Leg Press = The Devil- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Leg Press = The Devil

    Note: Yes, it's a dramatic title but it got your attention, didn't it?

    I’ve mentioned several times before in my writings about my disdain for the use of machines in MTB strength training programs. However, one machine has developed an almost cult status in the MTB world and deserves special attention in my quest to rid bodybuilding influences from our sport. The leg press has to be one of the worst exercises you can pick as a mountain biker in your quest to build a high performance, injury resistant body, yet it is one of the most popular choices for MTB workout programs.

    The first thing that you need to consider when looking at exercise selection is that every exercise falls into the “sucks-good enough-best” continuum. While the goals of a particular athlete definitely help determine where an exercise falls on that scale, with few exceptions machine exercises never fall into the “best” category for MTB riders. While better than leg extensions or leg curls (which usually fall into the “sucks” category), leg presses have several drawbacks in the development of an athlete that keep it from being a “best” exercise. As athletes with extremely limited strength training time we simply can not afford to pick an exercise that does not give us the best return on our time investment.

    The biggest problem that the leg press presents is that it applies the “muscle isolation” practice that bodybuilders frequently use. Our bodies will naturally act as a “kinetic chain” where several body parts work in unison in order to create movement. When we do a free weight exercise the body part that is the weakest link in that chain will determine how much load we can use (you are only as strong as your weakest link) and that weakest link will receive most of the strength stimulus from the exercise.

    In a quest to build bigger muscles, bodybuilders have developed several tactics that allow them to artificially strengthen the body’s natural weak link, which is usually the ability of our torso to brace hard enough to protect the spine and to create to platform needed in order to produce force. The most common tactic that they employ is the use of machines, which allow them to sit and/ or brace their back against a pad. This bracing of the back against a pad allows the torso to be artificially strengthened, creating a new weak link in the kinetic chain. In the case of the leg press, the new weak link is the leg muscles.

    Remember that bodybuilders have no need for real strength; they just need to have big muscles. Using the leg press to train the leg muscles makes sense for them because they want to preferentially overload the leg muscles in order to build bigger leg muscles. They can not use that leg press strength in the real world since their torsos can not brace hard enough to allow them to display all of that force potential. That is why you can not squat or deadlift nearly as much weight as you can leg press – the free weight exercises put the torso back into its rightful spot as the weakest link, nullifying all of that leg press strength.

    In addition, use of the leg press in an MTB strength training program shows little understanding of the big picture regarding how the human body responds to exercise. Few coaches really appreciate the fact that the nervous system controls everything that we do and it is ultimately the nervous system that determines the results that we get from our training. When you understand this then your start to see training in a whole new light – we are not simply training muscles; we are really training those muscles to act together in order to create movement patterns.

    Our brain lays down a “neural blueprint” each time we do an activity. The more times we practice that movement pattern the more defined that neural blueprint becomes. The more defined a neural blueprint is the less conscious our brain has to be in the execution of that movement. A perfect example of this concept is learning to ride a bike. We all fell over our first time we tried and it took a lot of practice to get to where we could simply ride in a straight line. Now we can throw a leg over a bike and go hit a trail, most of the time never having to consciously think about what we are doing – it just happens. This is because your brain has such a well defined neural blueprint that it can easily access all of it on a sub-conscious level.

    Now, look at the leg press with this understanding of what we are really doing with every rep of this exercise. We are teaching our bodies how to sit down, brace our backs against something, place our feet on a platform and push a sled in 2 dimensions (the tracks on the leg press means that we do not have to stabilize the weight, another huge drawback). This is hardly a neural blueprint worth spending time developing as it has no carry over to MTB riding.

    Let’s look at a deadlift now from a neural blueprint perspective. The deadlift is teaching our bodies to maximally contract the torso in order to protect the spine and create a platform for our legs to press against. Our upper back is contracting in order to hold the weight strong and close to the body. The legs are coordinating their efforts with the torso and upper back in order to stand up with the weight. Your torso is also acting as a bridge between the force produced by the lower body and the weight being held by the upper body. In a nutshell, you are training your body to brace the torso and protect the spine while coordinate the efforts of several major muscle groups.

    I am not claiming that the deadlift is a mirror image of cycling as I know that it is not. However, compare the way your brain inputs those two exercises and it is extremely clear that the deadlift (and other compound free weight exercises) is vastly superior to the leg press in training for the rigors of MTB riding. In fact, one could argue that the leg press will interfere with maximizing a rider’s potential as it creates a competing neural blueprint for your brain to have to deal with and may, in fact, teach you bad movement patterns that can carryover to your riding. In light of all of this the leg press is hardly a worthy addition to our strength training regimen.

