I know that this may be a bit late but I wanted to give you what I think are the best mountain bike training gifts. If you are looking for some last minute ideas for a rider on your list these may give you some good ideas. You can click on the name of the item to find a good place to order them from (except for the last one…just go to your local sports supply store) –

1) A Kettle Bell – this is my favorite training tool and for good reason. The unique aspects of the kettle bell work on grip strength and shoulder stability, two things all mountain bikers need. In addition, the swing and the snatch are outstanding exercises that are more easily learned with the kettle bell. Lastly, they lend themselves very well to combo drills which are an essential part of effective MTB cardio training.

Add it all up and you have a very useful tool that I think every serious rider should have in their tool box. You also only need to get one to start benefitting from this great tool –  men can start with a 16 kilo kettle bell and women can start with a 12 kilo kettle bell.

2) Jungle Gym or TRX Trainer – This is one of the newest additions to my facility and to be honest I don’t know how I got by without it. It lets you do an amazing amount of exercises ranging including Bulgarian Split Squats, assisted single leg squats, single arm inverted rows, feet elevated planks and side planks, prone jack knifes…and that is a very partial list.

Best of all you can use it at home and easily throw it in your suitcase when traveling. If all you had was a kettle bell and one of these you could do get an amazingly effective workout from anywhere.

3) GymBoss Timer – Interval training is the future of cardio training. Unfortunately, timers are slow to catch up. Your basic stopwatch won’t work well when you have a 45 seconds interval with a 15 second rest period and it gets old trying to keep up with a regular clock.

The GymBoss lets you set two different time intervals (a work and a rest interval) and lets you set how many rounds you want to do so you don’t even need to keep count of them anymore. I use these things on a daily basis in my facility and for the price you would be crazy not to have one.

4) High Density Foam Roller – Every session at my facility starts out with at least 5 minutes of foam rolling. Foam rollers allow you to give yourself a very targeted massage on a daily basis, making them an essential part of increasing and maintaining mobility. They are also a great way to massage aching muscles after a long day on the trail which will mean less soreness the next day.

While a lot of people are using foam rollers, most are wasting their time with the soft white foam rollers. These are fine to start with but they break down very quickly and eventually become too soft to do any real good. I’ve been using high density foam rollers for over a year and they are just as good today as when I first got them, making them a great long term investment.

5) A Jump Rope – Nothing fancy here, just a plain old jump rope. However, plain doesn’t mean ineffective. Jump Rope intervals are brutal and build cardio capacity and calf endurance like nothing else. This is another great travel tool as well, making it a must for those riders that have trouble keeping a training routine because of travel.

While there are more things you could consider, these are 5 tools that I use every day in my facility. If you have a rider in your life who wants to improve their strength and endurance on the trail then these tools can help them do just that. Or, if you are that rider, just print this off and leave it where someone who may be buying you a present can see it. Maybe even circle the stuff you really want…a strong hint never hurt!

-James Wilson-

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