I recently attended the Mountain Biking Championships in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. There, I watched cyclists jockey for position on incredibly rough terrain, hop, jump, balance and fall for two grueling hours and quickly arrived to the conclusion that strength training is a must for mountain bikers.
Whether you plan to race or prefer to hit the trails alone, strength training will only make you better. Hitting the gym will increase your force production, which will allow you to spin more efficiently; you'll be able to navigate technical trails better as you fatigue; and when you fall, your body will be able to absorb the impact as well as than a running back playing football.
Strength training will make your bones, ligaments and tendons all stronger—something any mountain biker who's taken a hard fall can attest is important. Having worked with mountain bike racers, I know that strength training is secondary to being in the saddle. But all you need is 45 minutes in the gym two days a week. It's a simple truth: Get strong and you'll become a better rider.
Ab Wheel1 of 13
Kneel down and grab the handles on the wheel.
Ab Wheel (cont'd)2 of 13
Roll forward as far as you can go while maintaining a tight torso. Return to the starting position and repeat.
4-10 reps, 3-4 sets
Cable Wood Chops3 of 13
Get into an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent. Grab the handle with both arms extended.
Cable Wood Chops (cont'd)4 of 13
Next, swing the handle across your body. Return to the starting position and repeat.
6-10 reps, 3-4 sets
Renegade Rows5 of 13
Put a pair of dumbbells on the floor, grab hold of them and get yourself into the pushup position.
Renegade Rows (cont'd)6 of 13
Get your body as rigid as possible and start rowing the dumbbells one at a time. Remember: Don't let your hips and pelvis twist during this exercise.
8-12 reps (4-6 reps each arms), 3-4 sets
Weighted Chin-Ups7 of 13
You can use a belt, weighted vest or hold a dumbbell with your feet. Grab onto the bar with the palms of your hands facing you. Pull yourself up to where your chin is above the bar. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
3-5 reps, 3-4 sets
Deadlifts8 of 13
This is an exercise that every rider should do. Deadlifts strengthen your back, glutes and hamstrings. It's a no-brainer.
Stand with a weighted bar above the center of your feet. Grab the bar with your hands and squat until your shins are touching the bar. Lock your arms while keeping your shoulder blades directly over the bar.
Deadlifts (cont'd)9 of 13
Your back needs to be in good lumbar and thoracic extension. Stand, pulling the barbell in a straight vertical line until you have fully extended your hips. Return to the starting position and repeat.
3-5 sets, 3-4 sets
Bonus Exercise! Power Cleans10 of 13
This is a great exercise that will build explosiveness. Please have someone who knows this exercise teach you the proper technique.
Setup is the same as the deadlift: bar in hands, elbows straight and chest up.
Power Cleans (cont'd)11 of 13
Keeping the bar close to the body, pull it off the floor using hip and knee extension. Next, jump up aggressively while shrugging your shoulders.
Power Cleans (even more cont'd)12 of 13
Drive the bar into the rack position with your elbows high. Make sure the bar travels in a vertical path.
3-5 reps, 3-5 sets