Video: Adam Brayton, Elliott Heap & Ant Hale Take On a Strength and Fitness Test

Dec 12, 2020
by Jonny Thompson  

Off Season Strength Testing with Adam Brayton, Elliott Heap and Ant Hale

It’s time for off season mtb strength testing with our pro riders who are finally back in the gym! It’s been a strange year for everyone involved at Fit4Racing and we’re stoked to welcome back some pro mtb riders into the gym.

Adam Brayton, Elliott Heap and Ant Hale dropped in to test the strength benchmarks that we use for all Fit4Racing subscribers to set us up for the start of the off season here in the northern hemisphere and we also treated them to a short but exciting workout to finish the session off.

THE TESTING

Our key fundamental strength tests are based on 3 rep maxes of;

Back Squat
Overhead Press
Deadlift

We use a 3 rep max instead of a 1 rep because a 3 rep max doesn’t completely overload the strength system in a dangerous way. We can also calculate a 1 rep from the 3 reps if we need to, but we like to keep things as safe as possible. These three lifts – when tested periodically – are a great benchmark to have noted down after training blocks to measure progress.

Being Pro athletes that have had a relatively easy summer in terms of racing and fatigue, their numbers are starting very high for this off season, all three achieving strong numbers against their bodyweight (check the video for the numbers!) This gives us a great place to start from in terms of strength and conditioning this winter. They’ll be back every week to train with us until racing starts again in 2021.

THE WORKOUT

As they were heading for a ride after this session we went easy on them for the workout and threw a spicy 5-minute number together for them to enjoy;

5 Minutes
10 Cal Assault Bike
6 Over Box Burpees at 30″
6 Pull Ups

Watch the video to see how they got on and if you’re thinking of having a go at the workout, scale the movements and box height appropriately for your skill level. Enjoy!

If you want to take the guesswork out of your training this off season, sign up to one of our programs and get the same mtb strength testing and training as the pros do - Fit4Racing


66 Comments

  • 12 1
 Impressive. When you put it into context, these guys are strong. It's easy to forget that they aren't competitive, or even recreational powerlifters, they are bicycle racers. And at their relatively low bodyweights, and the fact that their main objective is bike fitness, they are pushing some heavy weights.
  • 14 0
 Thank you for this and your understanding of the goals we have (increasing riding ability with minimal time). Far too often people compare pro riders to their own in-gym numbers and miss the point completely, especially those from the CrossFit side. These guys race all season and train when it is appropriate, which is very little sometimes, then hit the gym 2-3 times a week in the offseason to "build" for the following year. Their achievements in the time they have are phenomenal, and as you say, for their bodyweight too.
  • 7 0
 Are they strong, or are most people weak and under utilizing their bodies?
  • 2 0
 @onlyDH: interesting perspective.
  • 2 0
 @onlyDH: correct.
  • 2 1
 I was stronger, but just for a tiny bit, back when I didn't do too much cardio, no cycling, just lifted weights and pretty much my life was around it....I weighted 190 pounds for 5'10'' and was a total tank. No way I can maintain this level of strength and do a lot of bike training like these guys do. I know this would have been impossible for me to achieve now that I ride as much as I can. This really impressed me, they really are athletes...
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: there are athletes, and then there are freaks of nature like Joacim Nymann. Chances are slim to none that 99% of this forum knows who he is but for the fun of it, look him up on instagram...Candidate for WR in pretty much all trial style jumps, lifting weights that would be impressive if he was doing it for living and he is killing it on enduro bike too. FML, he must be one of those aliens Trump is talking about.
  • 1 0
 @Zeeroone: thanks for the understanding and appreciation for these guys, they work hard and impress us every day.
  • 1 0
 @onlyDH: I tend to think that you should work toward what you want to be able to do. Most people have no interest in riding technical trails & humans don't have to work like we used to for sustenance. So, compared to that most people are definitely not in shape. On the other hand, less crowded trails are more fun.
  • 2 0
 @fit4racing: Thanks for the inspirational videos & extra knowledge (cool to learn extra fitness tips/ideas). Luckily, there are some badass trainers near me & it's good to support them even though they're aren't a ton of MTB'ers at my gym.
  • 2 0
 @hlars12: We’re here for everyone and hope our content inspires riders to approach S&C in a different way (or not so different for some people). Supporting local trainers is great!
  • 2 0
 @onlyDH: most people, particularly in MTB, don't really put down the work and consistency in strength training. I think it's a convergence of roady background with the extreme sport freerider thing cultures.
Not to take one single inch of Adam and Elliott's merits, but what we see in the video is achievable by most reasonably athletic guys within an year or 1,5 years of 3/4 weekly hours of CF.

In any case, the inclusion of serious strength training programs seem to be a sign of maturity of a sport. All other things being equal, the stronger athlete will generally have a performance advantage and be more resilient.
I think only now MTB is reaching this point. The sense of wonder people get from Richie Rude kind of shows this, look at the competitive end of most mature sports and you'll see dozens of guys like him. I for one am more amazed at Remy Metailler's slender build deadlifting 220kg.
  • 11 1
 I’m a big fan of the 3 rep max. You know going into it that you can definitely get the 1st one, probably the 2nd rep and then decide about the 3rd after that. Definitely safer.
  • 1 0
 I’d argue deadlifts are an exception. Resetting the bar between reps is more technically demanding than setting up for a heavy single. The bar can easily start to drift away from the shins which puts more stress on the lower back.

If I’m recovering from an injury I pretty much exlusively pull singles, for example.
  • 2 0
 @JCO: I hear what you’re saying and singles may well be best in some cases but the physics of the movement, and the loading difference implies more weight on the weakest point - the lumbar spine. More weight at the weakest point = more chance of failure in position.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: Fair enough. I'm mainly generalizing from personal eperience, which may or may not be applicable to others.
  • 2 0
 @JCO: and you’re absolutely valid - if it works for you personally then continue and do what you find best. ????
  • 5 0
 You need a health and safety warning for solar glare from Adam's back.... them northerners aint seen sun for a while !!
  • 1 0
 It’s definitely a possibility, he’s putting the work in and has a killer mindset.
  • 5 0
 Looks like I replied to the wrong comment here ????. Any fake tan sponsors reading, I’d like a chat about Adam.
  • 2 0
 It’s pretty amazing how good of a bike rider Elliot is. And that strength and fitness will make him take the championship a little sooner.
  • 1 0
 It’s so cool to see the confidence people have in him, it matches ours for sure.
  • 1 1
 CrossFit as a GPP program all the way to the elite level in any sport is the way to train. It varies in volume and time of year, but as the primary strength and conditioning program for these guys, you can’t find a better option. Pretty cool to see it utilized here, even if it’s under a different name.
  • 4 0
 We use elements of CrossFit because it’s great but we certainly don’t “do CrossFit” and to argue it’s the best way to train up to the elite level is naive. There are many expressions of CF and unfortunately, for every great CF coach there are 2 terrible ones. The use of Olympic lifts in the general CF programming is by no means the best way forwards for the majority of riders who’s primary focus is on-bike performance, the time to learn these lifts to be able to perform them well enough to utilise them is not worth it (unless you have endless time to train). On the other hand, CF principals in capacity work are fantastic and undeniable, especially at low skill, high output.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: keep doing what you’re doing, it’s great. People can make up their own minds and call it like they see it.
  • 2 0
 Thank you Black Friday discount for bringing me back to the F4R pain cave...
  • 2 0
 Happy to have you back, we hope this offseason is your best ever... which means riding next summer will be amazing!
  • 1 0
 Are all of these programmes safe for a young teenager? Lad has starting doing push-ups as a starter, but wouldn’t want him to spanner himself pushing it.
  • 4 0
 It depends on their physical maturity. The best base for youngster is good movement and awareness, then weight after. Strength building is sometimes prioritised first and leads to poor execution. My recommendation would be to attend a gymnastics class and/or spend time learning fundamental movements such as squat, deadlift, press and pull-up.
There is little danger in bodyweight training and the danger of movement flaws are lessened, so if you were keen to get started on something, the Fit4Riding program we offer could be a good start.
  • 1 3
 There are safer ways to get into strength training as a supplement to your biking (especially for a younger athlete). The test in this video is a 3rm version of the “CrossFit total” and the conditioning after is a basic CrossFit WOD. Not the best approach in my opinion.
  • 3 0
 @Cdonze: The testing was necessary for this time in the offseason and the workout was a general conditioning piece. Our full program is not all about heavy lifting and "CrossFit" workouts and to say there are better ways to train is quite narrow minded, unless you've followed a program of ours for 6 months to experience it for yourself.
As for younger riders, this may actually be the bet thing for them, but as in my comments above, it depends on the individual - their age and maturity amongst other things.
We have been training Juniors for some time and this year the riders who took 1st, 2nd ,3rd ,5th, and 7th in the DH World Cup overall have all been with us for a full season at least, some for over 3 years (YT's Oisin O'Callaghan who is absolutely dominating). 1st and 2nd at world champs were also Fit4Racing riders.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: heavy lifting is essential for these riders and many people! I don’t put that into question. Those are some impressive finishes!
  • 2 0
 If Elliot doesn't win an EWS round within the next three years I'll eat my bike.
  • 2 0
 He’s doing well and absolutely has the potential to win ????????
  • 2 0
 @fit4racing: He's so going to win
  • 3 0
 @nukedchipp: All of the question marks made it look like I was doubting, I have no clue how they got posted ????. No question at all about Elliott ????
  • 2 0
 30” lateral burpee box jump overs are no joke
  • 1 0
 The definitely aren’t a joke. These guys are very capable athletes, I’d hesitate to prescribe these for anyone starting out.
  • 2 0
 @fit4racing: why use a 30” lateral box jump paired with a burpee as a conditioning tool? What benefit does it provide? I don’t see the cost benefit there. A bit too much risk with that exercise than necessary for athletes.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: Agreed, may I remind you of CrossFit Open 17.1... not lateral but nevertheless...
  • 2 0
 @Cdonze: We use the 30" for a better response and impact as well as increasing the mental focus needed to perform them. The riders featured are more than capable of performing these safely and we practiced before the workout. "Safety" is subjective, these box jumps would be safer for these guys than many people performing them at 14". For this workout 30" was a good choice, the height will increase or decrease depending on what we are trying the achieve with the training on any particular day.
  • 1 0
 @adamadey: 17.1 was BRUTAL! Burpees over a box are so impactful they are great for conditioning. I have to say though, 17.1 had far too many dumbbell snatches to make it a "great" workout. As a test, fair enough, for training, perhaps not.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: Also agreed, I start the British Army Warrior open competition on Jan 18th so will be running through all of the last 5 opens during my stand down, can’t wait for 16.5... testing is training ????
  • 1 0
 @adamadey: wow! That’ll be a delight I’m sure haha!
“Testing is training”.... ????
It can be in the right context but training by only testing is definitely not the best way to make progress.
  • 1 0
 @Cdonze: It could be argued that jumping onto a 30" box replicates movements the athletes complete during their racing. Powering up onto the box to replicate a pull to clear a jump or obstacle, dropping down off the box to replicate drops and ability to absorb impacts. Burpee also allow impact absorption of the upper body, strength to return to a standing position. The time aspect also reflects the athletes need to repeat these movements in quick succession as they would on a race day. Seems like a good test to me and very specific to their sport.
  • 2 0
 @JoeBremner-Foord: thank you for dissecting the workout to understand the benefits to their sport and the reasoning behind it. It’s a shame people don’t think outside the box and understand a more functional approach to S&C.
  • 1 0
 @JoeBremner-Foord: sure! you can make an argument for it. However, a box for plyometrics or lower body power is there to take away impact. Implementing proper mechanics for a jump makes more sense to me rather than doing it against a clock. And then to pair it with a burpee! If the goal is to bring up aerobic conditioning, there are better ways to do it while minimizing the risk of shoulder, wrist, and lower back injuries. The burpee makes no sense if you're unable to complete sound bodyweight squats and push-ups as standalone movements. Compensation under speed and stressful environments will result in pain. I get these guys are pros and likely have way more lifting experience and capabilities than the readers here. I’ve been a strength coach and personal trainer for 10+ years and worked under some really great minds at the collegiate and pro level. None of these coaches ever programmed a burpee ????????‍♂️
  • 1 0
 @Cdonze: ahh, a burpee hater we have here. I get it, burpees get slammed for not being the best at any particular thing, and many trainers/caches choose different movements for particular elements of physical development. But by reverse engineering physical ability into its subsequent elements, then choosing the “ideal” way to train each separately and throwing them back together is so 1990. We choose from thousands of movements, undoubtably some of the ones you’ll be referring to as “better than burpees”, but we also use burpees because we find them amazing for so many reasons.
  • 1 0
 The burpee dates back to the 1940s
  • 1 0
 @Cdonze: I’d argue it dates back to when humans started walking on two feet and had to pick themselves up from the ground, someone only gave it a name in the 1940s. Surfing dates back to the 12th century, they maybe had a name for the movement they used to get onto the board other than “burpee”.
  • 1 0
 @fit4racing: you are so 12th century! Just kidding. If you have love for the burpee that’s cool.
  • 1 0
 @Cdonze: Haha! Nice to have a laugh.
  • 2 0
 I think I got another hernia just by watching this Frown
  • 2 0
 You need to work on your core mate... Haha!
  • 1 0
 Any reason for doing high-bar instead of low-bar squats or is it just up to their preference?
  • 2 0
 Good video! Enjoyed it!
  • 1 0
 Thanks!
  • 1 1
 I prefer drinking beer instead. Riding 4Fun, instead hunting seconds.
Am I am wrong?
  • 5 0
 There is a point in life when exercising is the only way to keep on riding at decent level and staying as safe as possible. Drinking beer might be fine till 20-25 I guess. After 30 you should start thinking about longevity in the sport instead of beer. But you can have a beer or two after workout if that helps?
  • 2 0
 @Mondbiker:
Shit
im 50!!!
ha ha ha
  • 1 0
 @florepe: You are 20years late then lol
  • 1 0
 Some post the weights they did so we don’t have to watch the video.
  • 1 0
 Why not just watch the video on your lunch? Wink
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