    I also know that a lot of people who read this will think back to their experience and think that I am nuts. Many riders feel that the leg press has helped them and delivered some results. In fact, I will not argue with them as they probably did get positive results from using the leg press. However, remember the continuum that I use to grade exercises: sucks - good enough - best. Not doing anything “sucks” so adding the leg press now moves you into the “good enough” category, which will deliver some results, but they are not the “best” that we can do with our strength training time.

    The great Australian strength coach Ian King once wrote that “the good enough is the enemy of the best”. Truer words have never been written and this mantra drives every aspect of my life to this day. As MTB riders we have settled for the “good enough” for too long, not knowing any better. The time has come, though, for us to wake up and realize that strength and conditioning for our sport has stagnated in the last decade and that we deserve better than bodybuilding inspired programs from 10-15 years ago.

    Advances in our understanding of how the body responds to training from a neurological, hormonal and structural perspective requires that we revisit our training philosophies and practices. When we find something that does not make sense from our new, more enlightened perspective we must either admit that we were honestly mistaken in our efforts and redirect them to more productive areas or we must stop being honest with ourselves, continuing to follow the old dogma for no other reason than a resistance to change.

    Note: I know that this will make some start to wonder about using exercises that try to perfectly mimic our riding. If the leg press sucks because it is so far removed from the kinetic chain demands of riding then the best exercise must be one that perfectly mimics it, right? Well, no. While the subject of another article, I will mention that trying to mimic our sport too closely in the gym is not a good idea as it is impossible to perfectly recreate the same kinetic chain pattern. The idea is to work on the general movement pattern in the gym and use in saddle conditioning work to convert it to true MTB specific strength. For example, use deadlifts to build the raw strength in your legs and then use high gear bike strength work to convert it. One without the other will not deliver the same results that you will get from employing both.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  2. #2
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    plain and simple.. leg press is a good finishing exercise to really hammer the legs AFTER squats are deads are done..

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddy_ryder
    plain and simple.. leg press is a good finishing exercise to really hammer the legs AFTER squats are deads are done..
    Why would you want to do that? More is not better, better is better...
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  4. #4
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    leg press lets me focus more on my quads. go lighter and up reps to really get them going.

  5. #5
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    Exercise machines and gyms are only good to bike riders when its raining/snowing/burning/freezing too hard outside to ride.

    The best training for bike riding/racing is *actually getting on your bike and riding it*


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddy_ryder
    leg press lets me focus more on my quads. go lighter and up reps to really get them going.
    Again, why would you want to do that? If you have the energy to do another set of an exercise then why not do a more productive exercise that does not create a bad movement pattern?
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  7. #7
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    What are your thoughts on the overhead squat?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagaredama
    What are your thoughts on the overhead squat?
    Outstanding exercise...it will humble most as it really points out any hip and/ or shoulder mobility issues as well as torso strength. I would use it to supplement a program rather than as a focus exercise, but I would definitely use it once proper mobility has been established in order for it to be used safely.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Again, why would you want to do that? If you have the energy to do another set of an exercise then why not do a more productive exercise that does not create a bad movement pattern?
    because i like it and it works fro what i try to achieve. i just dont get on it and press, i use foot positioning to target different areas.

  10. #10
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    Isnt honestly the best thing for your legs to just keep riding regularly? my legs handle everything just fine and all I have ever done my whole life is ride.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffss
    Exercise machines and gyms are only good to bike riders when its raining/snowing/burning/freezing too hard outside to ride.

    The best training for bike riding/racing is *actually getting on your bike and riding it*

    Getting on your bike and riding it is only half the battle in my opinion. Of course it depends on what you want but, I assume you want to ride longer, faster and better? If so, it will require more than just riding during the season.

    btw, I agree that machines suck
    "Identify your real master."

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Leg Press = The Devil
    oh, so now you're calling me a leg press are you...


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FisherCraig
    Isnt honestly the best thing for your legs to just keep riding regularly? my legs handle everything just fine and all I have ever done my whole life is ride.
    Just riding = good enough, but not the best...
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Outstanding exercise...it will humble most as it really points out any hip and/ or shoulder mobility issues as well as torso strength. I would use it to supplement a program rather than as a focus exercise, but I would definitely use it once proper mobility has been established in order for it to be used safely.
    Would it be a good idea to do squats on the smith machine or not?

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    What do you think about swimming and spinning (I personally hate spinning but the coaches make us do it)?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddy_ryder
    because i like it and it works fro what i try to achieve.
    Just curious, what are you trying to achieve?

