There comes a time in every rider’s life when they have to decide if clipless pedals are something that they want to try. And contrary to popular belief I am completely fine with that…I have just as many riding buddies who ride clipless as flats. I’ve never said that flats are better than clipless pedals and for some riders they can offer some advantages.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 9.54.04 AMBut what I don’t like to see is for a rider to start using clipless pedals too soon and not take advantage of the lessons that flat pedals force them to learn. Too often a well-meaning fellow rider will see them struggling on the trail and suggest to them that getting clipless pedals will help them out. They know that being attached to the pedals keeps your feet from flying off and makes it easier to bunny hop so why not help a newbie by encouraging them to make the switch?

The problem is that a lot of riders have a tough time learning several key lessons on clipless pedals and this makes it important for them to develop these skills before making the switch. Those struggles that are avoided with clipless pedals contain lessons that help you pedal and ride more efficiently. By working through those struggles on flats you become a much better, well rounded rider who can then transfer those skills to the more complex clipless pedal system.

So what are these essential skills? Besides obvious things like shifting and braking (seriously, we expect people to learn to do that while clipped in?) I’ve identified 6 skills you need to have dialed in before you can get the most out of a switch to clipless pedals.

1 – Pedaling. Yes, the skill of pedaling is best learned on flat pedals. While it will take a while for it to take hold, more and more evidence is coming out that shows there is not only no need to pull up on the backstroke but that doing so is a less efficient way to do it. And the best way to learn how to pedal without pulling up on the backstroke is to not be able to in the first place. Once you have this skill down then you can go to clipless and enjoy the small increase in power transfer you get but your pedal stroke itself should look the same no matter what system you use.

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2 – Standing pedaling and standing climbing. Clipless pedals are set up to make it hard to balance on your feet when standing and this makes it hard to learn how to stand up and pedal effectively on them. Standing pedaling is your most powerful pedaling position and is not as inefficient as many would lead you to believe. Turning standing pedaling into a strength, especially on climbs, before switching to clipless will really help you when trying to transfer the skill to the smaller clipless platform with lateral float.

3 – Bunny hopping. This is the skill that really blows the lifelong clipless pedal user’s mind. Being able to bunny hop without just pulling up on your handlebars and pedals is one of the great mysteries in life to most mountain bikers and that is simply because they haven’t been forced to learn how. A true bunny hop can be done with either flats or clipless pedals and it allows you to jump up and over things that just pulling up on your pedals can’t. Pick this skill up early and without the aid of being attached to your pedals and it will serve you well your entire riding career.

stock-video-20878946-hd-mtb-rider-speeding-downhill
Image courtesy iStock photo

4 –Keeping your feet grounded through rock gardens. Knowing how to ground your feet is a skill that takes time to learn…but you won’t necessarily learn it unless you have to. Much like the skilled martial artist learns to ground himself in order to increase his striking power or make it harder for someone to move him, we must learn to keep our feet heavy while being able to move freely on top of them. When you attach your feet to the pedals you take away the need for this skill, so picking it up first will help you apply it better to clipless pedals.

Photo courtesy fotos.mtb-news.de
Photo courtesy fotos.mtb-news.de

5 – Track stand with either foot forward. While some people don’t like to hear it, there are distinct disadvantages to clipless pedals. Two of the negative side effects are interfering with balance and confidence. When you lock your foot into place it sends a signal to the brain that it can’t react normally and this causes the brain to inhibit balance so you don’t place your body in a bad spot. Most riders also have a tough time sticking with a trackstand and not unclipping if they feel themselves wobble. Trackstands are an invaluable skill for a lot of reasons and learning how to do them without inhibiting your balance or confidence can help you build them to the point that you can easily overcome those drawbacks.

6 – Picking up the rear end of the bike. Much like bunny hopping, being able to pick up the rear end of the bike to clear a ledge is tough to imagine for a lot of riders. But once you know how to use your wrist to lift the rear end of the bike you can easily pick it up without using your feet at all. Because clipless pedals can also pull free when you don’t expect them, knowing how to not need them will ensure you can execute this skill efficiently and safely.

