thigh burn on long stages- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    thigh burn on long stages

    racing or park riding or just ripping down long tech trails purely for fun, my thighs and whole core start to burn as i try and keep an aggressive attack position.

    i'm reasonably fit, ride a bunch, play hockey (best cross training going) but i am a lanky 50 yr old.

    as i try and push myself a bit harder and gain skills and courage to do so, i find myself up against this wall of.... i dunno, extreme fitness to ride at the next level, or something.

    for those who don't naturally have legs of steel, how can i train to get stronger in the attack?

    (i'm almost afraid of the answer. is it, as ever, heavy squats followed by heavy deadlifts? ugh....)

  2. #2
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    Yes working out your core is beneficial. But have you considered one of those intense spin classes. I have a few friends ypur age who go and love it

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  3. #3
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    If you don't already have one, get a HT or rigid, they force you to stand more than an FS, your quads will build naturally from riding one Seriously, first month I spent on my first trail HT after riding FS was torture, but then the legs got accustomed to it and staying standing wasn't an issue. Only other time I've really suffered from this was after a big off where I really F'up my back and legs, took a long time to be able to hit a proper DH that required constant moving about, i.e. tech/rough, for more than 5 minutes at a time, quads would just start to burn like crazy.

    I guess you could go in the gym and hit the weights to, but I prefer to do my working out on the bike where you can have fun and do work at the same time
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  4. #4
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    Hinge at your hips instead of bending your knees.

  5. #5
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    straight knees, hinge at hips, got it.

  6. #6
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    I definitely wouldn't lock your knees though. Especially on a hardtail, where your legs act almost like suspension. If you went over a massive jump or technical patch of trail on any bike...

    1: you would be bouncing like a pinball (much less on a full sus)
    2: your legs would hurt. A lot.

    The key is, like 426h said, to focus on hinging your hips. But also maintain a slight bend on technical pieces of trail so you can bend more or less to react to features in the trail. Then, when you're completely confident you're in a mellow section, you can lock 'um up or even sit down for a couple seconds to take a break.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavermatthew View Post
    I definitely wouldn't lock your knees though. Especially on a hardtail, where your legs act almost like suspension. If you went over a massive jump or technical patch of trail on any bike...

    1: you would be bouncing like a pinball (much less on a full sus)
    2: your legs would hurt. A lot.

    The key is, like 426h said, to focus on hinging your hips. But also maintain a slight bend on technical pieces of trail so you can bend more or less to react to features in the trail. Then, when you're completely confident you're in a mellow section, you can lock 'um up or even sit down for a couple seconds to take a break.
    I think it was sarcasm

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  8. #8
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    I'm battling with the same thing, it really comes down to a lack of fast-twitch muscle fibers. I'm a beast going 70% for long periods of time but when I ramp up to 90 or 100% I'm done before people that are obviously less fit than I am. The key is to do lots of jump squats and things of that nature that activate and build fast twitch muscle fibers. I'm literally just in the process of starting this fitness regimen for myself so I can't report back on the effects of it.
    Good luck.

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  9. #9
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    i think you're right. even the best young athletes experience this, it requires a lot of training to overcome. squatting and deadlifting, plyometrics, and perhaps interval training from what i've read would go a long way.

  10. #10
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    Try Kettlebell training this winter. Lots of kettlebell swings. FOrces the hip hinging and the knee flexion needed for long, technical descents. That and some pumptrack training work wonders!
    Scott Ransom 910/Evil Insurgent/Chromag Primer...always wanting more!!

  11. #11
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    I'm not exactly sure what kettle ball training is.
    I began my attempt to increase fast twitch muscle fiber last night by simply placing a dumbbell in the center of a yoga mat and hopping over the dumbbell left to right. Bending down just deep enough to softly touch the ground and springing up quickly. It was hard! I'm skinny with strong (looking) legs and maybe it would appear I could do well at this. Nope. I did 17 the first time and was falling down from exhaustion. I did several sets and could never get over 15 after that.
    I have a long ways to go.

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  12. #12
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    Try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BOTvaRaDjI. It'll help you to learn to hinge and use your hips/glutes/posterior chain.

  13. #13
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    Maybe you are spending too much time in the ready (or attack) position. On the easier parts of the trail move up to the neutral position and get some recovery. This should help with the leg burn and give you more strength and power for when you need it.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  14. #14
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    Some drills to try:

    Stand on a small platform 2-3" high, toes on the edge.
    Bend one leg and bring the other forward so as to tap the heel on the floor.
    Return and repeat (use a controlled manner, not super fast and don't bounce the heel)
    Aim for 10 reps, three sets per leg. Go for every other day.
    Each week, either increase the number of reps or steps or work up to a 6" step.

    Make sure the hip of the 'out in front' leg doesn't drop down.

    If you have a "Prowler" / sled device at a gym, load this up with a significant weight. You can do a variety of pushes and pulls / drags which will all help to build the leg and midsection musculature ( see Youtube)
    If you don't have access to one, really all you need is a length of rope or chain and an implement you can drag across the ground. If you drag across grass, you won't need much weight. If you're on a smooth, hard surface (concrete), you'll need to use more weight.
    Alternatively, use your car in your local large open space!

