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  1. #1
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    Is brute strength solution to every technique problem?

    Hey folks,

    I have been riding a lot in the past two years, and one thing has been bothering me, well not bothering but more like - poking me in the brain - for the last year.

    Whenever I come in some tricky situation during my rides (AM/XC combo) and I fail to negotiate that situation, I always ponder about it later at home or during rest times. And what comes up as an obvious solution to that tricky track segment is - more raw strength.

    Failure here does not mean broken bones or something that drastic. Just the moment when I have to step down from the bike and walk.

    All of those moments, be it up-hill, or single-track trickiness, or downhill, in my superhumble opinion could be solved by brute force. I have spent some time studying YouTube and other full-length videos on biking technique, but from my experience just a bit of technique is important (basic balance, basic cornering, basic drops negotiation), the rest can be patched away with brute raw force.

    I was even considering hitting the gym pretty hard this season paired with biking.

    In your experience, does brute force solve tricky situations better than skill/technique?
    Daemon
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  2. #2
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    HELL NO! Im 6-2 215Lbs and hit the gym 4-5 x a week! Both weights and cardio. My friend is 6-0 170Lbs and he KILLS me in every aspect of riding! His skill and technique is far better than mine! Yes some strength will help in certain cases, im not discouraging you from working out but I believe its 90% skill 10% strength when it comes to tech and downhill type riding! Look at most of the guys in the vids, they are fit im sure but most are average looking skinny dudes!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon[CRO] View Post
    In your experience, does brute force solve tricky situations better than skill/technique?
    Very rarely.

    Skill, finesse and good balance are way more important than brute force. The funny thing is when you see a really good rider even the oh-so-gnarly terrain or tricky moves look simple and fluid.

  4. #4
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    I've found that in some situations it's possible to muscle my way through rough tech, but for the most part when I'm riding well I'm riding with very little "effort". That's not to say I'm not pedaling hard, or working the bike, it just means I'm loose and relaxed and allowing the bike to move beneath me with the least amount of effort. It's in this relaxed state that I'm the fastest and get through the roughest areas of the trail the best.

    That being said, I'm still happy that I'm on the stronger end of the spectrum and have that "safety valve" to fall back on if things don't go my way through a tough rock garden

  5. #5
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    I recommend reading Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopes. Great information in there. I don't believe he even mentions anything about strength. All about the technique!

  6. #6
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    A mountain goat will get up a rock face faster than the grizzly bear chasing him..

  7. #7
    gran jefe
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    Building some strength can't hurt. But, a huge amount of it is technique.

  8. #8
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    I do think strength/ endurance helps a lot on technical climbs. Not brute force, but the ability to keep momentum and keep turning the cranks in the middle ring while climbing over obstacles is huge. Also if you are at your aerobic or strength limit it is hard to stay in good form and focus on technique. Just my 2 cents. And yes I have read the book and taken the better ride clinic. They help alot, but you still need to be in good shape.

  9. #9
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    momentum, steady rpm, shifting body weight and aggressive steering helps me through a lot of technical stuff. sometimes standing and mashing hard (is that brute force?) is the only way i can get up some rooty/rocky hills.

  10. #10
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    It's a trick question.

    In fact he's right - more power is often the correct answer. However as the power goes up so does the required level of aptitude necessary to maintain balance and control.

    This is why skill still trumps power - power is the bottom line, but skill manages its use.

  11. #11
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    Yes on technical climbs...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones2 View Post
    I do think strength/ endurance helps a lot on technical climbs. Not brute force, but the ability to keep momentum and keep turning the cranks in the middle ring while climbing over obstacles is huge. Also if you are at your aerobic or strength limit it is hard to stay in good form and focus on technique. Just my 2 cents. And yes I have read the book and taken the better ride clinic. They help alot, but you still need to be in good shape.
    I agree completely.

    On technical climbs I notice it is sometimes about keeping my speed up and having the stamina to keep mashing over the obstacles close to the top. I can get in a lower gear and spin, but sometimes that is too slow to smooth out the trail and I will stall out on a small root or get discombobulated. Sure "more skill" and "more technique" may help, but so can pushing a higher gear that keeps the front wheel planted. That being said I thing endurance and stamina (i.e., cardio!) is more important than strength, per se ("brute force"?).

  12. #12
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    plus the brute strength is tough on equipment. pedals, cranks, chains, wheels, well pretty much the entire bike. plan on replacing components, frames more often if you take this approach. be nice to your bike!

  13. #13
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    Ah, I see people are picking up what I meant. I meant that if you are a solid-skilled rider (so, NOT the King of the Tech, but a solid rider) it is more beneficial to increase strength than just technique.

