5 Mountain Bike Training Tips
Mountain bike training is all about three fundamentals: Building overall strength, increasing your endurance and improving your bike handling and technical skills for the trail. Whether you’re a new rider or an experienced one, there are always ways to improve. Here are five essential mountain bike training tips to take your ride to the next level.
#1 Wear Proper Clothes and Protection
As you begin mountain bike training, you’ll want to wear the proper clothes and protective gear. On the trail, you’ll encounter branches, roots, rocks and more, which can cause injury. Plus, it’s just wise to wear durable moisture-wicking and breathable materials to draw sweat away from your skin while keeping you cool.
Be sure to wear proper footwear such as a cross-country or trail shoe or something similar that is compatible with your bike’s pedal. Of course, beneath the shoe, keep your feet dry with a pair of merino wool socks. Prepare for mud with an easy-to-clean bike jacket or jersey, which you can wear over a more breathable wool sport bra or merino wool men’s shirt.
Discover more about what to wear mountain biking to keep you protected and comfortable so you can enjoy the trail longer.
#2 Make Some Modifications to Your Bike
When you begin mountain bike training, you’ll soon understand that climbing requires lots of endurance. However, there are some modifications you can make to your bike to make your climb easier. For starters, you can choose a set of handlebars with a lower rise. Alternatively, you can remove a spacer or two under the bike’s existing handlebars. What this will do is shift the rider’s weight positions more forward to the front of the bike. This allows you to transfer your body weight toward the ground via the rear back wheel, so you can remain seated and keep traction on the climb. When your trail or climb becomes rocky and loose, it helps to open up the suspension. Taking buff climbs and fire roads might call for locking the suspension, but when it comes to bumpy areas, opening up the rear shock so the bike can manage the curves can make a better ride all around.
#3 Don’t Skip the Strength Training
While you would always prefer to be riding trails, don’t forget to carve out time for strength training. Strength training exercises offer many benefits for mountain bikers, giving extra endurance and power, improving bone density and maintaining leaner muscles. So between your time in the seat, engage your legs, chest, shoulder and back muscles so you can take on each corner. With proper strength training, you can minimize the chance of a broken bone and other injuries.
#4 Consume the Right Nutrients to Maintain Energy Levels
Mountain biking burns off a lot of body fuel so you will need to replenish it, so it’s important to make sure you’re refueling with energy-rich snacks. While carbohydrates are perfect for mountain bike endurance training, as our bodies burn carbs easier than fats and proteins, it’s still essential to consume the latter. Fats and proteins metabolize at a different rate and come in handy to offer the macronutrients our bodies need for various trail intensities.
Make sure to stay hydrated, too. Sweating profusely and losing sodium can make you dehydrated and cause cramps. One of the easiest tricks to avoid this dilemma is to wear a hydration pack or vest, drinking away as you pedal on and climb your way to a summit. That way, you can have your hands free to steer and won’t have to stop to reach for a water bottle. Salty snacks can help replenish nutrients you lose from sweating.
#5 Carve Out Time for Rest and Recovery
Like strength training, taking time for rest means a day off the trails. However, it’s important to give your body a chance to recover. On rest days, engage in low-impact exercise, like taking walks into town or participating in a yoga session. In fact, stretching is a fantastic way to loosen tight muscles. Invest in a foam roller to work out the muscles’ lactic acid, which relieves the tight fascia covering the muscle. Limbs aside, it’s also important to stretch your core muscles and abdomen, preventing imbalances that can cause injuries and joint pain.