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 Ultimate Program

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

Pedaling Innovations

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 Skills and Fitness Program

Few things take a beating on our bike like our wrists and shoulders. Almost everything you do on the bike requires the upper body to either transfer force into the handlebars or absorb energy from the handlebars, placing a lot of stress and tension on them.

Plus, you have to deal with wrecking. The wrists and shoulders take a lot of impacts from wrecking, meaning most of you reading this have or will have some sort of injury to these areas from hitting the deck.

What this all adds up to is a lot of tight wrists and shoulders. This can show up in a lot of ways, including restricting your movement on the bike as well as neck and/ or elbow pain.

All which can detract from your performance and enjoyment. This means you need something to help you keep those areas moving and feeling their best.

In this video I take you through a 5 minute follow-along mobility routine that can help riders who need to improve their wrist and shoulder mobility. Try using it 3-5 times a week for the next few weeks and see how a little mobility can go a long way on the trail.

As your riding season gets going be sure to make time for your strength and mobility training. Don’t let excuses like “I don’t have time” keep you from doing the things off the bike that will help you perform and feel better on the bike.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

p.s. Want some more follow-along mobility routines specifically designed for mountain biking? With my MTB Mobility Follow-Along Routines you’ll get 10+ routines that include routines to help with low back pain, knee pain and even specific skills like cornering.

Each routine is less than 15 minutes long and has its own follow-along video. There’s nothing else like it out there for the mountain biker who needs to improve their mobility in a MTB-specific way.

Click Here to Learn More and Get Your Copy of The MTB Mobility Routines

MTB Fitness Membership Program

In the world of strength training few things have taken on the mythical status that plyometrics have. Seen as the pinnacle of sport-specific training by some, the obsession with this training method has inspired a lot of MTB athletes to jump on, over and off of some crazy stuff.

But here is something that I think we need to stop and ask ourselves – What exactly are plyometrics doing for us and do mountain bikers need to use them?

This is exactly what I talked about in a recent article I was interviewed for that ran recently on Singletracks.com. In it I answer these questions and share my 3 favorite plyometric exercises for mountain bikers to use.

Click Here to Read This Article on Plyometrics for Mountain Biking

Remember that things don’t have to be complicated to be effective. Smart use of plyometric training can help your performance on the trail and I hope this article gives you some ideas on how you can use them in your program.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Kettlebell Workout

As a kid I remember that I could see myself being 30-something but 40 seemed pretty old, almost like life was pretty much over at that point.

I laugh looking back on it now because one day I woke up and, at 43, I’m the “old guy”. And while life is far from being over, at the same time I have to admit to myself that things certainly aren’t the same.

By the time we hit 40 a lot of us have some wear and tear going on. Maybe it is from a previous injury or maybe it’s just time catching up with us but either way, finding a way to improve our strength and power on the trail without aggravating injuries in the process is important.

For a lot of us the priority also shifts from “ride fast at all costs” to being able to “ride for a lifetime”. The strategies that helped fuel our inner-madman (or madwoman) in our 20’s and 30’s just aren’t sustainable if you want to ride into your 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

This means that you need to modify your approach to training as you move into the 40+ year old category. But the reality is that most training programs for mountain bikers aren’t created with unique group in mind and instead focus on riders who mainly interested in improving their racing or Strava times.

Sure, you can improve your performance as well but the focus has to be different as you get older. There is a difference between training to improve performance in the short term and training to stay healthy and durable for a lifetime.

Through my own experience I’ve found that there are some important things you can do to keep riding strong while staying healthy and durable. I’ve learned a lot of these lessons the hard way, making mistakes that left me sore, tired and broken…mistakes I hope I can help you avoid.

These lessons include… Post Continued :: Click to Read More

MTB DB Conditioning Program
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James Wilson
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Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson