DH Training with Steve Smith and PerformX

Jan 4, 2010 at 0:07
Jan 4, 2010
by Tyler Maine  
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Source: Ryan Kuhn

In October, 2008, Canada’s top World Cup hopeful, Steve Smith (Evil/Red Bull), began training with professional motocross trainer Todd Schumlick of PerformX thanks to one of his primary sponsors, Red Bull. While not necessarily a familiar face in the mountain bike racing world, Todd has an impressive history of proven success as a trainer and coach in motocross and other disciplines at the highest level.

Rest of the article inside,

Part 2 (see Part One here.)

“When I first met Todd, I hadn't really done any proper training at that point and it was kinda new to me,” says Steve. “I just found him to be the most motivating person ever. Everything he said made a lot of sense and it since has changed how I look at everything.”

Todd graduated with a kinesiology and nutrition degree in 1992 and was certified by the National Strength & Condition Association. PerformX was the name he gave his training company in 1996 when he started working with NHL and Olympic athletes. In 1998, he began training multi-time Canadian Motocross and Snocross champ Blair Morgan. From there, it snowballed into working with multi-time Canadian champs Jean-Sebastian Roy, Heidi Cooke and others. He’s trained 12 of the last 16 national champs in motorcross. He also trains snocrosser Brett Turcotte and Olympic snowboarder Justin Lamoureux. Most recently, Todd has been working with current Redbull-sponsored Canadian Motocross Champion Colton Facciotti.

Working with Steve is not his first time with mountain bikers, however. Todd trained Bob Fawcett for DH racing in 1993 and Jay Christianson when he was racing in 2000-02. Todd’s success attracted Red Bull and Steve, as motocross athletes have often been labeled and tested as some of the top-conditioned athletes in the world.

“It’s cool getting back into it with Steve,” says Todd. “My brother and I grew up racing BMX, so I guess two-wheeling is in my blood. Living in Pemberton and Vancouver, I also freeride/DH with my fiancé and friends a fair amount, and even race the occasional race.”

Todd and Steve developed a rigorous training program aimed to make Steve both physically and mentally strong. Todd doesn’t take the traditional approach to setting up programs for athletes, but it’s one that has seen remarkable results.

“I think I might approach things a bit differently,” says Todd. “In my opinion, most athletes are in excellent fitness condition, especially regarding their specific sports. All the hours they put in performing their sports definitely adds up. Where I have had the most success with my athletes is balancing or harmonizing specific physical outputs. This leads to increased physical performance and injury prevention.”

With his athletes, Todd performs specific biomechanic/verbal fitness assessment and then develops a program that balances/harmonizes their outputs. This includes the neuromuscular, muscular and cardiovascular systems. He’s developed a system/formula that targets balance. Athletes complete various routines, each scheduled for a certain period and/or goal. The results were apparent with Steve, who jumped from top 50 in the World Cup to 13th overall this past season.

“I went in to every race this year pretty confident, pedaly track or gnarly track,” says Steve. “I have a lot further to go physically training-wise, but training the way I did compared to what I did in the past showed. I was able to finish 10th at World Champs and it was a course people would say was opposite of what I’m good at.”

A big part of the training Todd does involves his athletes’ mental development, goal setting, scheduling, nutrition and adaptation. It’s an all-inclusive program that is not intended to baby sit racers, but rather he develops the programs and they do the work. Until the athletes jump into the program, most of them have no idea what they are getting into.

“Not only does training make you physically stronger to do better, but your training helps with your mental game,” says Steve. “Knowing I worked hard during the winter with Todd helped my confidence and performance throughout the entire year. When I reached winter goals we set for training, it made me confident I could meet some of my goals I set for the season.”

Todd has made a point of developing personal relationships and trust with his athletes. For this reason they are usually long-term relationships.

“After a few years, you really get to know, understand, respect and trust each other,” says Todd. “Every athlete is different and, with time, you also gain experience and knowledge. The first year gives me a ‘baseline’ to work from with each athlete. From there, each year is a progression. Success leads to confidence, confidence leads to success.”

