Transform Your Riding with These Four Off-Season Exercises

Feb 6, 2016
by TrainTo Ride  
Logo for Dee Tidwell s Enduro MTB Training

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” concept.

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 - #1

Single leg deadlift row squat to sit curl to press- 2

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 - #3

Single leg deadlift row squat to sit curl to press- 4

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 - #5

Single leg deadlift row squat to sit curl to press- 6

Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #6

Single leg deadlift row squat to sit curl to press- 7

Single leg deadlift, row, squat to sit, curl to press - #7

Two: Sliders - knee drives and sidekicks - 10-40 total reps per move x 1-3 sets

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.

Sliders 1

Sliders #1

Sliders 2

Sliders #2

Sliders 3

Sliders #3

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

Start position for 'Y's' and 'T's'

Top of Y s

Top of 'Y's

Top of T s

Top of 'T's'

 2 for L s - 90 degrees in elbows

#2 for 'L's' - 90 degrees in elbows

 3 exercise for L s - top

#3 exercise for 'L's' - top

Exercise- W s start

Exercise- 'W's' start

Exercise- W s

Exercise- 'W's'

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.

Dee Tidwell

Position 1 - Hip Stretch

Position #1 - Hip Stretch

Final Position for 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!

Dee Tidwell is the owner of, 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.

MENTIONS: @enduromtbtrainer / @yeticycles

Author Info:
traintoride avatar

Member since Oct 11, 2013
32 articles

  • 320 2
 These moves also helps one to make new friends at the gym too!. I have been asked to go dancing this week by five different guys already.
  • 5 1
  • 7 2
 dirtchurner wins the internet for this weekend...HAHAHA
  • 10 20
flag davidsimons (Feb 6, 2016 at 20:42) (Below Threshold)
 As someone once related as their gym experience ...... ”I thought going to the gym and making new friends might help me understand the gay community and make me a more tolerant person. Actually, they f*cked me".
  • 3 13
flag int3ergalactic (Feb 6, 2016 at 23:54) (Below Threshold)
  • 8 1
 The ladies love guys who doublefist 2.5 pound dumbbells. If only these were covered in neoprene, it'd be pussy galore.
  • 1 0 won it allSmile
  • 130 2
 i want the yoga girl back Wink
  • 28 2
 Damn it was just checking the comments to make my own abi related joke and you beat me to it
  • 5 0
 Abi has an awesome website. And instagram, twitter.... You can have Abi everyday Wink
  • 57 1
 Where's Abi ? Frown
  • 37 0
 Is there even any point in holding those first weights..?? Maybe a heavy watch would do instead..
  • 14 4
 Hah! I would not be caught dead in a gym with those dinky ass things!
  • 5 1
 Loose the ego's and gain some strength. You would not believe how hard these exercises are to do CORRECTLY
  • 13 0
 Bah, I don't need weights, I just deadlift my ego 6 times.
  • 2 0
 Only counts if you do sets of 8..
  • 8 0
 My ego is way too big to do 8 reps, man.
  • 4 0
 Up props for that hahaha
  • 36 0
 ... What is this 'off season' you talk about?
  • 7 0
 That was going to be my joke!
  • 2 0
 Only spare time i have , i ride .
  • 1 1
 Must be a Canadien thing.
  • 28 0
 combine this with Safety Dance from Men Without Hats and you have a full workout.
  • 4 0
 Did that song just come out in Germany? ????
  • 9 1
 Not yet... it was announced to be released in a few weeks. But a chosen few had the chance to be able to buy the video tape on betamax or vhs as a sneak preview.
  • 6 0
 Everybody look at your hands!
  • 18 1
 "EMT is the official conditioning and soft tissue provider for Yeti Cycles and the Big Mountain Enduro series."

Is that like head and shoulders conditioner and angel-soft tissue?
  • 2 0
 The guy does have a pretty stout resume, emt and racing. Cool!
  • 19 0
 I just do Kegels and I'm quicker than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
  • 16 1
 Is this a joke? Did a gynecologist come up with these?

20 minute Tabata's of pushups, kettlebell swings, floor-to-ceilings, rows, spin machine sprints, pull-ups, shoulder press, etc etc etc. Pick 4, go 100%, don't die.

Or just swim and lift like normal.
  • 1 0
 More compound movements needed, a lot of what you listed is static. Turkish get ups would be nice though.
  • 11 0
 Barbell backsquats, deadlifts, hang cleans, pull ups, push ups, sprints, bench press, that's working out. You'll stretch your hips when you scorpion over a rock you hit with the front tire.
  • 13 0
 It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!
  • 18 9
 anyone having a moan here is a total, utter, unrelenting moron, this is a valuable free resource that people spent time and energy putting together - you should respect that. Decrying it with your 'I can lift this and I can squat that' is just a measure of your ineptitude.

people are all different shapes and sizes, and abilities some carry injuries for life, sometimes reading and following these exercises can loosen up that area and provide relief and strength.

