Alright, time for a confession…I HATE strength training. Or, I guess I should say that I hate the term strength training.
Look at your Strength Training as Movement Practice and you’ll get a lot more out of it when you ride.
The problem is that it leads a lot of people to believe that strength is the end goal of the workouts when it really isn’t. This is based on the assumption that if you improve your strength numbers by X amount in the gym then you’ll improve your performance by Y percent on the trails.
However, we all know that this often isn’t the case. Sometimes people train hard in the gym and get better at working out but they don’t see as much improvement where it matter most…on the trail.
What gets forgotten is that strength is a symptom of how you move, not a direct cause of improved performance.
As an athlete how you move when you train – both on the bike and in the gym – is the most important thing for you to focus on. You want to use your exercises as a way to practice the basic movement patterns you need for your sport, not to simply get better at exercising.
So this means that if you improve your strength but you achieve it in a way that compromises how you move then it isn’t helping you when you ride your mountain bike.
For example, the deadlift is a great exercise for the MTB athlete…if you do it in a way that trains the hip hinge movement pattern you need on the bike, not just your ability to pick up heavy stuff off the ground.
I personally like to see a 1.5 – 2 X bodyweight deadlift from guys I train BUT I want them to do it in a very specific way. If they start to drop their hips and bend their knees too much then they aren’t working the same movement pattern they need on the bike.
Strength gains made at the expense of how we move miss the ultimate goal of training and won’t carry over as effectively.
This also means that we need to establish good movement first. Any program that doesn’t emphasize mobility and movement quality over improvements in strength and work capacity will sabotage you over the long run.
So while you do need to get strong – which is why it is called Strength Training – it has to be done with the idea of following the same movement principles you want to use on the bike. Look at your Strength Training as Movement Practice and you’ll get a lot more out of it when you ride.
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Until next time…