    Quote Originally Posted by fiddy_ryder
    ...i just dont get on it and press, i use foot positioning to target different areas.
    What different areas are you trying to target? Put another way, what different areas do you think you're targeting?

    James is right about the leg press, it's far (very far) from the optimal way to train legs for mountain biking (or most sports, for that matter). If you just MTB for fun, or do leg presses for fun (or for general fitness without an expectation of performance enhancement) then do leg presses in the gym. Not everyone want to or needs to train for better performance.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoManerz
    Would it be a good idea to do squats on the smith machine or not?
    The "machine" part the Smith Machine probably tips you off to my repsonse.

    The smith machine puts the bar on tracks and takes the stabilizers out. Also, if you look at the natural movement of the bar during a free weight squat you will notice that it does not track perfectly straight up and down, meaning that the tracks of the smith machine force your body into unnatural movement patterns. I would advise against it's use.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lollapalooza
    What do you think about swimming and spinning (I personally hate spinning but the coaches make us do it)?
    Good cross training as long as the volume is held in check. Being able to swim or spin for long periods does not have a great deal of carryover to pinning it down a mountain.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoManerz
    Would it be a good idea to do squats on the smith machine or not?
    Freeweight squats are better as they require you to maintain balance while moving the weight, and some will say smith squats restrict the natural movement of your body while squatting putting your back in a compromising position. Anyhow, even for bodybuilding, squats and deadlifts are by far king for sheer lower body (including your spinal erectors a.k.a. lower back), size, power, and strength.

  20. #20
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    Very good observation. You should send your article to "Muscle and Fitness" ...just kidding.... made you cringe, didn't it.

    I've learned, through working at a national heath club chain (24-hr Fitness), that their will always be knuckle heads, with minimum physiological knowledge, that will always insist their way, is much better than what you have to offer. It used to drive me nuts, so I quit giving unsolicited advice. You have much more patience than I do.

    All you other guff balls, stick to riding your bikes. When your serious about getting faster, tired of crashing, and/or sore back pain, or want more balance, control, and power. Why waist time using trail and error. See a fitness professional such as a personal trainer, or strength coach, some one who is nationally certified in their field. Find a good one and it'll be the best investment you can make.

    Tim Fontenot
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F.
    See a fitness professional such as a personal trainer, or strength coach, some one who is nationally certified in their field. Find a good one and it'll be the best investment you can make.
    Yeah but the only problem with that is you pay out your azz for one of those. Some of us already sells everything, steal, or pimp themselves out just to keep up with the mtb industry.

    I guess if your that serious money would be not object.

  22. #22
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    That's whole point. You get what you pay for. Pay big bucks for results....or pay a few on "Muscle and Fiction" magazines. See which one gets you to the podium.

    FYI, Trainers like pimpin rides, too. No reason why we should ride Huffies. That's why the fee's are so high. Serious though, we have to make a living like every one else, and we're talking you health here. What's more important, a stronger you, or a pimpin ride, which one is going to get you to the podium faster, and more often. Better yet, which one will keep you riding and racing when your an old fart like me.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim F.
    Very good observation. You should send your article to "Muscle and Fitness" ...just kidding.... made you cringe, didn't it.

    I've learned, through working at a national heath club chain (24-hr Fitness), that their will always be knuckle heads, with minimum physiological knowledge, that will always insist their way, is much better than what you have to offer. It used to drive me nuts, so I quit giving unsolicited advice. You have much more patience than I do.

    All you other guff balls, stick to riding your bikes. When your serious about getting faster, tired of crashing, and/or sore back pain, or want more balance, control, and power. Why waist time using trail and error. See a fitness professional such as a personal trainer, or strength coach, some one who is nationally certified in their field. Find a good one and it'll be the best investment you can make.

    Tim Fontenot
    24 Hour Fitness, Saratoga, CA
    National Academy of Sports Medicine
    CPT, PES, CES
    Dude, you should see the reponses in the XC training forum. Talk about needing a lot of patience...
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  24. #24
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    Most all of us here aren't at the point where we need to invest that much extra time and money for a podium past riding our bikes for fun. Even most of the top pro's (save a few) attribute their success in bike handling to saddle time, primarily in all different disciplines of riding. When the rest of us (99.99% of the mountain biking population) do work out, we sometimes do it with some bearing to our riding, but something tells me nobody here is dumb enough to pay "big bucks" for personal training to ride a bike down a hill and get faster at it. That time and money is far better spent elsewhere. I swear you guys are like bible salesmen/used car salesmen with this crap.

    When us "guff balls" want to become gym rats and start getting hard-ons over carb shakes instead of riding our bikes, we'll let you know. When you learn how to make a halfway educated sounding sales-pitch, come back and let us know. I guess if anyone is stupid enough to buy into that they deserve to have their money snatched out through their gym spandex.

