How to avoid letting your shoulder position on your bike restrict your performance.

On Friday I shared an answer I gave to a rider asking about the posture he saw in top XC pro riders and why it differed from what I recommended in my Body Position Clinic. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out then be sure to do that because it is important that you understand why posture on the bike is so important despite what you see with some of the riders at the highest levels.

One of the reasons I gave was that I wasn’t so sure that those pro riders wouldn’t do better if they paid more attention to their posture in their training and in applying it to the bike. And while a lot of your posture on the bike depends on your hips, your shoulder position is just as if not more important.

When your shoulders are hunched up and/ or forward they become far less stable, which…

  • Makes it harder to stand up and pedal since you can’t support as much weight on your arms.
  • Compromises your low back position which results in less leg strength and power.
  • Makes it harder to get a full diaphragmatic breathe which decreases cardio capacity.
  • Increases the stress Rotator Cuff, Bicep Tendon and AC Joint, which can cause pain and long term damage to the shoulder.

In some of my videos I refer to keeping the shoulder “packed”, which basically means keeping it in a strong stable position as you move. You also need to learn how to apply this concept to the bike as well.

In this new video I share some tips on how to keep your shoulders packed while seated and standing on the bike, giving you the insights you need to increase your performance through fixing bad habits you don’t even realize are holding you back.

BTW, I first learned the concept of “shoulder packing” through my exposure to kettlebell training and kettebells remain one of my favorite tools for teaching this vital concept. From Turkish Get Ups to Swings to Snatches, you’re shoulders learn how to be strong and stable through a variety of positions and demands.

If you’re looking for a great way to start incorporating the power of mountain bike specific strength training into your workouts then the MTB Kettebell Conditioning Program is a great place to start. All you need is a single kettlebell and 2-3 hours a week to see real results on the trail.

-James Wilson-

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness Program

90 Day MTB Skills & Fitness ProgramLearn how to permanently fix the bad movement habits that are really keeping you from improving your mountain bike skills. It isn’t “bad technique” that’s stopping you from improving your mountain bike skills. This program will fix the real cause - bad movement habits you don’t even realize are holding you back on the trail. Improve your performance and safety on the trail in just 90 days with the only workouts designed to integrate mobility, strength and skills drills.
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WordPress Comments:

  1. Wish I Were Riding says:

    Wow, my upper back was instantly tired. I moved my seat forward almost an inch. I don’t like my geo anymore either. My hands didn’t get as tired as they usually do, probably because I was able to absorb more impacts all the way through my shoulders instead of just to my elbows like I usually do. I just spent an hour riding my SS trying really hard to practice this.

    Reply • July 10 at 7:32 pm
  2. Jon Laterveer says:

    To be able to get in the right position requires good shoulder mobility right? Like a 2-3 in the FMS test? Or being able to properly do a Wall Slide etc? I suspose a rider would also need 2-3 in the ASLR, Trunk Stability Push Up and clearance in the Spinal Extension Test. Until this level of mobility is reached should we worry about bike set up etc? I am thinking until the proper mobility is achieved changing bike set up to get the “feeling” is like training and building strength on dysfunction?

    Reply • July 12 at 2:17 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The whole concept of “bike fit” is a bit overrated and backwards – put together the best bike for the job and then learn how to apply good movement to it. Most bike fits are simply trying to mask some sort of dysfunction and until you have a clean movement screen then it is a bit irrelevant. When you can move better you’ll find your idea of what “fits” to change.

      Reply • July 13 at 9:37 am

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James Wilson