Strength 'works' for MTB
The importance of muscular strength in any form of cycling is often overlooked, and the general consensus of the MTB community is that riding regularly is enough to improve every aspect of your riding ability, unfortunately like almost every-other sport, this isn't quite the case.
Don't get me wrong, riding your bike regularly is super important and it is of course the fundamental aspect for developing your riding skills, technique and coordination; it's just that there are also many other beneficial methods of training that are often overlooked.
Basic strength work can help to develop full body muscular strength and reduce muscle imbalances caused from riding (or thinking about) your bike 24/7. A carefully executed training plan can do wonders! From increased power output and bike control to improved bone density and joint mobility.
A great benefit of taking a side step into the gym with your training during the winter (and between rides), is that it helps you to prevent the buildup of muscle imbalances that often accumulate with 'bike only training'. Common areas where imbalances lay are in the shoulders (internally rotated), hips (weak glutes, over working quads and hamstrings) and subsequently the knees and the back.
To minimise these imbalances, I often prescribe these 3 exercises to MTB and other cycling athletes. 1) Overhead squats (Lift something heavy above your head, perhaps a barbell, kettlebell, dumbbell, tyre, a bag of sand, your bike?)
2) Lunges (Lift something heavy in each hand hold them by your side, perhaps a jerry can full of water or any of the above)
3) Standing upright rows (For this, adopt a half squat position and lean back whilst holding onto something in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull against the object you have chosen. (This can be a rope, a resistance band, a bar, or anything else sturdy)
With each exercise, aim to perform as many quality repetitions as you can whilst maintaining good form and repeat for 3-5 sets.
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