Q&A: Do I need to give up weights to compete in endurance events?

“I have been doing your dumbbell combos along with my own endurance programs and it has helped me tremendously, state championship in my first year of cycling and xc racing. Now I want focus on endurance events and my coach tells me I am going to have to give up weights and single speed bike for hours of spinning and base work.

I come from a power sport background so it would seem that would play against my strengths. I am guessing that I need your XC program in the Ultimate MTB Workout Program ? I can train around 30 hours a week.

Happy trails.”




Yes, the Ultimate MTB Workout Program and the XC cardio proram in it would be a good fit for you. You would still need to add in some longer rides depending on what kind of events you plan on competing in.

Two things for you to consider – if you come from a power sports background you may indeed be trying to compete in events that go against your natural strengths. Trying to apply traditional approaches to endurance training may have some mixed results. I’m not trying to disourage you from doing what you want, just pointing out that you may need a different approach than someone who comes from a more endurance based background to succeed.

Second, statements like “you need to give up weights” tells me that your coach may have a very limited understanding of true performance training. Using strength training to help restore and maintain balance in the body is a must for long term improvements. You can never forget that you are a human being that mountain bikes – you’re a human first and foremost.

The human body needs to have balance in strength and mobility levels in order to function optimally. A sport like cycling is very repetative in nature and creates massive imbalances in the body. For example, tight hip flexors and pecs coupled with weak hip and upper back muscles is very common in mountain bikers.

These imbalances will not only create inefficient movement but also result in overuse injuries down the road. Strength training is pretty much the only way to correct these imbalances and keep you functioning at the highest level possible. The view that cardio training is the only way to get better endurance is an extemely narrow view on training for our unique sport.

I don’t want to discount the advice you got from your coach but I would be doing you a disservice if I did not point out that their advice may not be the best way to approach your training. There is an old saying – “Beware the man of one way”.  A multi-faceted approach is always the best way to go about your training.

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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James Wilson
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Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson