Drop Your Heels Head Up Elbows Out
We have all heard these when we talk about body position on the bike, but why? And how do they work together? How do you make your body do these things? How do the pro's make it look so easy?
In this video, Ben from The Strength Factory takes a deep dive into what he calls, 'The Flow Position.' He explains how one area of your body position affects another and what you can do in terms of strength and mobility to improve your riding position on the bike. By looking at the body as a whole system, we can build a better riding position that will benefit any rider or racer, no matter what level.
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Dentists are more concerned about teeth.
I think there’s a lot to be said for identifying a position from which you’ll operate, but language and imagery is used here that can lead you to believe that you should always be in this position.
A few years back, our method changed to coaching a “centred and mobile” mindset. “Centred” refers to what you see here. “Mobile” speaks to the range of motion you need to achieve the other “shapes” you’ll want to be in. A good example of that is what the ankle is doing; While dropping the heels is a good default, being raised in your ankles is necessary to float over rough terrain. If in a demonstration as an instructor you show the dropped heel position as the presenter here has, you should also show its effective opposite and the transition between those two places. Here, it is shown as a “good” - “bad”, when depending on the situation, good can be bad, and bad can be good. You could say the same about arm or hip position; there’s an ideal spot to be, but in order to flow, you have to make different shapes.
The other side of encouraging an “envelope” of movement is allowing the student to think that other, “weak” positions are ok. With “centred” being preferable, the only way to ride there more consistently is through strength. If you are very fit, as the presenter is here, your “shapes” or “mobile moments” will be very deliberate and only last as long as the terrain requires, allowing you to return to centre faster.
The long and sort of it is that students are very susceptible to language and imagery. If you say “ride like this”, you’ll be taken very literally. If you wonder why you see people riding around like that, looking stiff, it’s because they’ve probably been instructed to do just that.
Ultimately, there are some great takeaways in here... after a hundred years on the bike, I thought I’d get my 15 minutes back from taking the time to watch
I think its very crucial to point out what you have stated coz the ideal position has nuances and though it is important to keep in mind that the ideal position is the most efficient and less strenuous body position but it is even more important to be aware that body position has to change constantly in order to be flow through a variable terrain.
We’ll often teach from scenarios, or a tactical approach that’s “terrain based”.
The idea being one where you speak to what’s needed to effectively ride a section of trail, or a certain type of obstacle / jump / feature.
When it’s specific, it’s easier for the student to achieve the goal, and for the trainer to measure progress. It also steers clear of having a student try to interpret when some move, “shape”, or position is effective or not. You just dictate a line, talk to them about how it’s done, show them how it’s done, then get them to do it and give them feedback, rinse and repeat.
It’s probably something you already do with moving weights, where the example could be showing someone one part of the movement pattern, or the whole movement from start to finish, get them to do it, then analyze with feedback.
Truthfully though, I’m riffing on one presentation. I’m sure you have others that speak to what I’m talking about. Again, it’s language and imagery in any one presentation that can either reinforce or work against others.
Good stuff though... thanks for doing it. It’s great to see a competent person presenting solid material to anyone who wants to look, and for free!
The only difference from a hardtail is that you need to take up slack in your suspension before you stand up, otherwise you'll just be fighting the bike like you are in the video!
The two comments above are great. Slow down, stand tall, preload, straight back.
I noticed also look like you are trying to do a manual when lifting the front wheel, which is a different skill. A front wheel lift is as simple as pushing down (loading the front suspension) and then as it comes up, just pull up with it. No leaning back required.
Rear wheel lift is loading the rear suspension then, while putting pressure on the palms of your hands, point your toes down and "scoop" back (like you are getting dog poop off your shoe). Practice both independently before you integrate them together.
From there, do a front wheel lift, then as it touches the ground do a rear wheel lift. Once you have that, then you should be comfortable with proceeding to front wheel lift and then lifting the rear while your front is still in the air (bunny hop).
I would suggest trying to get your hands on a hardtail DJ or BMX to learn the motion. It helps tremendously having a baseline understanding of the core motion involved, which is easier to learn on a bike that you can take these variables (rear center, reach, suspension) out of.
Thanks for your comments. I'm actually quite happy with with some aspects of those bunny hops. Like the relatively straight arms and the "hands to hips"-action. But of course it could be improved. I think the lack of height comes mainly from not staying down and then springing up with the legs enough.
But the biggest shock of watching myself bike on video was body position. Had no idea about how much I am rounding my back and shoulders and the lack of hip hinging. So started thinking, do I do that while biking normal as well? not just when manualing and bunny hopping? Seem harder to fix than the other stuff I try to correct while biking. Broke my collar bone 2 weeks ago so will be a while before I can mountain bike again. Will try to focus on it while in the gym as @MTB-Strength-Factory suggest.
Not on a long bike @HaggeredShins. It's a Canyon Strive size S with 420 mm reach and short chainstays. So not blaming it on the bike. But I guess it's longer than a dirt jumper...
Also when you think about running and jumping, none of that should come through our heels, so we can clearly generate power from the mid and forefoot.
As for putting a bunch of stress on calves - it is only stressful if it is underprepared. The achilles is also the largest ligament in the body and more than up to the task.
So - I agree with the mid foot being supported on the pedals, including if you run clips, but you still need to drop your heels for grip, pumping and to help straighten the knee. The hip tension comes more from pushing back into a hinge. Cheers dude. Ben
@MTB-Strength-Factory This is great content, and extremely well delivered. Thanks for making it available for us all to benefit from!
It is the heels back and leg straight position. I am a ex-MTB XC racer that is always been exceptionally fit and light until recently. Therefore, I’ve been able to mask my position problems. Where previously lived most down hills lasted no more than 2 minutes before a flat section or uphill - whereas there up to 15 minute down hills where I currently live therefore my legs tickly quads been getting incredibly tired. I joked that I feel like I’m doing a wall set. Thank for the video!