Mountain biking has grown tremendously over the past several years as a sport, as a pastime, and as a competitive arena.
Within this growth, there are three clearly-defined disciplines: Cross-country, Trials and Downhill. Although most people ride or race cross-country, this article will help you work both on and off the bike for any discipline.
Development of muscle power is an essential part of performance improvement. You'll appreciate muscle power and pedal power when you're trying to gain momentum before an uphill, a sprint, or at the start of a race.
Developing muscle power for mountain biking is best achieved using fast, rhythmic motion. By focusing on higher velocity patterns of movement, your muscle gains will directly transfer to the sport activity.
Weight Training Physiology
Faster training movements (using eight to 15 reps per set with fast rhythm) produce almost the same results at both high- and low-velocity exercises, while slow training movements (using one to three reps per set, heavy and slow) only produce improvement in low-velocity exercises.
This does not mean that you should avoid slow, heavy training. On the contrary, some heavy lifting should be added to any training program. Resistance exercises in the three to six reps-per-set range help provide further neural stimulation and muscle strength. This type of training predominantly stimulates Fast Twitch (FT) muscle tissues and helps provide a stronger nervous system "base" for future muscle power development.
However, the best way to improve muscle power is to train with faster movements. There are several reasons for this difference, one of which is the brain. Your brain organizes fast and slow movements differently, and there is evidence of neural adaptation. Specificity is another reason to train with faster movements. This not only means the joint angles and simulated patterns of movement, but the speeds at which you move during the event.
One method for developing muscle power (MP) is to use a moderate resistance and move it with fast, but controlled rhythm. The level of resistance that seems to produce the best results is 30 percen to 60 percent of your maximum weight for the exercise. This load should be moved rather quickly for five to 10 reps.
If you start to deteriorate or slow down, stop. Allow two to three minutes for recovery and repeat the effort. The principle is to force the neurons to recruit new muscle tissues and high threshold motor units. Optimal neural stimulation will help recruit both Fast and Slow Twitch (ST) muscle fibers and improve power output.
Some research indicates a combination of training patterns will provide the maximum benefit. This can be achieved by alternating your training patterns. These training examples may help understand this concept.
Three-Week Resistance Training Program
Day 1 uses heavy resistance to provide high-threshold motor unit recruitment and hammer on some FT muscle tissues.
Day 2 decrease the amount of weight used, but move it faster. Use 30 to 60 percent of your maximum weight for the exercise with fast, rhythmic movements which will stimulate FT and ST muscle fibers, provide an elevated lactic acid level and improve neural drive.