Welcome to Mountain Bike Strength Training Systems

Who the hell is James Wilson and what does “strength training” have to do with climbing better, descending faster and basically dominating all aspects of mountain biking?


Overlooking some of my local trails.

My name is James Wilson and like you I live to ride my bikes. I love the thrill of ripping down some sweet singletrack, the feeling of my heart pounding out of my chest on a tough climb and the taste of a well earned cold post ride beer.

You may have heard about me before, which is kind of weird for me since I am just a regular guy who loves to ride his mountain bike. I have a family and a job and really just want to ride my bike around the trails where I live in Grand Junction Colorado as much as I can and have as much fun doing it as possible.

Even though I started MTB Strength Training Systems to help spread the word about what real mountain bike specific strength and conditioning can do I never thought my little grass roots business would turn into something where I have top riders approaching me to train them.

In fact, since I started to train world cup racers and writing for magazines and websites, I’ve had riders everywhere I go tell me that they have heard about me and my program.

I guess the only thing that really separates me from every other regular mountain biker out there is that I have a passion for strength and conditioning and just happen to have a talent for writing about how to apply it to our unique sport. I know from experience how strength and conditioning can help you climb faster, descend with more confidence and basically rip the trail up as hard and as fast as you dare. Plus, it keeps you from being too sore to ride again the next day!

Ever since I bought my first mountain bike in 2000 (a Marin Nail Trail) when I was living in Santa Barbara, CA I have been hooked on mountain biking. Even though I bought my first bike to commute to work (I thought road bikes looked too weenie for me) I quickly found out that pedaling up and ripping back down fire roads and trails was more fun than I ever imagined.

A few months after starting to ride I realized I wanted to be the best rider I could; not to race but simply to have as much fun as possible. I ended up getting hit by a car on that first bike (I was on my way to the gym, actually) and I took all the money I got in the settlement and blew it on a new Marin Mount Vision full suspension bike. It was “found money” anyways and I figured the mountain biking gods had sent it my way to help me get that new bike I was lusting after!

I also started to experiment with different strength training strategies to help me on the trail. Since I had a track background I was well aware that strength training was the key to maximizing your potential in any sport and I knew that my new sport was no different. However, when I looked for programs I quickly realized that no one had really developed a true strength training system for mountain bikers.

Sure, there were some programs and books out there but they were all heavily based on road cycling type cardio training with some token leg presses thrown in for “strength training”. I knew that this was not the best way to train for the unique physical demands of my new sport and so I started to come up with my own programs.

As my strength and conditioning program got more refined I realized that I had gone from an average rider to a pretty good rider. I could climb things that other people who had been better than me still couldn’t, I could clear technical downhill sections that used to toss me every time and I was no longer the last guy in the group.

I was also not nearly as sore the day after a long ride, something that had plagued me when I first started. Is there anything worse than not being able to get out and ride on a beautiful day because your back or knees hurt too much from the previous day’s ride?

Having fun on your bike is what it is all about and my mission in life is to help my fellow riders learn how to do just that.

Feeling like you are being held back by your body or always being the last one in your riding group is more frustrating than fun and I wanted to share my program and experience with other riders. I knew that I had something unique and valuable to share and so in 2005 I started MTB Strength Training Systems.

Since then I have helped hundreds of riders around the world get faster, ride longer and enjoy the trail more. From World Cup racers and National Champions to weekend warriors, from Downhillers to Marathon racers, I am proud to say that everyone who has tried my programs has seen noticeable improvements in their riding.

Shilo and Z in action

Shilo and Z in action

Now, this is the point where I also need to explain something that may sound a bit funny coming from a strength training professional – I do not like to spend hours in the gym. In fact, if I could take a pill and get the same benefits I would – I would much rather be out on the trail with my mutt Aka or hanging out with my wife and our kids Shilo and Z (yeah, that’s his full first name).

But, I also know that the training helps me ride longer, faster and harder.

Whenever I slack a bit on my training I inevitably feel it in few weeks – my legs feel tired and heavy, my low back starts to get sore, my left knee starts talking to me again and I generally don’t have the same energy and drive to ride as much as I usually do.

So, I design my programs to deliver max results in minimal time, all while keeping things as fun and engaging as possible. My programs are written by a real mountain biker for real mountain bikers, not roadies in disguise like most programs treat you. Seriously, if you wanted to go for a road ride for 2 hours you’d have taken up that sport, right?

Because my approach is completely different than most people have been exposed to I have also become a bit infamous for taking on some “sacred cows” that I thought were holding our sport back. Things like riding a road bike for training, using machines like the leg press and myths about the pedal stroke have all been shot down by me in the last few years; often with a lot of “haters” screaming about how “crazy” I am!

But I don’t care because I don’t do this to be accepted by the “mainstream” mountain bike industry – I do this to help free you from the garbage they have been feeding you for years and years. You can be a much better rider than you are today, but not if you follow the same old advice we’ve been given. As I tell my clients, if you don’t want to ride like everyone else then don’t train like everyone else!

I started this blog to help me get my cutting edge, revolutionary training concepts out to my fellow mountain bikers. Here you’ll find training routines, rehab strategies, cardio programs and other information not available anywhere else. Some of my colleagues wonder why I give away so much info for free but I don’t care.

I want to help you be a better rider – end of story.

Me and Aka the Trail Mutt doing what we love.

Me and Aka the Trail Mutt doing what we love.

I know that if you use the information you’ll find on this blog you will do just that. I also know that once you see what this free info will do for you then you will be more likely to check out one of my more in depth programs; but even if you don’t that’s alright. Just knowing that I am helping advance our sport into the 21st Century in enough.

So check back often since the revolution never stops! I’ll be posting new articles, videos and podcasts every week, making this THE mountain bike training website. And let me know if you don’t see something addressed on here that you want to know more about – I rely on you guys to let me know what is on your mind and what you want to improve with your riding.

Well, that’s about it. It is time to go eat some lunch and hit the trail with my mutt Aka. Get out and ride today if you can – hitting the trail is what the MTB Strength Training System is all about!

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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