For most riders it will take between 1-2 years to get these skills to the point that they feel comfortable executing them in most situations without a lot of thought or effort. At that point you can consider using clipless pedals as well as flats. You never want to switch completely to clipless pedals, coming back to flats when you are ready to learn a new skill like jumping or cornering while also using them on occasion to keep your skills sharp.

Trying to learn a skill while on clipless pedals is not the same as learning it on flats and then transferring it to clipless pedals. The struggles you have to work through on flats contain lessons you don’t want to avoid. Embrace the learning process knowing that you will be a better rider for it. Learn these 6 skills first and you’ll get more out of your riding no matter what pedals you rock.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

116 thoughts on “6 Skills to Learn Before Considering a Switch to Clipless Pedals

  1. Tim says:

    Hands down hip mobility stretches and drills are the biggest help to me. It’s affected speed (increased cadence and power, improved cornering and handling) and endurance. I can definitely tell on a ride if I have pre haven’t been deliberate in keeping my hips loose during the week (curse of a desk job where I must be at my desk).

    A close second is riding platform pedals, and really just freedom to not feel like I need to spring for expensive shoes and pedals to continue improving

  2. Paul says:

    Hey James, I love your stick windmills, I’ve always been tight through may back and hips and your windmills have made a big difference to my flexibility. Thanks, Paul.

  3. Guthrie says:

    Turkish Get-ups, KB Swing and flat pedals. You’re programs have helped me maintain strength and endurance, even though my riding has been limited this summer. Also, I decided to give flat pedals a try after reading your site. Not only has my knee pain disappeared while riding flats, I stand up more and am stronger. I also pedal more efficiently, even on the occasions I ride clipless. I think I’m going to go 100% flats from now on. Thanks James.

  4. Jeff Kitchen says:

    There are two mottos that had a tremendous effect on my advances in mountain biking. The first was “It never gets easier … you just get faster”. So true! The second was from James Wilson – “You don’t ride to get in shape, you get in shape to be able to ride”. That seemed foreign to me at first, but as I progressed in my fitness and riding, it all made perfect sense. It’s all about proper movement, then creating tension in those movements. Another quote that is stuck in my head is “Don’t be as strong as you have to be, be as strong as you can be.” I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been riding for 4 years, but I’ve lost weight, increased my cardio capacity, gotten a lot stronger, and learned a tremendous amount from James. Of course, as a result, I’m a much better rider now, too! Thanks!

  5. Rubin Tuder says:

    Kettle bell routines, in particular swings, Turkish get up, and hip spiral movements;
    Animal movements;
    Hip and hip joint warm ups and active stretching including resistance band use
    Comments on body position on the bike

  6. Mark O'Brien says:

    Hi James – The Turkish get up and hip mobility stretching as help me the most in my riding. Before starting your program I couldn’t even touch my toes now I can easily do that and feel like I’m riding stronger and longer

  7. Jeff says:

    James, your site has helped me immensely in so many areas, but reintroducing me to flat pedals has to be one of the biggest.
    I did 95% of my riding this summer with flat pedals and not only have I found it makes riding more fun, it has definitely improved my pedalling technique and ankle stability. Thanks!

  8. Roy Jones says:

    I really like the idea of the mace for exercise, I believe that such exercises build real strength and still allow for flexibility.
    Thank you for sharing this and all of your insights with us.

  9. Greg R says:

    My favorite tip learned from BikeJames is that proper pedaling is like doing squats. Before I read this, I had been pedaling in circles, using clipless pedals and wasting a LOT of energy trying to pull up, tiring myself in the process. Now I’ve switched to flats, take a more mid-foot pedal position and focus my energy on the downstroke, like a single-legged squat (and alternating left to right). My pedaling is much stronger and my weight balance is better. The flats keep me working to maintain downward pressure the pedals at all time. I get to “rest” my non-working leg on the up stroke, which leaves more power available for the next power (down) stroke. Thanks James!

  10. Christo Van Smaalen says:

    Hi James, something that helped me out alot is your breathing techniques since I suffer from asma and have to ride with a inhaler and had to stop quite often. But since I started doing your breathing exercises I have gradually started using my inhaler less and less and I can’t remember when last I used it. So thank you for your advice, you not only helped me ride better but probably saved me from having a full blown asma attack in some bush nowhere near medical assistance..