    OUT.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Dude, you should see the reponses in the XC training forum. Talk about needing a lot of patience...
    I bet. Sometimes it seems people don't want to hear the truth if it differs from what they already think they know. Very frustrating. Our own industry is at fault, though, with all the myths and fallacies that are perpetuated by popular fitness media outlets.

    Patrick

  26. #26
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    My football coaches have us use machines like the leg-press all the time. Are you saying I'm drastically hurting my mtb-techniques by doing these, then? That's pretty concerning to me. I'm pretty suprised to hear that leg-exender machines and leg-curl machines are also bad for you. It seems like they mimic natural movement really well. What exercise regimen, besides deadlifts and squats which you already mentioned, would you recommend?

  27. #27
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    mtb strength check your pms
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by DHidiot
    Most all of us here aren't at the point where we need to invest that much extra time and money for a podium past riding our bikes for fun. Even most of the top pro's (save a few) attribute their success in bike handling to saddle time, primarily in all different disciplines of riding. When the rest of us (99.99% of the mountain biking population) do work out, we sometimes do it with some bearing to our riding, but something tells me nobody here is dumb enough to pay "big bucks" for personal training to ride a bike down a hill and get faster at it. That time and money is far better spent elsewhere. I swear you guys are like bible salesmen/used car salesmen with this crap.

    When us "guff balls" want to become gym rats and start getting hard-ons over carb shakes instead of riding our bikes, we'll let you know. When you learn how to make a halfway educated sounding sales-pitch, come back and let us know. I guess if anyone is stupid enough to buy into that they deserve to have their money snatched out through their gym spandex.

    OUT.
    Wow. Nicely put.

    Do I ride for run only? Yes.
    Do I want to go faster? Yes.
    Do I weight train to ride faster? Yes/No.
    Note: If I work on core strength and improve balance and it gets me through a sketchy section of trail more effectively (faster), cool....if I do some tumbling on a mat (which I have) and it helps me in my abililty to crash safer and roll out of stuff, cool....If I ride more, my legs get stronger and are more durable, cool......
    Do I weight train for fun? Yes. (I've been doing it a long time, it's just what I do)
    Do I leg press? Yes.
    Do I only do leg press? No.
    Have I powerlifted? Yes.
    Have I competed in bodybuilding? Yes.

    All I will say is, do what works for you. Everyone is genetically different, everyone responds to training differently.

  29. #29
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    Functional=Good

    Excellent write up. No matter what your end game functional = good. Check out crossfit.com. This has provided an outstanding base fitness for me. The pieces are put together and ready to charge.

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    I very much agree, when I first started lifting I really didnt know how to train for biking so I went really heavy and after a month of doing this realized my legs had nothing left on long climbs. I have eliminated the leg press and and modified my leg routine to be very simple and find it to be much more effective.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by xdefx
    ...if I do some tumbling on a mat (which I have) and it helps me in my abililty to crash safer and roll out of stuff, cool...
    That's one of the smartest things I've read on this DH/FR forum.

    The goal of most sports performance training programs is (or should be) injury prevention. And since the mostly likely time to get injured while MTBing is during a crash, training to properly roll out of a crash is probably the best training one can do.

    Quote Originally Posted by xdefx
    All I will say is, do what works for you. Everyone is genetically different, everyone responds to training differently.
    I semi-agree with you there, everyone is "geneticallly different", but we all have the same muscles and should be using them in the most efficient ways. So there is a "better" way to train that will suit pretty much everyone. With proper programming the differences are accounted for through assessment and re-assessment as the training program progresses.

    And from what I've seen most people do not get optimal results from "doing what works for them". Because most people are using faulty paradigms that they learn from the popular media. The vast majority of people working out in gyms and health clubs are not achieving their goals (if they've even set any) and are just spinning their wheels, pun intended.

    DHidiot makes an impotant point here:

    Quote Originally Posted by DHidiot
    Most all of us here aren't at the point where we need to invest that much extra time and money for a podium past riding our bikes for fun.
    That probably describes most people on these forums. And that's fine. Those people then shouldn't take it as a personal affront when it's stated that a certain type of training (that they may participate in) is not optimal. They should just go ride their bikes and have fun.

    MTB Strength Coach does seem to have a commercial interest in posting here. I've had a conversation or two about this with him myself. Whether his posts are considered Spam, I guess that's up to the reader and/or the moderators to decide.

