It’s the beginning of the year and off-season training for many of us mountain bikers. We get coffee or a beer and have conversations with friends and fellow riders about how to take your riding/racing to the next level for the 2016 season. Simultaneously, It’s the time of year that you’ll see many new people in the gym crowding the weight room and packing out the cardio area. Sadly, these same people will lose interest in chasing their goals and, on average, give up all together before they even turn the calendar to February.
So mountain biker, will you fall to the wayside like many others, or will you stay committed to your desire to improve and follow through the entire season? Better yet, do you know how to become a better rider in 2016?
All too often, riders do not grasp the proper fitness to strength ratio when it comes to becoming a better technical mountain biker or enduro racer. They default to putting in laborious amounts of 'winter base miles' for training and this leaves them lacking in overall athleticism that will make the difference in having the strength and power to overcome feats on the bike. Base miles have their place, but the 'just riding' mentality will not make you a better rider. I call it the, “Train less like a roadie and more like a mountain biker
To bring this full circle, let me challenge you to shift your paradigm of what it means to properly train to improve your mountain biking and racing. And to do that, start by considering yourself to be an athlete first, and a mountain biker second. Research has proven that it takes on average, 10,000 hours to 'master' a sport or a skill. If you think back to what sports you played since you were a little kid, most likely one of them was learning how to ride a bike. During our developmental growth time from ages 5 to 20 years old, our body and brain go through an immense amount of change, growth and maturation. Physically, we transform from clumsy children into athletes with great movement and athletic capabilities.
“Great movers are great athletes.
” And it’s especially true with mountain bikers.
Those who can move better than others will typically achieve a higher level of performance. As young developing athletes, we tended to have access to plenty of joint mobility, muscular flexibility, and an ever-growing nervous system that was willing to learn anything we threw at it from a movement perspective. As adult mountain bike athletes, we need to be concerned with the same principle, of being the 'best-moving' athlete you can be. In the words of my older clients, “I want to tap back into the athletic characteristics I had when I was younger!
Some of those characteristics important to a successful mature mountain bike athlete are:
1. Hip hinge - this is a combination of hip and pelvis stability as well as flexibility.
2. Pelvis stability for optimal abdominal and glute function.
3. Strong shoulder girdle function - both shoulder blade and rotator cuff. As the pelvis is to the legs, the shoulder girdle is to the arms.
4. Proprioception, balance and coordination.
So let’s look at four moves you can do starting this off-season to improve your ability to master these four characteristics.
Do all exercises with as much precision as possible. If you are sloppy in the gym, it’ll show up in your biking skills. Breathe normally. Be strong with exhibiting good posture throughout the entire exercise. Focus on learning, then mastering the moves.One: Single leg deadlift, row, stand, curl and squat, stand to press - 4-12 reps each side x 1-3 sets
This complex movement combines two hip hinge patterns, a pull and press move, balance, coordination and a strong emphasis on nervous system adaptation. Start without dumbbells and work toward using a small dumbbell in each hand. Stand on one leg, Bend forward from your hips while keeping hips square. Perform row movement - up and down, then stand back up, then do a single leg squat while curling and pressing by the end of the squat as your butt slightly touches the bench. Then begin to stand up and bring the dumbbells out of the press, uncurl and you're back at the start. Now repeat and work hard to perfect every move! Don't be sloppy!
Watch video here.
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #1
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #2
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #3
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #4
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #5
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #6
Two: Sliders - knee drives and sidekicks - 10-40 total reps per move x 1-3 sets
Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #7
These 'ab kickers' will not only make your core stronger, provide a great challenge to the stability of the upper body, but is also a great interval training exercise. Find two furniture movers and place your toes them. Then run in place with good posture.
Watch video here.
Three: Y’S, T’S, L’S, W’S in athletic posture - 5-10 reps per letter x 1-3 sets
Get into a good athletic posture with neutral pelvis and abs and glutes 'on.' Keep your entire body still except the arms. Perform 5-10 reps for each letter before moving to the next. With straight arms, perform a 'Y' by lifting arms up in a 45-degree motion return to start. Now do a 'T' move by moving arms directly out to your side. Next perform a 90-degree bent elbow lift, then rotate on that 90-degree elbow, un-rotate, and go back down to start position. Lastly, hold arms out in front of you with elbows at 90-degree, then while maintaining elbow bend, pull elbows back and squeeze shoulder blades.
Watch video here.
Start position for 'Y's' and 'T's'
Top of 'Y's
Top of 'T's'
#2 for 'L's' - 90 degrees in elbows
#3 exercise for 'L's' - top
Exercise- 'W's' start
Four: Myofascial hip flexor stretch - 30 sec holds x 1-3 reps
Align both knees up with a mat with the 'up leg' facing at a 45-degree from the pelvis. Make sure the pelvis is also lined up with the mat and posterior tilt your pelvis, aka., tuck your pelvis under you (pic #2) as far as you can while keeping your torso upright. Hold!
Now the same side arm of the 'up leg,' should reach out in front of you with a 'spiderman' hand (fingers roll outside and fingers pull back), and the other arm does the same thing except straight up to the ceiling. Keeping the pelvis tucked, reach as far as you can with your arms without moving your torso. Lift the crown of your head to the ceiling with your chin tucked. Then slightly lean into the 'up leg' side. Now do all of this simultaneously for 60 seconds, come out slow
and repeat for the other side!
Watch video here.
Position #1 - Hip Stretch
Final Position for Hip Stretch
These four exercises can help you all season long, and can even make for a good pre-ride warm up. Use them. Master them. Watch your riding change for the better!BIO:
Dee Tidwell is the owner of http://www.enduromtbtraining.com
, coach of pro and amateur enduro racers and mountain bikers. EMT specializes in online, downloadable training programs, personal coaching, and soft tissue therapy. EMT is the official conditioning and soft tissue provider for Yeti Cycles and the Big Mountain Enduro series. At 47 years old, Dee is a successful 25-year mountain biking veteran, coach and 40+ division racer with numerous race wins, including the 2014 Big Mountain Enduro Series Overall, 2nd in 2015 and winner of the inaugural Monarch Crest Enduro.www.enduromtbtraining.com