  11. Carl says:

    I’ve thought long and hard about what would be my favourite exercise, but I enjoy all the mobility work and strength exercises. For me it’s the complete package. So I guess my favourite ‘exercise’ is currently the KB Conditioning Program. The whole thing has been of great benefit. I’m stronger than I have ever been, riding more comfortably and have seen real improvement in my skills and the fun factor.

  12. Egidijus says:

    James, thanks to you, I found how to solve my problem, when I have no much time, but still be in good shape. I found how much can help torso and upper body work out, even without spending lot of time. I like to do different pushups and it really helps in course. And also, as I am a coach, this year I pay more attention on torso and upper body workout with children, and they also feel more confidence on tracks. Thanks.

  13. David says:

    Kettle bell squats or Turkish get up, can’t decide which. Squats for the power n endurance they have gave me, TGU for the overall mobility n strength.

  14. Scott B. says:

    riding tip: Try flats in the off-season. I did and never went back. I now fully mid-sole and flat on all my bikes.

    training tip: TGU’s. These got me into riding shape quickly after 12 weeks off with a broken collarbone.

  15. Lindsay says:

    For me it is the realisation that it is not one item that makes the most difference but the combination of them that gives you the biggest gain along with how it is structured. No point in having great strength without the mobility to use it or having a great skills base but breathing out your backside when you hit a technical section and not be able to benefit from it. This and to be patient and take time to build a strong base, like the story of the dad and son bull standing at the top of a hill looking down on a herd of cows, the young bull says to his dad lets run down and have one of those cows, the dad bull says no son lets walk down and have them all!

  16. Christopher says:

    Hey James; I can’t quite remember the year or the exact method by which I picked it up, but somewhere along the line a tip you provided about incorrectly targeting lower back pain through trailside stretches has made a lasting impact on my on-bike comfort. Basically, in a nutshell; the common myth to stretching to target lower back pain was to bend towards touching your toes but was not the actual cause. The trick is to actually stretch the quads to release the tension causing common lower back pain. There are many numerous other tips and methods you provide that I benefit from and have been since you started this thing; but due to my frequent years of XC racing and training, that lower back pain became a major factor and was tough to relieve. Your information helped me gain back some on-bike comfort for sure. I have said it before and will say it again; thanks for all you do for us Mountainbikers and yet still continuing to offer the very beneficial information at a very reasonable price tag if/when not just plain free!

  17. Daniel says:

    For me the best tip was making standing pedaling the default riding position. Got rid of lower-back pain and general disconfort from >4h rides. For whatever reason heavy(er) riders get the suggestion to not waste energy with standing pedaling – another myth from the roadies?

  18. Roger Zimbelman says:

    I am 69 years old Road road bike for over 50 years.
    I took up MT biking several years ago and I was always at least 100 yards or more behind 3 of my friends. They always had to wait for me at the cross trails. I have been doing kettle bar swings
    Turkish getups Kettle ball swats and have been doing a lot of up body work out. Thanks to you today I was no longer embarrassed because non of my friends had to wait for me therefore we road an additional 3 miles of very hilly trails in Western Washington State
    YEA YEA

  19. Jeff Hubbs says:

    There are many great tips I’ve picked up but the best for me is the fact that you don’t have to be a gym rat to make training a part of your life. Starting simple, yet being intelligent in your choice of exercises can make a big difference in your health, and ultimately in your happiness through more enjoyable riding.

  20. Glenn says:

    I have low back pain that I’ve seen practitioners for but your low back pain program and standing pedaling program have helped my overall strength.

  21. Matt L says:

    The KB swing has changed my life on the bike and off. Just made me move and work my hips in a different better way. Thanks James!!

