Warm weather brings out the adventurous spirit in us all. We start dusting off the kayaks, the climbing gear, our camping equipment, fishing gear and more. The opportunity to get outside and the drive to enjoy fresh air is just too much too avoid.
One of the greatest draws that offers some intense thrills with top-level challenge is mountain biking. Summer mountain biking trails open up areas within the wilderness that many of us wouldn't travel through because of the sheer length of the trails and the terrain that needs to be crossed. Downhill areas we wouldn't normally traverse on foot are taken at maddening speed through mountain biking because, while we know better, we still won't walk away from that thrill.
Today's mountain biking world isn't just humming along on a dirt trail or back road. Man-handling a 35-pound mountain bike through technical trails requires some serious physical strength and agility that's built from precision training. Here are 5 great workout tips to help you get there before your next trip up the trail.
1 / The Bulgarian Split Squat
One Leg Barbell Squat
This exercise should be a major part of your mountain biking workout because it works as a fantastic hip-flexor stretch and is the perfect uni-lateral leg exercise to keep your pistons (legs) in shape for that big ride.
This isn't a difficult exercise but does require precise movements for balance. Just like other workouts that deal with strength training, the important thing with this exercise is that the movements have to be done correctly to gain the most benefit.
This exercise will generate a lot of power in your legs and provide endurance on long trail rides that would normally cause most riders to tire to the point of exhaustion quickly. To start off, you can use your body weight, but as you get the balance of the exercise you can add weight with a barbell on your shoulders or holding a dumbbell. Doing this will help improve strength and give you more of a challenge.
2 / Pull Up/Chin Up
An issue that many riders face, especially trail cubs, is a sharp weakness in upper body strength versus the rest of the body. Many riders focus on the legs to maintain endurance and strength while pedaling across harsh trail heads.
A weakness in the upper body can take its toll while mountain biking when the trails get particular rough and the technical ride gets longer. If you want to be able to control your bike on a dime, where split-second accuracy and movements count and exhaustion means failure, then these exercises are key.
Variations between chin-ups and pull-ups will improve the upper body strength needed to mount obstacles and heft that mountain bike around with you on it when maneuvering down a trail.
3 / Standing Military Press
Standing Military Press
As previously mentioned, upper body strength is extremely important when managing a long mountain biking excursion. Anyone who takes mountain biking seriously would do well to invest in the time it takes to build upper body strength.
The standing military press is one of the best exercises for building that upper body strength. Many avoid this exercise because of the fear for back injury, and others simply because the standard chest press is easier (and can impress others through hefting more weight).
The fact behind this exercise is that it builds massive strength within the shoulder muscles as they endure the weight, as well as stimulates all the stabilizer muscle in the lower back and core. This strength training deep within the shoulders helps eliminate strain and injury in the shoulders and torso on long, jarring rides. Think of your arms as shock absorbers with the muscles being the coils around those shocks - it makes sense to reinforce every area of the shocks for your rides.
4 / Multi Planar Hip Stretch
Standing Hip Flexors
The first mountain biking exercise tip mentioned hip flexor training. While that exercise does help in that regard, it's important to do what you can to keep your hips loose. This is a priority for any mountain biking lover.
You simply can't perform with stiff joints or joints that don't provide the full flex and rotation needed when navigating technical troughs along with rough terrain.
Proper exercise of the hips through the Multi Planar Stretch will help decrease lower back pain when riding hard and will increase your hip drive to help with technical skills. Try to stretch after each bike ride.
5 / Hydration
This might sound like common sense to those of you who ride with a camel pouch or hydration pack but how often do you fully hydrate during your mountain biking workouts? Let's rephrase that - How often do you hydrate with water during your mountain biking workouts?
Gatorade and other flavored drinks meant to contribute electrolytes are great for keeping those nutrient levels intact but they don't process as well as well and have to be filtered by your body. That means your body is working harder to filter that stuff while you're working hard to exercise.
Water is the best choice. Drink a lot of it during your mountain biking workouts. Without it, your joints will be stiffer, metabolism will drop because your liver shares the load with your kidneys when you're partially dehydrated, and your muscles simply won't work as effectively. Reduced liquid volume means slower circulation and poorer oxygenation. Always hydrate properly with water when working out.
These 5 tips can get any mountain biking enthusiast into the perfect shape for those summer rides as long as you stick your regimen and prep yourself for the season.