As the creator of the Catalyst Pedals I get asked a lot about foot position. And this is to be expected – as the first and only pedal designed to optimize the mid-foot position it seems to defy a lot of the common logic used when discussing foot position on the bike.

When talking about foot position on the bike people often point to how you push through the ball of the foot when you jump. The assumption is that since you are doing this to create the force to jump you need to do it as well to create the force to pedal your bike.

Along with this they will point to the fact that you touch the ground first with the ball of the foot when landing from a vertical jump, which they say means you need to be on the ball of the foot to use the ankle when absorbing impacts on the bike.

On the surface this makes sense and it has led to a lot of riders and coaches using and recommending the ball-of-the-foot position. The problem is that while all of this is true for a vertical jump, there is another movement that is basically the same thing, but you never push through or absorb energy through the ball of the foot.

The bodyweight squat uses the same basic movement pattern as the vertical jump but has you create and absorb force through a balanced, mid-foot position and avoid coming up on the toes. The same movement pattern with two different foot positions being used and the only thing that separates them is one thing:

With the vertical jump your foot comes of the ground but during the squat it stays in contact with the ground.

The foot acts in two different ways depending on that one thing and when you look at how our foot it interacting with the bike you see that it is not coming off the pedals and is instead staying in contact with them during the entire pedal stroke.

This means that pedaling your bike is more like a squat than a vertical jump, which means you want to use the same mid-foot position so you can apply force through the whole foot, especially the back of the arch.

In this video I look at this further and demonstrate how the same movement can have two different foot positions and actions. Understanding this and how it applies to riding your bike is one of the keys to getting out of your training and riding.

These is a very important reason that all of this matters – if you are going to do any type of strength training to improve your riding then you want that training to transfer to the bike. It makes no sense to train the body one way in the gym and then ask it to do something different on the bike.

In the gym you are applying good movement principles and that should be the goal on the bike as well. Tradition can be a strong influence but if you look into the science and movement principles for yourself you’ll see that the ball-of-the-foot position and the examples used to promote it don’t hold up.

It’s a new year, be a new rider with a better foot position. Check out www.pedalinginnovations.com to learn more and get a pair of Catalyst Pedals to try out for yourself. Apply a better foot position to the bike and improve your performance and fun on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems & Pedaling Innovations

MTB Ultimate Program

While it seems like common knowledge now, there was a time not too long ago when the words “Hip Hinge” were unknown in mountain bike training circles. Stuck in the bodybuilder inspired stuff left over from the 1990’s, most training routines for riders included a healthy dose of leg presses, leg extensions and leg curls.

In fact, it was this lack of “functional training” for mountain bikers that inspired me to create MTB Strength Training Systems in the first place.

I had been introduced to Functional Training through my time as a track athlete and I knew that it could help me improve my riding. Seeing the results I was getting from it I decided to see if anyone else was interested in it as well, which led to me putting up my first website in 2005 and finding out that there were a lot of riders interested in this stuff.

One of the biggest differences between Bodybuilding and Functional Training is how you break up the body when creating programs. While Bodybuilding trains body parts like Arms, Legs and Back, Functional Training breaks things up into movement patterns like Push, Pull, Squat and Hip Hinge.

One of my first insights into applying Functional Training to mountain biking was that the Hip Hinge was one of the most critical movement patterns for a rider to excel at. Representing your ability to bend at the hips and not the lower back, it was the cornerstone movement pattern for the Attack Position/ DH Position on the bike and for creating power from the hips for bunny hopping and jumping.

Over the years this has become a much more common insight and using now exercises like the Deadlift and KB Swing are commonly used to train the Hip Hinge for riders. You also have a lot of skills coaches who now recognize the need to own this movement pattern off the bike in order to apply it to the bike and coming up with drills and tools to help riders make this connection.

And while this has led to a lot more awareness about the Hip Hinge and its importance, there are still two common mistakes I see riders making that will hold them back on the trail.

In this video I go over some key details of the Hip Hinge, including the two common mistakes I see almost every rider making (seriously, less than 25% of rider pics I see on FB or IG aren’t making one of these two mistakes). I’ll also show you my newest go-to drill to help you immediately improve your Hip Hinge both in the gym and on the bike.

*Please note that this is an uploaded video from a FB Live I did so the video quality isn’t the best but the info more than makes up for it*

Getting your Hip Hinge dialed in is the first step towards improving your power and balance on your bike. Don’t make the mistake so many other riders do and skip over this critical movement skill in order to get to more advanced movements. Use these tips and this drill to help you dial in your Hip Hinge and I guarantee your riding will thank you for it.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

Pedaling Innovations

I’ve been working with mountain bikers since 2005, which means that I’ve seen a few trends over that time. Seeing something once or twice is one thing but seeing it over and over usually means something.

When it comes to mountain bikers, the biggest trend I’ve seen is that they almost always have tight hips. It is a common problem with most people but, believe it or not, I’ve seen more “normal” people with good hip mobility than mountain bikers who don’t have tight hips.

Based on this experience, I feel this is also the #1 reason that most riders struggle to easily improve their skills on the bike. Tight hips also mean that you have to work harder to produce the same amount of power and increases your chance of low back and knee pain.

