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Around this time of year many folks start considering their health and fitness goals for the new year so I thought I’d share some thoughts on mountain biking for fitness. If you’ve never tried mountain biking and you’re looking for a fun way to stay in shape, perhaps this post will inspire you to take the plunge.

Let’s start with first things first: mountain biking is fun. Honestly, the word “fun” doesn’t really do justice to what it’s like to bomb down a narrow trail through the woods, adrenaline pumping and endorphins popping. Mountain biking is exciting and it’s the kind of thing that millions of folks dream about while they’re at work. Ever hear of a co-worker gushing about the great time she had at the gym on Saturday afternoon? I didn’t think so.

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Mountain biking is also a great way to get/stay in shape because it’s a great low-impact workout. Forget pounding your knees and shins running through your (boring) neighborhood. Let your plush suspension take the impact while you float up and down the hills at your local trail. And for those who think mountain biking will only give you a leg workout while your upper body gets a rest, think again. If your arms and shoulders don’t burn on a long climb then you aren’t doing it right and you should seek professional help 😉 Seriously though, it’s amazing how much climbing can help build your arms, pecs, abs, and back (not to mention your legs).

Finally, I want to address a “myth” that I hear from time to time that putting in miles on the road bike is a good way to train for mountain biking. Call me old school but I think the best way to train for mountain biking is to put more miles in on the mountain bike. I mean sure, you can put in more miles on the road and it’s quicker and less painful – but doesn’t that kinda defeat the purpose of working out? Plus you’re missing out on continuing education in the MTB skills arena and training your muscles to ride in a wholly different configuration. Throw the road bike in if you’re looking for some variation in your workouts but from my perspective it isn’t necessary or even beneficial.

For those looking to get or stay in shape in 2008, look no further than the humble mountain bike. It’s fun, low impact, and able to give you a full body workout – and best of all your bike doesn’t charge a monthly membership fee!

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# Comments

  • ckdake

    I’d say that road biking for training is a good addition 🙂 You can’t mountain bike to work in the downhill adrenaline sense, but 100+ base miles a week on a road bike (or commuter/fixe/etc) really makes a difference. Just starting to regularly commute on a bike over a year ago quickly got me from the guy everyone had to wait on to rolling with the fastest of my friends.

    The best way to stay in shape is definitely riding bikes, but variety is the spice of life! My mountain biking skills have saved me when I hit a curb at a funny angle on the road, and the every-day-riding off the mountain bike helps a lot getting to the tops of hills in the mountains.

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