Elevate Your Mountain Biking Performance with These 5 Essential Exercises
There’s no doubt that mountain biking has exploded in popularity in recent years. Living in Arizona, there is no shortage of trail variation and difficulty resulting in a wide range of skill levels who participate in the sport. Whether you are a weekend warrior or serious racer, it is important to support your body to reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance. Here are 5 exercises to get the wheels rolling on making your body stronger and better for your mountain biking adventures.
You can also watch these exercises in action here!
Isometric squats on an unstable surface
The quadriceps and glutes are some of the major muscle groups that are active when pedaling your bike. Traditional squats are a great exercise to strengthen these muscles, however, adding an element of instability aides in reproducing the varying terrain you will encounter when hitting the trails. Holding a static squat on a bosu ball is an excellent way to train your quads, glutes, and core to prepare you for those long rocky descents. Try completing 15-30 sec holds for 5 repetitions. Increase time as your get better.
Mountain Climbers on an unstable surface
You’ll never be using one muscle group at a time when riding a mountain bike. Integrating unstable surfaces into your normal exercises is an excellent way to simulate muscle firing when on the bike. Strengthening the legs is the obvious thing to do, but we can’t forget about the arms and shoulders. Your arms and shoulders work to absorb force when tackling bumpy and rocky single track. Performing a mountain climber while having your arms on a bosu ball works to activate core, hip flexors, and your rotator cuff for shoulder stabilization. Try to complete 4 sets of 10 repetitions of each leg with your mountain climbers.
Hamstring Ball Roll Ins
Yep you guessed it, another exercise with an element of instability. The hamstrings are another major muscle group that is used when pedaling your bike. Performing hamstring curls while maintaining a bridge position on a physioball will get those hamstrings burning while also engaging your glutes and posterior core. 2-3 sets of 10 is a great starting point for this exercise.
Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Strengthening and stabilization exercises get at all the glitz and glamor, but we can’t forget about maintaining proper hip and knee mobility. Nothing fancy but a good old fashion hip flexor stretch. Perform by putting one knee down, reach up and over has you push your hips forward until you feel a good stretch in the front of the hip of the side with your knee down. Hold for 15-30sec for 3-4 rounds.
Gastrocnemius and Soleus Stretch
To cap the list off is two more stretches that target the calf muscles. The gastrocnemius and soleus are muscles that work hard to propel you up the mountain. Here is a good way to keep those calves happy and mobile. No equipment needed, all you need is a wall for balance. Place was foot back and one foot forward. While keeping you back heel on the ground and back leg straight, drive your front knee over your toes until you feel a stretch in the calf. This is targeting your gastrocnemius.
In order to target your soleus, you complete the same steps as above except you bend your back knee while keeping the heel on the ground. You should feel this a bit lower in your calf than the first stretch. Hold for 15-30 sec and complete 3-4 rounds.
Depending on your skill level, miles you ride, and terrain you ride on, the exercises needed to support your riding will vary. Everyone talks about being safe while on the bike, but don’t neglect your body and its needs off the bike. Having strong, stable, and mobile muscles and joints will reduce your risk of injury and help improve your safety and performance while hitting the trails. Give these exercises a try and happy riding!
If you need an extra boost to get take mountain biking to the next level, consider Arizona Orthopedic Physical Therapy. We have 5 physical therapy clinics in Arizona ready to help you!