In other words, if you want to improve as a rider but aren’t working on your hip mobility then you are fooling yourself. Reeling off countless miles on the trainer or reps in the gym without addressing this fundamental problem is holding back your results where it counts the most…on the trail.

Here is the thing, though. Improving your mobility doesn’t need to take a huge time commitment from you. Sure, it would be nice if you could sign up for yoga classes and make a few each week but that’s not realistic for most of us.

So, the trick is to use short mobility routines on a consistent basis. You can get a lot out of a little if you do it (nearly) every day.

Spending five minutes a day working on your hip and overall mobility will go a long way towards helping you improve your riding and decrease your risk of overuse injuries.

To help you with this I shot a video where I take you through one of my favorite hip mobility routines. You can just hit play and follow along as I take you through the routine:

You can use this routine as part of a pre-ride warm up or, better yet, a post ride decompression to help reset the system and start the recovery process. Getting aggressive with your mobility is one of the easiest ways to improve your performance and hopefully this routine will help you do that with your own program.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

p.s. Need more mobility routines to help your trainign and riding? Check out my collection of MTB specific follow-along mobility routines – http://www.bikejames.com/mountain-bike-mobility-follow-along-videos

MTB Skills and Fitness Program

One thing that we take for granted is how much balance plays a role in our performance on the bike. You can be the fittest guy out there but if your balance sucks then you’ll struggle to apply it and not spend half your time picking yourself up off the ground after crashing.

Like anywhere else, balance on the bike starts with the feet. Having the right support and foot position is the first thing to consider and this is where a wobble board can tell us a lot about what we need on our bikes.

While there are some obvious differences between a wobble board and a bike, the basic principles behind balancing on them are the same.

With both of them you have a narrow balance point between your feet and you have to keep even pressure through the feet to keep things balanced. Too much pressure on one foot and you tip over.
However, you can change the pressure between the feet intentionally to get the bike/ balance board to tip over the balance point without letting it tip too far, which is what we do to turn and corner our bikes.

And while I’m not saying that you should start using one as a big part of your training program, we can learn a lot from looking at the best foot position to balance on a balance board and how using a mid-foot vs. ball-of-the-foot position affects things.

In this video I look at these things and show you why you’ve never noticed it before but it is still holding you back on the trail:

BTW, this is the same balance principle shared with skiers, surfers and skateboarders where you are using the feet to balance on something moving underneath you while you stay stationary over it – in other words, when you ride something that is carrying you instead of you running and jumping.

Don’t let your foot position hold you back on the bike. Only when your feet are supported and balanced can the rest of you move properly, which is the start of letting your true potential come out on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Fitness Membership Program

Improving your cornering skills is usually at the top of most rider’s wish lists. It is a skill that can not only make you looks pretty cool but will also improve your speed and safety on the trail.

However, the way that cornering is usually taught doesn’t tell the whole story. With too much emphasis on the turning the hips and leaning the bike, riders end up missing the most important part…your shoulders.

That’s right, great cornering technique is actually driven from the shoulders. And not using the shoulders properly is the #1 mistake I see riders make with their cornering, especially since they are usually taught to “lean the bike and not their body”.

In this video workshop I share the right way to use your shoulders when cornering and some exercise to help make it easier to do. After watching it you will have a much better idea of how to use your body to flow through the corners instead of fighting yourself with advice that applies better to a motorcycle than riding a mountain bike.

Here are the videos I refer to in the video, sorry for the technical difficulty and not getting them on the webinar:

Using only balance points to turn:

Using only manual inputs to turn:

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Kettlebell Workout

Everyone knows that training hard is part of getting better. If you don’t push your body past what it did yesterday then it won’t have any reason to improve your fitness levels.

But we also know that if you push too hard things can go wrong. Usually referred to as Overtraining, almost everyone reading this has experienced the symptoms of pushing our body harder than we should have, which include lack of energy, getting sick and overuse injuries.

Your body will force you to take time off and rest but taking time off is one of the worst things for your progress. Staying consistent with your training is important and so pushing your body hard while also avoiding Overtraining is the key to long term progress.

In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I dive into the subject of Overtraining, letting you know exactly what it is and how you can use that information to help you. I also share some tips, strategies and tools I’ve found to be especially helpful for this goal.

You can stream or download this episode by clicking the link below. You can also find the BikeJames Podcast on Itunes and Podbean.

Click Here to Download the MP3 File For This Episode

I also shot a video going over some of these things as well, you can check it out below:

Notes From the Podcast

What is overtraining?

– Energy Balance between dealing with stress and recovering from it: autonomic nervous system

– Training Plus Recovery = Results

Ways to avoid it:

– Plan your training week according to Recovery, Stimulation and Development days.

– 1-2 Development days ideal, more than that and you need to really focus on recovery.

– Take your whole life into cosideration and not just training/ riding – Stress is stress.

Ways to detect it:

– Elevated HR

-HRV: Window into autonomic nervous system and aerobic fitness

-Morpheus: helps avoid by adjusting HR based on recovery

What to do about it:

– Adjust training loads based on detection.

– Recovery tactics like HPRW/ active recovery, massage, heat and cold therapy.

– Use HRV to see which direction your autonomic nervous system is headed to guide decisions.

– Breathing and meditation help with HRV

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson


MTB DB Conditioning Program
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Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson