Want to win a free copy of the new Ultimate MTB Workout Program?

I hope you had a great Christmas weekend and you got some cool stuff from Santa. I must have been a good boy this year because I got an Xbox One so now I can finally play Halo 5 and see what happens with Master Chief and Cortana. And yes, I am a video game nerd in a lot of ways.

Besides playing video games I’ve also been busy updating my best workout program, the Ultimate MTB Workout Program. On Friday I’m releasing it and I want to give you a chance to win a FREE copy it.

Just take a minute to post a comment below this blog post with your answer to this question and on Friday I’ll randomly pick at least 5 riders (if there are a lot of great entries I might pick more):

What was the biggest lesson you learned this year about training to be a better rider?

It could be an exercise that really worked for you, a specific workout that gave you great results or just an insight or “aha moment” that will guide you going forward.

It’s that easy – post a comment below this blog post with your answer and you could win a free copy of the new Ultimate MTB Workout Program v7 release package, which is worth over $500 with all of the bonuses I’m including. I’ll be in touch on Friday with the winners and info on the special release package I’m putting together.

That’s it for now, thanks to everyone for their support over the years and I’m looking forward to introducing the next step in the evolution of mountain bike training. Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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  1. Brad Harris says:

    The best “aha” moment for me was changing the way I do kettle bell swings. The video that showed the difference between the cross fit type swing vs a swing that engages your core and mimics hip transitions. It was an easy modification that made a world of difference in strengthening my core and had a large impact in my bike movements. Thanks for all you do!!

    Reply • December 28 at 1:03 pm
  2. Cornel Malan says:

    An exercise that is starting to work with me is the single leg deadlift, because it’s easy to do on your “non-riding days” and it improves the way you cycle with more power for longer distances.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:04 pm
  3. Tait Grundyson says:

    Two things I have learned:

    1. I went flat pedal after a LONG time on clipless (since ’95). I thought I would try it and learn a few things then go back to clipless. There is no way I will ever go back to clipless. There is nothing like being naturally, bio-mechanically connected to your bike. Clipless pedals now seem like an artificial/merely mechanical connection.

    2. Lose weight. Pick up a 25lb kettle ball. That is how much weight I need to lose to be healthy. I can’t even imagine putting that kettle ball in my Camelbak but that is what I am doing every ride. I am not the New Years resolution type but this year I am going to lose weight.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:13 pm
  4. Randy says:

    I learned that just riding your bike a lot doesn’t make you fit.
    There are a lot of other muscles in your body that need to be exercised to really make a person fit.
    And having good strength in all these other muscles, especially core muscles, is going to make you a better rider.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:16 pm
  5. James Carper says:

    My biggest lesson is take time to increase mobility. I’ve spent time increasing mobility and experience better recovery than in years past. Thanks.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:18 pm
  6. Philip Hughes says:

    Biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of good nutrition. Its all well and good doing all these strength/cardio exercises and going on long rides, but if youre eating the wrong things and not taking in enough fluids then eventually it will all be for nothing. You can only go so far on a half arsed plan.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:18 pm
  7. Andrew Sutherland says:

    To relax on the trail and not over think everything. So that is where movement off the bike through exercises and drills come in.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:23 pm
  8. Micael Vesterlund says:

    My biggest insight was how much more fun it was to ride when i switched to flat pedals and started to stand up as much as possible.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:26 pm
  9. Paul says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how core work improves my riding. I have particularly enjoyed the kettlebells!

    Reply • December 28 at 1:30 pm
  10. Blake Maire says:

    I really wanted to work on my cornering skills this past year and I thought that my mobility was pretty good but doing the different mobility exercises that you have really helped me out.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:31 pm
  11. The biggest thing I learned in 2016 came during my recovery from a broken foot when I started riding my pedal innovations flats and working on squats and ankle mobility and windmills in the gym -to try to get back to racing and clipping in ASAP. The ahhh haa of being centered and balanced on the bike and feeling solid on my feet, even with an ankle brace, and has led to such improved control on my bike and was such a confidence boost that I’m a better rider and keen to work on being even better and really don’t think I ‘need’ the clipless to race in 2017 !

    Reply • December 28 at 1:32 pm
  12. Louis Veldsman says:

    I have focused on cross training this past year which included regular visits to the gym as well as running. I completed the Gun Run half-marathon. Since November I have only been riding focusing on rides with 400 – 500m climbs during the week and longer rides on weekends. I have not only improved on my climbing but also on my general singletrack skills. Strava PB’s as proof and motivation.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:40 pm
  13. Mark McKenney Jr says:

    Being 50 years old and starting out on moto, and racing motocross, I guess I did it backwards! However my wife and I both race expert MTB cross country, Enduro and Cyclocross in NorCal, moreover I am now committed 100% to cycling and left motorcycles several years ago after years of commitment to the sport. I have struggled to learn how to ride a bicycle properly for the last 4 years and only made good progress by employing the programs and advise from James Wilson. I feel I keep going deeper and deeper into the basics and finally embraced FLAT PEDALS for off season training despite my “attachment” (Ha Ha) to clipless pedals. I get it, I’m working it, this takes time especially mentally…I feel like someone who’s developed a bad golf swing…so yeah…the journey continues, in fact like Evil Knievel said…”you can never master the motorcycle”…I think there is truth in that for MTB too! This in part is why I absolutely love the sport…you are ALWAYS Learning!

    Reply • December 28 at 1:40 pm
  14. Jon says:

    Joining the flat pedal revolution and committing to flat pedals full time. This dramatically improved my basic riding skills and everything in the trail became more fun to ride. Catalyst pedals really worked for me.

    Reply • December 28 at 1:44 pm
  15. Roy Jones says:

    The best thing you can do is to get out and ride.

    After all isn’t that why we work out and train our bodies.
    Being stronger, more flexible and ore stable helps us to enjoy our rides.

    Reply • December 28 at 2:04 pm
  16. Deon Beier says:

    Personally realizing how much flexibility and core strength helps both my riding and my life in general but I think the biggest lesson learnt is how important rest is in a workout program. Stoked at how it’s helped me. Cheers

    Reply • December 28 at 2:13 pm
  17. Aaron H says:

    The biggest lesson for 2016 was simply to get out and enjoy each ride for the moment…rather alone and railing a section of single-track or grinding an uphill with friends; taking the time to appreciate the little moments while riding has made every ride more enjoyable.

    Reply • December 28 at 2:24 pm
  18. Russell says:

    For me the big “aha moment” of 2016 was the Hip Hinge. Everybody always says “Lift with your legs and not with your back”, but nobody, until you, ever defined exactly how to do that. Not only does a powerful hip hinge give me better control of my bike, it makes it easier and safer to lift and carry heavy stuff. Keep up the good work in 2017.

    Reply • December 28 at 2:48 pm
  19. Steve Lines says:

    Coming from a triathlon background of 20years and recently transitioning to mountain biking, i was wondering why I wasn’t seeing the same improvements in a mtb race after having laid a solid cardio base. Then, a buddy introduced me to your site looking at ‘strength and mobility’ as the focus, not cardio so much, and man what a difference! This 44yr old body and the trail results are evolving before my eyes! Thanks James.

    Reply • December 28 at 2:53 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Congratulations Steve, you win a free copy of the new UMWP v7 plus the New year’s Special bonus workouts! Just send an email to and we’ll get you taken care of.

      Reply • December 30 at 2:23 pm
    • Ronan says:

      Nice one Steve, well said. And nice pickup on the Ultimate Workout Program.

      So now onto the next phase of the evolution …….. 🙂

      Reply • January 18 at 10:49 pm
  20. Jimmy says:

    Two things this year have helped me to be able to do regular workouts:
    1. For me its easier to consistently work out if I have a 7 day a week plan and mark down every day I hold to my plan.
    2. I realized that I shouldn’t be mountain biking as a workout, I need to be working out so that I can mountain bike.

    Finally, I realized since I love biking I should find a way to do it every day. This just makes #1 and #2 all that much more important.

    Reply • December 28 at 3:00 pm
  21. Andy says:

    For me the thing I learned this year was that turning even though I am 45 I can achieve all the things I’ve been wanting to do on a bike since I was 25 but never managed. There’s no doubt that strength training squats and deadlifts has helped my knees and back and subsequently my cycling but by getting some coaching in person from a professional really allows the correct application of my new found physicality.

    Reply • December 28 at 3:09 pm
  22. Pete says:

    Commitment to regularity has made the biggest difference for me. Whether its riding or working out in the gym, doing it regularly has produced the best results.

    Reply • December 28 at 3:21 pm
  23. Chris L says:

    I found learning to find creative ways to fit in training and practice sessions when ever I could into my schedule. For example, on my ride to and from work each day I started leaving earlier so I could meander through. Neighbourhoods and find creative ways to ride suburban landscape. I was able to increase my confidence on the trail hopping over objects, riding skinnies, manualing… I even found time to do mobility drills and corrective exercises while waiting 10min for water to boil when making dinner.

    Reply • December 28 at 4:00 pm
  24. Alex W. says:

    My epiphany from the training happened when I began to understand how mobility and strength are intertwined and how that translates to technique on the trail and recovery time.
    I credit the increase in hip/core engagement gained from the mobility exercises and flexibility practice with helping me get over obstacles that made me put a foot down in the past. In addition, and perhaps the best part, is that with regular training and flexibility practice it becomes easier to recover after long rides so I can get in more miles.
    Thanks for all you do, James.

    Reply • December 28 at 5:34 pm
  25. john martin says:

    Best tip was to move your hips; for climbing and descending, when you stand to pedal and especially cornering.

    Reply • December 28 at 7:25 pm
  26. Brian Wenzel says:

    Best aha moment for 2016 is working on nutrition and high intensity interval training. I also added in some strength training to round out my training has improved my overall fitness and has improved my PRs across the board.

    Reply • December 28 at 7:40 pm
  27. Geoffrey says:

    I am now moving from mid-40s to late-40s. I have realized that I am a human on a mountain bike, not merely a mountain biker. Someday, I hope to be a human with grandchildren, and be sufficiently bombproof to wrestle with them. I have realized that I need to focus on the long term and very long term, much more than the short term. More mobility and fewer KOMs, because, in one month, no one will give a rip about the KOMs.

    Reply • December 28 at 7:45 pm
  28. Dawie says:

    The best thing I’ve learnt was how a strong core affects everything you do on the bike. It’s a non-negotiable.

    Reply • December 28 at 8:56 pm
  29. Jon says:

    I listen to the MTB Strength Training Podcast and get a lot of good tips from that! The biggest tip and “aha” moment I have had this year is to practice proper leading foot position when cornering. I’m naturally a goofy-foot rider with better right turn flow, but switching stance to left foot forward for lefties has changed my body/hip position and improved my cornering technique and speed. I still have a lot of practice and a ways to go, but I definitely have improved through focusing on this in my riding.

    Reply • December 28 at 9:37 pm
  30. Judyll says:

    The Neutral Spine Posture — this was the biggest “aha moments” for me. I feel more power and control when I focused more on posture and form rather than speed or how heavy can I lift. This did not only improved my mountain biking workouts but did greatly improved my running and swimming workouts as well.. I’m an “off-road triathlete” by the way.. 🙂

    Reply • December 28 at 10:44 pm
  31. Pete McKinnon says:

    My AHA moment was when I realized that its NOT all about the bike. The constant little up and down movements our legs make on the pedals can never develop the whole body to cope with the demands of mountain biking. Thank you James for the holistic approach which you have brought to all of us.

    Reply • December 29 at 12:12 am
  32. Vinay says:

    What I’ve learned is that some things that I’ve been doing stuff against the grain (against what I’ve been told by others) that has actually been good :)! One part wasn’t new, which was the advantages of platform pedals over being clipped in. That is something that’s been recommended by quite some greats in cycling over the past 15 years or so. But when I got into mountainbiking I was tempted to stand up and smash a heavy gear, getting the whole upper body involved. I was told to sit down, keep the upper body steady and only move the legs at a higher cadence. At some point I threw that out of the window again and luckily here I found some insight that I’ve been actually doing it right from the start.

