In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I catch up with longtime friend of the show Ryan Leech. I’ve had Ryan on more than anyone else and I think it is because we both have a lot of shared passions both in and outside of the mountain biking world.

If you don’t know, Ryan is one of the best trials riders in the history of mountain biking, inspiring generations of riders with his otherworldly balance and artistic line choices.

He has become one of the best skills coaches in the world as well, sharing his knowledge and lessons he has learned both through clinics and his website, The Ryan Leech Connection.

Ryan is also huge advocate for flat pedals, having released his free 12 Ride Flat Pedal Challenge Course (which I contributed a workout to).

As a yoga instructor and longtime practitioner, he is also passionate about helping people develop their bodies and minds off the bike in ways that will help them on the bike.

In other words, we usually have a lot to talk about when we get the chance to chat.

Usually we have a pre-set agenda but this time we just hit record and let the conversation go where it wanted to…and it went in some pretty interesting directions.

From the pressures and downsides of social media to assessing risk on the bike and why flat pedals rule, we coverd a lot of ground. You can check it out by clicking on the link below.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Ultimate Program

Last week I was looking around online and came across an interesting study published in the Journal of Science and Cycling. In it they looked at the effects of two types of strength training approaches for off-road cyclists (a.k.a. mountain bikers).

The study had two groups of cyclists, with one using Endurance Strength Training (higher sets and reps) for 8 weeks during the off-season and no strengh training during the season and with another group performing Maximal Strength work during the off-season and continuing for 8 weeks during the riding season as well.

Both groups added the strength training to their usual endurance training programs for mountain biking. Riders were then tested for a whole range of performance indicators at the end of the beginning of the pre-season, at the end of the pre-season and again at the end of the study.

What they found was that while both groups saw some gains from strength training, only the Maximal Strength group saw gains in some areas throughout the whole study while the Endurance Strength group saw decreases in some areas at the end.

Most significant to me was the 1 Rep Max test, were the Maximal Strength group saw an increase of 15.8% from the beginning to the end of the study and the Endurance Strength group saw a decrease of 16.1% from the end of the post-season to the end of the 8 weeks of riding. This also showed up in some of the power tests and in the Fatigue Index used in the test as well.

Now, before I start to read too much into these results I do want to say that I have not seen the full study and so I do not know the specifics behind the type of strength training programs they used or what they did during the riding season. I also don’t know the experience level of the riders and they didn’t do any “on trail” testing.

But, even with that said, I still think there are some things we can take from this study…

1 – Strength training during the riding season is a must for mountain bikers. I’ve preached this for years…if your strength levels drop significantly during the riding season then your performance will suffer.

2 – It doesn’t take a lot of time see results with In-Season Strength Training. These guys worked out 1 time a week and saw results from it. You don’t have to devote hours and hours to strength training to reap the benefits, you just have to take action and be consistent.

3 – Mountain bikers need to lift heavy weights. Again, without seeing the exact programs used I can’t say for sure but with a name like the Maximal Strength Group I don’t think they were lifting pink dumbbells for 20+ reps. I would guess they were using a 3-6 rep range and focused on moving some weight. And, as you can see from the study, getting stronger improved their results.

So, put it all together and taking one day a week to lift some heavy weights can make you faster on your bike. You can keep it pretty simple as well with a routine like this…

Deadlift – 3 sets of 5 reps

Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 5 reps

Goblet Squat – 3 sets of 5 reps

Chin Up – 3 sets of 5 reps

KB Windmill – 3 sets of 5 reps

Doing this routine once a week will help keep you riding strong all season long. Or, at last that’s what the science and my experience would suggest.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems


Pedaling Innovations

Check out this new article I was interviewed for by Outside Magazine’s website called The 3 Stretches Every Outdoor Athlete Should Do Daily. In it I share the 3 stretches I do every day to keep me moving well, performing my best and staying injury free.

Click here to discover The Top 3 Stretches You Should Do Daily

Don’t make the mistake I did for so many years and neglect stretching in favor of more strength training or cardio. Stretching is now one of the most important parts of my daily routine and it has helped me overcome some nagging injuries and maintain my quality of movement. Check out this article to learn more about why I feel stretching is so important and the 3 stretches you can start doing today to improve your performance on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Skills and Fitness Program

One of the most common misconceptions about foot position on the bike is the need to be on the ball of your foot so you can use your legs properly to absorb impacts and land jumps. The usual train of thought goes that since you first contact the ground with the ball of the foot during a vertical jump this means you need to be on the for your ankles to help absorb the impact.

