Strength, we expect it in our frames, tires, parts and protective wear, but have you thought about how your present level of strength contributes both to your self-protection and performance? We hear it frequently, “I want to be stronger on my bike,” yet, year after year these same riders continue to do the same thing that gets them the same results. The culprit? Thinking they can "ride themselves into shape."
It's that phrase that continues to lead to trail-fitness mediocrity while simultaneously contributing to the potential of a magnification of injury, and almost worst yet, getting beat by your buddies! Like we’ve learned in the last three videos since the beginning of the year and leading into this strength article- being mobile, stable, flexible, having good posture and a good base of muscle provides this foundation to create strength.
A perfect example is the picture below. I truly believe there could’ve done major damage to my body, yet there wasn’t. Yes, I had some soft tissue damage to my left elbow, but I broke nothing despite snapping my carbon seat in two. In fact, the guy in front of me who crashed broke ribs, his arm and punctured a lung. Photo cred- my mom!
I'm confident knowing that even at 48 years old, all my training, strength included, kept my injury potential level lower than I may have ordinarily incurred. In fact, it’s the same strength that helped me get 5th in the 2016 EWS Aspen race this picture was taken, despite this big crash. Strength is crucial for us mountain bikers and it truly is the difference between us and roadies. Yes, roadies need strength, but we need a whole body strength that prevents major trauma from happening to our body's as well as the ability to handle the repetitive beating we take simply because we ride off road, and for that, our training must be different. To help you create strength going into the season, I created a two-part superset (doing exercises back to back without rest) for you designed to train your entire body with different planes of stress occurring at all angles just like with riding/racing.
First, with the help of lady shredder and Yeti/Fox Factory Race Team pro, Anne Galyean
, we'll take you through this two superset, five exercise workout.Be sure to watch the video for the form details and then get to work!
If you’ve tried any of the prior videos at all (listed at the bottom of the article), adding this to what you've already been working on will definitely give you a tangible difference in your strength in less than a few weeks from now!
Here are the variables I mentioned in the video for this superset of exercises:
- Do 2-4 sets of 12,10,8,6 reps depending on your ability to maintain perfect form.
- Rest 2-5 minutes second between supersets
- Breathe in through the belly and gently hold your breath on the "negative" and exhale slowly through pursed lips on the "positive."
- Perform three to four times a week.
- Don't forget to warm up well before any workout or riding session!Superset #1
is a hip lift and farmer's carry. Hip lifts fight gravity and training the “posterior chain” (the hamstrings, glutes and spine muscles) to handle loads of stress as a team which is crucial to maintaining a strong position, especially when ripping one of those long downhill’s where fatigue can set in and possibly contribute to a nasty crash.
The farmer's carry is excellent at creating postural and axial (vertical) loading through a perfect posture. I love how it forces you to prevent postural breakdown and how it makes it difficult to breathe, both of which trains the ribcage to “understand’ how to maintain a stable position so the lungs can function optimally under stress.Superset #2
is a front squat, single arm/leg cable row, and Swiss ball single arm press and reach. The front squat will challenge your postural system, hips, spine, and shoulder complex to be strong while wearing a pack for long rides and races.
I love the single arm/leg cable row because of its emphasis on balance, coordination and opposite arm-leg-in-downhill-position focus!
Lastly, the Swiss ball single arm press and reach focuses again on the hip complex and especially the thorax. This chest press is truly important for DH’ing strength for those gnarly sections when you have to resist outside influences like rocks and roots trying to knock you off line!
Combined, these five exercises will impose force-resistance through your body similar to the way riding does, and when you specifically train the body to be capable of resisting these forces, it increases its efficiency. Moreover, when it’s capable of being “resistant-efficient” when you have those times of overly fatiguing rides, your energy expenditure will be less, your heart rate will be lower, your cardiovascular response will be lower and you’ll be able to finish those rides with better stamina.
Coach Dee is the owner of www.enduromtbtraining.com
and the trainer for the @yeticycles
/ @foxracingshox Factory Race Team. He is also a 48-year-old enduro racer who's been top three overall finisher in the last three years of the Big Mountain Enduro series. To take your season to the next level, you can download the entire Ultimate Enduro/MTB Training Program here
View all of Dee's previous articles and videos here