So last week was the end of 2015 and the start of a new year. Like a lot of people, I tend to reflect back on what I learned from last year and how it can help me going forward.

While some years are not as eventful as others, last years was certainly one I will remember for a lot of reasons. Besides turning 40 and launching my new flat pedal design (both part of my Top 5 below), I also had the chance to work with some riders at my first ever Primal Skills Camps. I found a great new training tool and learned the secret to improving your perfomance from one of the experts in endurance and conditioning training.

And so with that in mind, here are my Top 5 Lessons from 2015:

1 – Mace training is really fun and effective.

Mace training is a 2000+ year old training tool that I started using after dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck (see #5 below). At first I didn’t know what to expect but now I use them in every workout.

In fact, if you told me I had to choose between a Steel Mace and a Kettlebell to train with I would choose the Steel Mace. One guy I showed it to called it the funnest thing he’s ever done and bought one the next day.

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I’m currently working this unique tool into my Private Coaching Clients programs and I’ll be introducing it into the MTB Strength Training Systems programs in 2016. You can find out more about it in this blog post I wrote and this post on Pinkbike.

2 – Understanding how to train your brain is the key to improving performance.

Joel Jamieson is considered one of the world’s leading experts on endurance and conditioning training. He trains UFC fighters and athletes from every major sport. In other words, if you want to learn how to push harder and longer he is the guy to listen to.

And when I went to his Bioforce Conditioning seminar the thing that he really got excited about was how the brain controlled everything and held the key to improved performance. Knowing how to set up your training to mimic the internal and external environment you compete in is what makes a great coach who consistently get results and can keep their athletes healthy.

You can learn more about this concept in this BioPower Hacks webinar I did showing you how to use this concept for mountain biking.

3 – The Catalyst Pedal is going to change what people think is possible from a flat pedal.

The Catalyst Pedal was an idea I had about a year and half ago that has started to take on a life of its own. It seems that I am not the only one who sees the need to a better flat pedal design and after only a few months on the market I have already sold well over 600 pairs of them to riders around the word.

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And the feedback from them has been amazing so far. I think that 2016 is going to be the year we look back on as the start of a new trend in pedals, all sparked by the Catalyst. It has been a lot of fun bringing my vision to reality and get it out there to help more riders enjoy more power, stability and comfort on the trail.

4 – Learning how to bank your shoulders when cornering brings everything together.

After years of struggeling to tie everything together I realized this year that letting your shoulders drive your hips is the key. In fact, one of the biggest problems that I see with rider’s cornering technique is that they rely too much on the hips and don’t use the shoulders enough.

Now I tell riders that if your shoulders are staying “dead” and remaining parallel to the ground then you won’t be able to corner properly no matter what your feet and hips are doing. You have to learn how to bank your shoulders to drive your hips and feet.

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To help with this I recommend a heavy dose of Stick Windmills and KB Windmills. You can also check out this webinar I did on Using Your Shoulders to Drive Your Cornering.

5 – Time and bad training decisions will catch up with you.

Let me preface this with that I turned 40 at the end of last year. After logging 4 decades on this planet you start to gain an appreciation for time like you just can’t have when you are younger.

What I mean by that is that on a long enough timeline your training mistakes and old injuries will catch up with you. Grinding through workouts, ignoring pain, rushing pack after an injury and countless other little things add up and eventually your body will let you know that it is time to pay the piper.

For me, things came to a head after ignoring an injury to my neck I suffered in BJJ. I ended up with a pinched nerve that left me crippled with pain and barely able to function for 3 days. As I lay there I realized that while the injury and my rush back to training were the main culprit, I had been ignoring a lot of little things for a while (yes, I know I tell people not to do that stuff but I still fall victim to the same mindset myself).

This forced me to take stock about what was really important and at that moment I realized that living a pain free life was it. Sure, I still care about being a good rider but I have to admit that my priorities have changed. I want to set myself up to be able to play pain free for as long as possible and that means paying attention to my body more and not trying to just grind through stuff as much.

This also means I am going to be dedicating more articles and programs to helping the 40+ rider. I know that a lot of you reading this are in this club – or fast approaching it – and while we don’t need a totally different approach, there are some things we can do to get a little more mileage out of our body.

All in all, 2015 was a pretty good year for me and I’m really excited to see what 2016 has in store for MTB Strength Training Systems and Pedaling Innovations.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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