Ever felt that despite all your riding efforts, you just don’t feel strong enough when riding your bike? Fay and Em from Match My Workout explain exactly why women need strength and how you can build up your muscle without breaking the bank! In their own words, here’s Fay and Em…
Mountain Biking is not all about cardio. Sure, being bike fit and having a great aerobic base will make your time on the trails more enjoyable. However, you can do so much more to improve your speed on the trails and your riding ability.
As females, we have less skeletal muscle mass than our male counterparts, which is especially evident in our upper body. A study in The Journal of Applied Physiology found that women exhibited about 40% less upper-body strength than men. So when we ride the same trails, we need to be stronger to hit the features and move the bike around, especially as fatigue sets in.
By adding some strength and conditioning alongside your rides you can gain more power and reduce fatigue and help with injury prevention – keeping us on the bike!
Below are our 5 top tips to get into strength training and why you need to start doing it right now:
#1 – Start With Bodyweight Training!
Covid has for sure put a spanner in the works for gym access, but as outdoor enthusiasts, money spent on gym membership means less money on bike parts and kit! You can strength train relatively cheaply at home with just bodyweight (absolutely free) or with minimal equipment such as a couple of dumbbells, a kettlebell or resistance bands.
You don’t need fancy machines, a full rack of weights or any crazy gadgets; you can get a super-effective workout with just your body weight. In fact, we would recommend bodyweight training!
#2 – Be Consistent!
You don’t need to set aside an hour or two for strength training. A quick 15 – 30 minute blast more regularly will mean you keep motivated and focused on completing your strength training alongside your riding. From our experience training mountain bikers, these quick blast sessions met 3-5 times a week gets results. Athletes are consistent, and their bodies adapt to the training load, which means they build strength faster than they would, completing 1 or 2 longer strength sessions in a week.
#3 – Push-Ups Are Your Friend!
We explained that you do not need a fancy kit to strength train effectively, and push-ups are the prime example. Ever hit a rock or a rut and felt your chest hitting the bars? Ever lost the front end of your bike and crashed to the dirt rather than riding it out? Push-ups will build the strength you need to stay strong on the bike and not collapse into the trail. If you can push your bodyweight back up from the ground, then you have more chance of staying on the bike when you are thrown forward onto the bars or your front wheel pings off a rock or root you didn’t see!
#4 – Don’t Forget The Core!
We often think we need to get stronger by working on those biceps and building strong legs for riding but don’t forget the core! Core strength is so important for all cyclists as it keeps the body stable and improves efficiency by transferring more power through the legs. When hitting the trails, your core will keep you in a strong riding position allowing you to move in any direction with proper balance and stability to ride the bike and not just hold on!
#5 – Link Mobility With Strength
We would never advise that you do any kind of training, be that just riding or strength training without mobility alongside your weekly sessions. Mobility and flexibility allow our muscles to maintain and improve our range of motion, super important to help improve joint function. If you can move your joints through their full range, you can improve your strength and blood flow and reduce your chances of injury. We aren’t saying you need to turn into a full-on yogi. Still, there are so many mobility routines out there now that suit each and every personality. Hence, there really is no reason not to try!