    Either way, that doesn't detract from the fact that he's posting good, factual information. Much of it seems to go against the grain of how most people think about training. But that's a good thing. If getter better/faster is important to the reader, then they may choose to follow some of his advice. If the reader just rides for fun, or isn't interested in more gym time to improve performance, then they can read it and move on and then just go out an ride their bike. IMO the worst thing that someone could take from this is to ride their bike less to spend more time in the gym.

    Everyone, go ride your bike (myself included).

    Patrick

  32. #32
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    Ive been mtbing and weight training together for about 11 yrs now...heres my experience. In all these years, I have never found an exercise better than squats for brute leg strength. However from my experience there are different types of muscle strengths, those that are coordinated and conditioned, and those that are bulk and simply powerful. Squats, as most any bodybuilder would swear by, are the best for gaining bulk muscle and brute strength, but transferring that type of power into mtbing is not fully beneficial IMO. If i squat in succession for a number of weeks and my leg strength increases then i go out riding, the power is noticeable, but the conditioning is not, and my legs will burn quicker. In essence, the power gained is power lost. I am a fan of free weights because they work your isolation muscles as well as your fast twitch (A and B) muscles far better than most machines will. When squatting however, if i don't have a spotter i will gladly use the smith machine and most of the time will get a better burn and reach failure better than doing it with the free weight bar. I think there are certain muscle groups that should be trained in isolation such as on a machine and others that work better when using free weights. Squats and deadlifts for example can be done on a smith machine with less lower back stress, but mtbing requires a lot of lower back strength so i opt to do it with the free weight bar, under very strict form that is. My workout routine that i have over the years been able to perfect in respect to mtbing consists of higher reps, less time between sets (1 min or less), more overall sets, and always, always, training to failure. I also make SURE to stretch, properly warm up, and keep STRICT form in all my exercises. These are all things i notice lots of gym rats slacking off at. My overall view is that as long as your training properly (form, stretch, correct weight, EATING RIGHT, working every body parts equally, and being consistent in going up steadily in weight and actually making it to the gym several days a week), then you will always benefit from strength training and conditioning (cardio). Just remember to push the limits, same with biking, by giving everything you got, day in and day out!

    Sorry for the long boring write up...i dont claim to be a professional, this is just my hands on experience over the years, and i do thank all of you who contribute to this faction of bettering our mtbing experience and overall wellbeing.

  33. #33
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    got me thinking

    MTB Strength Coach,

    your post DID get me thinking. I work out 3x week with weights and 2 cardio workouts at Golds, the weight lifting portion doing what I am hoping is making me stronger, giving me more power on the bike, increased bone density and much more resistance to injury. However, it might not be mtn bike specific enuf!

    I think, based on your post, I'm going to hire a trainer, not for a long time, just for a while, to get a more specific program, since the lower body part of my workout does currently consist of leg curls, calf raises, leg extensions, yes leg press, and finish off with lower back extensions using a 45lb weight. I don't know what else to do. Maybe lunges with dumbells? I don't think I like squats.

    Seems, maybe for overall body strenght, conditioning, balance, etc that yoga might be the best! Although me and I imagine a lot of other people prefer to lift weights?

    Also you don't mention much about the upper body though: bench press, flys, shrugs, lat pull downs, rows, etc.
    I do them all. What do you think about those, for mtn bikers of all type?

    I do feel I've gotten stronger, at least measured by the increased weight I'm able to lift since the early part of this year.

    Thanks for your post
    Last edited by mtnbkrdr98; 12-15-2006 at 03:31 PM.
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  34. #34
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    So what are the good exercises to do for MTB?
    If your gonna shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

  35. #35
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    I recently purchased a Kettler rowing machine to keep me in shape during the winter months when I am unable to ride. I decided to get a rowing machine, rather than a exercise bike or other exercise machine, because in addition to the cardio workout that it would offer, it seemed to offer the most even full body muscle workout of these type of machines.

    I was wondering if the rowing machine is a good overall exercise machine, or if there is a better option as an "all in one" cardio/muscle exerciser.

  36. #36
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    Not advertising anything...

    Quote Originally Posted by DHidiot
    Most all of us here aren't at the point where we need to invest that much extra time and money for a podium past riding our bikes for fun. Even most of the top pro's (save a few) attribute their success in bike handling to saddle time, primarily in all different disciplines of riding. When the rest of us (99.99% of the mountain biking population) do work out, we sometimes do it with some bearing to our riding, but something tells me nobody here is dumb enough to pay "big bucks" for personal training to ride a bike down a hill and get faster at it. That time and money is far better spent elsewhere. I swear you guys are like bible salesmen/used car salesmen with this crap.

    When us "guff balls" want to become gym rats and start getting hard-ons over carb shakes instead of riding our bikes, we'll let you know. When you learn how to make a halfway educated sounding sales-pitch, come back and let us know. I guess if anyone is stupid enough to buy into that they deserve to have their money snatched out through their gym spandex.

