From World Cup Pros to Weekend Warriors, my unique training system has been helping riders at all levels since 2005. I’ve helped thousands of riders improve their performance and I can help you too.
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bikejames December 8, 2023
The term “MTB Specific Training” gets thrown around a lot but what does it really mean? At its core, it...Read More
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MTB Specific Training Programs To Improve Your Fitness & Fun On The Trail
I set out to raise the bar for mountain bike training so I have created the best training programs on the planet. They’re guaranteed to help you to ride harder, faster and with more confidence on the trail.
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Below you will find some of the free workouts and programs I have put together to help riders find out if my programs are a good fit for them. Just pick the one you want to try and click the link below it to learn how to get it sent to your inbox with no strings attached.
“Almost immediately, I felt stronger and more in tune with my body. I did a private session with James, and I learned a ton about recruiting my glutes. They’re the biggest muscles in our bodies, and we hardly use ‘em. I feel great. This spring I rode less XC and road, but somehow I’m climbing stronger. I feel very stable, and I feel like no matter what happens, I can handle it. In four weeks I’ve dropped my 2.4-mile climb home from 18 minutes to 14. Pushing the DH bike up Left Hand Canyon has never been easier. At Sea Otter I felt superhuman. Dude: 2nd in semipro slalom qualifiers — that is awesome for me!
On a busy day when I can’t ride, James’ one-hour workout works me hard and gives me the confidence I’m doing the right thing. I trust the guy, and doing what he says feels easy (mentally, not physically!).
I really dig the MTB Strength Training System. It’s teaching me a lot about my body, it’s making me strong, it’s adding variety to my workouts, and it’s actually pretty fun. Most of us can benefit from increased mobility, stability, strength and power. If you’re willing to put in the work, I recommend James Wilson’s program.”
Lee McCormack — www.LeeLikesBikes.com
Author – Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
“By the way….the program is working for me. I’ve been feeling great on the bike and I notice the difference on technical climbs the most. In the past I would have the skill to navigate a technical section of a climb, but not the strength and power to get up and over it. Recently I cleaned this climb that I have never cleaned before in my 10 years of riding that trail. As I was powering up the hill, I thought, maybe it’s the new heavy metal I put on the iPod, maybe it’s the sticky trails after the last rain, maybe it’s the new bike I was riding…..It couldn’t be the training I’ve been doing could it? It’s making a big difference. I went to Moab over Easter weekend and rode three days with my brother who always leaves me in the dust. After the third day in a row of riding and me on his wheel all the way down Porcupine Rim he noticed the difference in my riding and commented on the improvement that he clearly could see. ”
- Larry Young
“The innovative programs that James Wilson provided for me during the 3 years we worked together played a big role in my rapid success at the highest levels of downhill racing.
Any rider who wants to get the most out of their abilities should invest in a program from James – it will definitely help you ride faster and with more confidence.”
- Aaron Gwin
Yeti/ Fox Racing Shox Factory Team
2009, 2010 National DH Champ/ #4 Final World Cup Rankings 2010
“I have been doing a performance test every once in a while (6 weeks) in conjunction with monitoring my weight to try to find my race weight. I won’t bother you with the weight aspect but as far as a testimonial look at these results.
20 Minutes Max Sustained Effort – Indoor Trainer 5/24/10 – 7.97 Miles (23.9 MPH) 7/6/10 – 7.93 Miles (23.8 MPH) 7/19/10 – Week 1 DB Program 8/18/10 – 8.91 Miles (26.6 MPH) Yeah I’d say I’m seeing results. Thanks for putting this together.”
- Jeff Zook
“Hey, quick thing – so far I am absolutely delighted with this program you’ve put together. As you said, part of the reason it works comes from you telling me what to do when – but that works because I trust that you’ve done the research and the grunt-work to figure it out. If you tell me to do something, I have faith it’s the right thing to do. I also really look forward to my work outs, though about by the time I get into the ab sequence and the reverse twists I start getting super sweaty. They are so intense! Thanks for everything, and I’m very happy I came across you!”
- Simon Boyce
“I have finally really started my fall training and your program rocks! In my 19 years as a professional athlete and coach I have never had or taught a workout program this effective. When I first talked to you about your program I thought it was very similar to what I have learned and developed for myself and my clients. Wow, was I wrong! Your strength training program is different and better than anything I have tried in the past. There is an old saying that goes something like “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”. Well this year I expect to have more snap, better control and most of all more fun because your program is going to make me stronger than ever. Thank you…”
- Gene Hamilton
UCI World Masters Championship Silver and Bronze Medalist
Owner/ Operator of Better Ride Skills Camps
“I am not a competitive rider but doing the workout 3 days / week over the winter increased my strength quite a bit and gave me something bike oriented to do without getting bored. Now that the weather is better I am also down to twice per week (plus stretching more often) and as much riding as possible. I have found that I am MUCH more flexible and have become a stronger more aggressive and more fluid rider. With the increased risks I have taken some bigger spills but seem to avoid injury (so far) better than I used to. The overall benefit from this program is HUGE and the cost is less than two sessions with a trainer (who does not get mountain biking). Thanks James!”