    Of course there’s stuff I learned here as well that I should be working on, which is strength and agility. Especially as I’m getting approaching 40 (I’m 37 now) I should definitely put in more dedicated time just for those exercises.

    Reply • December 29 at 12:47 am
  33. Tom Butler says:

    My biggest ‘ahas’ this year are form and function. I’ve been reading James emails, looking at his videos online and realized that so much is based on correct form. The realization of correct ‘hip-hinge’ movements, incorporation of kettle-balls has me much more focused in my exercises and rides. I haven’t taken the full plunge yet into James program but I’m hoping this will be the launch pad that gets me there 😉

    Reply • December 29 at 5:14 am
  34. Niko says:

    My aha experience is from James in season “easy strenght training program”: keep the exercises same and chance reps. I also bought no gym no problem workout+ bonuses, there’s lot of great stuff for off season training.

    Reply • December 29 at 8:04 am
  35. Joe Page says:

    I have learned how vital high intensity training and core strength and stability are to effective cycling performance and injury prevention.

    Reply • December 29 at 8:07 am
  36. Andre says:

    The kettleball exercises helped me a lot.

    Reply • December 29 at 8:30 am
  37. The biggest lesson I learnt this year? Well undoubtedly that no way can I get better if I don’t strength train!
    After a severe crash last year, I was unable to strength train until last October when I subscribed to your In-Season Easy Strength Method special offer. It allowed me to resume strength training on an easy and sound basis. And after three weeks what a difference it made in my trail riding! I just couldn’t believe it. I had resumed trail riding last spring but had failed to regain confidence and to perform as well as I used to. Well, mi-november, it all came back to me as if by magic- I was well positioned on my bike again, was mobile and in command, felt relaxed, could go strong and be safe, and enjoyed it all immensely. The greatest change was to my turning – the windmill worked wonders, for sure. Before, I always sensed that my turns were jerky, lacked the continuum quality they should have had – but now they feel so easy and so much fun, I don’t even have to think about how to turn, it all falls into place so naturally – and that’s incredibly gratifying!!
    So I reckon I’m not going to forget that lesson for some time – BTW I’m a 60-year-old woman, so it goes to show that training well can get you anywhere!! Thanks a lot, James, for showing me the way!!! I must add that here in France, my home country, your ideas about strength training for MTB sound revolutionary. What a difference they’ve made to me!

    Reply • December 29 at 8:35 am
  38. Tatiana says:

    After having a baby in january my body wasn’t the same, the time for training was gone and i was feeling a bit frustrated. After reading a post about strenght training in just 15 minutes a day i regained the motivation needed to keep moving. Consistency and quality are better than quantity!

    Reply • December 29 at 8:56 am
  39. Henrique says:

    Good equipment does not compensate bad technique. I think people, not only beginners, spend a lot of time in bike shops finding some kind of magic equipment that can make them faster or lighter. Most of the time they are only covering vices, bad techniques or just laziness.
    Before spending more money in equipment I start to learn why I will need them, in which stage are my training? I really need a Pro equipment, put carbon fiber in every single parts or use a Full Enduro Bike if I barely can jump a twig? If you are not a Pro biker and don’t have sponsors to account and bring the best that the bike industry can create you don’t need to be so obsessive with weight, brands and so on… You need a thing that can support your training.
    And a Good Training is the best investment you can take. Most of the time with the right technique you will prevent damage your equipment and your body.

    Reply • December 29 at 10:12 am
  40. Glenda says:

    Learning to use your feet powerfully, Centre of gravity placement up and down hill, strength excercises – all made huge sense and difference to my biking – thanks James!!! ?