    OUT.
    Not advertising anything, someone mentioned that the training was expensive, so I gave a very down to earth explanation why the cost is much as it is, and why it's worth it to those people that purchase it. My schedule is full any way. I won't have an opening at least for two months, and thats only if any of my current clients don't re-sign for more sessions. (currently I have a 80% resign rate). I don't need to sell, if I did I would advertise. My new clients come from referrals. Furthermore, when we do encounter the typical "Guff Ball" (See below, for example) they're usually explained too who's in charge once, and if they repeat, they are fired, their money is either prorated back to them, or their referred to another trainer (if any are willing to fit them into their schedule). I'm sure the other trainers/coaches have the same standards.

    Nobody is calling you a "guff ball", on less the name applies that your one of those persons that, despite professional advice (in this case, for free), insist that they know better. Kind of like going to a Dr, or a mechanic, and despite their advice...you do your own thing...and end up paying for it later, it a bad way. Not that doing leg presses will cause you harm, but MTB coach is only trying to give you hints and tips on how to weight train more efficiently, so that you can spend less time in the gym, and more time on the pedals, pedaling stronger.

    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Take the FREE advice or leave it.

  37. #37
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    Based on how MTB strength determines his exercise regime based on what exercises he deems appropriate for mtbing...its hard to tell what the best exercises would be for mtbing, as im sure it differs for everyone and there body type (endo, necto, and ectomorph). However, since ive replaced leg day with uphill mtbing on my 40 lb. dh bike, heres my take on upper body strength, which ive UNDOUBTEBLY seen countless numbers of mtbers lack in this department. When weight lifting, you can work out to gain mass, bulk, and brute short lived strength; or you can work out to get long, lean, conditioned, coordinated, and higher endurance muscle. To get the higher endurance muscle which is what most would want for mtbing, you do more sets, higher # of reps, a little less weight, less time between sets (less than 1 min.) and you eat right. This type of workout routine would be considered high intensity aerobic exercise, meaning your using oxygen and increased bloodflow as well as a higher heartrate to create more stamina, burn more calories, and build muscle that is well conditioned and longer lasting (uphill xc climbs). What you will also benefit from by doing this type of workout is more energy during the day, lower heart rate, enhanced diet (if you choose to eat right) and overall health and wellbeing. Eating right would consist of 1g of protein for every lb of body weight, moderate amount of carbs, and no sweets, caffeine, trans fatty stuff, etc. All the different types of upper body exercises you do would be beneficial, as long as you do them correctly, at a higher intesity, with correct form, and always to failure (meaning not being able to get off even one more rep at the end of the workout a.k.a complete exhaution). Like i said before, the free weights seem to work best for most people as they work the stabilization muscles better and if done correctly force you to use the muscle your actually trying to work out better. However, as MTB strength coach correctly stated, a lot of the effectivness has to do with which muslces are used in coordination with the whole "kinetic chain" of our bodies coordinated movement. Isolation would therefore be more notably beneficial in terms of the overall strenghtening of the muscle your trying to use. just to add halo, the row machine is a great upper body workout, just add in some wighted pushups and ab exercises to get a fairly complete upper body workout.
    Im sure no one is reading my posts but im just tyring to add my take on what has worked for me over the years, and again i dont claim to be an expert.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.K. Castle
    So what are the good exercises to do for MTB?
    It all depends on the athlete and where they in the grand scheme of things. One workout is not a program, a program is a progresion where you find out where you are, where you want to be and make a plan to get there. This is designing your results rather than leaving them to chance.

    For example, even though I have an obvious love affair with the deadlift, if you had a strength imbalance between your two legs then it would not be the best choice for you at that specific time in your training program. Uni lateral exercises would need to take precedence before you concentrated on bi lateral stuff.

    As a general rule, you want to work on unilateral strength before bilateral strength, bodyweight exercises before external load exercise and machines are almost never a good idea based on the bad motor patterns they teach your body.

    Sorry for the rather vague answer, it is simply impossible to give a definitive answer given the total picture that most be considered when designing a workout program.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by halo777
    I recently purchased a Kettler rowing machine to keep me in shape during the winter months when I am unable to ride. I decided to get a rowing machine, rather than a exercise bike or other exercise machine, because in addition to the cardio workout that it would offer, it seemed to offer the most even full body muscle workout of these type of machines.

