What if I told you that there was an exercise that could increase your technical skills, make you sprint faster, explode out of the gate, bunny hop higher and get more ladies? Well, the deadlift may not be able to get you more ladies (washing your pads every once in a while might, though) it can do all of the other things I mentioned and more. In fact, if there was one exercise that I would say every serious mountain biker MUST be doing, it is the deadlift.
Just as a quick refresher the deadlift is that exercise where you walk up to a bar, or other implement, squat down, grab it and stand up with it. The deadlift is a rare exercise (in fact it is banned in some commercial gyms) and I know that the squat and leg press are more popular lower body exercises. However, when you look at the mountain bike specific advantages unique to the deadlift you’ll see why I think it is a far better option for us.
For starters, the deadlift will work your grip strength, something the squat and leg press do not. In fact, the deadlift is one of the best ways to build MTB specific grip strength (sorry, but wrist curls just don’t cut it).
A stronger grip will equal less forearm pump, better control through the rough and stronger braking.
Another unique advantage the deadlift offers is the specific position you are in at the bottom. A good MTB specific deadlift has you push your butt back behind your heels as you come down, resulting in your chest lowering down to the floor. This butt back-chest down position is almost a mirror image of the “attack position” you want on your bike when railing down the trail.
Talk to any skills coach and they will tell you that the better you know this position the better you can do just about anything on your bike.
The squat actually teaches you to drop your butt down which leaves your chest more upright. While this is proper squat form it is not what you want to have happen on your bike. While squats definitely need to be in your program, by emphasizing the deadlift you ingrain the proper attack position with every rep.Another unique advantage is that performing a rep works full hip extension which is required for out of the saddle pedaling efforts.
If you are weak with full hip extension then you can not pedal as well standing up as you can while sitting down. For the DH and 4X rider this is extremely vital - you NEVER want to sit down during a race so the need to be strong with the action needed to pedal while standing can not be overstated.
Add it all up and you have the best mountain bike specific exercise on the planet. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you can not deadlift properly then you can not ride your bike properly.
You may be able to ride your bike, and ride it well, but you are doing so with a lot of compensations that are robbing you of performance.
So, how do you get the most out of this exercise? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here is a breakdown of this lift and how to properly execute it:
The most important thing to remember with the deadlift is to start light, ingrain your form and then start to get strong on the lift. Going too heavy too fast will result in breakdowns in your core which can lead to injuries down the road. Remember that simply lifting a lot of weight off the ground will not make you a better mountain biker; using the deadlift to practice the positions and movements you need on your mountain bike will.
Few exercises can promise as much as the deadlift can. For too many years mountain bikers have been told that the leg press (which sucks) and the squat (which is good but not great) are the way to train your lower body in the weight room. Learning and incorporating the deadlift into your program will open a whole new world of performance gains that simply are not possible with any other exercise.
MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com
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The human bone structure actually grows and amasses strength (bones become more dense and stronger) in direct correlation to the weight bearing loads placed on the muscles closest to those bones, I.e. calf, shin, femur and hip bones become stronger and less prone to breakage or injury when legs and calves are trained with weights frequently because of the regular pattern of resistance... We adapt! How cool is that?? So, when I explain to someone like you how I not only survived a massive head and upper cardio-thoracic trauma last summer, but that I was back on my bike 11 days afterwards, they understand why I go to the gym and weigh train so religiously -- it literally saved my silly f*cking life. The docs told me that had I not held to a strict pattern of regular weight training, I would have crushed my ribs, lungs, heart, spine and everything else present in that small, fragile space. It wasn't luck. It was weight training. Either get in the gym, put some weights on that bar and muscle up or just stop inanely chattering on the Internet about things you have no knowledge of.
My two cents: Don't confuse lifting weights for injury prevention benefits (getting strong) with lifting weights to enhance your endurance (getting fit). James mentions building up your 1RM to 1.5-2 times your bodyweight. There is a big difference between that kind of strength and endurance strength. More weight (60-80% of your 1RM) with fewer reps (5-6), and plenty of rest time between sets. 4-6 sets is a good starting point... but all depends how much lifting you've done previously. Most important is to be patient and build up gradually. Pulling your hammy or getting some other injury while lifting weights kinda defeats the whole purpose. Definitely lift without the big wheels on there the first couple of sessions to make sure you get your form down 100%.
Fore arm pump: If you are a regular rider rides often doing this kind of workout should not result fore arm pump if it does than you are doing something wrong , you can still use straps but remember its a good indicator using your own grip , you will always be aware how heavy you are going ( you can also use cross grip )
Stay safe , you need your body to ride
Can't agree with James comments on the squat though. Do a wide stance, 140 - 150% of shoulder width, to parallel(!), and your back gets flatter, you engage more leg muscles upper thigh muscles such as hip flexors and others we should use more as cyclist so we're not pedalling from the knee so much.
Oh and Victoria Pendleton deadlifts 2.5 times her body weight, very impresssive.
Anyway, getting a bit sidetracked here..
