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At-home strength training for mountain bikers

Don't have a home gym or equipment? Here's a body-weight program designed to get in shape for riding

Strength Training at home

Getting, or staying in shape for mountain biking doesn’t require a full gym’s worth of training equipment. In fact, you can build a solid strength training program in your living room.

Which is good, as the living room happens to be a place many of us are spending a solid chunk of our time right now.

Why is strength training important? Mountain biking isn’t all about fitness and climbing. Riding trails requires much more dynamic strength and balance than sitting in the saddle spinning your way up a paved road.

Strength training isn’t just about going fast. It will help any rider to have more fun, feel more confident, and stay safer on the bike. If you are looking to get between the tape this year, it will definitely make you faster, too.

Photo: James Cattanach / NCES

Developing muscular strength and endurance will help you hold on, and keep power on the pedals through rough sections of trail, rocks, roots and jumps. And, when things occasionally get away from you, having a well-rounded base of muscular strength to fall back on will help prevent injuries when you fall off the bike.

In this three-part introduction to strength training at home, Alex Ackerley of NexusFit in Squamish, B.C. will walk through a set of basic exercises to help you develop mountain bike-specific strength. Part 1 starts with upper body strength. Part 2 focuses on the core. Last, Part 3 will develop power in the legs. If you’re eager to get after it, NexusFit has put all these exercises together into a free three-week training program that you can follow at home.

At home upper body workouts

Your upper body is your connection to the handlebars. Push, pull, squeeze and feather the brakes. Pump through the trail to build speed, and hold on when the trail gets rough.

Quad Crawl

Bear Crawl

Try the bear crawl to improve scapular stability, maintain healthy wrists and help strengthen your neck and head position.

Dustbin Push Ups

Spider Man Push Up

These two push up variations help develop shoulder and chest strength to help you stay balanced over the handlebars and confidently control your steering.

Bent Over Row

Hanging Knee Raise

These final two exercises start to connect upper body strength and core strength. You can use household objects in place of a gym-specific sandbag. A backpack, or hydration bag work, and you can add or remove weight as you need.

Part 2: Core

Part 3: Leg Strength

If you would like direction in how to best combine these into a structured at-home training program, Ackerley has worked these exercises into a free three-week NexusFit introduction to strength training for mountain bikers program, which you can download to follow at home from NXFit.ca.

Alex Ackerley is a sports scientist and former pro rugby player whose new passion is mountain biking. After four years on the bike, he’s moved to Squamish, B.C. to get more time on the trails. He is one of the founders of NexusFit. His programs focus on “the most efficient solutions for mountain bikers. Minimum fuss, maximum effect. So they can spend more time on the bike.”