However, as usual there is more to the story than tired analogies that don’t apply to our sport. As I’ve pointed out before, since you aren’t actually coming off and back onto your pedals your feet and ankles work differently than when running or jumping (which is why you don’t do KB Swings perched on your toes).

Besides this, though, during my workout the other day I realized that your foot also works two different ways when landing from a jump depending on which way your energy is being projected, which seems to fly in the face of the “you always land on your toes when jumping” crowd.

More than this, though, it highlights the real reason you land on one end of your foot when jumping, which is to get your foot to a flat, balanced position so your hips and legs can then absorb the impact.

I know that this may be difficult to visualize so I shot this video that should clear it up a bit…

The point of this is that we really need to take a step back and question some of the prevailing logic about the need to be on the ball of the foot. The mid-foot position is a much stronger, stable position for the foot to work from and this translates into stronger, more stable movement with the rest of your body.

And just in case you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Sam Hill uses a mid-foot position on his pedals…and has won World Cup DH Races and Enduro World Series stages with the “wrong” foot position.

A post shared by SAM HILL (@samhill13) on

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Fitness Membership Program

First, I want to say thanks to everyone that entered the contest. We got a lot of great comments and videos posted and it is great to know that so many riders are using Kettlebell Swings to improve their riding.

After going through them all I’ve picked 3 comment entry winners and 2 video entry winners, plus one Grand Prize winner who will get a free 30 minute Skype Video Coaching Call so I can personally help with with their Swings…

Comment Entry Winners

1 – Robert

2 – Bill

3 -Brad

Video Entry Winners

1 – r_deckert_mtb_pt

2 – yuribogner

Grand Prize Winner

1 – Ray Huertes

We’ve replied to your entry with instructions on how to get your prize, I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Kettlebell Workout

If you are a mountain biker – and if you are reading this I assume you are – then Kettlebell Swings are one of the best exercises you can do. They build grip strength, hip power and anaerobic endurance in one efficient package, giving you rep-for-rep better results than almost any other exercise.

Over the last few years Kettlebell Swings have surged in popularity. However, while it is easier than ever to find a workout or gym that will have you doing swings, there is a shortage of coaches who know how to coach it the right way to mountain bikers.

You see, how you do your swings will play a significant role in the type of results you get. Besides increasing your risk of injury, bad movement habits and misplaced focus while doing your swings will keep you from seeing improvement where it really counts…on the trail!

It doesn’t matter how heavy a kettlebell you use or how many reps you do, if you are making some of the common mistakes I see then you are holding yourself back in the gym and on your bike.

I know this because I have had the unique experience of using kettlebells for over 12 years to help mountain bikers improve their riding. Since 2005 I’ve worked with riders at all levels using kettlebell training and I’ve learned how to help riders like you get more results out of every rep while avoiding common mistakes that plague most riders.

And while I have shared a lot of great tips to improve your Kettlebell Swing over the years, I realized that I have never shared everything I know in one place. The Kettlebell Swing is an exercise that deserves an in depth look and so I decided to do something new to bring it to you.

Instead of a workout program, I have created a Virtual Workshop. This one-of-a-kind 6 part video series covers everything you need to know so you can have a great Kettlebell Swing in the gym…and better results on the trail.

Click here to learn more and get immediate access

No matter what training program you are using, knowing how to perform a great Kettlebell Swing will help you get better results. That means this Virtual Workshop is great for…

– Those new to kettlebell training who want to get started the right way with Kettlebell Swings.

– Veteran kettlebell users who want to get even better MTB-specific results out of their Kettlebell Swings.

– Strength Coaches who want to learn how to help their MTB clients use Kettlebell Swings to improve their performance.

–  Skills Coaches who want to learn how to use the Kettlebell Swing to help their clients improve their movement skills.

Click here to learn more and get immediate access

Of course, the choice is yours but I know you won’t want to miss this chance to improve one of the most important exercises you can use as a mountain biker. Click the link below to learn more and sign up for the  Virtual Workshop and let me let me share my unique experience to help you improve your Kettlebell Swings and the results you see on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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James Wilson