Most riders I talk to tell me that they face three big obstacles when it comes to starting a training program:
1) Time: We tend to live busy lives and when we get extra time we want to go ride, not go hit the gym. This makes stuff that you can easily do at home when the chance presents itself important, especially during the riding season.
2) Equipment: We happen to love a rather expensive sport and when you have to drop $100+ on something as simple as a derailer, you don't have a ton of cash left over for a bunch of training equipment or expensive gym memberships. Besides, where would you fit all that stuff in your garage with your bikes? You need something that is relatively inexpensive and takes up very little space.
3) Lack of strength training knowledge: Most riders don't come from a strength training background and so having to learn a bunch of new exercises can be a daunting task. Getting up to speed on a bunch of new exercises also takes time, which we've already covered as an obstacle. You need a couple basic exercises that are easy to learn but deliver great results for a long time.
Kettlebell training is a great option because it solves all three problems. A single kettlebell and routine that focuses on core kettlebell exercises will help improve your mobility, strength, power and endurance and requires less than 3 hours per week. This makes it possible for every rider to benefit from a mountain bike specific strength training program.
When starting out with kettlebell training it is important to pick the right weight kettlebell. I recommend that men with less than 2 years of strength training experience start with a 12 kg/ 25 lb. kettlebell and men with more than 2 years of strength training start with a 16 kg/ 35 lb. kettlebell. I recommend that women with less than 2 years of strength training experience start with a 8 kg/ 15 lb. kettlebell and women with more than 2 years of strength training start with a 12 kg/ 25 lb. kettlebell.
You also want to focus on the three core kettlebell training exercises, upon which your more advanced kettlebell exercises are based. Those three core exercises are the Turkish Get Up, the Swing and the Goblet Squat. Let's take a look at these three exercises and then I'll show you how to put them together into an easy routine that you can start today:
- The Turkish Get Up: The seven movements that make up this exercise will build core strength, shoulder stability, single leg strength and lateral hip strength. In mountain biking terms, it protects out lower back, helps us muscle our bike around the trail, increases pedaling power and helps us corner more effectively. Not bad for one exercise…
- The Swing: This exercise is the cornerstone of kettle bell training and for good reason. It will build core and hip strength, increase power, fight arm pump and take your cardio capacity to another level. It also reinforces good body position on the bike and teaches us how to effectively use the hips to absorb impacts and power lower body movement. It is as close to doing a hard, technical trail ride as you can get without actually throwing your leg over a bike.
- The Goblet Squat: Squats are great for building the lower body strength needed to grind through a higher gear on the trail and for building core strength. However, the traditional barbell squat is easy to do wrong and injure yourself. The Goblet Squat forces you to do this important movement correctly and, as an added bonus, builds a strong upper back to combat the forward sloping shoulder posture so common among riders.
In this video show you how to perform each one of these exercises and break each one down, explaining how to get the most out of each rep while avoiding common mistakes.