What MTB strength training questions do you have?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum What MTB strength training questions do you have?

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    • #256474

      Matt and I are working on sharing more information on strength training for mountain bikers and have access to several experts on the topic. We’ve covered some of this in the past, so I’m interested to know what questions folks still have…

      • Are there specific strength challenges you face related to MTB? What is your limiting factor for getting faster at the moment: is it leg strength, stamina, cardio capacity, technical skills, flexibility, etc.?
      • Are you interested in learning specific exercises, or looking for more general tips about integrating strength training into your rides?
      • What strength training information are you looking for that you can’t find, or don’t like?

      Thanks for taking the time to help us potentially expand or improve our coverage on this topic!


    • #256476

      Hi there Jeff!

      My only suggestion would be to keep those of us in mind that don’t care how fast we are but instead love riding so much that we want to ride for as long and with as little pain as possible. I’ve lost the ability to ride a long time and I always feel a twinge of regret when I get back to the truck. Anything that could keep me on the trail for a longer time would be most welcome.

      • #256478

        That’s a great point. I think there are more of us who just want to get stronger so riding is more fun/comfortable than to necessarily get faster or win races.

      • #256537

        Hello there,

        Like many riders, I’m here for the fun of it, not to win races. That being said I lack the ability to do that, my legs get tired easily, my arms hurt going downhill. Besides that, I feel that I should be doing compensatory exercises for the time over the bike. (Like proprioception drills, stretching and plyometrics). Thanks in advanced

    • #256490


      The big thing for me is recovery and avoiding over training.  That’s the biggest thing I struggle with.  I think many of us can find a plethora of advice on exercises and training regimens but very few of them touch on how often we should be doing them.  I hammer my lower body with weights, but how long do I wait until I’m spinning the cranks again?

      • #256864

        Workout volume and intensity, post workout nutrition, sleep, and time are the most important aspects of recovery. High volume workouts tend to increase recovery time but the amount of time will depend on current training status and they type of ride you are planning on doing. If its a race 3-4 days, if its a training ride it could be on the same day if you are willing to accept the fact that you might fatigue a little faster than normal.

    • #256505

      Hi Jeff. My suggestion/question is about strength training away from the bike that balances out my riding, not necessarily specific exercises make my stroke stronger or improved handling (although I believe overall balance will lead to overall better performance). For example, I’ve found that I’m prone to knee discomfort that could be due to knee cap tracking “off” that may be due to muscle imbalance. When I get back to some good counter exercises (squats countered with hamstring exercises), it seems to help. So my question would be, what exercises help balance/counter the miles on the bike?

      • #256853

        This is a really difficult question because the answer will depend on the individual and specific imbalances/compensations. Some global issues that can be caused by cycling are quad dominance and tight hip flexors which could lead to some low back issues. Foam rolling and stretch quads and hip flexors and strengthening glutes and hamstrings can counter a lot of those issues.

        The knee is basically a hinge and it gets told where to go by the ankle or hip so individual issues with knee tracking could come from limitations in ankle or hip mobility which are better addressed by a trained professional in person.

    • #256518

      Great topic and one I think that is underappreciated by many.  I’d be interested in knowing:

      • what strength training exercises best translate to increased power to the pedals especially for climbing (my legs will typically give out before my cardio capacity)
      • curious what you guys comes up with as the best exercises for core
      • flexibility for sure especially when you are trying to move the bike around
      • not sure if it falls within the scope you guys are think bit I’d be interested in knowing effective ways to quicken/shorten recovery when riding several longs days in a row in the saddle
      • #256852

        There are actually three separate qualities you need train. Power, Muscular Strength and Muscular Endurance. The next thing to consider is what types of exercise will produce similar muscular contractions through a similar range of motion. My thoughts for power would be split stance long jumps, split stance box jumps, kettlebell swings, and Olympic lifting variations if you have access to the equipment and proper coaching. For strength squats, lunges and stepups in the 6 to 8 rep range. In order to tackle the endurance aspect you could do the same squats, lunges and step ups but you would be in the 12-15 rep range.

    • #256524

      As a beginner, my biggest challenge is feeling my lower quads burn during a climb. Lactic acid buildup has always been an issue for me, even when lifting weights.

      • #256529

        Concerning lactic acid and pain, I watched this a little while ago and it made me question my mom’s motives with bananas.


      • #256851

        I know its splitting hairs but you really don’t produce lactic acid, you produce lactate. The decrease in muscle pH is due to lack of oxygen to shuttle the hydrogen ions into the mitochondria during intense physical efforts. The decrease in pH is associated with lactate threshold which is one of the main makers of shifting from aerobic to anaerobic energy systems. The only way to really solve the problem is fitness. Training helps you deliver oxygen to your working muscles so you are using aerobic energy systems at a higher percentage of your VO2 max.   Intervals are the best way to accomplish this so embrace high intensity flat land sprints and enjoy your hill repeats.

    • #256526

      I would be interested in “How to get the most out of my trainer” during the long winter lay over.  Most of the articles I’ve read pertain to roadies.

    • #256555


      Ditto here on Automatic120’s request re indoor trainer regimes over the winter. I try to get outside here in CO as much as possible over the winter; but must do a lot inside due to snow/ice.

    • #256714

      I have limited time to lift and ride. To avoid duplication of working muscle groups I normally don’t do any leg lifts. What are the least utilized leg muscles involved in riding, so that I can add those to my lift workout. Thanks

    • #256834

      “I think there are more of us who just want to get stronger so riding is more fun/comfortable than to necessarily get faster or win races.”  Well said Jeff, I personally want to feel stronger during the ride and recover faster.  I have been doing moderately heavy bench presses and abdominal exercises to work the torso.  Makes me feel better and I don’t seem to get as many pulled muscles or back issues.

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