    I was wondering if the rowing machine is a good overall exercise machine, or if there is a better option as an "all in one" cardio/muscle exerciser.
    This is good for cardio conditioning but it will not build strength and power. You must use strength training for that purpose. This is a common mistake, looking for the "all-in-one" answer, but it simply does not exist. You must incorporate all facets into your program in order to be a complete rider.
    Ride Strong,

    James Wilson
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  40. #40
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    Your on the right track!

    Quote Originally Posted by overcome.101
    Based on how MTB strength determines his exercise regime based on what exercises he deems appropriate for mtbing...its hard to tell what the best exercises would be for mtbing, as im sure it differs for everyone and there body type (endo, necto, and ectomorph). However, since ive replaced leg day with uphill mtbing on my 40 lb. dh bike, heres my take on upper body strength, which ive UNDOUBTEBLY seen countless numbers of mtbers lack in this department. When weight lifting, you can work out to gain mass, bulk, and brute short lived strength; or you can work out to get long, lean, conditioned, coordinated, and higher endurance muscle. To get the higher endurance muscle which is what most would want for mtbing, you do more sets, higher # of reps, a little less weight, less time between sets (less than 1 min.) and you eat right. This type of workout routine would be considered high intensity aerobic exercise, meaning your using oxygen and increased bloodflow as well as a higher heartrate to create more stamina, burn more calories, and build muscle that is well conditioned and longer lasting (uphill xc climbs). What you will also benefit from by doing this type of workout is more energy during the day, lower heart rate, enhanced diet (if you choose to eat right) and overall health and wellbeing. Eating right would consist of 1g of protein for every lb of body weight, moderate amount of carbs, and no sweets, caffeine, trans fatty stuff, etc. All the different types of upper body exercises you do would be beneficial, as long as you do them correctly, at a higher intesity, with correct form, and always to failure (meaning not being able to get off even one more rep at the end of the workout a.k.a complete exhaution). Like i said before, the free weights seem to work best for most people as they work the stabilization muscles better and if done correctly force you to use the muscle your actually trying to work out better. However, as MTB strength coach correctly stated, a lot of the effectivness has to do with which muslces are used in coordination with the whole "kinetic chain" of our bodies coordinated movement. Isolation would therefore be more notably beneficial in terms of the overall strenghtening of the muscle your trying to use. just to add halo, the row machine is a great upper body workout, just add in some wighted pushups and ab exercises to get a fairly complete upper body workout.
    Im sure no one is reading my posts but im just tyring to add my take on what has worked for me over the years, and again i dont claim to be an expert.

    But be sure to include a good stretching routine, as well. Especially the hipflexors. Tight hip flexors cause the low back pain that most cyclist have during long rides. The illiosoas (Part of the hip flexor complex) is one of the major muscles involved in spinning. If not stretched routinely by cyclist it will shorten, and pull the pelvis into a anterior pelvic tilt, causing lumbar lardosis. Your hips, will tilt forward, and your belly will pouch forward (pot-belly. Sorry you can't desinate it as a beer drinking trophy.) and your back will arch. Many people think that hyper-extensions, used to strenghten the low back, will help. Sorry but, it'll strenghten the low back but, will also shorten the erector spinae, and increase flexion of the spine. It's important to have a strong back, but there's a time to do it. If your hips have an anterior tilt (if your belt buckle sits lower than the belt line along your back, easily checked in a relaxed position, looking at a side view from a mirror). you'll need to correct this first. Other muscles that will need to stretched in addition include the rectus femoris (Quads), short adductors, erector spinae, and calves both gastocnemius(stretched with leg straight) and soleous (stretched from bent knee, or sitting position).

    In addition to lower extremity distortions most cyclist are also plagued by upper extremity distortions also. With out getting too technical, simply put, you should stretch your lats (causes upper and Lumbar/pelvic hip distortion problems), pecs, neck (yes, neck, for all you turtle heads, or if you habitually nod your chin when ever you curl, or row), and bicepts.

    There are other distortions as well such as Lower-extremity distortion....for all you duck feeted people (Am I Duck footed?...check your cranks...hows the finnish holding up, or is it more polished that it was new...).

  41. #41
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    Thanks MTB coach

    For the first time in my life, I am seriously thinking of a gym membership this winter. One BIG thing holding me back (other than the $$) was trying to find out ACCURATE, FACTUAL info on what group of exercises to do to keep in good shape for riding, which is my #1 passion right now.
    Up to now, all I have done to stay in shape is bike (2-4 times /wk) run (1-2 times /wk), daily situps, hiking and occassional free weights and daily stretching.
    But as I'm getting older and enjoying fermented beverages more, its getting hard to stay ahead of the bulge.

    So I really appreciate your input here, and look forward to your future posts.

    John
    Beer has food value. Food has no beer value.

