One of the paradoxes of strength training for mountain biking is that in order to get strong you need to lift heavy stuff but lifting heavy stuff can leave you sore and tired. If you are sore and tired then you can’t ride as effectively, which isn’t what you want from you workouts.

This means that finding a way to build strength without affecting your riding is a key to a good mountain bike strength training program.

One of my favorite methods for this purpose are Rep Ladders. Rep Ladders have you stick with the same weight each set but step up the number of reps each set. Once you reach the highest number of reps you drop back down to the first rung on the Rep Ladder and repeat.

For example, if I wanted to use Rep Ladders for the DB Clean and Press I’d pick a weight I could get for 5-6 reps and then do a 2/3/5 Rep Ladder sequence. If I did this sequence twice it would look like this…

Set 1 – 2 reps

Set 2 – 3 reps

Set 3 – 5 reps

Set 4 – 2 reps

Set 5 – 3 reps

Set 6 – 5 reps

You want to rest as long as you need to in order to give a high quality effort on the next set. Don’t make the mistake so many riders do and try to turn everything into a form of cardio training.

With this workout I was able to get 20 high quality reps in with only a couple of sets feeling “hard”. I’m increasing my strength from the volume of work done but I’m doing it in a way that doesn’t take the body to the edge every set.

This means you won’t feel nearly as beat up as if you had maxed out every set and tried to do something like 4 sets of 5 reps, which would give you the same 20 reps but would leave you far more sore and tired the next day.

Remember that as an athlete you are after quality movement practice with your strength training sessions and Rep Ladders are one of the best ways to keep that quality high without placing excessive wear and tear on your body in the process.

In this video I break go over Rep Ladders and show you how they would look in action with the DB Clean and Press.

Try this workout next time you train, starting with going through the Rep Ladder sequence twice and working up to five times. You’ll find your strength and endurance will increase without making you sore and tired in the process. And this will lead to the ultimate improvement – having more fun on the trail.

If you have any questions about using Rep Ladders just post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if you liked this article and video please click one of the Like or Share buttons to help spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

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