- Lou - www.leelikesbikes.com
“As an elite athlete on the NORBA circuit for the last 10 years, I’ve always strived for an edge over my competition. With sponsorships and money at stake, every edge I can get is important. I knew what a good strength and conditioning program could do for me. I came across James Wilson from MTB Strength Training System through SponsorHouse.I chose his program based on the fact that his workouts were strictly based on the demands of mountain bike riding and racing.
After the first workout I could tell that it was completely different than anything else I had come across and would definitely make an impact on my riding. I’m very excited for the 2007 racing season. With James and his unique program in my corner I’m going to make it tough for anyone to snatch the NORBA 4X National Champion title away from me.”
- Rich Houseman
2006 NORBA Mountain Cross National Champion/ 2007 US Open Champion
“Although I have only been focusing on your program for a little over a month, I’ve begun to notice results everywhere (XC and DH… everywhere).I never really realized how much you go anaerobic in just regular trail/XC riding.I’ve found myself, that rather than just riding and climbing, I’m playing more.I look for stuff to jump off of, climb over boulders, and sprint up steeps with more energy than I ever had before…even when I rode a lot of road.
I think the most valuable thing, besides my obviously stronger core, were those box squats where you squat down and explode as soon as you touch the box.The first few workouts made me realize how completely un-explosive I was.
On the trail it was noticeable how much faster I could yank the bike up and over stuff.Some of the trail riding I do here is extremely technical and requires an obscene amount of body English.This improvement became most apparent on technical descents, where you are struggling to carry speed, and one mistake can cut your momentum in half.
Yesterday I went for a long trail ride with some very technical descents.Even though I’m sick, and struggled on the climbs, I was stoked to ‘snap’ way more than I used to.I was able to pull and pump HARDDDD on the descents.Rather than just “unweighting” over the rough stuff, I was actually able to gap things and carry ludicrous speed into the next section.
I had two very fast riders chasing me, both of whom I respect a lot, and I couldn’t help but smile as I sat and waited at the next junction for them to catch up (smiling although I was hacking up a lung because of the bronchitis).I just felt “on it”.
You know, the fact that I can’t breath, but could still pull it out on the descents is probably completely owed to the anaerobic conditioning I’ve been doing.Thanks for your program, and your obvious continued concern and support for the athletes using it.”
- Scott Brafford
“As a former competitive body builder in the mid 90’s, and current 4x ripper, I thought I knew it all when it came to the strength and conditioning arena! Boy has James program opened my eyes. It is not your “conventional” training program but I can see where it will make me Faster/Stronger and less injury prone for this season. Thanks!”
- Troy Cooperman - www.leelikesbikes.com
“I have been following your program for a few months now and I just wanted to let you know how it was going. As I mentioned to you before I am feeling much stronger in all of my daily activities, not just in my mountain biking. This carryover was an unexpected but very welcome side effect of the program.
Also, I would like to mention how much I feel that it has impacted my riding as an ultra-endurance rider. Most mountain bikers that participate in XC, 24 hour and marathon races do not feel that strength training has much to offer them but as someone who does these types of riding I can tell you that they are certainly missing the boat.
My riding is stronger than ever and this program has even helped my riding endurance. Long story short, I am hesitant to recommend this program to my fellow competitors because I feel that it is going to give me an edge over them but I am so impressed with the program that I feel it would be wrong to keep it all to myself.”
- Nate Wilson
XC and Marathon Racer
“Thanks for checking in!My program has been great and I have definitely made gains in both muscle strength and endurance.As a former personal trainer (certified through ACSM & AFFA) I realize the impact this program will have on my riding.Presently I am in the “in season” phase.Sometimes I am only able to get in the gym 2 days a week but still love the workout and it is kickin’ my butt!!
I recently placed 10th in the PRO downhill at the Virginia state championships.It was my first time racing in the pro class(30-39 expert usually but I said what the hell) and have also won the North Carolina state Super D series(won 3 out of 3 races in my class).So needless to say, I am very happy and have been plugging your program to all my bros.Since I didn’t get started on the program until the season was underway, I really can’t wait to start from the beginning of the program when the race season is over.Thanks so much for everything!!”