  22. Brady Campbell says:

    James, without a doubt my favorite tip is the use of flat pedals. I switched a year ago and have improved not just my pedal stroke but also how I move on the bike. Once I overcame the inefficiencies developed from years of clipped in full circle pedal strokes I began working on shifting my weight and cornering faster. I just couldn’t get this down clipped in. Also, I took your advice on having the inside pedal forward in turns. Riding switch foot has helped my cornering massively and I feel more confident in technical sections. One last thing is the blog you did on standing pedaling. I have always read how standing is just wasted energy. It took some time to develop these muscles but now I stand to pedal at least 50% of the time and climb better even on training rides of 2 hour plus. I am turning 40 in February and this year my goal is to complete the Austin Rattler 100k and hopfully the Leadville 100. By the way thanks for Kettlebell free workouts I’m about to dig into it!! Thanks for all you work! Keep it up.

  23. MTV says:

    Overall I bave to say that it’s whole philosophy of strength training that has really change my life – not just on the bike but my whole life. And the most significant aspect of training has been to leave a little in the tank. I was overtraining and pushing myself too hard and not giving my body enough time to recover. Once I understood that things really started to progress and my endurance shot up. At 53 i can keep up with guys in their 30’s and just for one ride but on extended road trips too.

  24. Jeff smith says:

    After following for about 5 yearsand going threw several of your programs I would have to say focusing on hip strength and mobility. That has helped me so much on the bike and I use to have hip pain that is now gone. I realized one of my hips was not near as mobile as the other one. Thanks a lot for everything!

    Jeff

  25. Mike Kleppe says:

    I have completely changed how I mountain bike since I have discovered your site. To narrow it down to 1 exercise is difficult. I could pinpoint the benefits of incorporating kettle bells into my program, switching from clipless pedals to flats, or focusing more on my core exercises via windmills and swings. But if I had to pick one, it would be the foam rolling. As a 40+ yr old MTB rider, I am a little more sore in the joints and the muscles. Your foam rolling and mobility routines, combined with the swings and dead lifts, has gone a long way to reduce and remove those aches and pains. Thank you!

  26. Tim says:

    Hands down hip mobility stretches and drills are the biggest help to me. It’s affected speed (increased cadence and power, improved cornering and handling) and endurance. I can definitely tell on a ride if I have pre haven’t been deliberate in keeping my hips loose during the week (curse of a desk job where I must be at my desk).

    A close second is riding platform pedals, and really just freedom to not feel like I need to spring for expensive shoes and pedals to continue improving

  27. Paul says:

    Hey James, I love your stick windmills, I’ve always been tight through may back and hips and your windmills have made a big difference to my flexibility. Thanks, Paul.

  28. Guthrie says:

    Turkish Get-ups, KB Swing and flat pedals. You’re programs have helped me maintain strength and endurance, even though my riding has been limited this summer. Also, I decided to give flat pedals a try after reading your site. Not only has my knee pain disappeared while riding flats, I stand up more and am stronger. I also pedal more efficiently, even on the occasions I ride clipless. I think I’m going to go 100% flats from now on. Thanks James.

  29. Jeff Kitchen says:

    There are two mottos that had a tremendous effect on my advances in mountain biking. The first was “It never gets easier … you just get faster”. So true! The second was from James Wilson – “You don’t ride to get in shape, you get in shape to be able to ride”. That seemed foreign to me at first, but as I progressed in my fitness and riding, it all made perfect sense. It’s all about proper movement, then creating tension in those movements. Another quote that is stuck in my head is “Don’t be as strong as you have to be, be as strong as you can be.” I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been riding for 4 years, but I’ve lost weight, increased my cardio capacity, gotten a lot stronger, and learned a tremendous amount from James. Of course, as a result, I’m a much better rider now, too! Thanks!

  30. Rubin Tuder says:

    Kettle bell routines, in particular swings, Turkish get up, and hip spiral movements;
    Animal movements;
    Hip and hip joint warm ups and active stretching including resistance band use
    Comments on body position on the bike

  31. Mark O'Brien says:

    Hi James – The Turkish get up and hip mobility stretching as help me the most in my riding. Before starting your program I couldn’t even touch my toes now I can easily do that and feel like I’m riding stronger and longer

  32. Jeff says:

    James, your site has helped me immensely in so many areas, but reintroducing me to flat pedals has to be one of the biggest.
    I did 95% of my riding this summer with flat pedals and not only have I found it makes riding more fun, it has definitely improved my pedalling technique and ankle stability. Thanks!

