Everybody loves a good core training exercise. A strong core can help you perform better and stay injury resistant, something every rider can benefit from.

And while we’ve come a long way since the ‘80’s when crunches and side bends were the staple core training exercises, there are still a lot of core training exercises that look fancy but do little to help us on the bike.

For core training to be effective for us as riders it needs to address our needs on the trail. In my experience working with hundreds of riders I’ve found that the biggest weak links for most of them were…

  1. Cornering: Yeah, that’s right…poor cornering technique is usually tied to bad core strength in the “corkscrew” movement pattern. Without this specific type of core strength you will always struggle to consistently apply good technique on the trail.
  2. Standing Pedaling: Being able to get a long, strong spine and minimize movement through the core is a key to strong standing pedaling technique. Once you have the right core strength, though, you can stand pedal at will, crushing hills and dusting singletrack in your wake.
  3. Sustained Core Tension: One of the main things that separates mountain biking from other types of riding is that the trail demands a much higher level of tension in the muscles. Whether it is grinding out a technical climb or working hard to flow through a rock garden on the way down, being able to create and sustain core tension is important to your performance on the trail in a variety of areas.

With this insight and some new tools at my disposal I decided to put together my new list of Top 3 Mountain Bike Core Training Exercises to help you get more out of your training and riding time.

1 – Stick/ Steel Mace Windmill (2 sets of 5 reps each side): This exercise is my go-to choice for improving (Stick Windmill) and strengthening (Steel Mace Windmill) the “corkscrew” movement pattern needed for cornering. By teaching you how to lean your body while staying balanced over your feet you will learn the fundamental movement pattern behind driving your bike through the corner like you would when skiing instead of trying to ride on it like a motorcycle (related: Why Cornering a Mountain Bike is NOT Like Cornering on a Motorcycle).

Stick Windmill

Mace Windmill

2 – Bear Crawls (2 sets of 20 paces forward and backward): While it may not look like it at first, getting down on the ground and doing some Bear Crawls works your core in a lot of the same ways you do when standing up to pedal. By encouraging a long spine and working on the same type of upper body – lower body linkage you rebuild this primal movement patterns that most riders are lacking.  Looking for an extra challenge? Try the Beast Crawl variation to really work your core strength.

Bear Crawl

Beast Crawl

3 – Ramping Isometric Plank (1 set of 30 sec. 50%/ 30 sec. 75%/ 30 sec. 100%): Using the Ramping Isometrics concept with planks takes this ordinary exercise to a new level. By increasing the tension you are actively creating every 30 seconds (ramping up from 50% to 75% and then 100%) you are able to create and sustain higher and higher levels of tension in your core. This gives you a stronger “tension base” to build your other movements from.

I suggest doing this routine as part of your overall program once a week. If you really want to improve quickly then bump that up to twice a week but remember that consistency is the most important thing.

Having a strong, functional core is the cornerstone for being a better rider and I hope these exercises help you have more fun on the trail. And who knows, in 10 years I might have a totally new list so check back in then. In the meantime, give these a try and let me know what you think.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems & Pedaling Innovations

p.s. While it may not seem like it, the foundation for a strong and functional core is your feet. If your feet are unbalanced and/ or unstable then the rest of your body will struggle to make up for it.

The key to a strong, stable foot on the bike is the ability to apply heel pressure. Without heel pressure your brain can’t recruit your hips and you have an unstable arch, both of which make it impossible to recruit and use your core optimally.

Which is why I developed the Catalyst Pedal.

As the only pedal on the market that lets you apply heel pressure into the pedal body itself it supports the foot in a more natural way. This lets the rest of the body – including the core – move and function more naturally.

If you are going to do core training exercises off of the bike then you owe it to yourself to check out the video at www.pedalinginnovations.com and learn more about how a strong, stable foot can help you move and feel better on the bike.

MTB Ultimate Program

It’s been a crazy last few months with Pedaling Innovations. We were accepted into a business accelerator group earlier this year and the process of getting ready for it and getting started has taken a lot of my time.

