Fall time for athletes in many sports is the time to both reflect and prepare for the off-season training. With mountain biking being no exception, professionals in XC, DH and Enduro are already on the road to analyzing how the 2021 season went for them and setting their plans for the off season for the 2022 season.
With these two tools I provide you in this article, you too can start to do the same as the best in the world.
First things first. All athletes should be able to squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, resist rotary forces and walk. As a cycling coach I recognize that we mountain bikers should be able to perform all of these moves in order to help optimize performance both on and off the bike.
So If you want to adapt the idea of taking your riding to the next level then you need to be able to determine what your physical “staring point” is. Seeing what your baseline movement capabilities are is the foundation from which you can create a thorough training plan for 2022. It will help you determine weaknesses in muscle flexibility, joint mobility, stability, balance, coordination, bi-lateral issues and overall strength deficiencies.
You see, being able to perform the seven patterns mentioned above will affect anything from your posture, breathing mechanics, joint range of motion, stability, balance and if left unchecked, may eventually contribute to an overuse injury.
For example, have you sprained your ankle? Did you then notice how it affected your ability to squat, lunge and walk? Mechanically, we in the training world consider the ankle to be a mostly “mobile” joint because it is designed to move in many directions. If you lose range of motion due to an injury, your brain will seek to find any lost movement in the injured ankle by looking up the chain. This loss may show itself in increased movement in the knee, the hip, the spine, or even the opposite shoulder.
I mean have you ever noticed while working through an ankle injury, you “just happened” to begin to get a nagging knee, hip or low back issue? Something along the lines of a tight calf, hamstring or groin, perhaps a lower back tightness or pain? If so, how’d that make you feel on your bike, especially if this happened before a race?
Some athletes tend to just work through this time without seeking a medical professional and “suddenly,” in the middle of the riding or racing season, the ankle injury has turned into a full blown knee or back issue. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve all done it this way at least once… guilty as charged!
OR, let’s take a different approach. Maybe this year you didn’t injure yourself but instead failed to achieve your performance goals on the bike. Fatigue, body issues, injuries, sub-par performance, constantly behind your friends, you name it, your body wasn’t prepared for the 2021 mountain biking season and you were left unsatisfied or disappointed all together.
The antidote to both injury and performance issues?
Understanding your baseline athleticism then creating a plan for the off-season to increase performance and prevent injuries during the season. Again, It’s what most high-level professional athletes do each and every year and depend on as part of their long-term success.
For us coaches, this person-specific information is what we use to put together a training program/plan of the “how and when’s” of the season. In other words, how long with the rehab phase be, the corrective phase be, stability phase and eventually moving into high performance phases.
For injuries, a physical assessment is how we coaches determine which corrective path to go down to begin to reverse the compensations created by the original injury. It helps us determine if we need to include help from a physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or even a orthopedist for further imaging.
So here’s how you can use the self-screening tool to optimize your understanding of your weaknesses.
#1– If you didn’t above, Click here to go to my blog to download the pdf for the screening, use the link at the top or bottom of the page. Grade yourself honestly, you’re only be cheating yourself. Re-screen every quarter to check your progress.
#2– Once you determine where your physical weaknesses lie (whether joint mobility, muscle flexibility, stability or strength), create a program yourself or seek a coach to help you fix the issues (any of my online programs will help you as well). Seek someone who can become part of your “performance team” to help you solve your movement discrepancies and not just give you bike-based training program.
#3– Download the aforementioned “end of season questionnaire” so you can determine how your 2021 season went. Your goal is to determine if there is any skill, mental, nutrition, or preparation weaknesses you can work on over the off-season. Once discovered, find a coach and make them as part of your “training” team for 2022.
Listen, the ultimate goal is helping you become a better mountain biking athlete. We mountain bikers have training requirements that are very different from roadies. We need more gym work in order to mimic trail stressors. Accepting this training shift will 100% help you be better on and off the trail including:
o Moving well. This is your skill acquisition platform.
o Better movement of your body on and off your bike
o Strength-endurance- sustaining energy during long/hard rides or races
o Reduced fatigue
o If you get hurt it will be less severe and a quicker recovery
o Enjoy a better ability to breathe efficiently
o Great ability to transfer trail forces from grips to pedals
o Longevity- shred till your old!
Ok, now get at it and let me know how I can help you be the best rider/racer you can be!