  33. Roy Jones says:

    I really like the idea of the mace for exercise, I believe that such exercises build real strength and still allow for flexibility.
    Thank you for sharing this and all of your insights with us.

  34. Greg R says:

    My favorite tip learned from BikeJames is that proper pedaling is like doing squats. Before I read this, I had been pedaling in circles, using clipless pedals and wasting a LOT of energy trying to pull up, tiring myself in the process. Now I’ve switched to flats, take a more mid-foot pedal position and focus my energy on the downstroke, like a single-legged squat (and alternating left to right). My pedaling is much stronger and my weight balance is better. The flats keep me working to maintain downward pressure the pedals at all time. I get to “rest” my non-working leg on the up stroke, which leaves more power available for the next power (down) stroke. Thanks James!

  35. Aengis says:

    My tip is to never underestimate the benefits of a pre-workout stretch. If you’re like me, you want jump right into a workout without stretching. Trust me, it’s worth the extra time to stretch. I pulled a muscle during a workout because I didn’t stretch. It caused me to have to miss a month’s worth of working out. Not fun.

  36. Christo Van Smaalen says:

    Hi James, something that helped me out alot is your breathing techniques since I suffer from asma and have to ride with a inhaler and had to stop quite often. But since I started doing your breathing exercises I have gradually started using my inhaler less and less and I can’t remember when last I used it. So thank you for your advice, you not only helped me ride better but probably saved me from having a full blown asma attack in some bush nowhere near medical assistance..

  37. Carl says:

    I’ve thought long and hard about what would be my favourite exercise, but I enjoy all the mobility work and strength exercises. For me it’s the complete package. So I guess my favourite ‘exercise’ is currently the KB Conditioning Program. The whole thing has been of great benefit. I’m stronger than I have ever been, riding more comfortably and have seen real improvement in my skills and the fun factor.

  38. Egidijus says:

    James, thanks to you, I found how to solve my problem, when I have no much time, but still be in good shape. I found how much can help torso and upper body work out, even without spending lot of time. I like to do different pushups and it really helps in course. And also, as I am a coach, this year I pay more attention on torso and upper body workout with children, and they also feel more confidence on tracks. Thanks.

  39. Miles Blackford says:

    I really enjoyed the webinar for your new pedals. Even with my current shorter flats I try to keep my foot more centered. I also gather a great deal of knowledge from your blogs on health and recovery!

  40. David says:

    Kettle bell squats or Turkish get up, can’t decide which. Squats for the power n endurance they have gave me, TGU for the overall mobility n strength.

  41. Scott B. says:

    riding tip: Try flats in the off-season. I did and never went back. I now fully mid-sole and flat on all my bikes.

    training tip: TGU’s. These got me into riding shape quickly after 12 weeks off with a broken collarbone.

  42. Billy says:

    So much great info. And focused on mt. biking not road cycling. For my favorite training tip was on split stance exercises. Being a right foot forward dominate rider, by incorporating more split stance exercises I’ve become stronger and more comfortable with my left foot forward.

  43. Lindsay says:

    For me it is the realisation that it is not one item that makes the most difference but the combination of them that gives you the biggest gain along with how it is structured. No point in having great strength without the mobility to use it or having a great skills base but breathing out your backside when you hit a technical section and not be able to benefit from it. This and to be patient and take time to build a strong base, like the story of the dad and son bull standing at the top of a hill looking down on a herd of cows, the young bull says to his dad lets run down and have one of those cows, the dad bull says no son lets walk down and have them all!

  44. Christopher says:

    Hey James; I can’t quite remember the year or the exact method by which I picked it up, but somewhere along the line a tip you provided about incorrectly targeting lower back pain through trailside stretches has made a lasting impact on my on-bike comfort. Basically, in a nutshell; the common myth to stretching to target lower back pain was to bend towards touching your toes but was not the actual cause. The trick is to actually stretch the quads to release the tension causing common lower back pain. There are many numerous other tips and methods you provide that I benefit from and have been since you started this thing; but due to my frequent years of XC racing and training, that lower back pain became a major factor and was tough to relieve. Your information helped me gain back some on-bike comfort for sure. I have said it before and will say it again; thanks for all you do for us Mountainbikers and yet still continuing to offer the very beneficial information at a very reasonable price tag if/when not just plain free!

