Earlier this month I shared a couple of posts about what you can learn from some other sports, specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and BMX Racing. If you read them then you might have noticed that one of the lessons from both of them was to focus more on improving your technical skills.

In fact, if you look at the training programs for athletes in most sports you’ll see a lot of attention and energy being directed towards improving their technique. But, thanks to the strong influence that road riding has on most training programs, this isn’t something that most mountain bikers have come to appreciate as much as they should.

Your technical skill level is one of your most important assets on the trail, especially as you gain more experience. Besides keeping you safe as your ride more challenging terrain and features, your technical skill is the key to improving your endurance as you ride more.

Since your VO2Max can’t increase forever, most of the performance gains after the first few years of riding come from improvements in efficiency and skill. Using less energy to move on your bike and maintaining more momentum on the trail are what really drive your endurance gains over the long run.

Considering the improved safety and performance that improving your skills promise, it makes sense to cut out some of the pedaling based cardio (which counts as skill training for a roadie) and focus instead on improving your skills.

And while there are a lot of different skills you can focus on, I’ve found the top 3 skills that help a rider improve their performance are… Post Continued :: Click to Read More

MTB Ultimate Program

Do you want to improve your ability to Manual and Bunny Hop your bike?

Well, if you do then you’re not alone. One thing I’ve noticed from working with hundreds of riders over the years is that almost all of them struggled with this essential trail skill.

You see, this isn’t an easy skill to learn. The trick to manualing and bunny hopping your bike is learning how to push into the bike instead of pulling on the bike to drive the technique.

By driving your hands and feet into the bike you take advantage of the hips and you create a balanced platform to move from. Pulling with your hand and feet uses weaker muscles and rarely gives you the balanced position you need to hold a manual or move into a bunny hop.

This requires something most riders just don’t have, which is the ability to properly explode out of their Attack Position.

This throws off their balance and alignment and makes it impossible for them to follow through with the right technique. If you ever want to Manual and Bunny Hop better then you have to re-train this unconscious habit on the bike.

The best way to do this is to use a simple but powerful concept –  put 100% of your energy and focus on this movement skill for 4 weeks both in the gym and on the trail. This leads to large, sustainable improvements you can’t see with a less focused approach.

Which is why I created this new program. It is based on the system I’ve used to help countless riders improve this skill and I know it can help you as well.

To help you get the most out of the program it includes: Post Continued :: Click to Read More

Pedaling Innovations

For most of us, moving with speed and power on the trails isn’t something that comes naturally. At first trying to use explosive strength is usually accompanied by a lot of flailing of limbs and a general lack of grace, which leads to the term “spastic” being used to describe your riding style.

Eventually, though, with practice you start to learn that there is a time and a place to put a little explosive strength behind your technique. Maybe you need to get better at manualing to get your front wheel up and over ledges or maybe you need to be able to bunny hop higher (or at all) to clear trail obstacles, but whatever it is you know that you need to be a little more explosive on the trail.

However, before you run out and start doing a bunch of swings and box jumps there is something important to consider –  the type of power we need to be explosive on the trail is a bit different than the power needed in a lot of other sports.

The main reason is that we don’t get to take advantage of the “rubber band effect” like they do. To explain what I mean, imagine that your muscles are like rubber bands and as you stretch them they store energy.

After getting longer and storing energy, that energy can be used when you reverse direction and contract the muscles. Winding up to throw a ball or a punch or crouching down before you jump are examples of this in action.

This is also how a lot of exercises used to build explosive strength work – things like box jumps, kettlebell swings and medicine ball throws all use this “rubber band effect” as the muscles store energy by quickly lengthening and then releasing that energy when you explode in the reverse direction.

And while these are all great exercises, there is another type of explosive strength that we need to work on as well. This type of explosive strength doesn’t use the “rubber band effect” and instead relies on maximum recruitment of the muscles from a dead stop.

If you think about it, on the trail we rarely get the luxury of winding up into something. Most of the time we react quickly without much time to move, which makes being able to explode without first needing to use an exagerated body movement a critical skill on the trails.

This makes training this skill a must for anyone serious about getting the most out of their training program, especially if you want to focus on your Manualing and Bunny Hopping. In my experience, these are best 3 exercises for building this type of explosive strength for MTB.

– Pausing Broad Jump: The Broad Jump is one of the simplest ways to build explosive strength in the hips. It is easy to do, realtively safe and lets you train some basic athlecism that a lot of us lose as we get older.

By pausing for a 4 count at the bottom of the Broad Jump we allow the stored energy to dissapate (a fancy word for dissapear). This means we can’t use it when we finally reverse direction and explode into the jump, negating the “rubber band effect” and forcing us to rely on this other type of explosive strength.