Photo by
Photo by

Todd breaks it down into what he calls the Five D’s: desire, determination, dedication, drive and discipline; and the two A’s: ability and attitude.

“Steve showed all the signs of the five D’s and two A’s,” says Todd. “As a racer, I think he’s progressed through getting a better understanding of himself, both physically and mentally. Through all the aspects of the training program, he’s gained physical performance. He sees it directly on the bike and is now developing the ability to utilize it.”

The comparison between motocross and mountain bike racing is inevitable, and both Todd and Steve see significant room for mountain biking to mature. While professional DH racing – particularly at the World Cup level – has seen advancements in the sophistication teams and racers bring to training and race preparation, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, especially in Canada.

“I’d say Eastern Canada is where it’s at in ways of DH,” says Steve. “A few years ago BC Cups used to be huge with lots of people and quite a few races. Quebec still has a great race scene, but there are a lot of other countries doing it better for DH. We have the terrain it takes but don't offer the race series to pull people into it.”

However, Steve says he sees the DH race scene in Canada only going forward. There are increasingly more people taking it more seriously than in the past. As he points out, there are lots of fast kids out there and with the right guidance, they could go far.

“I think mountain biking is getting up there now,” says Steve. “There are a lot of talented riders in Canada who just need to push a little more to get where they want. There aren’t as many people pushing for young DH kids like there is in motocross. I’m hoping this can change and there will be a lot of young development programs.”

For his own part, Steve wants to get more involved in coaching and mentoring young Canadian talent with the hope of seeing more Canadians have success at the World Cup level.

“It is an interest for sure,” he says, “My seasons are busy, but come winter it is a good time to do that stuff. I’d love to see more young racers stoked and willing to work.”

Todd agrees, and he’s very interested in growing the future of downhill racing in Canada.

“I guess you could say DH is like motocross was 10 to 15 years ago, being a new sport.. right fully so,” says Todd. “DH/4X is growing faster though. Steve’s training is similar to my motocross athletes, and in certain ways, a lot different. It’s been a big learning year for me as well.”

Photo by Fraser Britton
Photo by Fraser Britton

Todd wants to prove that the training and coaching he does with athletes is valuable and works. By applying the Five D’s and Two A’s, Todd wants to see how deep he can dig into the sport. With PerformX as a base, which offers four different operations: a training service (fitness, nutrition, and mental development), motocross schools & camps (on-bike coaching, including winters in California), motocross academy (combination of training and schools/camps) and a national motocross team, he’s got a proven formula he hopes to apply to DH and 4X.

“Building a business in this sport won’t come through big use of words, advertisements and self promotion…like this interview,” he says. “It comes from passion, action and results. This is how I developed a business in motocross, so that is my plan.”

What does Todd think is in store for Steve in 2010?

“I would say 2009 was fairly developmental for him,” says Todd. “From the equipment to the physical and mental, much was learned. In 2010, Steve will be ready for battle.”