  45. Daniel says:

    For me the best tip was making standing pedaling the default riding position. Got rid of lower-back pain and general disconfort from >4h rides. For whatever reason heavy(er) riders get the suggestion to not waste energy with standing pedaling – another myth from the roadies?

  46. Guilherme Pinto says:

    Thanks for all the tips and posts throughout the year. The one I like the most is about riding flats and your power of influence that it is the best solution. Thanks

  47. dorijan says:

    Hi James, and greetings from Europe – Croatia!
    I work as a coach with several elite mtb xcm “pilots” and triathletes. Approx 15 Years of experience. I admire Your work, and also Your tips and suggestions. There is no universal exersise wich will transfer You on elite level.
    From You we can learn that “MTB-ing is not only seat and drive”. If You don’t have a time to train as a pro but You wanna be fast as a pro, then is not only the riding plan what will make you fast.
    What I can see from Your blog is accente on “functional training” and stability and mobility training, as a part of training plan. That’s great, because every average Athlete will take a simple traning plan, and drive. But that is not enoughe and is not safe if You wanna be better, stronger and faster Athlete.
    And Your greeting, always, at the bottom of the text – “Ride strong”, give me a new stimulus to give 100% on my next training!

  48. Roger Zimbelman says:

    I am 69 years old Road road bike for over 50 years.
    I took up MT biking several years ago and I was always at least 100 yards or more behind 3 of my friends. They always had to wait for me at the cross trails. I have been doing kettle bar swings
    Turkish getups Kettle ball swats and have been doing a lot of up body work out. Thanks to you today I was no longer embarrassed because non of my friends had to wait for me therefore we road an additional 3 miles of very hilly trails in Western Washington State
    YEA YEA

  49. Jeff Hubbs says:

    There are many great tips I’ve picked up but the best for me is the fact that you don’t have to be a gym rat to make training a part of your life. Starting simple, yet being intelligent in your choice of exercises can make a big difference in your health, and ultimately in your happiness through more enjoyable riding.

  50. Lenano says:

    For me the 3 kettle bell exercises have been great.(swing, squats and TGU) Still trying to work out the Turkish get up though. Can do it one side and struggle the other. Being a leftie is a strange thing.

  51. Joel says:

    Hi James, All the exercises have been great, for me the most useful onehas been the Turkish Get Up as it seems to do so much for whole body work. Many thanks for all the tips!

  52. Glenn says:

    I have low back pain that I’ve seen practitioners for but your low back pain program and standing pedaling program have helped my overall strength.

  53. Matt L says:

    The KB swing has changed my life on the bike and off. Just made me move and work my hips in a different better way. Thanks James!!

  54. Brady Campbell says:

    James, without a doubt my favorite tip is the use of flat pedals. I switched a year ago and have improved not just my pedal stroke but also how I move on the bike. Once I overcame the inefficiencies developed from years of clipped in full circle pedal strokes I began working on shifting my weight and cornering faster. I just couldn’t get this down clipped in. Also, I took your advice on having the inside pedal forward in turns. Riding switch foot has helped my cornering massively and I feel more confident in technical sections. One last thing is the blog you did on standing pedaling. I have always read how standing is just wasted energy. It took some time to develop these muscles but now I stand to pedal at least 50% of the time and climb better even on training rides of 2 hour plus. I am turning 40 in February and this year my goal is to complete the Austin Rattler 100k and hopfully the Leadville 100. By the way thanks for Kettlebell free workouts I’m about to dig into it!! Thanks for all you work! Keep it up.

  55. MTV says:

    Overall I bave to say that it’s whole philosophy of strength training that has really change my life – not just on the bike but my whole life. And the most significant aspect of training has been to leave a little in the tank. I was overtraining and pushing myself too hard and not giving my body enough time to recover. Once I understood that things really started to progress and my endurance shot up. At 53 i can keep up with guys in their 30’s and just for one ride but on extended road trips too.

