the wrong direction and they have no idea.
When you're in the right position, yes, you go faster. Pretty obvious.
  • 3 1
 Wow. Some of these comments are pretty close-minded.

Yes, you could get better at cornering by going out to practice cornering. My guess is that if your focus is that narrow, your progress will be slower and will eventually hit a peak at some point.

But if you open your mind up a little and add another dimension to your training, you might see faster improvement and push yourself to a higher level than you would have otherwise. That's what champions do. They look for every little thing they can do to gain an advantage here and little edge there, and it begins to add up.

As far as James' methods are concerned, there are patterns and trends in strength and conditioning that are consistent regardless of sport (flexibility and mobility, core strength and power, etc.). If he were advising something radically different, it would raise a red flag to me, but the guy is on the money. Will every single person benefit from every single exercise? No, but his overall approach -- the big picture -- is consistent with every other credible strength and conditioning program out there.
  • 2 0
 @James Wilson
thanks for sharing some tips with us.
i have a diferent question do you think the use of creatin would improve riding becaus you get faster more muscles. or do you think it is bad becaus you get more weight ?

I think it is hard to find realy good write ups about food and dh riding
  • 4 1
 This is a perfect warmup before squats as well. Nothing feels better than having flexible and responsive hips when squatting, which will directly improve riding!
  • 4 1
 Anyone know if these guys have any good back stretches? I'm 17 and my back kills sometimes after rides, plus trying to do this stretch made it kill.
  • 1 2
 Also stretches for arm pump would help too
  • 2 1
 stretching and then progress into deadlifting. make sure you get someone to show you how to properly deadlift or else you'll ruin it even more.
  • 2 1
 Okay I'll have to give that a try, thanks
  • 3 1
 The worst thing you can do for arm pump, is try to exercise specifically for arm pump. The only way it will fade is through riding more and more and more. Motocross pros have been fighting this for years.
  • 2 0
 We'll I've been riding moto since I was 6 and I went riding first time this season last week and could only literally do half a lap cuz the arm pump was so bad I couldn't hold on :/ be great if that didn't happen
  • 1 0
 Riding position, posture, and/or bike setup.
  • 2 0
I was in the same boat when I hoped back on the bike, 2 or 3 laps and my arms were toast.
For mtn or moto focus on your breathing and posture as stated above.
Many people never fully exhale their lungs taking up capacity for fresh oxygen to reach blood vessels and such.
I'm no expert, but I know that loosening my grip a little and breathing properly are always 2 things that help me.
  • 3 0
 You're in luck! The same guy who made this, did two videos on back pain.
  • 3 0
 Check your bike setup and riding style. Being used to fighting it helps too, when I started rock climbing I noticed I got arm pump much slower on the bike.
  • 2 0
 Elbows out and forward, helped a lot in my case, both against arm pump and cornering more confidently.
  • 4 0
 For the bad back, first off check your main contact points on the bike - pedals/seat/bars and make sure they are where you need them to be, and do some of the stretches/exercises indicated above.

For arm pump - I cut a brush shaft about the length of a handlebar, fastened a bit of rope in the middle, dangle an old paint can/weight off the rope so it almost hits the ground with arms stretched out in front of you. Then roll your wrists (can be alternated over and under) to get the weight up to the shaft, let it unravel and back up again. Do as many of these without letting the weight on the ground. Works wonders for arm pump for me.
  • 1 0
Check the angle of your brake levers in relation to the angle of your forearms when in your riding position. Most people who get arm pump on the mtb have their levers too low
  • 3 1
 qman - that sounds like you have a weak back. In most cases improving core strength makes pain non existent, you eventualy get fatigue. Core strengh can be effectively improved ONLY through training off the bike. The fastest and riskiest short cut to it is dead lifting. Riskiest because it requires preparation exercises to pre-strengthen the core and proper technique. If you dead lift in a wrong way (bad technique - you don't even need too much weight) you are going to end up on physiotherapy sooner and for longer time than you think Smile
  • 2 0
 Okay thanks WAKI dually noted, I'll try some core stuff for a while and see if it helps! Thanks guys
  • 1 0
 Deadlift, Dips, Turkish Get ups and Pull-ups... work to master those and then the Front Squat... If you can do all of them properly, you will be sorted.
  • 2 1
 HOLY SON OF GUN!!!!!My leg been fu*ked by my dumb stupid dog when I was trying to follow this action!!!!!That is so disgusting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 4 1
 i wish i could destroy some berms
  • 2 0
 Hé should train is leg they are skinny do the windmill with your leg much better
  • 1 0
 I do the Stick Windmill all the time for my wife, and my cornering still sucks.... speaking of sucking, have you heard about my stick windmills?
  • 1 0
 So depressing not being able to do the stick windmill, because my arms and shoulders are too screwed up from too many falls from MTB , but at least I can still bike!
  • 2 1
 This exercise is also good for snake hips disco dancing.... The chicks will love it
  • 1 0
 I know what I'm doing my term yoga project on....
  • 1 0
 Hasn't this been up for like a week on the Mtbstrength page?
  • 4 4
 Hi James, do you actually have any supporting evidence to suggest this will improve my cornering speed on my bike?
  • 6 2
 Yeah - being strong & flexible is dumb! That's why so many pros DON'T work out or stretch...ever.
  • 2 1
 Look at me I just eat up stuff people say on the internet without any supporting scientific evidence showing it improves performance hurr durrr
  • 1 0
 ...improve your cornering with a stick mag...
  • 1 0
 aka: y-o-g-a.
  • 1 0
 Dan John is the Man!
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