May
20

One of my proudest achievements as a rider was hitting the 40 foot gap jump we had up at The Ranch. It was on a slopestyle course we had built that was part of the FMBR tour for a couple of years and it was the centerpiece of a lot of airtime.

The reason I was pretty proud of myself the first time I saw it I thought I’d never be able to ride it. At the time I struggled with jumping my bike, especially if it involved an actual lip. Sure, riding off a flat jump at speed is one thing but being able to hit and control a lip was different.

I wasn’t a natural at jumping my bike and I wrecked a lot trying to figure it out. Luckily I had an amazing place to practice with The Ranch being 45 minutes from my house and it allowed me the chance to try new ideas.

The one idea that really made a huge difference for me was the day I realized that I needed to drive my hips into the lip of the jump. Instead of leaning back or, worse yet, doing nothing when I hit the lip I needed to drive my hips forward.

Once I made this connection everything changed. If I was having a bad day jumping my bike I just made a mental note to drive my hips forward and things immediately got better.

This allowed me to gain the confidence I needed to hit bigger and bigger jumps until the day the 40 footer didn’t look impossible anymore. But without making that connection and practicing the movement both on and off the bike I never would have done it.

To help you apply this to your own riding I shot a new video where I explain the movement pattern behind jumping your bike, why “stomping your feet into the pedals” may be a bad coaching cue and some movement drills to help you improve your explosive hip hinge.

While you may never get to the point you jump a 40 footer, the same basic principles apply to jumps of all sizes. Learning how to move from the hips is the key and once you do you’ll find your confidence increasing in the air.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Ultimate Program
May
13

This week I’ve got a new podcast to share with you. Instead of a single topic, I had a few random things that wouldn’t make for a whole episode alone so I put them together into this BikeJames Podcast.

In this episode I cover…

  • Knee Stomp vs. Hip Stomp: Why “stomp your feet” can be a bad coaching cue for jumping or manualing your bike.
  • The importance of foot position on the bike for using your Hip Hinge and “stomping your feet” the right way (and why this is a major reason the Catalyst Pedals work so well).
  • Some history on the Turkish Get Up and why you may be missing out if all you do is the kettlebell version.
    Why training is like a game of chess and your goals are only half of the equation.

You can download or stream this episode below or you can find the BikeJames Podcast on Itunes and Podbean.

Click Here to Download the MP3 File

I hope you enjoy this month’s episode and I’ll look forward to sharing more stuff with you in the next one.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

Pedaling Innovations
May
6

May is a lot of fun here in the Grand Valley. While every month is great to be a rider around here, to help kick off the riding season this month is the official Grand Valley Bike Month.

We just wrapped up the Fruita Fat Tire Festival, which is always a lot of fun, and later this month we also have the Grand Valley Mountain Bike Film Festival, which will feature some films by local producers. One of the films is from my friends Caleb and Tim at Lightbulb Media and highlights all of the different kind of riding you can fit into a day around here.

The huge variety of trails is the main reason I moved here and I was happy to be able to support their film through my company Pedaling Innovations. Having such a great area to test the Catalyst Pedals was why I was so confident that they were game-changers for any type of riding – if they can keep up with everything this valley throws at them they can handle just about anything.

Of course, with all the extra riding that is going to start happening it’s also important to keep up with your strength training. In this month’s workout we’re focusing on single leg and single arm exercises with our Ramping Isometrics in order to iron out any strength differences that might start to show up as you ride more. We also have some broad jump work to help develop your hip drive and “stomp” needed for manualing and jumping.

You can download the workout by signing up below below. Just enter you email and you’ll get the link to download the PDF to your computer. Each exercise has a link to a video demo so you have everything you need to get going.

Remember to start and end you workout with some sort of mobility routine. It’s important to be moving well before you start training, otherwise you’re just laying fitness on top of dysfunction. You can check out this blog post for a follow-along demo of a good routine to use if you need one.

BTW, you’ll see I incorporate some unique training tools and methods like Ramping Isometrics and the Steel Mace into these workouts. I do provide some alternatives if you don’t have some of the training tools I do but it’s a good way to see how to use these things in a workout.

Hope you enjoy thing month’s workout and that it helps you enjoy your spring riding even more. Being fit helps you have more fun and that’s what the ultimate goal should always be.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Skills and Fitness Program
April
29

Over the last 18 months I’ve become an evangelist for isometric training. If someone wants to talk training then the first thing I tell them is about the amazing experience I’ve had and seen others have with this marginalized training method.