    All of you must have been in a situation where you just KNOW that a bit more brute force would pull you through, but alas, you had to step down. Skill would be of little use there, only muscle.

    Example: yesterday I was riding my favorite trail and it was raining two days earlier. The track is dry, except for a few patches. But there is a patch of wet leaves + mud on the uphill section. Through that I just have to muscle it through. No skill can save me there. If my wheel slips on that climb (and it will slip) only more power will prevent me from stepping down.

    Yes, skill is important. But raw force (provided you have at least average skill) will just trump anything. In my opinion that is =)
    Daemon
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kurtisk View Post
    That being said I thing endurance and stamina (i.e., cardio!) is more important than strength, per se ("brute force"?).
    Yes, that as well. Overall body strength, stamina, endurance, muscle power.

    You can actually see this in new riders. If skill level is zero (or close to zero) it is the guys with more muscle which will be able to ride better.
    Daemon
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  15. #15
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    I find for most newer riders the issue is commitment & momentum! Many features are very easy to ride but require commitment and momentum! And then once you clean that feature, I guarantee you'll say that was easy! So no more power is needed and many times you only need to resist the urge to hit your brakes!

  16. #16
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    As a rider whose grown significantly in the last year I feel like there are two areas that I have neglected that would make me a more effective rider:

    Stronger lower back: When I'm sucking on any given day, a lot of it can be attributed to poor form. Having a weak lower back makes me hunch over too much, and keeps me poorly balanced on the bike. If I were more serious about improving my riding, I would focus on this area more.

    Srtonger triceps: Being able to muscle the front end around is huge in all technical situations. Being able to put the fork where you want it, when you want it. I would also strengthen these muscles for this reason if I were not a total lazy ass.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by half_man_half_scab View Post
    Stronger lower back: When I'm sucking on any given day, a lot of it can be attributed to poor form. Having a weak lower back makes me hunch over too much, and keeps me poorly balanced on the bike. .
    That could be chalked up to a weak abdomen as well...just a thought.

  18. #18
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    nothing like a little horsepower to help you out when you and you're bike are getting a little out of shape on a line. all you need is a to ride a little bmx and a pull-up bar (pull-up and leg raise variations) and power and skill will double!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon[CRO] View Post
    Ah, I see people are picking up what I meant. I meant that if you are a solid-skilled rider (so, NOT the King of the Tech, but a solid rider) it is more beneficial to increase strength than just technique.

    All of you must have been in a situation where you just KNOW that a bit more brute force would pull you through, but alas, you had to step down. Skill would be of little use there, only muscle.

    Example: yesterday I was riding my favorite trail and it was raining two days earlier. The track is dry, except for a few patches. But there is a patch of wet leaves + mud on the uphill section. Through that I just have to muscle it through. No skill can save me there. If my wheel slips on that climb (and it will slip) only more power will prevent me from stepping down.

    Yes, skill is important. But raw force (provided you have at least average skill) will just trump anything. In my opinion that is =)
    You still need both. You need the skills and technique to be able to utilize the power. Without the technique, the power just will get you into more trouble.
    Without enough power you may not be able to take advantage of your skills.
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  20. #20
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    Brute strength? Hell no.

    Endurance.

    Think about it: If your heart rate is pegged and you're "in the red", what is it that goes first? Oh, yes, that's right: fine motor skills. And, also, the ability to see clearly and think critically. All three of which are pretty important things in MTBing.

    Not going to go into too much detail here, but in the military we do events that put great stress on the aerobic system and then require the participants to perform tasks that utilize their fine motor skills. You'd be amazed at what happens to people who are normally great at the task in question who are not in shape, and also how the "average" guys who are in great shape simply stay "average", but are at the top of the heap when compared against their peers.

    Good riding example of this. Friends of mine are more AM/DH oriented than I am (I'm an XC racer who dabbles in SD, looking to race DH too), and being perfectly honest, I crush them going uphill. If we're riding with a large group, they're usually towards the front, and have plenty of time to recover at the top of the hill before heading back down. They can all put a little bit of time into me, 20 or so seconds, over the course of a couple kilometers. But, if we're in a small group, and we don't wait at the top for anyone else, I can hang with them no problem going downhill. Why? Because they're already in the red, whereas I'm much fresher.

  21. #21
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    Endurance + Strength is necessary on climbs, and when you pick the wrong line on climbs, Strength. You need the reserve. You need to turn the pedals when you're going to stall out. You pick the wrong gear and you're stalling on a rock, going uphill. Power through.