Which is why I wasn’t in touch sooner about being interviewed on the MTB Tribe podcast talking about flats vs. clipless pedals and the specific advantages of the Catalyst Pedals.

There is still a lot of misinformation about pedal stroke, foot position and how the foot functions on the bike and I was glad to get the chance to share my insights from almost a decade on the front lines of this debate.

I had a lot of fun talking with Gareth, you can listen directly from the website at www.mtb-tribe.com or listen through iTunes or Stitcher.

Thanks again for all the support and I hope you get some good information from this podcast interview. Let me know if you have any questions about it or anything else to do with how to get the most out of your pedal stroke and legs on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

Pedaling Innovations & MTB Strength Training Systems

Pedaling Innovations

Something I get asked a lot when it comes to foot position and pedal stroke is why do I care so much?

I mean, am I just some ego maniac that needs the world to see everything like I do?

Well, while that may be the case with some things, it isn’t what drives my passion about this subject.

No, what gets me fired up is that people get hurt based on the bad advice they are getting.

One of the biggest culprits for hurting people is the advice to be on the ball of your foot. On a normal pedal this results in all your weight being on the ball of the foot with no support under the back of the arch, leaving you heel hanging in space.

When you do this, it has several negative consequences on the body…

1 – Driving through the ball of the foot places extra shearing force on the knees. As noted in this blog post from regenerative medicine specialist Chris Centano, this makes no sense from a biomechanical standpoint and results in knee pain and joint damage.

2 – Having no support under the back of the arch places extra stress on the calf, ankle joint and plantar fascia. As noted in this interview with Dr. Marty and Robyn Hughes, this unnatural position creates a lot of stiffness in these sensitive areas. This results in foot pain, plantar fasciitis and other lower leg and foot problems.

3 – Without the ability to apply pressure through the heel you make it harder to recruit your hips. When you can’t recruit the hips then you put extra stress on the low back, resulting in stiffness and pain in that area as well.

Add it up and you get sore feet, hurting knees and a stiff, sore lower back.

Sound familiar? They are by far the most common complaints among riders and most of us have dealt with one or more of these cycling related issues.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When you fix your foot position and the support under it you alleviate a lot of these issues, resulting in less pain and more fun from your rides.

Again, this isn’t to argue whether this foot position improves performance (which is does) or if it improves your balance and agility on the bike (which it also does), this is about what foot position leads to the least amount of pain and suffering in riders.

“I am a veteran motocross racer and recently got back on the bicycles. I immediately noticed the big difference between the two, without mx boots, knee braces and suspension, the bicycle with traditional flats was causing me problems afterwards with ball of foot, ankle and even knees.

All those problems have been eliminated with your pedals. Thanks for innovating…I believe in your concept that you get more power, but I think an equally huge advantage is when absorbing the impact of landing from jumps.”  – Carl Zipfel

And when you look at the facts you see that the traditional advice and pedals has led to an epidemic of riders who think that their pain is just part of the game.

So that’s why I care so much.

No one deserves to get hurt based on bad, outdated advice and poorly designed equipment…but that isn’t the general attitude in the cycling industry that cares more about the status quo and making money than what is really best for the sports it encompasses.

So, if you’re tired of putting up with foot, ankle, knee and low back pain because your pedals suck and your foot position is sub-optimal as a result then check out the facts at www.pedalinginnovations.com.

The truth will set your feet and your riding free.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

Pedaling Innovations/ MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Skills and Fitness Program

In October I had the chance to go to Bend Oregon for the Bend Outdoor Worx Venture Out Conference to talk about the Catalyst Pedal. I was part of the 9 people selected out of 40+ who applied to come and present in front of 450+ people about my business.

When I had applied for the conference I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never done anything like this before but they were promising a chance to go spread my mid-foot position propaganda to a bunch of people, which was good enough for me.

So when I got the call that I’d been selected I was looking forward to it. I’d never had the chance to talk to that many people before and I was excited to do it.

But when I got on the plane on the way to Bend I was starting to feel a little nervous…I literally hadn’t had a chance to even start working on my presentation.

