This last weekend I was at Yeti headquarters conducting a training camp for the team. We spent 3 days doing movement screens, going over a new routine I developed to help them quickly build foundational movement, going over nutrition and supplements and conducting an on-bike skills session to help them tie it altogether on the bike. It was an amazingly productive weekend and I came away with some great ideas and insights.

– Riders tend to fall into one of two categories: tight or weak. Tight riders have to focus on moving smoothly, weak riders need to focus on moving with more authority. Weak riders also tend to be hyper-mobile in the ankles and low back and need to pay a lot of attention to keeping strong and stable in those areas while moving.

– The low back is a muscle and feeling it working isn’t bad. We get so paranoid about protecting the low back we forget this fact. Feeling a strain or joint pain in the spine isn’t good but feeling your low back almost cramping while doing a wall squat is fine, especially if you tend to round as you come down. You’re just feeling your low back doing what it is supposed to do, which is tighten up and resist that forward lean.

– There is no “special” way to pedal a bike. One of the riders wanted me to work on his standing pedaling stroke with him since he thought there was some special technique. I simply had him get off his bike and sprint as fast as he could for 20 yards. I then told him to get on his bike and “sprint” like he was running – he was instantly much faster and we had to warn him not to snap the chain as he sprinted around the parking lot with his new-found pedaling power.

– Knowing what you do so you can refine it is important. More than once during the skills clinic riders mentioned that they “do that already” when I was explaining a technique. I told them that it is still important for you to be aware of why you are successful so you can go back to it if you start to get away from it. All riders will see their performance decrease with age and unless you know why you’re successful at 21 you’ll have a hard time keeping it up until your 31.

– Lastly, this is the best piece of advice that come out of our last Q&A session before I left: When you’re in the gym think about what you want to do on the trail and when you are on the trail think about what you practiced in the gym. Turn gym time into skills practice for the trail and then apply what you practiced to the trail. Better skills through strength training is the goal of my programs and that will only work when you stop seeing an exercise and start seeing a movement that you need on the bike.

These where some of the big lessons that I learned during the 3 days and the hands on time with the riders was invaluable in helping me refine my programs for you guys. Its experience like this that helps me continue to define the cutting edge of training for the unique demands of mountain biking. I’ll have some more insights and training tips from the Yeti team camp in my next podcast, which will be posted on Friday.

-James Wilson-

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