    Reply • December 29 at 11:52 am
  41. Mitch Fury says:

    For me 2016 has been a huge year in my life and you may be asking what’s major has changed in my riding. Has it been achieving better results? No. Have I got fitter? No. Have I got stronger? No. As a matter of fact 2016 has been very uneventful for anything to with my bike. But 2016 has been huge in the fact that I have become a father for the first time. I have still done my best to compete at local events but doing so holding back due to next to nil training.
    So what has been my ‘aha’ moment then? Using all my past experiences and training to still compete but without going out and killing mysekf in the process. In other words listening to my body and withholding my competitive urges.
    2017 I’ll get back into a training regime but as for 2016 it will be remembered for all the right reasons; my daughter. Should I be lucky enough to win a free copy of the training program it will definitely be the start of my 2017 and the beginning of getting back to my competitive racing and the Nationals series come 2018.

    Reply • December 29 at 3:56 pm
  42. Susan says:

    I suppose it sounds a little cliché, but the most important thing I learned this year was to never give up. I was in a challenging 100K MTB race on the island of Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands. I was on a strange bike because mine needed repairs. I forgot my clip in pedals, the seat was adjusted wrong, and nothing felt right. I got lost in the jungle a few times and was on my own for most of the race. When I got to the 1/2-way point, they said I didn’t make it in time and was disqualified. I decided to keep going. I didn’t go there to quit! It was greullinng, hot, and I almost ran out of water a few times. But I stuck it out and finally made it in after 8 hours and 24 minutes (I’m embarrassed to say!). I wound up getting a medal for perseverance and $30 from the Mayor of Tinian!

    Reply • December 29 at 6:23 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Great story Susan. Not only did you get $30 and a medal from the Mayor you win a free copy of the new UMWP v7 plus the New year’s Special bonus workouts. Just send an email to and we’ll get you taken care of.

      Reply • December 30 at 2:22 pm
      • Susan says:

        Hello James,

        I’m not sure if my email went through to you. I tried sending you an email from my gmail account and am wondering if you got it. I can’t wait to start the new UMWP v7 program!

        Thank you!


        Reply • January 2 at 6:45 pm
  43. Henderson says:

    As a returning beginner rider the regular tips and videos from James have helped me try to improve my fitness and skills and are encouraging me to set goals for challenging myself next year.

    Reply • December 29 at 7:43 pm
  44. Daniel Stafford says:

    No aha moment but just the reality of working hard, getting stronger and improving technique (looking ahead and hip movement) making a huge difference to my riding and racing, especially those long pedals! It’s satisfying to see the rewards coming from hard work!

    Reply • December 30 at 4:08 am
  45. Leith says:

    Simplicity. When I look back on my 2016 season vs the year before it – I realize how complex I had made my training in 2015 – both on the bike and off. It’s clear now how difficult that made it to see and gauge progress, not to mention making it harder to stick to the plan and difficult to analyze what was working and what wasn’t.
    A complex program may make sense for those fortunate enough to be riding as a full-time gig, but for those of us squeezing riding and training into the hours outside of a full-time job, I would say a simplified approach is the way to go. Easier to execute and stay disciplined with, easier to measure improvement and at least in my case, allowed me to continue to make progress despite reducing overall training hours vs the previous year.

    Reply • December 30 at 6:13 am
  46. Sergio says:

    One of the most important lessons for me was the importance of healthy feet. Move away from conventional shoes and move to the barefoot movement. The use of conventional shoes (specially dressing shoes) produce so much discomfort now, I hate them.
    Also strengthening the foot made my able to run more.
    Previously I was able to run about 3 miles before my feet and knees gave up.
    Now I can go further and I plan to keep running for 2017 season.
    Best regards to all!

    Reply • December 30 at 8:29 am
  47. Tommy says:

    I’ve always been very consistent riding and not committed to strength training. Since I’ve started following your system a couple of months ago, I’ve been much more consistent with the strength training portion of the program. In the past, I would ride an extra day or two and skip the weight training session. It surprised me that I’m a better rider as a result of riding left and and replacing those extra, unproductive rides with a weight training session.

    Reply • January 3 at 12:42 pm
  48. dave tunmer says:

    All the way from SOUTH AFRICA , MY comment … The best exercise for me is squats one or both helps me a lot , you know 67 years old need all the help one can get also the advice on cornering at speed has made me a bit of demon going downhill Thanks for the help

    Reply • January 18 at 12:44 am

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