Monday, November 24, 2008

Key strengthening excercises for XC and endurance riders

Strength and cross training in the mountain bike world has been slow to catch up to its road counterpart. The evolution of the mountain bike particular to xc and endurance racing to ride as light as possible along with the increased technical nature of the trails we are now needs to make sure that their body can actually hold up.

Alone the evolution of the bike frame and components requires some better thought in to the strength and conditioning programs that have long been used. These days the rider is may be navigating a bike no more then 20 pounds across some harsh terrain for a good distance and needs the physical attributes to handle such a ride.

Along with the recommended cross training on a road bike to get in the miles, sprints, and hill work; here are a few strength training techniques that riders should include in their training;

Neutral glute bridge:

Optimize range control of your gluteus maximus and improved stability in your oblique. Helps in moving the bike foward and mantaining stability in various positions.

1. Lie on a firm surface with hands on front of hips to monitor hip position.

2. Lift pelvis using both legs, then raise one leg as shown.

3. Hold this position for 10 seconds, before returning to the start position.

4. Be sure that the pelvis is held level. This is the key. One side may be more difficult to do than the other.

5. Repeat 10 times on each side with a break between every lift.

2. Pullups/chin Ups Many xc riders have a weak upper body; which takes its toll when its a long ride on a aggresive trail. Good upper body strength is nescessary in navigating down the trail and maintaining control of your bike.

1. Straighten your arms all the way at the bottom and allow your shoulders to come up by your ears as well. Cross your legs at the knees to maintain balance while contracting your core.

2. Pull ups indicate that your palms are facing away from you and chin ups indicate that your palms are facing towards you. Both have their place in a program but I almost always start people out with chin ups as they are easier learn how to initiate the movement by pulling the shoulder blades down.

3. If you can do more than 8 reps in a set then strap some weight to yourself.

Plank to push up

As mentioned above most MTB riders need some more upper body strength; and a strong torso as well. This is one of the best exercises to strengthen the shoulders the core, and adding a little something to the lower back all at the same time.

1. Start in a plank position; have your hips lowered and tucked along with your abs contracted; and the belly button sucked in.

2. Keeping the core tight; push your body up into a push up position; hold and then lower back down. Perform as many as you can while maintaining good form.

For an added bonus; add a bosu for an element of instability.

So instead of thinking about that new component or bike to make things go faster; think about what is driving the bike. Strengthening and conditioning will allow you to ride longer, faster, and make the ride just that much more fun.

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