October
2

Rider Q&A: Training With Imperfect Posture & Yearly Periodization for DH

Q: …I also agree on the perfect posture / spinal alignment all the time even when your not in the gym. However I am going to try to explain my thoughts on this and you tell me yours. Here is a simple example. Let’s say I train a person for endurance activities only and never train them for explosive movements. Then one day mom is up at the house and see’s little Johnny about to walk out into the street just as a car is coming and since she has no explosive power she can’t take off at him quickly to save his life.

Also, if you stress perfect posture all the time then the spine is only strong in the “safe” position. What if Mom is forced to move quickly in and doesn’t happen to be in that perfect position. Should we still train the spine in a slightly lazy position or do we somehow figure out a way to have them relax just a little bit on posture to help strengthen the muscle that support the spine through a limited range of motion without hyper or hypo flexion.

A: First, I appreciate your well thought out question as you do raise some good points. However, I would always train people to be “explosive”, that would just vary with the demands of the client. I might just have a runner or endurance rider do some kettle bell swings while I might have my high level DH riders doing Close Grip Snatches, but either way their getting trained to apply their mobility and stability in a dynamic way.

I also think that the body is designed to resist movement in certain areas, like the low back, and even if movement happens it isn’t to be encouraged or given into. Strength training is like a Kata or other form for a martial artist – a low stress level opportunity to practice “perfect” form. This isn’t going to be the case all the time outside of training but I don’t see any benefit to using precious training time to practice “bad movement”.

With that said, I know that no rider will get into perfect posture when seated on the bike and I don’t freak out at the slightest break in form in the gym. Anything taken to an extreme can be bad and those are my thoughts that guide my overall advice on the subject.

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Q: I read with interest your blog and really enjoy it. On most parts I also agree with many of your opinions. You could say the type of riding I do in summer is mainly DH oriented and rest of the year more Enduro/Trail riding.

I have read many books on the subject of cycle/XC MTB training/road riding, however there are not any books, to my knowledge on the subject of DH or trail riding training.

There are many interesting point on your blog, but I have not read (may be I have missed it) on the subject of yearly periodization for DH riding. I am assuming you wouldn’t suggest the typical Joe Friel diet of steady, long road riding in most of the off season…

So my question is how would you split the 8-9 months when the lifts are off and weather not too kind to riders and what would u generally suggest the riders concentrate on in different parts of the off season?

A: I suggest getting strong, building your cardio and increasing your mobility levels. I also suggest doing some skills training. I usually work in 12 week blocks where we set a priority but still work on all aspects. I don’t like the “block” method where you train only one component and then move onto another block of training for another component. That idea of linear periodization doesn’t work as well for most people in the real world.

During the season you want to minimize strength lose. You will lose strength over the course of the season and eroding strength levels will greatly reduce performance so you do what you can to keep it in check.

Training isn’t rocket science. There are movement patterns you need on your bike and you just make sure that they are 1) moving right, 2) strong, and 3) can endure the specific demands of riding. You get that stuff as dialed as you can in the off season and try to keep it together during the season, then repeating the process.

Good question, I actually did a podcast on linear periodization, you can check it out here:

http://www.bikejames.com/strength/why-linear-periodization-doesnt-work-for-mountain-bike-training/

Hope this helps…

-James Wilson-

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  1. Flatlander says:

    Related to posture is James’ emphasis on targeted mobility. Training is just that; you’re trying to strengthen and habituate certain joints for certain ranges of motion. There is an anatomic and a physiologic range of motion for every synovial and fibrous joint in the body. The anatomic range of motion relates to the geometry of the joint surface as well as it’s ligamentous restraints; it represents the “end points” of a joint’s movement.

    We’re focused on physiologic ranges. Soft tissue motor tone regulates the starting position of a joint (James has referred to this as “locked long” or “locked short” dysfunction in the past.) Our goal through postural stability during exercise is to train this tone to reflect the most efficient and safest positioning of a joint through an activity.

    If mom has appropriate strength developed through proper training focus (strength/power, mobility and endurance), she’ll lower her center of gravity and drive from her legs as she adjusts her position from her core, and she’ll drop a shoulder on the oncoming vehicle’s front end. …Or reach junior in time to stave off Darwin yet again.

    Reply • October 2 at 2:23 pm

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