    If you have a big set of steps / stairs close by (either outside or a a building fire stairs), load a back pack with bottles of water and simply walk up and down). Walking down backwards will be easier on your knees and also give you a greater workout.

    Squats are ok but they don't replicate the "one leg at a time" action of cycling (amongst many other biomechanic aspects). Don't fret about high weights. Start off aiming to do 50 with as few rests as possible. Do this for a week (every other day) then try to increase the total each week. Set a goal of 100 reps, non-stop! Oh and work on a full depth. This means the crease of your hip should be lower than the top of your knee surface when you're at the bottom. Full range squats performed correctly have been shown to be very beneficial to knee health (assuming no previous issues).

  15. #15
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    I think it is conditioning. Not lungs or pedaling, but the specfic muscles need to stand in attack position. I do long distance rides (4 to 8hrs) on a Hardtail and sometimes on a singlespeed. So I have good conditioning overall, but it not the same. I did some enduro practice on my 5" bike with dropper and ran into the same thing. I had the dropper down on 20 min downhill and my legs were burning. Not from pedaling, but from "attack" the entire time. It was worse the first time, but as I did more it got better. I also did what LMN said in effect. When I could popped the seat up and sat down and even did some pedaling just to change up my legs and not use the same idential muscles again. That rest combined with more conditioning helps. Sking also works these muscles. However I am not sure that lifting really helps that much. The strength you need is not movement, but static support. You can do that at home. Get in in the attack position and just stay for 20 minutes without moving. That will be easy for 2-3 minutes, but start burning. And all you are doing is standing supporting your own body weight. However the more you do the stronger you get and the less it will be noticeable at race time.
    Joe
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  16. #16
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    thanks guys. i'm doing Bulgarian split squats body weight which is very challenging. also bent over pull throughs and single leg balance stuff. winter is hockey season so my legs are about as strong as they'll ever be. at age 50 and 6 5, 37 inseam, deep full squatting just ain't a reality. the back just doesn't like it, but there are so many good alternatives (as above)

  17. #17
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    If your back is sore during squats, I'd put money on some muscle tightness / imbalance. Might be worth getting an assessment from a physio or exercise scientist and look into some mobility work.

    I've got similar numbers to you but can squat full and heavy with no issues.

    That said, every year, I spend a few weeks doing mobility and restorative work on myself so that I can undo any imbalances and tightness and prep myself for the following stage of training.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cunningstunts View Post
    i think you're right. even the best young athletes experience this, it requires a lot of training to overcome. squatting and deadlifting, plyometrics, and perhaps interval training from what i've read would go a long way.
    Exactly.

    The "attack" posture, which is key to performing well in many sports, needs work.

    Squats are the biggest, then deadlifts.

    Teaching my son to wrestle and one the first things to go when he tires is his "attack" posture. The knees go straight and he starts to bend only at the waist. Then his game goes downhill.

    Our local DH, which I've vowed to master is a brutal, long hill. When I mess up, its almost always do to one of three things - and failing to maintain the proper "attack" posture is one of them.


    I just saw how you mentioned in a later post squats might not agree with you. As it is such an important exercise, like others have mentioned, look into some professional training and try to overcome that. Just turned 47 and have long levers. If I couldn't squat I know my performance in the sports I do would suffer. If I don't squat and deadlift my back gets weak, sore, and stiff.

  19. #19
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    all good thoughts guys. however, as you are probably well aware, there is a lot of literature about squats, deadlifts and related training. there are alternatives, not everyone can or should do spine loading lifts and most of the functional athletic performance enhancing benefits can be had by alternatives. it's why i do bent over pull throughs at a trainer's advice for example.

  20. #20
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    I'd throw one more thing out there to consider and that is just stress/tension. When I'm riding at my edge, I noticed that I start to tense up and just need to relax. Next time you bomb a section, don't focus so much on "attack position", focus on being loose and breathing (or at least not holding your breath) and see how that feels. I bet if you did back to back runs, one your normal way and one staying as relaxed as possible you might be surprised at both your physical state and your times...

  21. #21
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    I have been known to hold my breath on some descents. Then my legs and body is not getting and o2 and then things get all out of whack. I found the fix for me was not hours in the gym, but to start thinking to be as smooth as I can. Then start pumping every chance I get, it makes you legs work and keep moving. You can lift a tissue all day but hold that tissue out in front of you with your arm straight and elbow locked and not move and you will laugh at first but come 5 mins into it the tissue becomes VERY heavy feeling. The same applies to standing in a static position on the bike, muscles enjoy movement. Try pumping the trail with your legs as often as you can and it will break that static position and allow your muscles to relax for a brief period and it will help a lot.

  22. #22
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    I wonder how you'd feel if you did a bit less pedaling while descending? I tend to think you'd fatigue less and be able to ride smoother. I have my pros train with coasting/pedaling practice on descents just to see how important it is to get the right mix...
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