– Deadstop Swing: While almost everyone is familiar with the normal kettlebell swing (which is a GREAT exercise), few are familiar with this variation. By parking the kettlebell after each rep you lose the natural “rubber band effect” that swings usually rely on. The trick is to make sure you saty nice and strong when you hike the kettlebell back and don’t let yourself sink much deeper into your hips, forcing you to recruit as many muscles as possible with the wind up.

– No-Mo Explosive Push Ups: Just like the Pausing Broad Jump, the No-Mo (stands for No Momentum) Push Up has you pause at the bottom by extending your arms out to your sides. This takes the tension off the muscle and gets rid of the built up energy, again forcing you to rely on maximal muscle recruitment instead of winding up.

I suggest keeping the sets and reps pretty low (2-4 sets of 3-6 reps) when using these exercises since they rely heavily on the nervous system, which will tire out faster than the muscles and lungs. Once this happens you can start to use bad technique and build bad habits, which is not the goal of training.

When added to solid technique, explosive strength is something that can really help your skills on the trail. Don’t make the mistake so many others do, though, and not train for both types of explosive strength. Add these exercises to your program and you’ll find your ability to explode when needed will increase significantly.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Skills and Fitness Program

Last week I had the privileged of being on the Angry Mountain Biker Podcast, which is a podcast run by Will Niccolls. I had someone tell me about the show after checking into it I really liked Will’s every-day-rider outlook on things…as well as his love of flat pedals and standing pedaling.

After contacting Will to let him know I liked the show he invited me on to share some info on the pedal stroke, foot position and the real value of flat pedals. We also talked about my new Catalyst Pedal and how it fixes the problems caused by pedals that are too small for your feet (which includes every other pedal on the market).

At the beginning of the show I share the story of how falling over at a stop sign, training Aaron Gwinn and the desire to create the best training programs possible led me down the path that I’m on today.

Click here to listen to/ download this episode of the Angry Mountain Biker Podcast

I hope you like this interview and get some good info from it. Knowledge is power and for too long the cycling industry has preyed on our collective ignorance. Knowing the truth is the best way to decide what is best for you.

And I hope you’ll check out more episodes of the Angry Mountain Biker Podcast, Will has a good show with some fun stuff to share. Good mountain biking podcasts are pretty few and far between so its good to support one when I get the chance.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Fitness Membership Program

This is a guest post from Jukka Mäennenä, a Finnish cycling coach who specializes in BMX and Mountain Bike training. Jukka is someone I have known for a long time and he has been on the podcast before and shared a great article and video on modern day mobility training for riders.

Photo credit: Peter Holmberg

Photo credit: Peter Holmberg

The last time we talked the subject of BMX training came up and we both agreed that most mountain bikers could learn a lot more from training for BMX than training for road riding. After talking about it for a bit Jukka agreed to write and article sharing the three things he felt mountain bikers could learn from BMX racers.

And after a slight delay so he could write his second book he got it to me last week. I think there are some great lessons in here and I know you’ll get a lot from this unique perspective on training to be a better rider…

For most mountain bike riders BMX racing is an odd sport. Riders sprinting around a track on bikes that suit an average 8-year old. However, on a closer inspection it turns out that race tracks are very challenging – especially when going full speed. It isn´t a coincidence that a lot of the top mountain bike riders have background in BMX racing. I´d go as far as saying the no other sports lays the foundation for bike handling skills and control as well as BMX racing. Post Continued :: Click to Read More

MTB Kettlebell Workout

When I talk to people about the Catalyst Pedal I tell them that it isn’t a product as much as a mission for me. Giving riders a real, no-compromises alternative to clipless pedals is something that means a lot to me and the real driving force behind Pedaling Innovations.

This is why I love getting feedback from riders who have gone from hard core clipless pedal users to flat pedal advocates based on their experience with the Catalyst Pedals. And it’s even better if they are bike shop mechanics and self-professed bike fit geeks who use a math equation for setting up everything on their bike.

But that is what happened to Adam Lopez, a wrench in a shop here in Colorado who is also a musician (which is why his blog is mostly about that). Adam felt strongly enough about his experience that he wanted to share it with other riders in a post to his blog, which you can read by clicking the link below.

Click here to read Adam’s post about his experience of going from clipless pedal user to flat pedal fan.

Like Adam found out, clipless pedals were never the best option, they were just better in some ways than the crappy flat pedal designs we had on the market. The unstable, unbalanced foot createdadam-bike by the standard flat pedal created the problems solved by clipless pedals but once you give the foot the right platform those issues go away.

This means that you can have the performance of clipless, the fun and safety of flats and better comfort than any other pedal on the market.

So if you are on the fence about trying the Catalyst Pedals please check out Adam’s post, as well as the testimonials and other reviews we have linked to on our site. Like these and thousands of other riders have found out, the Catalyst Pedals will change your mind about how a flat pedal can and should perform.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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