    There are times when I really lay into it to get over, because getting off means it's harder to get back on and walking a few hundred feet. If I'm blown up at that point, I'm walking. If I'm not, crank it and apply some technique if you can.

    Descending, it's more about technique and speed, and when all else fails, lots of travel and pray for a soft landing.

  22. #22
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    It's a solution, but not a good one.

  23. #23
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    IMO NO.... when you're referring to technique I'm assuming you're talking about things like crossing over a log, a technical rocky uphill climb, and technical downhill. Aside from obstacles which is 100% technique in my opinion, the rest really boils down to endurance. Uphill it's obvious endurance is key, but I've also ridden some downhill where I was huffing and puffing because I was I A) Didn't have the endurance B) I was trying to muscle the bike around instead of being relaxed and let the bike work under me. So for me, brute strength does absolutely nothing in mountain biking. Lets just say you're climbing a really steep hill, brute strength will just cause the rear to spin.

    The funny thing is, the one sport that requires the most "brute strength" (olympic and power lifting) also has a lot of technique involved. So no matter what type of activity you're doing, strength is only 2nd (or 3rd) to technique.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon[CRO] View Post
    I have spent some time studying YouTube and other full-length videos on biking technique, but from my experience just a bit of technique is important (basic balance, basic cornering, basic drops negotiation), the rest can be patched away with brute raw force.

    I think good solid core strength is key to good riding, but the idea of brute strength almost implies bad form in that you are locking up and trying to power through something rather than let the bike do the work and you just just provide it input.

    I have a friend who races dh nationally and he says a lot of people focus on speed and what scares them on the trail - ie a gap or drop - but according to him good riding and winning races is often in the less overlooked easier parts of a track or ride. Consequently besides riding flat out, he also will spend entire training days riding really slow working on trackstands, manuals, gate starts, trials skills etc.

  25. #25
    Flying in High in the Sky
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    MORE POWWAAAAA! I'll take brute strength over skills and technique anyday. Skills and techique can be learned, but with raw powaaaa I'll never have to use the lift for as long as I live

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon[CRO] View Post
    In your experience, does brute force solve tricky situations better than skill/technique?
    It is not an either/or answer....

    Any legit athlete in the world would not turn down an increase in strength if all other aspects of performance could remain the same (or better).

    You want strength, stamina, and accuracy (along with other qualities) from your muscles. Strength comes from, well, being strong. It is the ability to produce large amounts of force. We get stronger by either building muscle mass or by "learning" to use the mass we have with greater recruitment. We also sometimes just need the will to use strength even when our mind may be saying that it is futile (I'm not gonna make this climb anyway, so I might as well quit as soon as it gets steep).

    Stamina is improved by training muscle contractions over longer time-usually thought of as "aerobic", but much of what we do on mtbs is anaerobic. The key is that the muscles must be conditioned to continue putting out force over long durations AND the respiratory system must be up to the job of supplying adequate energy for those long durations as well as help certain body parts/muscles recover from short anaerobic bouts (your moment of necessary "brute strength"). Without proper conditioning, it is like having a big engine with a restrictive fuel/air delivery system (if that analogy makes sense to you).

    Accuracy is where the skills come together. Experience with a variety of different terrain helps you learn how to best use your muscles to get you through different obstacles.

    Hitting the gym is certainly not a bad idea-but don't just do lifting routines you get out of a magazine or typical "bodybuilder" routines. Heavy free-weight work is superior to machines and lighter "toning" exercises for most practical purposes. Intervals are generally superior to long, low-intensity "cardio" sessions. Short duration, high intensity training (done correctly) benefits performance at both short and longer durations.... While long duration training mainly only benefits long duration performance.

    Tabata intervals are just plain nasty, but I credit them with keeping me in the best "winter shape" of my life-my first few rides this spring have been phenomenal!

    Tabata -8 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest (lots of times I do multiple tabatas, switching body parts for each round, or circuiting a few exercises)

    Other intervals-
    10 seconds work, 30 seconds rest
    20 seconds work, 1 min rest
    1 min work, 2 min rest
    the possibilities are nearly endless

    Do intervals on your bike, running, push-ups, kettlebell swings, box jumps, whatever!

    Circuits are good too-when one bodypart is exhausted, move to another immediately-lunges to pull-ups to push-ups could be a good combo. These will work your stamina and recovery differently than intervals.

    For free weight exercises-squat, deadlift, lunges, presses, rows

    Bodyweight exercises-push-up, pull-up, dip, sit-ups, rope climbs, various gymnastic moves, etc (these help you control your body as it moves through space)

    Mix up and repeat as desired! I learned a lot of this by following crossfit for a bit and stealing what seemed to work best for mountain biking.

