You’re just not that advanced

Here is something that we all need to be reminded of sometimes – you’re not that advanced! Be it as a rider or in the gym, the vast majority of people reading this are not as advanced as they like to think. It’s called the “10% rule” – only 10% of people are advanced enough to sweat the details.

Sometimes we sabotage ourselves and start to get “bored” and start looking for the next routine or exercise that will solve all of our problems.

Here are a couple of examples to better explain this…

Training: The basics may not be exciting but they work, and work very well for most of us. Sometimes we sabotage ourselves and start to get “bored” and start looking for the next routine or exercise that will solve all of our problems.

The vast majority of us would do great on a simple routine like this –

Workout A – 4 X 5 reps

1) Deadlift

2) Chin Up

3) Dips

Workout B – 3 X 8 reps

1) Bulgarian Split Squat

2) Inverted Rows

3) DB Push Press

Of course, I’d personally add in some mobility work and some specific corrective and core training stuff based on individual needs but the heart of your training program can and should revolve around the basics. Get off the internet surfing around for cool looking exercises and the routine of the pros. BOSU balls and complicated exercises that look like you are trying out for the circus are only valuable for the highly advanced trainee…sorry but you’re just not that advanced.

Nutrition: This is one that I could write a book on but here are the two areas I think most people need to stop worrying about. First, until you are eating breakfast, eating every 3 hours after that and are getting some protein and fruits and vegetables with most meals you don’t need to worry about “carbo loading” and performance based diets. Those only work if you have a solid nutritional foundation to build on. And just because you ride a mountain bike a few times a week does not give you the liberty to eat tons of breads and pastas…sorry but you’re just not that advanced.

Also, supplements are just that – things to supplement a good diet (see the previous paragraph). Now, with that said there are some base supplements you should be taking. First and foremost is fish oil or some other essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement. 6-10 grams a day of a high grade EFA supplement is a must and the first thing I ask people when they start inquiring about supplements. Even then, most of the “performance” supplements are only valuable for the person who has everything dialed and needs that extra edge…sorry but you’re just not that advanced.

Riding: This is a pet peeve of mine but it still flabbergasts me how many riders will drop $1000 or more on a fork that has a little more “advanced” valving or has shed a half pound. Or spend hundred more to upgrade to XTR or XO or any other high priced, high performance part. This stuff can only be truly appreciated at the highest levels and, in my opinion, is more about looking the part than really enjoying the ride.

Steve Peat won the World Championships by just fractions of a second – for him having the lightest equipment, best suspension and everything else that went into his run obviously counted. He goes so far as to remove the grease from the bearings in his chain guide and replace it with oil, which has to be re-oiled every time he rides! Steve Peat, by the way, IS that advanced and needs to worry about stuff like that.

But Steve has also spent countless hours on lesser bikes honing his skills, trains hard and focuses on all the other details that help him appreciate those small increases in performance the top level stuff delivers. The guy who is looking to finish top 5 in CAT 2 in his local series needs to spend more time and money on strength and conditioning, skills training and nutrition than he does worrying about the next bike or part to invest in. Sorry, but that guy is just not that advanced.

Here is the good news, though. If you face reality and focus on the basics you CAN become advanced. It will just take much longer, or probably not happen at all, if you try to skip over the basics and start to consider yourself advanced even though you’ve only been riding for a few years, you have 22% bodyfat and you still think that beer and pizza is a great post-ride meal.

Not that there is anything wrong with being that guy, just don’t write me asking for an advanced cardio routine and ask about the latest “must have” supplements and/ or parts because my answer will be pretty simple – you’re just not that advanced, bro! Hope you guys can appreciate the humor in this post as it is not meant to offend anyone, simply to serve as a wakeup call to reality. I personally don’t consider myself to be that advanced, which is why I still concentrate on the basics. We’re all in this together with one mission – have more fun on the trail!

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  1. Don says:

    This is the best advice about mountain biking I’ve read in years! Thanks for keeping it real, James.

    Reply • June 25 at 7:57 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks Don, appreciate it…

      Reply • June 26 at 12:50 pm
  2. Phil says:

    Well hey, I did finish top 5 in CAT 2 at my local series a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty stoked. Thanks very much for helping me get that far. I could really tell that your workouts and guidance for the last year and a half really helped me stay strong through multiple practice runs and then still feel strong the next day for competition. For a reality check all you need to do is go back up the trail after your run and watch the CAT 1 and Pro guys make their runs.

    Reply • June 25 at 8:40 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Congrats on finishing Top 5, I know that you have been working hard for that. And you are a perfect example of mindset I wish more riders had and why I wrote the article – I never hear you ask me about fancy bike parts or advanced nutrition strategies, you just work hard on the basics.

      Glad I was able to play a part in helping you achieve one of your riding goals, look forward to working with you to achieve many more.

      Reply • June 26 at 12:49 pm
  3. Torren says:

    For an advanced rider I think its hard to go past Nino Schurter as the ultimate example of what a mountain biker should be; incredibly skilled, supremely fit has great results in both downhill races like megavalanche(winning a round in front of riders such as cedric gracia) and dominating XC world cups. What do you think James? I agree completely with the main message of this post, i’m sick to death of seeing people(usually 15 year olds) on huge travel dh bike riding trails that you could ride on a hardtail with 4 inches of travel and just plowing through technical sections relying on 2.5 inch tires and 8 inches of travel to replace skill and just walking up every hill on the trail. Put simply “all the gear and no idea”.

    Reply • June 26 at 12:46 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Nino is a great example of what a mountain biker should be and you have to respect his ability to apply himself to whatever the trail puts in front of him.

      Around here I call it the “$5000 bike and $5 skills syndrome”…they try to replace skill and courage with money and technology.

      Reply • June 26 at 12:52 pm
  4. Justin says:

    Great article. Thanks.

    Reply • June 27 at 10:07 am
  5. Dimas Pino says:

    Exellent post, specially coming from somebody how makes money out the MTB industry. Thanks for being honest. Gear does not compensate for effort.

    Reply • June 27 at 4:49 pm
  6. Mike says:

    I don’t know how old you are James. You look like a young guy, but you are wise beyond your years. The older I get, the more I realize that many things in life are all about the basics ~ which is why I’m digging your website. I’ve been riding for years without realizing that there are fundementals to riding a bike well. Thanks for bringing them to light. I wish I could have learned this stuff 25 years ago.

    Reply • August 29 at 8:10 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Like they say – better late than never. Glad you’ve found the info helpful.

      Reply • August 29 at 5:28 pm
  7. Ben says:

    Thanks for making me feel like dog shit. I thought I was doing ok! I love the website though. Great tools to build on…

    Reply • March 25 at 10:16 pm
  8. TO says:

    I read this post quite a while ago and it has helped me SO MUCH – thank you!

    I use it with nutrition, yoga, mobility (the Functional Movement Screen helps break the news that you’re no pro yet, too!), pedaling, and especially pumping – I have been telling myself I’m not that advanced with pumping for about a year and boy am I reaching new levels of that.

    This “you’re just not that advanced” mantra has helped me progress much much faster – and further up the cycling ranks – than I would have achieved without reading this article.

    It’s easy to let a few ‘aha moments’ get to you’re head – even as a beginner – and when you start thinking you’re good, you won’t even notice the gigantic leaps you could otherwise be working toward.

    Additionally, the whole “Don’t add fitness on top of dysfunction” thing keeps me super focused on the basics, and on maintenance stuff such as mobility and recovery work – I’m glad you pointed this out to me, too!

    Again – thanks!

    Reply • July 26 at 10:23 pm

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