6 cool fitness items to improve your MTB game
Words: Anna Beck
Photos: Mike Blewitt
We all know that riding bikes will make us better at riding bikes. But sometimes the weather may be a little grim, the whole of Australia is locked down or we find ourselves in the midst of some unprecedented bushfire conditions. Whatever the reason, training OFF the bike can have great transfer into on the bike form.
The world's best XCO, Enduro and DH riders all hit the gym regularly, and there are a few useful adjuncts that you can find in any gym, fitness shop, or purchase online, that can really push your performance to the next level without even touching the bike. I have asked Cameron Schembri, Director and Physiotherapist at AllSports Jindalee and elite cyclist, to weigh in on the most effective way to incorporate these into your weekly training.
Strength and Conditioning
PRAEP RIDE PRO
The Praep Ride Pro is a product from Germany, produced for mountain bike and moto riders to get a whole body workout that uniquely targets the demands of these sports. The Praep Ride Pro features a standard mountain bike bar fitted with a unique teardrop shaped unit in which the bar is held, with multiple settings for difficulty. The device has a magnetic surface and a corresponding button for your phone, and with this you can use the app to do some specific off the bike training.
-This can be used as a workout adjunct that specifically mimics the demand of hard descending
-Can be used for an upper body and core workout, or with resistance bands for more load during squats and deadlifts.
-Cool app introduces a range of exercises as well as ‘challenge’ mode and a gamification experience
-the Prep is perfect for increasing upper body strength and stability and can be paired up with resistance bands (PRAEP offers a package with bands included) in order to work lower body as well
The Bosu ball is a regular at the gym, and can be used creatively for the discerning mountain biker in order to add elements of balance and core strength to a standard strength program. Cam states that the bosu is beneficial as it “works balance and stability in both the upright and inverted positions, while being safer for jumping on and off than a standard wobble board”.
-Works balance in both the upright and upside down position
-Safer for jumping on/pff than a standard wobble board but still adds level of balance and stability
-Widely available in all gyms
DUMBELL GOBLET SQUAT WITH A BOSU
The dumbbell goblet squat is a great option for younger athletes and for building good form, as the addition of weight mandates the athlete sit back into the squat and hold their shoulders square rather than collapsing forward. In addition to this the squat is a compound lift that specifically strains the lower limbs in a position quite specific to cycling.
Start by having the bosu round side up with feet balanced hip width apart. In your hands you need a weight/dumbell/kettlebell/4L milk/family dog/small child and you hold this at your chest with your elbows firmly at your side. From here sink into a squat and back up, repeat 10-12x, rest then do a few more sets. For those with knee problems, down’t fill the need to go below parallel if this is specifically cycling adjacent: we don’t flex that deep on the bike so half squats are fine.
The fitball is a great adjunct to strength training and can be used for a range of core exercises as well as basic squats and rehabilitation.
-Readily available and a cheap option for off the bike training.
-Large range of application, from beginners’ wall squats (with the ball behind you) to train good technique through to highly challenging stability workouts.
-Cam states that the fit ball can be used to do single leg and pistol squats, when you have graduated from basic wall squats. It can also be used to work the posterior chain with reverse leg curls, see below.
REVERSE LEG CURL
This exercise is great working in conjunction with the earlier squats as it emphasises your posterior chain: and we all know that glutes and hamstrings are key contributors in the pedalling movement.
Lie on the floor on your back with legs extended and the ball under your ankle, think upside down plank. From here, roll the ball in towards your buttocks as the bottoms of your feet roll flat onto the ball. Keep your back straight and engage glutes and abdominal muscles. Roll back out: this is one rep.
Recovery and Body Maintenance Adjuncts:
Cam states that the foam roller “is great to keep muscles supple and reduce tension, but the key is to not bruise yourself up. Apply some force but be gradual”. In addition to lower limb foam rolling, a great option is increase thoracic spine mobility by rolling across your back, important for us hunchbacked cyclists but anyone who sits at a desk or drives for long period of time.
The spikey ball is your best friend and worst enemy: it’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, as they say, but embracing the discomfort of trigger pointing can do wonders for keeping your body injury free and ready to go.
Trigger point your glutes, TFL and any trapezius areas that get sore ONCE a week, follow this with any muscle recruitment exercises, then any strength training you do.
Resistance bands are great for stability and rehabilitation exercises and can be used in conjunction with other tools (ie: fit ball) to increase the resistance of bodyweight exercises such as wall squats. Cam states ‘looped bands are great to add resistance around your knees for glutei exercises like supine glut medius bridges (see image) and longer bands can be used for exercises like rows, adding resistance to squats and rotator cuff exercises’
With all the fancy tech and workout equipment out there it can be easy to forget the basics. Sleep is key to performance as it’s the time when your body repairs and adapts to the training to make you harder, better, faster, stronger (tm Daft Punk). In the wise words of Cam “it’s better to be 100% recovered and 80% fit than 100% fit and not recovered at all”.