The Best Training Tool to Train Your Manual, Pumping and Jumping.

A few weeks ago I shared one of my favorite blog posts I’ve done over the years where I broke down how to Manual and Bunny Hop on Your Bike. I really like it because it was the result of a long, frustrating journey as I tried to figure out this elusive skill based on the “normal” advice, which didn’t seem to work for me and a lot of other riders I worked with.

The key for me was understanding the right way to use your hips and not your lower back when performing these skills, which is something that a lot of coaches miss when trying to explain them. Once you start to drive the movement from the hips then everything changes and you can start to move up the skills tree in a safe, progressive manner again.

The problem, though, is that knowing how to do it when watching it on the computer is one thing but actually being able to do it on the bike is another. Having a strong, explosive Hip Hinge is extremely important but it can be tough to train it on the bike, which means a training tool you could use off of the bike to help you get a lot of quality reps in would really be helpful.

Luckily, there is a great training tool that can help improve your body position, manualing, bunny hopping and jumping on your bike…and it isn’t some fancy new contraption that costs as much as a new fork for your bike.

No, this one is actually one of the oldest training tools around – the Heavy Indian Club. Using them for several Swing variations will help improve your riding skills and MTB specific conditioning like no other training tool can.

They provide all the elements you need in a great training tool – specificity and automatic feedback being at the top of the list – and they have completely replaced kettlebell swings in my own program and the riders I train.

In this Monday Coaches Corner video I give you a mini-workshop on this vital training tool, explaining why it is so valuable and showing you my favorite exercises to do with for skills and conditioning training.

Being able to use strength training to improve your MTB specific movement skills is an important part of a good training program. Using training tools and exercises like the Heavy Indian Club Swings can help you unlock more of your potential on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson
MTB Strength Training Systems

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  1. JP says:

    $100 delivered for a pair of 10s and 15s… where are you buying from?

    Reply • November 5 at 11:12 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Sorry about that, it is closer to $150 for both pairs from a site like, which is where I got mine. I was thinking about the price for a Mace, which is about $100 for a 10 pound and 15 pound.

      Reply • November 5 at 1:47 pm
  2. Maciek says:

    Can I use dumbbells instead? Will the result be descent to so-so or is it a completely different thing?

    Reply • November 8 at 9:14 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The distribution of the weight and the width of the dumbbells will make it a different exercise. You can do Dumbbell Cheat Curls if you have dumbbells but the Indian Clubs are what make this movement work so well.

      Reply • November 8 at 10:39 am
      • Maciek says:

        I am deeply surprised how well this worked. I just made couple of swings yesterday and remembered the feel of the movement. Today I went to try it on a bike and I made a huge progress! My previous manual attempts were chaotic and I felt like fighting a bike at the end of the L-shape, and now it is a fluid and “round” motion that I finally have hopes to control and amplify. The swing above the horizontal level is the motion one should try after getting the L-shape right, but struggling to get more progress.

        As a side note, the level I am at: I already tried to manual for 15-20 days spread across this year, and were able to hold it for 2-3 seconds with ~60-75% consistency. The swing did not contributed to holding the manual for longer yet, but the consistency and feeling is just on another level.

        Reply • November 10 at 10:06 am
        • bikejames bikejames says:

          Awesome, glad it helped!

          Reply • November 11 at 7:19 pm
  3. Nate says:

    What about short handled sledge hammers? You could get h very similar balance cutting the handle down on a ten pound hammer.

    Reply • December 18 at 11:20 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      They could work as well, really anything with an offset weight like that can work.

      Reply • December 20 at 9:56 am
      • Nate says:

        The hammers work ok, but I found what I think is the best solution for Indian clubs on the market so far. Look for heroic sport, they sell handles that you use on soda bottles you can add water or sand to and have multiple weights available for cheap.

        Reply • March 23 at 9:32 am

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James Wilson
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Mountain Bike Coach
James Wilson