    Sorry, long post. If you want some specific workouts that I love, let me know and I'll post 'em up.
    You better just go ahead and drop that seatpost down to the reflector... the trail gets pretty rough down there.

  27. #27
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    it cant hurt but it certainly wont be a make it break it kind of deal. id even argue that if you are close to your peaking putting on a lot of muscle could hurt your quickness and fine movements.

  28. #28
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    When I hit some tough New England trail sections with real steep bumps with large rocks, loose leaves and tight turns between trees, where momentum is very hard to maintain, then a massive surge of power is often the only ticket out of jail for me...

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Six Pack View Post
    It is not an either/or answer....

    Any legit athlete in the world would not turn down an increase in strength if all other aspects of performance could remain the same (or better).

    You want strength, stamina, and accuracy (along with other qualities) from your muscles. Strength comes from, well, being strong. It is the ability to produce large amounts of force. We get stronger by either building muscle mass or by "learning" to use the mass we have with greater recruitment. We also sometimes just need the will to use strength even when our mind may be saying that it is futile (I'm not gonna make this climb anyway, so I might as well quit as soon as it gets steep).

    Stamina is improved by training muscle contractions over longer time-usually thought of as "aerobic", but much of what we do on mtbs is anaerobic. The key is that the muscles must be conditioned to continue putting out force over long durations AND the respiratory system must be up to the job of supplying adequate energy for those long durations as well as help certain body parts/muscles recover from short anaerobic bouts (your moment of necessary "brute strength"). Without proper conditioning, it is like having a big engine with a restrictive fuel/air delivery system (if that analogy makes sense to you).

    Accuracy is where the skills come together. Experience with a variety of different terrain helps you learn how to best use your muscles to get you through different obstacles.

    Hitting the gym is certainly not a bad idea-but don't just do lifting routines you get out of a magazine or typical "bodybuilder" routines. Heavy free-weight work is superior to machines and lighter "toning" exercises for most practical purposes. Intervals are generally superior to long, low-intensity "cardio" sessions. Short duration, high intensity training (done correctly) benefits performance at both short and longer durations.... While long duration training mainly only benefits long duration performance.

    Tabata intervals are just plain nasty, but I credit them with keeping me in the best "winter shape" of my life-my first few rides this spring have been phenomenal!

    Tabata -8 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest (lots of times I do multiple tabatas, switching body parts for each round, or circuiting a few exercises)

    Other intervals-
    10 seconds work, 30 seconds rest
    20 seconds work, 1 min rest
    1 min work, 2 min rest
    the possibilities are nearly endless

    Do intervals on your bike, running, push-ups, kettlebell swings, box jumps, whatever!

    Circuits are good too-when one bodypart is exhausted, move to another immediately-lunges to pull-ups to push-ups could be a good combo. These will work your stamina and recovery differently than intervals.

    For free weight exercises-squat, deadlift, lunges, presses, rows

    Bodyweight exercises-push-up, pull-up, dip, sit-ups, rope climbs, various gymnastic moves, etc (these help you control your body as it moves through space)

    Mix up and repeat as desired! I learned a lot of this by following crossfit for a bit and stealing what seemed to work best for mountain biking.

    Sorry, long post. If you want some specific workouts that I love, let me know and I'll post 'em up.
    Great stuff man, YES post em up! I will be adding some Tabata to my routine!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul View Post
    it cant hurt but it certainly wont be a make it break it kind of deal. id even argue that if you are close to your peaking putting on a lot of muscle could hurt your quickness and fine movements.
    So true! Early in my Motocross racing days I was pretty jacked and felt it slowed me down! Besides, I was 210Lbs racing against guys that were 160! Too big will hurt ya!

  31. #31
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    Well, if i am to draw a parallel from my boxing experience, I would say technique will always triumph raw power head to head. Obviously, if your stronger with good technique you not gonna get as tired and struggle as much to blast out a climb.

    But I also find that gym muscles are good for looks but not the most funtional. The best boxers are not buff. Many are thin and unimpressive looking. They have trained small, specific fast twitch muscle fibers and have not over developed non applicable muscles that suck oxygen reducing long run cardio. Old school trainers swear to stay away from weights and only to do self body weighted exercises.

    Here an example: one guy benches 300 lbs but cant do more than 10 pull ups. Another guy cant bench 150, but when it comes to pull ups, does 3 set of 20. The most natural athletes are very good at self bodyweighted exercises. push ups, pull ups, sit ups, all of which take a strong core and endurance.

