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Thread: Fitness Base

  1. #1
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    Fitness Base

    For everyone who was once a beginner, are there any tips you can offer on building a solid fitness base for mountain biking?

    So far I've got an old HT I threw some road-ish tires on, and have been doing 2-3 pavement days a week for 1-2 hours. I've mostly just focused on keeping my perceived exertion high, and my heart rate around 80% of max or higher.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickOutside View Post
    For everyone who was once a beginner, are there any tips you can offer on building a solid fitness base for mountain biking?

    So far I've got an old HT I threw some road-ish tires on, and have been doing 2-3 pavement days a week for 1-2 hours. I've mostly just focused on keeping my perceived exertion high, and my heart rate around 80% of max or higher.
    I've found I get the best results by mixing up the type of rides I do. While the bulk of my rides are trail rides, I mix in road rides, hill repeats, etc. Some rides are for fun and some rides are specifically to kick my ass.
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  3. #3
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    Nothing builds seated pedaling fitness as well as simply cycling. Even the most fit people, who might be American Ninja contenders and "badass crossfitters" (who don't cycle) would struggle to last more than 45 minutes on a mountain bike ride, likely entering their pain cave starting at 30 minutes and asking how hard the ride will be and making vocal sounds of complaint.

    Running would help your out-of-the-saddle pedaling to a fair degree. A steep STA bike might mitigate some need to need to train up seated pedaling endurance, as it would utilize similar muscles you use for standing and running. Time on a steep STA bike might not carry over to fitness on a road bike though, due to the slacker STA (and vice versa, a road bike not transferring totally to a steep STA mtb). Otherwise, you would want flexibility training and deadlifts to help with hip hinging (e.g. absorbing bumps and pumping in a speed tuck position).

    I recall a "bicycle kick" exercise being one where you were in a crunch position, but had your legs in the air and doing cycling with your feet, while trying to get an oblique ab exercise at the same time. Imagine doing that for 30 minutes. I can likely do it with my eyes closed for as long as I wished, if I weren't doing an ab workout, but those who didn't have cycling fitness base would struggle I bet.

    Just remember, that you get more efficient at what you repeat. You training in that method is more likely to just get you more efficient at doing that routine. It won't necessarily carry over to the trail. The trail might have a few punchy sprints that will get you winded, and due to lack of training with that, you will recover slower from it, making your performance suffer on the trail for the next 5-20 minutes after that punchy sprint, whereas someone used to doing those sprints would recover within 5 minutes. Maybe they would recover near instantly, thinking it's nothing, if they're fit enough from doing those sprints enough times...
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  4. #4
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    The way to get in shape for mountain biking is to mountain bike at least 3 times a week ,for at least 1 1/2 hours each time . you should vary the intenseity.

  5. #5
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    When I started, the improvements came with time in the saddle, time doing high intensity intervals (on singletrack when I can, on pavement if I have to) and sticking with it. Core strength helps too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    The way to get in shape for mountain biking is to mountain bike at least 3 times a week ,for at least 1 1/2 hours each time . you should vary the intenseity.

    Agree that consistency is key but I don't think 1.5 hours minimum rides are a necessary requirement, even 30-45 minute rides are beneficial and for sure better than not getting out at all.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Agree that consistency is key but I don't think 1.5 hours minimum rides are a necessary requirement, even 30-45 minute rides are beneficial and for sure better than not getting out at all.
    True. I normally ride over 12 hours a week, or get the equivalent by Backcountry skiing.

    Since the mid March lockdown, no biking or skiing allowed (enforced with helicopters),
    I've been hiking one houra a day, 6 times a week, low intensity.

    Went riding a couple of days, and i still felt pretty strong.

    Lifting heavy during this time probably helped.

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  8. #8
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    Realize there are two components, your aerobic fitness and your leg fitness.

    Aerobic fitness is the ability to perform long sustained activity. This is where running helps as does road biking. On a road bike, you should be pedaling continuously as much as possible, just like when you run there is no coasting. This is why road racers used to train on fixed gear bikes during the off season. You train yourself to recover while still in motion.

