Better movement, better reaction times and you

One of the things that I don’t think a lot of people realize about my approach to training for mountain biking is that I don’t just make this stuff up to sound different. For example, my take on aerobic base training is not just me trying to come up with an angle to sell a program. I don’t really care either way – I just want to help you get as good as possible as fast as possible.

If aerobic base training produced superior results in the lab or the real world I’d be all over it. However, that is not the case and so I use interval training in my programs. Find the best methods being used by the best strength coaches and then bring that to the mountain biking world is my basic approach.

The same holds true with my general approach to strength training. If bodypart splits, using machines and/ or standing on a BOSU ball for all of your exercises produced the best results that is what I would use. However, the evidence is pretty clear that total body training, bodyweight and free weight exercises and limited instability training produce superior results.

The same is to be said about my strong slant towards Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and its application to developing a training program. His methods have been studied and the research has been published demonstrating that training movement first and then systematically building fitness on top of good movement greatly reduces injuries and increases performance.

In fact, one of the little known facts about the FMS is its correlation to reaction time. In his study of the FMS Gray has noted a direct correlation between a higher score on the screen and higher reaction times. While we could debate exactly why this is, the fact is that that the better you move the faster you can react.

In all sports reaction time is one of the most important attributes to have. The faster you can recognize what is happening and properly react to it the better chance you have to come out on top. This is obviously very important for mountain bikers as we have to process a lot of info very quickly and react to the trail in a split second. The faster you go, or want to go, the more important reaction time becomes.

I think that reaction time is one of those forgotten elements to becoming a better rider. You can get stronger and more powerful, increase you cardio capacity and basically improve your speed potential but if you can not process and react to the faster speeds then you will simply find yourself spending more time picking yourself up off the ground after a wreck.

Based on my experience, most mountain bikers have some common movement dysfunctions. You can go to www.functionalmovement.com and look at the 7 point movement screen and pay special attention to the shoulder mobility, active leg raise, trunk stability push up and rotational stability screen. If you can not pass the screen for those movements then any training program that does not work on fixing those things will simply place a bigger engine in a misaligned chassis.

What’s more, simply ignoring those dysfunctions because you don’t want to take the time to work on fixing them will hold you back. This is also why my programs work each and every time – by fixing the underlying dysfunction that is holding you back there is not way that you can not improve on the trail. Any other approach is a crapshoot and based on the amount of frustrated riders out there I would say that more often than not, those programs simply crap out.

So, check out Gray’s site and even if you don’t want to invest in one of my programs use their trainer locater feature to find someone near you who can at least point you in the right direction. Ignorance is not bliss in this case, it is frustrating. You can not simply do more of what got you to where you are in order to continue improving. Understanding how you move and how to improve it will help take you program, and your results, to that next level.

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  1. David Nicholls says:

    You seem to talk about natural movement allot on how it is much better than mechanical movement. Will doing other activities that promote natural movement affect my Mtb strength, fitness and reaction times?

    Ps. You link to Ipod Videos at the bottom of the page does not work

    Reply • October 10 at 9:57 pm
    • bikejames says:

      Yeah, it should. We forget that we are created to move and we are either moving good or moving bad – being ignorant about how you move doesn’t change that basic fact! It is tough, though, because a lot of stuff that promotes itself as “movement based” can still teach bad movement. My posts on yoga are a good example of this (do a search for Yoga to find those posts). Pilates also falls into this catagory.

      The best thing to do is to educate yourself on proper movement and Gray’s http://www.functionalmovement.com website is a great place to start. Knowing how you are supposed to move will help you get more out of everything you do.

      BTW, not sure on the IPod videos link but the How To videos in the sidebar are the videos you would find on that page.

      Reply • October 12 at 8:31 am

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