Last week I shared the Prisoner’s Dilemma with you, a question that was meant to help you focus your training and look for gaps between what you know is most important and what you are really doing. In case you missed it, the questions goes like this…

If you were a political prisoner for some reason and you only got 15 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week then what would you do if you still wanted to improve for your sport?

Obviously you have to get past the questions of why you would have access to equipment to train and why you would still care about anything but training to escape, but that is besides the point. When you answer this question you boil things down to the most important factors you should be focusing on.

But what if there was more we could learn from this question, like what to do if you literally only have 15 minutes a day to train?

While you may not be a political prisoner, a lot of us end up being a prisoner of “life” and find that we face the same problem – a lack of time to devote to training. This is especially true during the summer, which is the heart of riding season and family obligations.

We all know what an optimal training program would look like…

– You’d wake up when you were ready and have time to cook and eat a good breakfast.

– You’d work out whenever your meticulously prepared plan told you to.

– You’d have time for a nap in the middle of the day to help your recovery.

– You’d be able to devote 2-4 hours a day, 4-6 days per week to your training program.

Sounds great, and if you can do it you’d get amazing results. However, this is the reality for most of us…

– We wake up when the alarm goes off, ready or not. Breakfast is what we can throw together and eat in less than 15 minutes.

– We schedule a workout when it fits into “life’s” plans.

– Nap? What’s this strange word you speak of?

– If we collect 4 hours of honest training and riding time a week we’re lucky.

In fact, it was during a busy summer a few years ago that I first came up with the idea of using 15 minute workouts to help me be more consistent with my workouts. I was struggling to fit in the longer workouts I was used to doing but I knew that I had 15 minutes to get something done at least once a day. And by focusing those 15 minutes on my weak links I could still see some decent results…which is much better than no results or even going backwards.

What a lot of rider’s don’t realize is that your strength and movement base is the foundation that your endurance is built on. As you lose it you start to lose your endurance, no matter how much you ride. This is one of the major reasons that some riders experience a late season slump – their lack of strength and mobility is creating a lot of inefficient movement on the trail which drains the energy reserves even faster.

So by fitting in at least 15 minutes a day, 4-6 times a week you can make the most of the situation. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is this – there is optimal and then there is reality.

Unless you are a pro rider who gets paid to train then you probably find yourself facing this situation from time to time. If that’s the case then adding in a 15 Minute Trail Rider Tune Up when you can’t get to the gym consistently is a great way to “optimally deal with reality”. These workouts can help you improve mobility, increase core strength and develop body awareness in one compact package.

How to do a 15 Minute Trail Rider Tune Up

– Get a countdown timer and set it to 5 minutes. You can use an egg timer, a watch or even download an app for your phone.

– Start the timer and begin with the first exercise pairing. You will do one set of the first exercise and then a set of the second exercise, rotating back and forth between them until the timer goes off.

– Reset the timer and start it again, moving to the second exercise pairing. Once the timer goes off reset it and do the last exercise pairing. You are now finished.

Here is a great Trail Rider Tune Up workout that doesn’t require any equipment and can be done just about anywhere.

Exercise Paring #1: Mobility Exercises

With these two exercises you don’t want to worry about how many round you get through. The idea is to really work each movement and try to figure out how to get your body to come down deeper into movement. These exercises are great for “crushing” some mobility out of your hips and upper back.

Exercise #1: Wall Squats X 5 reps

Exercise #2: Down Dog/ Cobra “Prying” Drill X 3-5 reps

Exercise Pairing #2: Core Training Exercises

While you want to work hard on these exercises, keep your focus on your core, not your limbs. Learn how to stabilize your lower back and move from your hips. You also need remember that your shoulders are part of the core as well – keep them pulled back and down away from the ears.

Exercise #1: Inch Worm X 5

Exercise #2: Windmill X 5 each side

Exercise Pairing #3: Strength Training Exercises

While they are called “strength” training exercises, a mindset shift will help you get more out of these exercises. Look at it as movement practice, and really look to move as strong and fluid as you possibly can. Don’t just be as strong as you need to, be as strong as you can.

Exercise #1: Push Ups X 5

Exercise #2: Bulgarian Split Squats X 5 reps each leg

Count how many rounds of the Core and Strength Training exercise pairings you get through in 5 minutes and then try to beat your record next time you do this routine. Don’t try to increase the time, the point of this routine is speed and simplicity. Keep a laser focus for 15 minutes and then move on.

Here is a video demo of this 15 M-TRTU:

The 15 Minute Trail Rider Tune Up (15 M-TRTU) concept is pretty simple, which is the point. Pick some mobility, core and strength exercises that focus on your weak links and you can get a lot out of a little with some consistent effort. While they won’t replace a regular workout in the long run, using 15 M-TRTU workouts to help fill in the gaps can make a big difference on the trail.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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