  56. Jeff smith says:

    After following for about 5 yearsand going threw several of your programs I would have to say focusing on hip strength and mobility. That has helped me so much on the bike and I use to have hip pain that is now gone. I realized one of my hips was not near as mobile as the other one. Thanks a lot for everything!

    Jeff

  57. Gavin says:

    Stagger stance squat, without a doubt my favorite exercise you’ve introduced me to. I was literally blow away with how good it feels to be in either the stagger or pedal stance to do squats. I’ve always had squats in my routine, including one legged squats of different varieties, but nothing comes close to how mind-blowingly accurate the stagger stance squats are for mountain bikers. No strength training routine is complete without it! Thank you!

  58. Russell says:

    Hi James,

    For me the biggest bang I have gotten from your coaching tips is to pay attention to mobility; the ability to move freely all over the bike, and to use that mobility to create a synergistic trail-crawling organism.

    Thanks, Russell.

  59. Mike Kleppe says:

    I have completely changed how I mountain bike since I have discovered your site. To narrow it down to 1 exercise is difficult. I could pinpoint the benefits of incorporating kettle bells into my program, switching from clipless pedals to flats, or focusing more on my core exercises via windmills and swings. But if I had to pick one, it would be the foam rolling. As a 40 yr old MTB rider, I am a little more sore in the joints and the muscles. Your foam rolling and mobility routines, combined with the swings and dead lifts, has gone a long way to reduce and remove those aches and pains. Thank you!

  60. Mike says:

    Riding with flat pedals. This quickly taught me when i was and wasn’t correctly centered and balanced on the bike. Something I hadn’t worked out when riding with clipless pedals

  61. Razvan says:

    Hi James!

    The exercise that had the biggest impact on my riding would have to be the single leg deadlift. It massively increased my stability on the bike and was amassed how it improved my flow over technical sections of the trail. It also gave me more confidence when setting up for jumps. Besides this exercise, the mobility program has made a significant difference both in training and riding.

    Cheers!

    PS: You were right, the single leg squat does make a good party trick.

  62. Aengis says:

    My tip is to never underestimate the benefits of a pre-workout stretch. If you’re like me, you want jump right into a workout without stretching. Trust me, it’s worth the extra time to stretch. I pulled a muscle during a workout because I didn’t stretch. It caused me to have to miss a month’s worth of working out. Not fun.

  63. Miles Blackford says:

    I really enjoyed the webinar for your new pedals. Even with my current shorter flats I try to keep my foot more centered. I also gather a great deal of knowledge from your blogs on health and recovery!

  64. Rob says:

    Too many favorite to list just one but TGU and KB swings are some definitely at the top of the list. Also your passion for flat pedals and the focus on being a human that mountain bikes really resonates with me.

    Cheers!
    Rob

  65. Billy says:

    So much great info. And focused on mt. biking not road cycling. For my favorite training tip was on split stance exercises. Being a right foot forward dominate rider, by incorporating more split stance exercises I’ve become stronger and more comfortable with my left foot forward.

  66. Stephen says:

    Kettle bell squats or Turkish get up has worked wonders for the power and endurance. Overall all your workouts have made me a better rider. Hopefully i have a chance to win 🙂 Great Work !! Stephen

  67. Eloi says:

    A good breathing is the most important tip that I have learned in this blog. I can climb more fast and more long due to a better breathing technique.

  68. Guilherme Pinto says:

    Thanks for all the tips and posts throughout the year. The one I like the most is about riding flats and your power of influence that it is the best solution. Thanks

  69. dorijan says:

    Hi James, and greetings from Europe – Croatia!
    I work as a coach with several elite mtb xcm “pilots” and triathletes. Approx 15 Years of experience. I admire Your work, and also Your tips and suggestions. There is no universal exersise wich will transfer You on elite level.
    From You we can learn that “MTB-ing is not only seat and drive”. If You don’t have a time to train as a pro but You wanna be fast as a pro, then is not only the riding plan what will make you fast.
    What I can see from Your blog is accente on “functional training” and stability and mobility training, as a part of training plan. That’s great, because every average Athlete will take a simple traning plan, and drive. But that is not enoughe and is not safe if You wanna be better, stronger and faster Athlete.
    And Your greeting, always, at the bottom of the text – “Ride strong”, give me a new stimulus to give 100% on my next training!