Would also like to point out that clean grip front squats are probably the second most important exercise in riding in my opinion. its one of those exercises that if you can't do then there is something wrong with you. Furthermore it's an exercise which completely contradicts normal mountain bike position (hunched over the bars) and encourages thoracic extension (perfect posture) so you can really improve your balance, strength, power etc so its an excellent exercise for mountain biking!
you probably will have big triceps, shoulder development, your lats will likely grow as well, etc. you won't just have a 'big chest' because IT IS a compound movement its a multi joint, so then multi muscular lift that's why its called a compound lift
however i do agree with you that you can't just bench, chins, rows and some form of horizontal press will make you golden!
hahahahahaha idiot, quiet sure drummers get more 'chicks' than PS3 geeks...
"Then my hands and hips started hurting" sounds like you were just overloading your tendons/ligaments? :o Much like the problems climbers often get with their hands. If you get sweaty palms use some talc powder. But if you were drumming alongside, I can imagine your hands never ever got the rest they might have needed to recover from injury.
And chopping wood is indeed an AWESOME workout for mountain biking: grip, armpump, core (massive core involvement!), everything! You really cannot simulate anything like the shocks you get on your hands while riding, in the gym. But chopping wood constantly impacts your hands like the handlebars do, gets you resistance against blistering as well. Also I find it infinitely more satisfying and enjoyable than gym workouts as its so much more challenging.
Great article James! I will focus more on deadlifts myself.
Keep it up.
But I agree - eventually adding hang/power cleans and snatches to one's workout will be incredibly beneficial to mountain biking strength, speed, and agility.
Needing shoes to deadlift is utter bollox, it just means your feet are relatively underdeveloped. The more damped shoes, the less stable your platform, the worse. Just realize you may have to treat your feet like wimps hitting the gym for the first time, when going barefoot. If you have problems with range of motion its fine to start with something to raise your heels tho.
Hucking Bales is awesome fitness work
Bit of a silly article. "The deadlift is a rare exercise"? It's the bedrock of almost all weight training programs, and all serious athletes deadlift to train. This article reeks of someone not knowing what they're talking about.
"The deadlift is a rare exercise (in fact it is banned in some commercial gyms) and I know that the squat and leg press are more popular lower body exercises."
Um, anyone who is serious about weight training deadlifts. Making the point that the deadlift is a great mountain bike-specific exercise is specious; it's fundamental for any sport-specific training regime. It's a universal. Protip: so is the squat.
Also, weightlifting is not for practising sport-specific body positions. Weightlifting is for building strength and endurance, both of which are vital to athletic achievement. The fact that the position of a deadlift at the half-raised stage bears a bit of similarity to the 'attack' position on a bike is not going to make you a drastically better rider.
rant aside i think James is showing a standard dead lift, there's nothing different/ special that i noticed that had an emphasis on mountain biking, he's just showing a perfectly executed dead lift which will be highly beneficial to mountain biking because that's all it is a standard dead lift.
The point to take away from this extreme ramble is F*ck the fancy shit that typical personal trainers/ coaches will tell you. By building FUNCTIONAL strength with basic COMPOUND exercises in conjunction with your sport WILL make you a better athlete.
The dead lift is one of my all-time favorite moves for shoulder position, core strength and lower body fast-and slow-twitch muscle fibers, just because you can do so much with it. If you're looking to maintain or build bike strength and improve fitness, the dead lift (and its many variations) is an exercise you can't go without.
I'm glad we've reached a consensus here.
On the other hand, it is an exercise that is the cornerstone of a serious athlete's strength and conditioning program -- or it should be, anyway.
While I agree the purpose of the exercise is not necessarily to mimic the mountain bike attack stance, I think an argument can be made that the exercise can help a rider gain a kinesthetic feel for the proper attack stance if that's something he's struggling with. I know squats and deadlifts have helped me with my stance for skiing -- something that was missing in my stance just clicked after becoming proficient in these exercises. It was like, "Ah yes -- my point of balance should be just like it was when doing a squat."
Still beneficial to you but less knee flexion.
Full range of motion = most micro tears in muscle fibers and safest way to lift = more repaired tissue = more complete strength functionality = better riding and reduced chance of injury.
furthermore by bending right down so your ass is at your calves is not bad for your knees lower back at all this is a myth. People are designed to be in this position. Case and point if you were to take a nature shit you wouldn't bend half way down, you would bend so your ass is as close to the ground as possible and it wouldn't hurt obviously. This is more relevant to the squat however the same principles apply, People are designed to get into this position comfortably!
On a side note squatting just to parallel is worse for your knees and low back than a full (as low as you can go) squat
Hope this answered your query in some way Protour, James is in fact giving excellent advice.
The Romanian deadlift is not a substitute for the deadlift, focusses on the hamstrings and not at all on the quads. Different applications, different muscle groups.
Taking Harrie's comment personal much? People will naturally believe that recommending one exercise in place of another is meant as a substitution, unless otherwise mentioned. Writing "Still beneficial to you but less knee flexion" only emphasizes the point that you are implicitly stating that this exercise carries similar benefits as the one the user is looking to avoid, so don't get upset when the point is made that they are actually drastically different in many ways.
Harriieee is definitely being adamant about his perceived flaws about the video. I dont know everything but quite a bit and I believe that that is the point of the comment section. He's actually being very responsive, civil, and insightful like bringing up that many don't consider the chest tilting/butt back to be all that important. Also how emphasizing a natural riding position may be the best way to approach the ride.
Of course I'm not a smart kinesiology student spending all his time attempting to moderate the comment section on Pinkbike. See, I can be unnecessarily hyper-sensitive to other people's comments also
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