    I gurarentee, if you can increase the amount of pull ups you do, combined with improving 100 yard sprint speeds, either on your bike or actual running, you will increase the type of raw power it takes to yank your bike up and through some tricky technical sections, and power up climbs. Exercises that make your more explosive; while increasing lactic acid threshold to increase stamina.

    The downhill on the other hand is gonna be 95% techinique while the pull up will help with forearm pump resistance. just my 2 cents. i could be wrong.
    Last edited by akiracornell; 04-11-2012 at 10:20 PM.

  32. #32
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    Power is good, technique is good, understanding the fundamental physics of your bike and how it reacts to your input over obstacles is what your after. Once this becomes second nature without thought is when riding takes on a whole other level of fun.

    Listen, to acheive the above try this- next time you come across a section of trail you can't ride, ride it again, and again. and again. and again, and again,and again paying attention to the suttle inputs that work or not and go from there. The next section of trail you can't ride same thing, and so on. I promise you within a couple weeks you will be cleaning sections of trail you couldn't earlier. And again....

  33. #33
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    I think there is a strength to weight ratio that helps. I think the longer your legs are the better you can produce more leverage. However, to be a strong rider it takes a lot of saddle time and good technique. A good bike that you can climb out of saddle helps a lot. Technique really comes into play more with down hill.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by big JC View Post
    Power is good, technique is good, understanding the fundamental physics of your bike and how it reacts to your input over obstacles is what your after. Once this becomes second nature without thought is when riding takes on a whole other level of fun.

    Listen, to acheive the above try this- next time you come across a section of trail you can't ride, ride it again, and again. and again. and again, and again,and again paying attention to the suttle inputs that work or not and go from there. The next section of trail you can't ride same thing, and so on. I promise you within a couple weeks you will be cleaning sections of trail you couldn't earlier. And again....
    good idea. sometimes i come to spots well into the ride and im fatigued, or a technical spot comes after a huge climb before im fully recovered or somthing. I will be already taxed and never really give my self a chance to see if i can clean some tech feature. i ride with xc guys and they just wanna keep going. im gonna start telling them: HEY hold up bro, lets try this. I dont do that often enough.

  35. #35
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    NO.

    To see the ultimate in bike negotiating skill/technique and strength, watch trials.

    Technique helps negotiate strength. Riding a section over and over again until you get it right will benefit far more than strength training for general riding purposes. Not that strength training is bad - but its not the answer to riding techy stuff. Bike control is bike control - if you've been riding a couple years, and are a semi accomplished rider, you probably have all the strength you need for whatever it is you ride.

    I believe that 90% of riders have all the strength required to negotiate almost anything they run in to. It's knowing when, where and how much strength to apply to a situation is what counts, and what builds your own personal "technique". Just hammering at a section with all you power is not a guarantee you will succeed, if you're off balance, you'll just fall harder.

    Once in a while, just plowing through a section is the answer, but in a way, that's also technique - again, knowing when where to apply force. To me, the answer is: technique/finesse, endurance, balls, and commitment (commitment plays a much larger part than you may think).
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  36. #36
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    Watch this, then tell me you still brute force will solve most of those problems.
    Amazing stunt riding...on a carbon road bike - YouTube

    I'm the opposite, I weigh in at 200lbs and my buddy weight in at 150lbs soaking wet. He can out ride me any day of the week. I wish I had his technique and finesse.

    Rarely, if ever has my ability to throw more power at it allowed me to do something he can't, the reverse is usually true, his finesse on a bike allows him to do a lot more than I on the trail.
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  37. #37
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    I've been thinking more and more about this thread since it began (this is what I do in my free time!) and I've come to the conclusion that it's not just one or the other, but a combination of both which makes up your riding "style". It's not like some guys just use strength while others use finesse, it's the sum of the parts that make up how someone rides their bike in a particular way. I know for me, it's about 70% finesse, 30% strength-that's when I'm riding well. If that combo is off, I tend not to ride to my best.
    Keep in mind, that ratio is going to be different for different people. The most important thing here is finding your ratio, sticking to it, and riding your bike the way that feels right to you.

  38. #38
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    IMO, brute force has always been the answer, because any technical section that I am not clearing is due to me slowing down and losing forward momentum. This would be ok if I could keep my bike upright, but the situation usually doesnt allow me to start pedaling once I have slowed down.

    Therefore, whenever I hammer over it, I usually clean it.

    But you obviously have to have control.

  39. #39
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    Not sure how useful "brute" strength would be for every technical problem.