Ryan Kuhn is a regular Pinkbike contributor, racer, trails advocate and builder. He lives in Rossland, BC.
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  • + 11
 i agree canada needs more of this and good race series.
  • + 6
 great artical, training is a key point to succcess leading into your first race and continuing with it all season. Racing is more than just going out and throwing yourself down a hill. It takes committment, discepline, and attitude I totally agree, moving up in places is great!! Steve, keep up the great work, lets see a top 10 in 2010. Tear it up!
  • + 4
 a top 10 in 2010? how about a podium or even a win?
  • + 2
 it'll be hard... but who knows....
  • + 1
 uhh pretty sure hes been in the top 10 a couple times.. i think he was even 10th at the world cup. hes got a podium or two locked down in 2010
  • + 1
 he got it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 2
 Way to go Steve!! 2nd at worlds! Nice save after the rock section to boot. Training does pay off!
  • + 6
 it's always going to be tough to have a great canadian series just because of funding and geography. compard to european contries like france and the uk we are just too large to have people travel cross country to do a race series. we ned good provincial gras roots programs first before we worry about canada wide series. the funding just isn't there compared to the us who are similar in size to canada but have a much larger population and a government that actually cares about sports. unfortunately the canadian government really has very little interest in funding sports programs. look at our olympic medal count. for a country with our wealth, population and tax base we really suck compared to say australia who have a very similar populatio base and economy. the canadian government just doesn't put any emphasis on sport. until they do we will always have less athletes reaching the top of their respective discliplines
  • + 3
 The interview could say what kind of exercices he does, so we could try it too.
  • + 5
 pimbrman Agreed, the only way I could see a Canada series would be to split the country right down the middle and have Canada Cup West and Canada Cup East because I doubt the BC boys love having to come down here every year to race and rightfully so.
  • + 3
 Why should the Canadian national government care if this sport grows or not? I realize promoting business growth is in their interest, but I wouldn't expect to see government money coming in to a DH race series. Canada would have a race series if it where profitable. Clearly the demand is not as high as you think for a national race series or else their would be one. Once the local communities race scenes have grown large enough to warrant such a national tour someone will see an opportunity to make a profit and find investors (manufacturers, race venues, city governments) willing to stick there neck out for this still relatively new sport for DH mtb.
  • + 4
 ^^Besides government money would F-up the DH scene. You don't want them telling you what a proper DH race should look like, do you? I seriously doubt that Australia's government spends any money on a national race series, nor do do they in the USA. It's the exact opposite in the US we have to pay extra, in many places, to the National Forrest Service for use of their federal land that many races are held on.
  • + 2
 You Americans need to realize that in Canada we have a lot of social spending plans, and one of them is for sports and leisure. The fact is that most of the national sports associations get funding from the government to advance athlete development and such. Why do you think there are giant Canada logos at the World Cup event, because the Gov't payed for them to be there and also paid the venue and such certain amounts of money. Fact is there's pretty much only the US where the Gov't doesn't pay for squat.
  • + 2
 It only takes one person to get the ball rolling, if you speak, they will listen.
  • + 8
  • - 2
 I Like His Red Bull Hat :Plol
  • + 1
 He's gonna learn how to, "slap the wrist and walk away".
  • + 2
 Weeeee that was helpfull.... Maybe next time you could list some actual exercises and schedule instead of an advertisement for a private trainer the average joe can't afford...
  • + 1
 Do some research ghunter...there are lots of affordable books on athlete training and mental preparation. Regardless, the average joe is not a successful racer without exceptional discipline and determination, in addition to talent. Nothing is for free buddy.
  • + 1
 Yeah, if only someone could start a website, on mountain biking, and put up helpfull content for its readers to learn off of. Then the readers could be exposed to advertising, which would pay for the website, and not be a direct cost to the reader, as opposed to buying a book/magazine.... oh right.
My point being this "article" read like an ad, and annoyed me because I was expecting to read somthing beneficial.
  • + 1
 I 2nd that ghunter7. The whole article just read like an ad for PerformX... not helpful at all.
  • + 1
 The whole article is not an ad. Its a good read and entertainment. Cool to see what the top guys are up to. No shit every one can't afford this. Thats not the point. Not everyone is out to get you and your money...
  • + 1
 ON a similar note......I'm a Physio and have been training on my own with an amazing book called "Core Performance" by Mark Verstegen. If anyone wants to take their fitness and core strength to the next level, check out this book. It's a bargain and will whip yo ass!!

Best of luck next season Steve!!
  • + 3
 guy at the top says lets see a top ten 2010. i finished with 4 top tens last year and 10th at worlds.
  • + 2
 OMG PerformX trains me Smile haha todd is the best dude ever!
  • + 2
 Steve is so....... MANLY 333
  • + 2
 Best of luck in 2010 Stevie!
  • + 2
 PerformX is sick!
  • + 2
 Good article.
  • + 2
 sick bike steve

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