Strength training can be done easily at home - here's a few examples.
Words: Anna Beck Photos: Nick Waygood
Strength training can have a big impact on your life and bike health and fitness, and strength and conditioning workouts can be completed in as much time as you spend each day staring in the great abyss of the pantry or fridge expecting something exciting to turn up.
The awesome thing about the this session is that it’s easy to do and requires no special equipment. The demands of mountain biking are whole-body, and as such compared to road cyclists we require much more upper body strength and control, and there are far greater demands for stability and dynamic movements through the core and legs.
1. The Squat
What is it? The squat is a full body exercise that works not only the quads and glutes, but also works your posterior chain and core stability. A squat mimics the hinge movement of the hips used to ride through technical terrain, and provides a stable base for absorbing forces of the trail through the feet.
How to do it
- Stand tall, feet around shoulder width apart
- Maintain a neutral (straight) spine
- Hinge at the hips, sending them back slightly as you descend into the squat, while keeping your chest and shoulders upright
- Go as deep as your mobility allows: stop and reduce depth if experiencing any lapse in form or discomfort
- Drive upwards back to start position, pushing through heels
- Start with 3 sets of 10, and move towards 4-5 sets of 20 with progressions.
Make your exercise more complex by trying a squat on an upturned Bosu ball, adding weights from things you have around the house (a small child works well!) or progressing to the next exercise: the single leg squat.
2. Single Leg squat
What is it? A variation on the traditional squat, the single leg squat works with all the advantages of the traditional squat, but works on single leg stability, balance and assists with leg imbalances.
How to do it
- Stand on one foot with the other leg bent at the knee, sitting on a chair or block to begin with
- Drive up with the squatting leg, ensuring core is tight and hips stay level
- Return to hover above chair and repeat
- Start with 3 sets of 5 on each side, working up to sets of 15 with full depth–minus the chair–and variations
The single leg squat is significantly harder than the traditional squat: try at first with a chair behind to get the correct form at a higher depth before progressing down as low as possible. Progress to putting the non-squatting leg out straight in front of you (pistol squat), then to make things even more challenging, hold a weight out in front of you to counterweight your bodyweight, this works to stabilise and engage your core and upper body even more.
3. Glute Bridge
What is it? The glue bridge is a great complement to the squat in a bodyweight workout situation, really working the glutes, hamstrings and core.
How to do it
-Lie face up on the floor with knees bent and feet placed roughly hip-width apart
-Engage your core and raise your glutes skyward, keeping a straight line from knees to shoulders and squeezing your glutes
-Slowly lower back to the ground, this is one rep.
-Start with 3 sets of 15 and work up to 5 sets, using variations to progress.
You can increase difficulty of the glue bridge by using a band around the girth of the quads and pressing knees outwards.
The next step is to advance to the single leg glute bridge, ensuring core is super tight and there is no lateral rock of the hips. To make it even harder, slow it down!