    You need to be reasonably strong to apply many techniques, especially repeatedly down a trail, but good technique is really where the buck stops. In some situations strength plus momentum plus a little luck can compensate for bad/fluffed technique but its not a blanket substitute.

  40. #40
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    2 more cents here. Everyones mental and physical approach to riding is different. Some take an hour to just get warmed up, while others are already spent at one hour

    For me, once im warm, but usually earlier in my ride im usually my best. my mind, muscles and motor skills are still sharp and reactive, i can still mentally see lines and im mentally phycally adaptive. Unfortunately for me when i start to taper off everything starts to fade, the mind, motor skills, and worst of all, ambition and confidence. Theres nothing worse than being fatigued and feeling like you gonna fall off the trail cause you dont even have the wits to steer around some little rock that knocks you off balance. Riding by my self latley has allowed me to ride at my own pace. Although riding with freinds pushs the competiive juices.

    Back to the point. How often do you ride. I find when i ride my commuter mountain bike wth street tires more often my legs stay more tuned up. Also the more i try tricks on my commuter, bunnyhopping and jumping curbs, tail taping parking blocks, manualing up driveways and walk ways, wheelies, my overall bike skill just stay more dialed. Dialing into dirt is differnt but my point is, which i dont always praxtice, theres no substitute for practice and saddle time. Sorry for the rant. That my last post on this thread. Peace

  41. #41
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    To the orig question: Nope. Power is just a tool. Knowing when and how to use it and when not to, is an acquired skill. They compliment each other. IMO you can't just have one without the other and still be good at a particular sport (not just bikes). I race offroad cars semi-professionally and see people all the time buy or build a bada$$/expensive & powerfull car and fail miserably. A lot of times they fail because they lack the skills to use the tools that much power provides. Same with bikes, you could buy the baddest bike on the planet, but if you lack the skills or power for it... it's useless. IMHO
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  42. #42
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    Maybe brute core strength. For most bicycle monkeying, your arms and legs are just levers you move about with your abdominal muscles.

    I can only think of one situation where brute strength can help, if you're not great at wheelies, you can sometimes just yank the front end over obstacles with your arms and pedal through. Most of the time engaging your ability to sprint or power through something just engages your other abilities like balance.

  43. #43
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    Range of motion is one helpful aspect. When I see pros ride, I see a wide range of limb motion. I don't think plain strength is helpful without being limber. Good snap reflexes and a low viscosity liquid in ones inner ear for balance is helpful.
    lean forward

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalMX View Post
    Great stuff man, YES post em up! I will be adding some Tabata to my routine!
    OK, disclaimer: Use your own common sense and don't hurt yourself, see a physician before starting a workout program, blah, blah...

    Also, diet and rest are both critical. Cut out the sugar and cut down on the starches. Amp up the real food (stuff that doesn't come in a package with an ingredient list, generally) and eat plenty of calories, don't shy away from fat, especially healthy sources like nuts, avocados, and olive oil. As for rest, your body will recover from conditioning pretty quickly-you can even do intervals in the morning and get a ride in later. Real strength sessions, however should be followed by a day of recovery (could be a day off or just a very light day, like an easy ride). Trying to increase strength a lot while also riding multiple times a week generally leads to diminishing returns (or even over-training), so use common sense. Where weights are given, adjust as necessary. If you can't do a movement, try an easier version and try to work gradually towards the harder version (like assisted pull-ups working towards real pull-ups).

    Always warm-up, especially for shorter, more intense workouts. Try to get something decent and easy to digest after a workout.

    Pure Strength examples:

    3x5 Squat, 3x5 Bench press, 3x5 Row

    3x5 Deadlift, 3x5 Overhead Press, 3xmax reps pull-ups

    Keep the volume low (don't add lots of other stuff) and try to bump the weight up with each session until you begin to plateau, then switch things up a bit. This is good for "off-season"-for me-winter time.

    Hybrid strength/circuit

    3 Rounds of 5 Deadlift 225, 15 knees to elbows, 15 box jumps 24 in, 10 Dips

    3 Rounds of 5 Squat 185, 10 pull-ups, 15 kettlebell swings, 15 Push-ups

    10 rounds of 10 Deadlift 135, 10 push-ups

    The first two were workouts I made to concentrate on strength for DHing and bike park riding. The third is just a wonderfully brutal couplet.... complete these with good form, but as quickly as possible.

    Endurance/Conditioning

    3 rounds of 1 min Deadlift, 1 min Clean, 1 min Squat, 1 min Push Press, 1 min rest-start with just a 45lb bar and try to get as many reps as possible each minute

    Check out the crossfit wods "Filthy 50" or "Fight Gone bad"

    These will get you sucking wind hard and work on mental toughness as well.

