By Erica Tingey — If you live in a colder climate, we hope you’re finding ways to enjoy winter! Even if you love snow sports, now is a good time to start preparing your muscles, bones, and joints for spring mountain biking. Let’s face it – as we age, our bodies may not be quite as forgiving as they once were. You can improve your chances of an injury-free riding season by keeping it strong and active during the off-season. With all exercises, be sure to warm up, start small, and increase slowly. Below, we’ve listed five types of exercises you can work on – video examples are available on YouTube and other streaming platforms. If in doubt, check with your primary-care clinician before starting any exercise program! Even 20 minutes a day will help you get off to a better spring start!
- Cardiovascular training: Mountain biking requires good cardiovascular fitness, so incorporating cardio training into your off-season routine is essential. Remember to focus on Zone 2 cardio-somewhere between 80 and 90% of your cardiovascular exercise should be low to moderate intensity. Some great winter cardio options include walking, jogging, riding a stationary bike or elliptical, or cross-country skiing.
- Strength training: Strengthening your core, lower body, and upper body will help you on the trail. Incorporating exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, dead bugs, and rows into your routine will build strength, improve balance, and help prevent injuries.
- Plyometric training: Plyometrics involve explosive movements, such as jump squats, box jumps, and star jumps. These kinds of exercises can help improve your agility and power, which are important for navigating technical terrain. Be especially careful to start small if you’re not used to plyometric training.
- Balance and stability training: Practicing single-leg squats, yoga, and Pilates can help improve your balance and core stability. This will lead to increased control on technical sections!
- Mobility training: Mobility exercises can increase your flexibility, which is important for preventing injuries. Add some hip stretches, hamstring stretches, shoulder stretches, yoga, and foam rolling to increase your mobility, flexibility, and posture.
Taking some time to get your body ready for mountain biking will pay huge dividends when it comes to endurance, power, agility, control, stability, and motility. These exercises will not only improve your chances of an injury-free season, but they can significantly increase how much you enjoy riding.
Thank you Erica for your advice on preparing for the upcoming cycling season, and also including “off bike” training in your article.
Are you recommending completing items 2-5 in separate sessions or combining sessions?
I prefer to complete all the off bike items in your article in each session. This takes longer than 20 minutes, but I find it more effective. What do you think of this approach?