I was talking with one of my private coaching clients yesterday and we were talking about how to adjust their training once the riding season starts. In the past they would stop training their legs as they did more intervals and got out onto more rides in order to save their legs and they wanted to know if we were going to do something similar.

Strength and mobility provide the foundation for your cardio and a good program will balance riding and training to help you get the most out of both.

I understand where he is coming from – for a lot of mountain bikers riding is their leg training and the idea of adding more squats, deadlifts and swings would seem to take away from their ability to pedal.

Photo courtesy www.activeazur.com
For a lot of mountain bikers riding is their leg training. Photo courtesy www.activeazur.com

However, as I explained to him that there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that somewhere between not training legs at all and doing too much is the sweet spot and that is what we are looking for.

There is a level of intensity and volume that your body can handle without adversely affecting your riding.

What’s more, that level will change with training. After an off-season full of Goblet Squats, Swings and Stagger Stance Deadlifts his body is used to those movements and can handle more this season than last season. Basically, as your strength levels and experience grow you can do more without it wearing you out.

For example, someone who can Goblet Squat a 55 pound KB or DB for 3 sets of 8 reps will easily be able to handle 2 sets of 5 with that same weight and not feel much the next day. However, someone who has limited experience with the lift will get pretty sore from the same workout. The idea is not to eliminate leg training but to find what you can still do relative to your strength and experience levels.

A1a2-goblet-squat
For example, someone who can Goblet Squat a 55 pound KB or DB for 3 sets of 8 reps will easily be able to handle 2 sets of 5 with that same weight and not feel much the next day. Photo courtesy active.com

The second thing to keep in mind is that your Mobility and Strength levels support your cardio. Very rarely does someone maintain their mobility and strength levels and see a dip in their cardio during the riding season. What usually happens is that the Mobility and Strength dominoes fall, toppling the Cardio dominoes as well.

This means that in order to stay riding strong all season long it is vitally important that you do everything you can to keep the Mobility and Strength dominoes from falling as long as you can. While you can’t help but lose some mobility and strength during the riding season you want to fight like hell to keep that to a minimum.

So there are 2 take home points for you to consider. First, you need to be working right now to build a mobility and strength reserve so you have something to carry you through the riding season. A smart program that builds mountain bike specific strength, mobility and cardio will go a long ways to helping you ride strong from your first ride this year to you last.

Second, once the riding season hits don’t neglect strength training your legs. You just have to look at “training” them differently and switch mental gears from working hard to build them up to working just hard enough to keep them strong and as fresh as possible.

Strength and mobility provide the foundation for your cardio and a good program will balance riding and training to help you get the most out of both. Don’t make the mistake so many riders make of thinking that just pedaling will train your legs because it won’t be enough, and you don’t want to find that out by dragging ass through the end of the riding season.

That’s it for now, if you have any questions about this concept please leave a comment below this post. And if you liked this post please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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