    Interval Conditioning

    Tabata (8 rounds of 20 sec work, 10 sec rest) Burpees, rest 1 min, tabata double-unders, rest 1 min, tabata sit-ups, rest 1 min, tabata box jumps

    Check out crossfit wods "tabata this" and "tabata something else"

    Tabatas will humble you-if you really go all-out, you might not even make it through 4 minutes unless you are already a pretty good athlete. You can game it down a little to make sure you make it through all 8 rounds.

    Running Sprint Intervals 8 rounds of sprint 100m, rest 1 min-sprint like you are being chased by a lion. With only 1 min rest, this is very taxing on the cardio system and your sprints will get slower. With 2-3 min rest between you can really hammer the sprints harder for a different type of workout. Both are good.

    Find a safe road and work some intervals on your bike-use your imagination-if it sucks you are probably doing something right!

    Finally, when it comes to riding, set goals for yourself. When you run out of steam, don't stop and feel sorry for yourself unless you want to train yourself to give up-instead keep moving until you are at the top of the climb even if it means pushing-keep moving. If you don't clear a section, go back and figure out what went wrong and do it again. Ride with people faster than you. Ride with people better than you.

    Hope this can help some of you guys. Workouts like these are helping me-best shape of my life at 36 years. If you ride a lot, take it easy on the strength training-once a week only or a few times a week but only 1 exercise instead of three. Try to add weight every session-that is the key to progress-even if you start light (which you should). Also, 5 reps per set is an ideal range for training strength, but not necessarily bulking (unless you also eat a lot and really push yourself). Stay away from the 8-12 rep range so commonly recommended because that rep range is more for bulking than just strength (unless you want to do 10 reps of biceps curls, which really won't hurt anything). Keep track of your progress-it is fun to see weights get heavier/times go down/reps completed go up! You may be surprised by some of the improvements you might make.
    You better just go ahead and drop that seatpost down to the reflector... the trail gets pretty rough down there.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post
    Well, if i am to draw a parallel from my boxing experience, I would say technique will always triumph raw power head to head.
    I would submit that boxing is an example that "technique" can't (necessarily) overcome "strength". Take Sugar Ray Leonard: a boxer with phenomenal technique. "Never" is a dangerous word: let's say it would have been -very- unlikely for him to beat a top heavyweight. There are about a million caveats, but, weight classes exist because larger people are stronger than smaller people. And, it is typically "big news" when someone competes above their weight class.

    Now, you can certainly make the argument that above some "threshold" of technique, the differences in technique (even from "good" to "best ever") are not as large as differences in strength might be (so, all world-class boxers have "good enough" technique which makes weight classes necessary).

    Back to OP's question:

    Consider your current "strength", "endurance", and "technique" (which I continue to use scare quotes for because they are so abstract). And consider that you have an obstacle/problem (time to beat, rock/log to get over, death climb to make ... rock/log at top of death climb .... etc.) to overcome.

    Depending where you are at (on those attributes) and the nature of the problem, increases in each attribute (strength, endurance, technique) might do it for you. But, the real key is that you might be able to increase one more quickly than another: that really depends on your training and riding history. If you increase one more quickly, you can get through your obstacle sooner.

    Based on my (non-riding) training history and my (limited compared to many) riding experience, most MTB riders (even highly experienced) can significantly and drastically increase their strength (specifically maximal strength relative to body weight -- some of us can solve problems by dropping some winter pounds) over several months.

    Highly experienced riders won't be able to get massive technique improvements without concerted specific effort and training towards a particular problem. They will probably already have developed significant endurance adaptations.

    Beginning riders are going to be able to increase their riding technique very quickly. They may be able to increase strength and endurance as well (depending on prior training history).

    Intermediate riders are going to have to use some wisdom to figure out what they need the most. The good news is they can probably still benefit from all three. The bad news is -- like always -- they can benefit most from what they are the worst at. The stuff we are worst at is typically the stuff we avoid like the plague.

    Last thought: Strength can get you through quick stuff and it can get you out of trouble. Technique can save you the trouble.

    Best,
    Mark

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor76 View Post
    I would submit that boxing is an example that "technique" can't (necessarily) overcome "strength". Take Sugar Ray Leonard: a boxer with phenomenal technique. "Never" is a dangerous word: let's say it would have been -very- unlikely for him to beat a top heavyweight. There are about a million caveats, but, weight classes exist because larger people are stronger than smaller people. And, it is typically "big news" when someone competes above their weight class.