Between getting sick and other “life” stuff I didn’t get to spend any of the time I had planned to get my presentation ready. This meant that I was going to have to come up with it and memorize it in just a couple of days.

A funny thing happened, though. The time crunch forced me to keep things simple and just focus on what I knew –

The story behind the Catalyst Pedal and how it is helping people and changing lives.

Instead of trying to impress everyone with a bunch of numbers and charts I figured that if I lost then at least I went down doing my thing.

This let me relax some and I was able to get my presentation together and walk on stage feeling pretty confident. And here was the result…

While you don’t see it on the video, I ended up winning my category and getting to walk around the rest of the night with one of those giant checks. While you don’t think about it, carrying one of those things around presents some interesting challenges and a lot of “better find a really big bank” jokes.

It was a great night for a lot of reasons…not finding out I have stage fright and running away, getting to share my story, getting some people to re-think what they thought they knew and being recognized by group of successful entrepreneurs as a company that is doing some cool things.

Once again, however, I have to bring it back to everyone who has supported us from the beginning. Without all of you there wouldn’t be a Catalyst Pedal or opportunities to like this to help spread the truth about foot position and pedal stroke.

So thanks again for all that support and I hope that I can continue to do a good job of repaying that support with great products and service for you.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Fitness Membership Program

The only thing more abundant than “pumpkin spice” flavored stuff this time of year are excuses not to train.

Whether its family in town, all the holiday parties or just a general lack of motivation when it gets dark at 5 o’clock in the evening, December probably sees the fewest workouts of any month.

Which is a great opportunity for you.

Doing the little things that most people won’t is what separates people who create lasting change in their lives and those who perpetually wish they could.

Making the effort to stay consistent with your training through the holiday season is something that you can do that will separate you physically and mentally from the crowd.

Which brings us to this month’s workout.

This is the last phase of Transition part of our Off-Season Training Program. Sticking with the bodyweight exercises, we get into out most advanced exercise progressions.

Remember that if you need to you can go back and do Part 1 or Part 2 of this phase if some of the exercises are too intense.

Click Here to Download the December Workout of the Month

If you are not already on my newsletter you can also sign up to have these workouts delivered to your inbox each month. Plus, as your coach, I’ll send you some training tips each week to help your training and riding.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for the Group Coaching Program.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Kettlebell Workout

Every once in a while I have a lightbulb moment that makes me realize that I have been missing something really important in my training.

Like the first time I was introduced to using mobility exercises to compliment my usual focus on “get stronger”, these moments open up a whole new way of seeing the bigger picture that leads to being a better rider.

One of these moments happened to me recently at a Steve Maxwell seminar when he was explaining how he uses Isometric Exercises in combination with sport training.

While Isometric Exercises are something I have studied and used, I never really understood the best way to use them until I heard him explain it and now I realize that they are a must have component of a training program.

In this episode of the Bike James Podcast I explain what Isometrics Exercises are, how to use them and how you can use incorporate them into your program to help you ride faster on the trail.

You can stream or download this episode below. You can also find it on Itunes and Podbean.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Show Notes:

– Isometric Exercises

– No movement

– High muscle tension

– Relatively safe

– Strength is Tension + Technique

– The trick to sport-specific training is to develop your Tension and your Technique separately

– We screw up when we use strength training to teach a skill or skill training to build strength

– Use Isometrics to develop your Tension and then skill training for Technique

– Use Ramping Isometrics with 1 Set to Failure for each movement pattern

– 20-30 seconds at 50% effort/ 75% effort/ 100% effort

– Safe for 1 Set to Failure since you don’t move

– Allows you to really focus on quality of tension instead of movement

– Helps you develop your tension producing “volume knob”

– Helps you learn how to truly tap into 100% tension

– Develops mental and physical endurance

– Keeps the body fresh for technique training (deadlifting, riding your bike, etc.)

– Pick one exercise per movement pattern and do it 2 days per week

– Use the other training time to work on movement or sport specific skills/ endurance training

– Don’t go above 80% effort with skill training

– This isn’t easy or sexy but it works

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems & Pedaling Innovations

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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James Wilson