Increases in strength and endurance with far fewer training related aches and pains, all in less than and hour of training a week. It sounds ridiculous until you try it and then you wonder why more people don’t know about them.

The truth is that Isometric Training is nothing new. There has been a lot of research done on them for 50+ years and the other day I was digging around seeing what I could find about their benefits.

And while there was a lot that you would expect, there were a few things that really surprised me. Here are 3 benefits of isometric training you may not have known about…

1 – Isometrics improve your cardio.

One study I came across found that isometric training increased not only strength but the endurance of the muscles being trained. When biopsied, the muscles showed increased levels of the enzymes needed for oxidative metabolism.

This means that isometric training isn’t just good for strength but it also improves how well you body can process oxygen and fuel your efforts. Plus, it does it in a very specific way that has a lot of transfer to the High Tension Cardio efforts you need on the trail.

2 – You need Isometric Training to improve Isometric Strength.

One thing that I found over and over is that nothing improves isometric strength like isometric training. In fact, one study found an increase in muscle size but not in isometric strength from a training program that didn’t include any isometric training.

To me this says that isometric strength is very specific and can’t be optimized without specific isometric training. And this is important for us because of how much we rely on isometric strength to pedal our bikes.

When your pedaling hard your legs are moving like crazy but your upper body is working too. Your core and arms are locking down, trying to minimize movement so that all of the leg drive goes down into the pedals and not up into an unstable core and upper body.

The stronger you are with resisting this force the more force your body can create and put into the pedals. The legs are only as strong and the platform behind them and the isometric strength of your core and upper body is that platform.

If you need more power or find that laying down power really taxes you then you may need a stronger, more efficient isometric platform. And because of the specificity of them, you need to have isometrics as a part of your overall program.

3 – Isometrics can decrease blood pressure.

I came across three studies – here’s the link to one – looking at the impact of isometric training and blood pressure and they all found a reduction. Granted, none were done on athletes but it seems that there may be something going on there.

Some of you reading this could use a general reduction in blood pressure or use medication to help control it. And while you should always consult your doctor, if isometric training can help you improve your blood pressure then that is a huge step forward towards a goal bigger than any performance goal on your bike…being healthy.

And even if you don’t need it now, keeping on top of things like this as you get older is easier than having to fix it down the road. Don’t forget that while we love to ride bikes, keeping our meat sack functioning is important as well.

Besides these benefits I’ve also posted a podcast and an article on Ramping Isometrics, which are a specific type of isometric training that I use. If you haven’t seen them yet then check them out for more info on why they work and how to use them.
Isometric Training isn’t easy and it isn’t sexy but it works. Hopefully I’ve been able to peak your interest in this underutilized training method and how it can help your riding.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Fitness Membership Program
April
17

On Monday I sent out an email sharing a study I had found on the impact of in-season strength training on your performance. While you can check out the post and study HERE, I can sum it up for you in two words…

It helps.

And while I shared a simple program you can use in that post, today I wanted to share a workout I put together using some of my favorite new tools and methods.

This is a simple two-day routine that uses Kettlebells, Ramping Isometrics and the Steel Mace (I included substitute exercises in case you don’t have a Steel Mace).

Click Here to Download This Free Workout

Start each workout with a Dynamic Mobility routine (click HERE for an example of this type of warm up).

Do each workout once a week, giving yourself 3-4 days between workouts. Since this is an in-season workout you’ll also notice that there isn’t any cardio since you should be riding your bike, which is the best cardio training you can do (click HERE for more info on this).

Let me know if you have any questions about this or any of my other emails or blog posts. Hopefully this routine can help you see how you can balance strength training and riding so you can stay strong all season long.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Kettlebell Workout
April
8

In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I look at two recent studies and their application to mountain biking and training:

1 – Effects of Recovery Posture on High Intensity Interval Training: This study looked at the best posture for maximizing your recovery between high intensity efforts. You can read the study by click here.

2 – Low Carb Diets Effects on Anaerobic Exercise: This study looked at how a low carb diet impacted anaerobic/ high intensity exercise efforts. You can read the abstract by clicking here.

You can download or stream this episode below:

Click Here to Download the MP3 File of This Episode

 

If you have any questions or comments leave them below and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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James Wilson