  70. Lenano says:

    For me the 3 kettle bell exercises have been great.(swing, squats and TGU) Still trying to work out the Turkish get up though. Can do it one side and struggle the other. Being a leftie is a strange thing.

  71. Joel says:

    Hi James, All the exercises have been great, for me the most useful onehas been the Turkish Get Up as it seems to do so much for whole body work. Many thanks for all the tips!

  72. Christelle Lindeque says:

    Hi James!

    Hello from South Africa! I have a couple of things but my top three are the hip mobility drills, TGU and learning that riding with flat pedals are OK. I still get a couple of sniggers at the trails and it is near impossible to buy a proper pair of pedals locally, but I am loving the pedals I had to import from the UK.

    Thank you so much for all your insight!

  73. Gavin says:

    Stagger stance squat, without a doubt my favorite exercise you’ve introduced me to. I was literally blow away with how good it feels to be in either the stagger or pedal stance to do squats. I’ve always had squats in my routine, including one legged squats of different varieties, but nothing comes close to how mind-blowingly accurate the stagger stance squats are for mountain bikers. No strength training routine is complete without it! Thank you!

  74. Russell says:

    Hi James,

    For me the biggest bang I have gotten from your coaching tips is to pay attention to mobility; the ability to move freely all over the bike, and to use that mobility to create a synergistic trail-crawling organism.

    Thanks, Russell.

  75. Mike says:

    Riding with flat pedals. This quickly taught me when i was and wasn’t correctly centered and balanced on the bike. Something I hadn’t worked out when riding with clipless pedals

  76. Razvan says:

    Hi James!

    The exercise that had the biggest impact on my riding would have to be the single leg deadlift. It massively increased my stability on the bike and was amassed how it improved my flow over technical sections of the trail. It also gave me more confidence when setting up for jumps. Besides this exercise, the mobility program has made a significant difference both in training and riding.

    Cheers!

    PS: You were right, the single leg squat does make a good party trick.

  77. Rob says:

    Too many favorite to list just one but TGU and KB swings are some definitely at the top of the list. Also your passion for flat pedals and the focus on being a human that mountain bikes really resonates with me.

    Cheers!
    Rob

  78. Niko says:

    Thanks to James, I changed to flat pedals about two years ago. I noticed that I could now ride more confident and scareless. Also my heartbeat levels came lower at same speed. One of the best exercise is stagger stance KB sguat for the standing pedaling.

  79. Stephen says:

    Kettle bell squats or Turkish get up has worked wonders for the power and endurance. Overall all your workouts have made me a better rider. Hopefully i have a chance to win 🙂 Great Work !! Stephen

  80. Eloi says:

    A good breathing is the most important tip that I have learned in this blog. I can climb more fast and more long due to a better breathing technique.

  81. Christelle Lindeque says:

    Hi James!

    Hello from South Africa! I have a couple of things but my top three are the hip mobility drills, TGU and learning that riding with flat pedals are OK. I still get a couple of sniggers at the trails and it is near impossible to buy a proper pair of pedals locally, but I am loving the pedals I had to import from the UK.

    Thank you so much for all your insight!

  82. Niko says:

    Thanks to James, I changed to flat pedals about two years ago. I noticed that I could now ride more confident and scareless. Also my heartbeat levels came lower at same speed. One of the best exercise is stagger stance KB sguat for the standing pedaling.

  83. Adam Lefevre says:

    Tip number one is ride out of the saddle. With a good strength/mobility program and a commitment to riding out of the saddle my riding has improved tremendously. I’ve experienced greater cornering confidence, learned how to bunny hop correctly and ride with minimal discomfort. I feel the benefits in my whole life not just on the bike. Thanks bro! Keep it coming.

  84. Adam Lefevre says:

    Tip number one is ride out of the saddle. With a good strength/mobility program and a commitment to riding out of the saddle my riding has improved tremendously. I’ve experienced greater cornering confidence, learned how to bunny hop correctly and ride with minimal discomfort. I feel the benefits in my whole life not just on the bike. Thanks bro! Keep it coming.

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