PCS Coaching

Should mountain bike athletes hit the gym to become faster or does it give the opposite effect?

What does the science say about how lifting will affect your performance?

It looks like strength training for mountain bikers has some serious benefits when it comes to speed, power, force, injury prevention and longevity of the sport. We have looked at the research and these studies have shown that strength training doesn’t have an effect on V02 Max but it does positively impact lactate threshold, exercise economy, anaerobic capacity, reduced and delayed fatigue, increased max strength, increased force, increase max speed and improved endurance performance. That’s a lot of benefits!

Mountain biking is a very varied sport with lots of upper body strength required. Having weak pulling power not only negatively affects your skills in maneuvering the bike around and over obstacles, but it reduces your strength and power when sprinting.

When you start strength training your muscles learn how to work together more efficiently, which leads to an increase in power and force. In the beginning your body will feel like you have just been run over by a bus, but this does go away as your continue your program. It is highly recommended that you start out with a period of light gym work to give your muscles time to adapt. You have probably noticed on social media if you follow some of the top mountain bike athletes, that they are posting video’s and photo’s of themselves during their strength workouts. And with good reason! In one study that we looked at, strength training increased time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power by almost 20%, as well as improving cycling economy by 5%. And these results were from doing absolutely no cycling at all. Only strength work for 8 weeks.

Strength training not only helps slow bone loss, but it help build bone too. It puts stress on the bones and that impact shock causes the cells in the bone to harden and create more bone. This is great for ageing athletes as your bone density decreases as you age. It also helps with injury prevention in the event of a crash and avoiding broken bones!

Women especially benefit from strength training As women we start out with less muscle mass than men and lose more with age because women’s hormones aren’t conducive to making muscle. Estrogen specifically can stall anabolic growth and progesterone turns up catabolism (breakdown of muscles).

Strength training is all about activating the muscles, so heavy weight with low reps is the way to go. It takes roughly 8 weeks to get the benefits and can be done leading up to race season and maintained with one or two sessions a week. Incorporating strength work into cycling training can be a balancing act, but done correctly, it can lead to significant rewards on the bike.

PCS Coaching athlete’s have strength training incorporated into their programs. It is tailored to the individual athlete and scheduled separately to their endurance and interval workouts. Athletes also have different levels of core workouts incorporated as they progress through their training. The online directory that our athlete’s have access to has some easy to follow video’s and instructions to give them an easy and concise learning experience. If you are struggling to see real improvement in your cycling and want to start getting results- book a breakthrough session with PCS Coaching and we can work on a program that is tailored specifically for you and your goals. Find the link here : Book A Breakthrough Session – PCS Coaching

Donna 1
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach

Donna Dall

My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!

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