  42. #42
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    okay, I'll admit that when I first saw this thread I was like...oh crap here comes another spam fest....but just to give the OP the benefit of the doubt, I thought I'd refrain from my usual smart azz comment to see how it was going to unfold, since there was no spamming at the start...

    Soooo, I just had to comment and say thanks for all the great information between you guys that seem to know what you're talking about...you have all been very behaved with leaving out the spam and leaving it up to people to contact you personally if they want your business information...and I haven't had to read come check out my site once!!! not that I'm not down for your personal endeavors to flourish and people to roll out the dough for your advice...my only problem was that if one person starts spamming out their business on these forums, then other people and many companies will...and I don't want to have to weed through all the advertisement crap to read some real threads...now if you spam in the training forum, that would at least pertain to the section you're posting in...but none of you are doing that anyways...so thank you for the non spamming and the training advice... very informative...except for the dude that said I shouldn't eat sweets...you suck!!!

    btw overcome 101... I read your post...it was good...
    I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions --but I don't always agree with them.
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  43. #43
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    Its great to see this thread is getting a positive spin. Thanks Tim for the response, as stretching is no doubt one of the most important things in getting the most out of your workout. Thanks for the info on the common cyclist muscle distortions as most of us tend to fall into the "it wont happen to me" phenomenon. Another note on stretcing and warming up in regards to weight training, i use to NEVER stretch and gave no effort to warm up sets. BIG MISTAKE, now ive been able to lift more weight and rep out cleaner sets due to the muscles being "prepared" for the burn.

  44. #44
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    MTB coach

    Thanks for all the information. Because of your previous post, I've steered away from the leg press except as a mild warm up to dead lifts, lunges, step squats and sissy squats. Also incorprated core floor work between sets which have benefited my lower back probs.

    I know it's kinda like SPAM but info shared should be appreciated.
    But even a lousy downhill run is better than a day in the office!
    "SunnyRaceGirl"

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  45. #45
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    My personal favorite training tool is a road bike and big, steep hills. During my lunch break, I hop on my road bike and spend an hour climbing. I alternate between standing and seated climbs, and ussually get in about 7 miles of climbing over a 14 miles ride. On flats I try to maintain a cadence in the 90's to mimick the high RPS I encounter on a mountain bike. Ever few rides I will concentrate on sprints, and focus on pushing myself a little harder. On the weekends, I have fun on my mountain bike.

    My weight training relies solely on dumbells for everything. Leg work consists of hindu squate (no weight, hi reps), dumbell squats, and walking lunges. Typical rotation would be legs & shoulders, back & bicepts, chest & tricepts...As others have said, concentrating on good form. I only do minimal arm work (curls/ tricept extensions), as I believe they are naturally developed if all other excercises are done correctly.

    Other excercises are a few Yoga type moves and stretching...


    That being said, I seperated my shoulder a couple of months ago creekboating and since then I have been eating cookies and getting fat...DOH!

  46. #46
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    That being said, I seperated my shoulder a couple of months ago creekboating and since then I have been eating cookies and getting fat...DOH![/QUOTE]

    Not to sound ignorant but creekboating doesn't sound dangerous enough to separate a shoulder. What exactly is creek boating?
    But even a lousy downhill run is better than a day in the office!
    "SunnyRaceGirl"

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  47. #47
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    Creekboating is sort of like freeriding on a bike, except in a kayak and more likely to kill you. Everything in these pics is class V stuff, but generally creeking is IV/V ish.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  48. #48
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    Oh, and none of these pics are of me....but you get the idea of how it is easy to seperate a shoulder.

  49. #49
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    Oh...

    the name doesn't do it justice.
    But even a lousy downhill run is better than a day in the office!
    "SunnyRaceGirl"

    www.specialized.com

  50. #50
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    I believe it was named creeking because after it rained, the little inlets(creeks) to the river flooded, providing a new, unique challenge for the already accomplished kayaker. I have a friend that used to be a river guide at New River Gorge, and that is how I took it from his explanation.

    Anyhow, back OT, this thread has definitely cleared up a few misconceptions I had about the use of machines in a sport specific program. I don't work out as much as I used to due to a recent back injury, but am slowly incorporating more exercises into my routine. Now having read this, I think I'll be sticking to freeweights/dumbbells and much more stretching then I am currenly doing. Tim F. opened my eyes to the Illiosoas and how it affects low back pain, so I'll be stretching that too, right after I google how to do that. Thanks for spending the time to enlighten us, it's much appreciated.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB Strength Coach
    Just riding = good enough, but not the best...
    kind of interesting because i've heard from a reliable source that a bunch of pro xc riders haven't touched a weight in years...

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