    Mark
    Im gonna kinda of reverse rationalize this. My boxing coach has a saying when comparing fighters, "all things being equal (speed, technique, conditioning,) the bigger man should win." there aresome mitigating factors, heart, desire, gameplan and adaptivness to adversity.

    Point is a smaller man can neutralize a bigger man, even knock him out, if his technical application is better. we do it all the time, i weight 180 and out of shape, i could be 160 easy with solid traing regimen, and I sparr heavyweights all the time that are novice, and when their techinque starts to close the gap, i can no longer spar them because strength takes over. But technique wins first.
    Last edited by akiracornell; 04-18-2012 at 09:49 PM.

  47. #47
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    It's not all about strength, it's about heart.

    The only time I walk my bike up a hill is when it is literally impossible to climb it due to terrain conditions or extreme steepness. I refuse to ever get off and walk my bike if the climb is possible but "too hard" for me. I will endure it on the bike no matter what.

    It's all about your dedication to the sport. Cycling strength DOES NOT come from the gym, it comes from riding as much as you can, and the heart you put into it.

    I am super dedicated to cycling to a point where I get angry if I have to miss a single day of training. Hell, you should see how I get whenever someone passes me on the climb. No matter how tired I am I always get a substantial boost of energy and give it everything I got to regain my place in front. Sometimes I manage to pass again, other times I fail but not by much.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by akiracornell View Post
    "all things being equal (speed, technique, conditioning,) the bigger man should win."
    True.

    we do it all the time, i weight 180 and out of shape, i could be 160 easy with solid traing regimen, and I sparr heavyweights all the time that are novice, and when their techinque starts to close the gap, i can no longer spar them because strength takes over. But technique wins first.
    And true. I know this is a murky question, but where on a 5 point technique (Novice:1, Phenomenal, Professional, Olympian:5.) scale does the heavyweight start outclassing you? Is it at 2 (once they have anything resembling technique) or is it at 3 (they are "decent"). Of course, I don't know where you are at but I'm assuming 3 (the big middle most people get to) or 4 (beyond most trainees but not rockin' with the stars). Don't you love my rating scales?

    Also out of curiosity: if you cut to 160, could you still spar novice 200s? Probably so. Would you have less room for error? Would you be able to give and take less punishment? [I'm asking these two.]

    Incidentally, the same holds in judo (my combat sport) -- not too surprising. 7 years of training put me around a "3". Lightweight 5s can school me. I can school heavyweight 1s and 2s. Perhaps I should say "I could school" ... haven't been training these past few years.

    This is getting far afield from MTB. But it sure is fun to BS about.

    Best,
    Mark

  49. #49
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    lol your funny
    at 160 its hard to say. because my example was definatly against novice 1s and low 2's i will lose some power but gain speed. if i could have gone pro in my early 20's i could been 147lb. A natural 180 would kill me. evander holyfields olympic fighting weight was 175.

    couple of factors, for curiousity sake.

    1. once he starts punching with his body and not his arm he becomes dangerous. but still readable.

    2.once he learns how to instinctively block most angles of punches and figures out when and where you have been quickly counter punching his movements, you can no longer make him pay as easily.

    3 once he has enough arsenal to return fire at different angles. not just a 1 2 combo. there is easily 8-10 standard puch angles.

    4 even with only moderate technique, once his conditioning gets up to where he uses less energy to acomplish the same or more force than I. He now has the ability to taper me off energy wise, not working as hard but using his weight. where i become not as sharp to defend myself, and lose the snap tohit him with the force any kind of force get respect, and so is the beginning of the end.

    rating sake, lets call 4 an amature with good record or a descent beginner pro. And i will save 5 for olympians and topten pros. i would say if im a "3" with 8 years in and out of the gym.(crafty enough it feels natural but only a gym rat), and when the heavyweight starts becoming a 2; hes ready for bigger skilled partners, as he can methodically brake me which is not good for my heatlh.
    Last edited by akiracornell; 04-19-2012 at 02:53 PM.

  50. #50
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    As many posters have mentioned, a mix of power and technique are needed.

    Brute force alone won't do much if you can't keep your balance or pick & hold a good line.

    Too much power to the ground without modulation will cause you to spin out.

    But you do need a certain amount of torque to get over those obstacles, provided you have the balance and line selection. If your balance is good, and you just stall out, most of the time you can just re-try the same section in a lower gear. That's why we have 27 gears on these bikes today.

    The tabata advice given above is very good. It builds strength endurance, which is what you need on a long ride.

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