Are you new to mountain biking? You could be brand new to the sport, or a cycling athlete who’s moved from one segment of riding to mountain biking.
Thanks to Coach Dee and the team over at Enduro MTB Training, today begins a two part series aimed at training and recovery for the beginner/intermediate and elite rider.
First up is the beginner/intermediate
There are definitely a few crucial fitness considerations you should be mindful of when seeking to be better prepared for the next season. Below are the top five foundational principles to having, creating or seeking a mountain biking training program.
- Breathing mechanics
Each one is independently important, but they all synergistically work together to help you move with a higher level of proficiency.
Let’s break down each one for you so you can fully understand why as a beginner mountain biker, you will improve by putting focus into these areas.
Number one- “Mobility”
Mobility refers mostly to the function of the skeletal system. We want to have optimal joint integrity, placement and maximal movement that that joint is responsible for providing. Important examples of “mobile” joints that are extremely important for mountain biking are the ankle, hip, shoulder, upper neck and wrist. All of these joints work together to let you show off your steaz as well as position yourself to drop the big drops!
TRY THIS: The foam roller for the hip can help increase hip mobility.
Number two- “Flexibility”
Now as mobility is to the joints, flexibility is to the muscles. Our muscles need to be supple, have proper length tension (resting/working length), have excellent relax-contract properties and have a strong nervous system feedback loop that allows for all of the aforementioned to take place. They also have to be balanced. As an example, because of the seated workplace and the fact that we cyclists are in a flexed position ALL THE TIME, we typically find the front side of the body is tight and the backside is long, loose and weak.
TRY THIS: The exercise ball chest stretch is helpful for tight chest muscles.
Number three- “Stability”
Stability is the platform the body uses in its stabilizing system to create movement as well as a foundation to create and exhibit strength and power. Without stability, you will never be capable of creating the strength and power you want no matter if you’re on the bike or not. The stable “segments” of your body are your foot, knee, core, shoulder girdle and elbow. Yes they all move, but for the most part they are considered areas that provide stability to the mobile joints, which allows for favorable movement capabilities.
TRY THIS: The Wood Chop is a great stability exercise for the stable segments of the core region.
Number four- “Posture”
This is where I could put an equal sign! Numbers 1-3 actually creates conditions for perfect posture! With out them, it is difficult to obtain and maintain perfect posture on and off the bike! Posture also contributes greatly to number five below, “breathing mechanics.” So as mobility, flexibility and stability create the optimal environment for posture, posture in-turn does the same as the foundation upon which movement begins and ends (which ironically is the definition of posture). You MUST have ideal posture to get the most out of your training and on-bike experience!
TRY THIS: The Prone Cobra exercise is excellent for restoring normal postural control of the shoulder girdle.
Number five- “Breathing Mechanics”
We know the lungs live in the ribcage, but did you know the lower third of the lungs live below the rib cage? This allows for bigger expansion if the posture position of the rib cage is correct. If not, the opposite happens… air restriction via labored breathing! This is kryptonite for us mountain bikers! Working to restore normal thoracic spine position is key to preventing or reversing dysfunctional breathing mechanics, in turn, creating an improved performance opportunity on and off the trail.
TRY THIS: “Tummy Vacuums” are a great way to restore breathing mechanics. The picture on the top is me inhaling and my belling moving to the floor to fill up my lungs, and the one on the bottom is me sucking up my gut to exhale fully. Good stuff!
So in the end, if you want to be the “best” mountain biker that your DNA holds, then training regularly off the bike to be a better athlete in addition to training on the bike will help your performance increase exponentially!
Oppositely, resting from a ride and then taking advantage of fall time to provide your body and mind a break from summer of riding and racing, will help make for ideal growth heading into the next mountain bike season!
Remember to Rest
By the way, rest is so important and the most underused performance enhancement in all of cycling! Those who know how to use it to their advantage will have a higher likelihood of beating their opponents whether they’re friends or competitors. Knowing that, here’s a quick tip for you… if you feel less than 90% on any training day, simply take the day off. You’ll be much happier you did than grinding out a death march ride or workout!
Have a great week and keep a look out for “part two” for the elite rider!
More videos at the Enduro MTB Training website. They’re AWESOME and we LOVE them!