Anyone who says 'I have a degree in (whatever) biomedical science' should hand it back, I have no idea what you are doing working in that area. Your objective should be to help, be critically minded if you can be so; and in that instance provide reason for your critique. . . Jesus Christ people. . .
  • 14 4
 Who exactly poured sand in your vagina this morning?
  • 8 7
 your mother, and she wants it back. . . strangely enough?
  • 2 1
  • 1 0
 I don't want to assume but I'm guessing you're commenting on my post. Was not criticizing at all I was actually trying to defend this. The reason. I said I would choose other variations is because I have used some exercises like this with clients and the most common response is I feel funny or this looks weird, this means they won't do them so what kind of help was I then? Personally I don't care what it looks like as long as I know it works and these WILL but as you see here lots of people won't do it. That's my only critique I want my client to progress, so why not give them exercises they will actually DO instead. That's it
  • 1 0
 his is a valuable free resource that people spent time and energy putting together - you should respect that. Decrying it with your 'I can lift this and I can squat that' is just a measure of your ineptitude. I was agreeing to this part. I haven't really got an understanding of the exercises, but I can see the point you are also making that in fact it is easier to follow more simplified exercises if they achieve the same thing or involve less time etc
  • 2 0
 @BonoVox101 : Apologies, maybe my response was certainly a little uncouth, what I meant to say was, I think you might be taking one or two of these replies a little too seriously. It's very possible we can of course see that these exercises will have benefit & still have a laugh about them at the same time. Peace!
  • 13 2
 The last photo look fabulous! *Jazz hands*
  • 11 1
 K.I.S.S. Kettle bell swings, push-ups, turkish get-ups. Done. And maybe watch Abi too
  • 12 3
 Video tutorials would have been better, I got lost after #2 ...
  • 12 0
 There are video links, your just not paying attention! lol
  • 13 0
 You're right, so there are, I would make them smaller next time
  • 3 0
 To be fair, the links are tiny
  • 9 0
 Robot dance!
  • 6 1
 Or you could go to the gym and have a trainer teach you some functional strength exercises for biking. It doesn't really matter how much you can press, clean, deadlift etc. muscular endurance is the important part
  • 8 0
 There's way more to riding than sheer muscular endurance. You need peak strength and power to prepare for those boosty moments when you need a power spike to get up technical climbs or switchbacks; also to improve your bracing strength (i.e. crash survivability). Really anyone who wants to improve their riding should just aim for general strength, power, flexibility and endurance of all different kinds.
  • 15 9
 I'm a weight lifter/body builder that rides mtb as well. I can deadlift 635 lbs. This workout looks pretty rediculous to me.
  • 12 2
 I don't think it's aimed at you bro!
  • 8 1
 Yea I know you're right man. It just seems like there's better lifts to improve leg strength, stability and mobility than these complex movements that I don't think the average rider will do. I'm no expert just the opinion of a weightlifter.
  • 1 4
 so you can lift a father of two testiculs in carnival..... just kidding bro!
  • 7 0
 I don't know if it's ridiculous, but it does seem needlessly complex.
  • 7 0
 Totally agree. This stuff does very little for overall strength. The normal rider doesn't need to pull 635 but something like a really strict 365 or a strong power clean seems like it would help a lot more than these.
  • 13 0
 Heck, even learning the proper movements of deadlifts, squats, power cleans and presses go a long way, regardless of the weight. Basically, 3 different exercises. I don't want to be too critical of this program. I just don't understand it. I think you can get the same results with simpler exercises.
  • 5 0
 @roedty I reckon a couple of kettlebells and some knowledge of how to use them is all a MTBer needs to improve. It's all core, balance and explosion. Kudos on the DL BTW; that's some big lifting!
  • 6 0
 Deadlifts are great for biking, but I'm a small guy and always will be. I'm 145lbs but can deadlift 335 at max. Doesn't necessarily have to be a big number, but I have noticed how much deadlifts help on the trail. Even better: If you're biking for fun and not competition you don't even have to worry about the number, just ride your bike!
  • 2 0
 For sure, DLs are useful for pretty much everything but the low cost and real estate taken by KBs mean that anyone could just get a set and use them with a bit of research.
  • 5 0
 Trainers always seem to come up with these crazy workouts. It makes the clients feel like they're getting something for their money that they wouldn't get elsewhere. You guys are totally right, get strong on the basic compound lifts, then maybe mess around with some of these silly workouts if you really think you need them.
  • 5 0
 Dead lifts are a surprising complex move itself. I mean anyone can do a deadlift but to nail the form required to excel at it with out f'n your self up. Takes practice.
  • 5 0
 I find a proper deep squat to be a lot more complex but everyone's body's are different. Huge legs and a short torso lend me to deadlift well but squat like shit. But the basic lifts are clutch. Kettle bells can be great too, especially for mountain bikers. Nothing is better than the kettlebell swing for riding IMO.
  • 2 0
 Proper squats and deadlifts are equally hard in my book. I spent a crazy amount of years with questionable bro form (no internet when i started working out). I didnt realize how important form was till I started f'n shit up.

