Can’t ride? Stay fit!

We can’t always squeeze a ride at the weekend – life sometimes has a knack of getting in the way. Don’t lose fitness when you’re off the bike.

>>> Why is fitness such a taboo subject in mountain biking?

Words by Alan Milway

Follow this circuit

All it needs is a little commitment and a lot of effort.

  • Steady jog for 10 minutes as a warm up then straight in to:
  • 12 press-ups
  • 2 mins hard run
  • 2 mins jog
  • 1 min plank
  • 2 mins hard run
  • 2 mins jog
  • 12 calf raises on kerb each leg

This is one lap – approx 10 minutes. Rest for two minutes then repeat lap. Aim for two laps. To increase intensity, simply reduce the jog after the hard run to one minute. Always cool down with a steady jog and walk to finish.

Don’t lose fitness

You can replicate the demands of riding and keep yourself in shape for the next time you do get the opportunity to ride. Bodyweight challenges are king here, and you can do them anywhere. You need to supply the motivation; we’ll supply the high intensity exercises that can replicate the rigours of riding.

Press-up with reset

Lie on the floor, with your hands off the floor, then press up, lower chest back to the floor then lift hands off the floor again. How many can you do in one minute? I get to about 36 and struggle, Gee Atherton gets to about 55. Can you keep going without arching your chest away from the floor? Then the four minute challenge is for you. You won’t do four minutes non-stop, so have a strategy for each minute. Over 60 is good, over 100 is pro territory.

Running

Not many cyclists run, and I can understand why. It’s dull. However, when time is tight, you can get a lot of benefits from a 15-30 minute run, far more than you would on a steady cycle for this short period. So if time is limited or you are away with work, pack some trainers and head out. Be warned, if you don’t run regularly and go too hard you will walk like John Wayne for days. Go steady and build up to more regular short runs. To ease into it, start walking for five min, then run for five, over time you’ll be able to reduce the walking so you walk for four minutes, run for six minutes, until you can run for the full 30 minutes.

When you can do the full 30 minutes, then build intensity after the first 10 minutes to a hard two minute run, then slow the pace to a steady jog for two minutes, then repeat four times before a final five minute cool down.

Plank

A simple exercise often done badly to achieve the maximum time. It doesn’t matter how long you can plank for, I guarantee your posture will be poor after two minutes unless you are seriously strong. Get into position and tighten your stomach in, squeeze your bum and clench everything to the max for 30-45 seconds. Even clench your fists together. Rest for 15 seconds and repeat. Two or three of these will really fire up the trunk muscles and also promote a good position of strength. If you can’t do this, reduce the time right down and aim for 10-15 seconds. But clench everything! Rest by dropping a knee, then set up to repeat.

Bodyweight calf raise

A weightlifting coach once told me that over Christmas, when the gym was closed, he did 100 calf raises every day on his stairs. I tried it and couldn’t walk properly for two days. Aim for 15 reps each for each leg to start with. When you can do 25 on each leg, start holding a dumbbell, or adding a weight over your shoulders (sand bag, weighted vest etc).

Who is Alan Milway?

Alan is arguably the mtb coach in the business. He’s steered world champions like the Athertons to gold, and helps regular riders like us to get the most out of our riding.