    Leg fitness gets into more anaerobic fitness. How long do your leg muscles perform before they tire out. This is where runners who don't cycle are challenged if they ride a bike, running is very efficient in the use of the leg muscles, with the legs acting somewhat as springs. Cycling actually requires a lot more use of the leg muscles and if you have more than gentle rolling terrain, mountain biking tends to require a lot of leg fitness. This is where hill repeats will help you build fitness. Or get a single speed! I'm not into gym exercise so I can't advise on that aspect.
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  9. #9
    EAT MORE GRIME
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    it is hard to build leg muscles on the bike rapidly. you gotta pound hard and unless you like steep hill repeats...takes a long time. squats with a dumbbell in each hand and also wall holding squats will put your legs together fast at home.

    it is easy to build aerobic fitness on a bike...just ride and don't worry about how hard you go, just ride long slow distance ...you'll know when you want to do intervals or step it up.

    if you just want to do it all pure riding that is fine too but you need to spend a lot of ride time to do both strength and aerobic...hence my suggestion for squats to fill out the leg meat and pain threshold

    leg press machines don't do as much for me as squats do....I use a 40lb dumbbell in each hand and rip 20 squats twice a day two or three times a week, it really noticeable two weeks later or so on the next climb I end up doing on the bike when I start squat routines and stay with them....and it isn't really about leg size it's more about pain threshold and sustaining it.

    hills feel like a breeze compared to wall hold squats which is m-u-r-d-e-r on the pain scale when done right
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    it is hard to build leg muscles on the bike rapidly. you gotta pound hard and unless you like steep hill repeats...takes a long time. squats with a dumbbell in each hand and also wall holding squats will put your legs together fast at home.
    Hill repeats actually sound more appealing than 1-2 hour road rides I've been doing. I'll keep up the road riding as I could use the aerobic fitness in general, but adding in a squat routine + hill repeats should be fine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazpat View Post
    I'm not into gym exercise so I can't advise on that aspect.
    It's difficult for me to be motivated to go to a (non-climbing) gym for more than a month or two at a time. Hill repeats sound like they'll get added in.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    it is hard to build leg muscles on the bike rapidly. you gotta pound hard and unless you like steep hill repeats...takes a long time. squats with a dumbbell in each hand and also wall holding squats will put your legs together fast at home.

    it is easy to build aerobic fitness on a bike...just ride and don't worry about how hard you go, just ride long slow distance ...you'll know when you want to do intervals or step it up.

    if you just want to do it all pure riding that is fine too but you need to spend a lot of ride time to do both strength and aerobic...hence my suggestion for squats to fill out the leg meat and pain threshold

    leg press machines don't do as much for me as squats do....I use a 40lb dumbbell in each hand and rip 20 squats twice a day two or three times a week, it really noticeable two weeks later or so on the next climb I end up doing on the bike when I start squat routines and stay with them....and it isn't really about leg size it's more about pain threshold and sustaining it.

    hills feel like a breeze compared to wall hold squats which is m-u-r-d-e-r on the pain scale when done right
    Leg presses will work if you go 600 lbs

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  13. #13
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    Ride, have fun, ride some more. Before you know it fitness will sneak up on you.

    I also endorse 3 times per week for 1-2 hours a time. That we get good general fitness.

  14. #14
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    I remember several years ago, I could only do 2-3 miles max. I was smoked! After working on it over the years, my mileage has improved quite a bit. Definitely more seat time will increase your ability to pedal!
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I remember several years ago, I could only do 2-3 miles max. I was smoked! After working on it over the years, my mileage has improved quite a bit. Definitely more seat time will increase your ability to pedal!
    Yup seat time, 2-3 miles on road im not even warmed up. Only thing that sucks Is to feel like ive gotten a work out i need to ride 2 hours and close to 30 miles.
    If your disciplined start using intervals. Pound close to 90% effort for determined time, then ease off and rest for determined time Where you are not quite completely recovered, repeat. Builds up fitness faster than just constant moderate effort, but can be punishing and not fun depending on the person.

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