Now that Im older I train smarter.

From what I see of these excersises they would be good for rehab or if you have an imbalance. The back ones I like though cause there is a lot of desk sitters.

If you feel good though you should be moving some weight IMO.
  • 2 0
 Deadlifts,Kettebells,TRX,Box Jumps and Interval Training were things that helped me alot for my MTB.I went in 4 months from 40 kg deadlifts to 160 kg and tbh it helped me alot.For my legs those were TRX squats (later replaced by one leg squats),swings and step up on box with weights.What i noticed the best to work for leg strenght is that you need to pick up workouts that make you train leg at a time (since both are legs aren't equal and we don't pedal with 2 legs at the same time).
  • 2 0
 TRX(actually amazon woss trainer) has been a god send for my neglected shoulder girdle and upper back. Of course my problems started with a rotator cuff tear.
  • 4 1
 There's hundreds of variations of these exercises that are basically the same thing. I have a degree in exercise science (yes that's a thing) and it's pretty awesome haha. But all these variations are mentioned for beginners who done have the mobility or strength to do a proper Olympic lift, front squat or even rdl the right way. I wouldn't pick these only because most of my clients would say the same thing most of you guys are saying but they will work just as well. Also they'll help increase you're deadlift, squat, power clean etc. And keep riding even in the snow it'll make you better haha
  • 5 0
 *who don't. Not who done, sorry
  • 5 0
 Enduro specific training? Hahaha!! I love it!!
  • 6 0
 This is silly.
  • 5 0
 This may be too enduro for me...
  • 2 1
 Yeah, I think most of this is crap, but most cyclists would be well served by doing some kind of resistance training. Back when my only form of exercise consisted of a bike, the best think you could say for my physique was that I was skinny fat. Most cyclists are, sorry, it's true. Skinny fat is no way to be.
  • 1 0
 If you are going to take Enduro seriously then you will need some serious resistance training to help ...look at what most of the DHers do off-season. I am not sure what these exercises are intended to do - but they sure as heck aren't sufficient to transform your Enduro race results.
  • 5 0
 I'm eating Cheetos. Low-Fat.
  • 3 0
 You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about!!!
  • 2 0
 Looks like waste of time, there are more beneficial exercises exist, squat deadlift, dip, pulls by far superior for any kind of sport
  • 2 0
 Is it me or is that first excerise missing a deadlift? Just look like upright row into the other ones.

Just do any compound lifts, they will all help for biking.
  • 3 0
 After 5 reps I'm scrolling fast enough to visualize it!
  • 2 0
 Meanwhile, I just spent 40mins in the backyard doing one of his sessions and i'm all for the better for it.
  • 1 0
 Work in industries, at least 8 hours lifting things per day, 5 days per week. Spare time is resting, biking and running. I'll do Y and W with my arms an other life.
  • 1 0
 What if I hate enduro and don't want to be ready for the season?? Sheesh, enduro isn't even a real work. You won't find it in any dictionary.
  • 3 0
 Good stuff Dee. Its winter; personally I'll take all the help I can get.
  • 1 0
 Bunch of bullshit... Front Squat, Deadlift, Pulls ups and Dips... That's all you need, if you can't do them properly then learn how to do them properly.
  • 2 0
 can somebody please gif that into a dance lirl
  • 1 0
 Yes! After James Wilson and the pedal review debacle, I knew there would be so much hate! Lol.
  • 3 0
 i miss downhill
  • 2 0
 Less fucking about in gyms, more riding
  • 3 2
 Wow so many hicks in here projecting their insecurities on these exercises as "gay".
  • 2 0
 what is this "Off Season" you are talkin' about? Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I have no idea what off-season means... I ride more in the winter, less dust. VIVA LA VANCOUVER ISLAND!
  • 1 0
 Off season training should almost over?
  • 4 2
 Dat last exercise doe
  • 2 2
 Funny. The trainer I go to has me doing all that... Can't wait to get back on the bike....
  • 2 2
 What's an off season #squamishisawesomeandrarelysnowsimgoingtogoridemybikerightnow
  • 1 0
 Those slider/furniture mover routines are legit. Got get some.
  • 1 0
 Nice tribe gathering shirt!!!! 2013 i think
  • 1 0
 Last exercise like Sub Zero)))
  • 4 2
 Yeah, no thanks mate.
  • 1 0
 Off season? What is off season?
  • 2 1
 i will never pick up dumbells that size unless to hand them to my wife...
  • 2 1
  • 1 1
 Holy sh*t! I'm burning more calories with my thumb right now!
  • 3 3
 Even as a women I won't do that in my gym, not if I want to go back there.
  • 1 1
 That's a severe case of fuckarounditis...
  • 1 0
 wax on, wax off.....
  • 1 0
 all I need is 650b
  • 4 4
  • 9 12
 how to look kinda g*y? i mean just ride your bike, it s the best training yet
  • 4 6
 Eeee no...
  • 1 4
 What a load of shit!

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