- Andy DeVault
“I have been using the MTB Strength Training program since November and I feel incredibly strong when I’m on my bike. In a recent DH race I was able to post a time within tenths of a second of some of my competitors I have never come close to before. Now when I go to a race I know I have the strength to compete for the podium. Even if you don’t race the added strength just up’s the fun factor when your on your bike.”
- Sean - www.leelikesbikes.com
“Just thought I’d drop you an update. Last Sunday I did my first training ride of the season (and first using MTB). The coarse is an 11 mile loop with all the goodies you would come to expect up here in Northern Michigan! Anyway, at the end of last riding season, my average speed on this loop was 8.5 mph, and to my surprise when I checked my cycle computer at the end of this ride, I was at 8.5 mph!! My body felt as if I had just rode the week before, even thou it had been about 4 months since I was in the saddle last. I’ll admit that I’m always suspicious when it comes to training programs, but I feel that MTB Strength Training IS the reason I felt so good. My first race is in two weeks, and I am stoked and ready to go! I’ll let you know the results of it. Thanks for everything.”
- Dave Scott
“I’m definitely seeing the results from the program. Last night I road with a bunch of roadies on my mountain bike. They were a pack of local road racers; 30 guys in the Cat. 3 and 2 range. Every Thursday night they do a timed ride up to the ranger station on the local mountain, Mt. Diablo, Total elevation to the half way point is about 2,500 feet. A good time to the ranger station on a road bike is about 27 minutes. I placed 5th with a time of 24.35 min on my mountain. bike. All the roadies were pretty shocked. This is just one of the things I’ve noticed. I’m also about 2 minutes faster in all of my timed rides on both the road and the mountain bike. Riding wise, I feel different. I feel like I’m able to transfer power more easily instead of just letting one muscle group get tired and then fading out. Thanks again…”
- Jason Shueh
“I just finished week 2 of phase 2 this morning. I’m f’n stoked!!! I’m increasing my dead lift strength, noticing a better balance between my horiz pulling and horiz pushing movements and I’m working those anaerobic intervals to the best of my ability (they still kick my ass though!). With out a doubt, I have noticed the improvement on the trail. Climbing is ALOT easier and I have so much more reserve energy on steep climbs.. I’ve also really noticed the increase in my mobility on the bike, and incredibly, I’m not sore like I used to be after long rides. I’ve been talking up your program to everyone. It’s really been so beneficial, I can’t say enough great things about it! I can only imagine that these results will become more pronounced as I progress though the rest of the program. Thanks so much!”
- Jeff Ladue
“I’ve been enjoying the DB Combos program a bit. Only about three weeks in I can already see an improvement in how I’m handling the bike. I considered myself to be a relatively strong although fairly new rider and was shocked to see how what I chalked up to lack of natural ability was in fact just a lack of strength. Plus, I’m really liking that it feels like every exercise is directly connected to my riding performance, so I stay motivated to keep with it. Thanks for putting the programs together, I’m thinking about moving up to a more advanced one at the end of the 12 weeks and the results are all in.”
- J.W. Koebel
“First off let me say thanks for sharing your passions, experience and knowledge.I have really appreciated all you’ve shared through a variety of communication venues. I’ve been consistently executing the program for 8 weeks now and can say with complete confidence that there is a marked difference in not only my performance on the trails, but in my physical strength, flexibility, and confidence to try new things on my bike.
I’ve been working as a personal trainer for the last four years and so the building blocks of core strength, body control, nutrition, rest,etc. are not new to me. However, I must say that your presentation is that of simplicity and effective combination. I read through the manual and many times found myself giving you a “high five” because some of your approaches while counter cultural, have proved to be try in my life and experiences as well.
Every aspect of the program has been beneficial for me.From the tumbling exercises to mobility moves…I’ve been challenged and improved in ways that make a huge difference when I’m riding. I’ve been riding for only 6 months competitively and I can’t tell you the difference I’ve seen in the last two months.
I’m living in Turkey and so there are not a lot of other women MTB cyclists so I generally train with guys who’ve been racing for years (which is a very beneficial aspect of my training because they are all better than I am and therefore I push myself that much harder, after all I am very competitive).They have all commented as well that everything about my riding is improving – ability to turn, jump, handle rough terrain, higher cadence, better falls (more controlled), stamina.
And even if I were not receiving encouragement from others I can tell a huge difference in my riding. I credit a great deal of this to your program.And I will again affirm that all I’ve learned, experienced and observed in the real world with my clients (not just theoretically from books or case studies) I feel is consistent with what you present.I really respect that and hope that many people learn about your program.
I have shared it with my friends here but most of them do not know enough English for it to be beneficial so I generally translate it and just share as we’re training.I hope you know I’m not trying to fluff up my experience, only telling it like I’ve experienced it. Racing season starts here in March and I’m stoked about the opportunity to gain new experiences on the trails! “
- Erica Fendley