Top 7 Exercises for Mountain Bikers

Building and maintaining your mountain biking skills isn’t just about what happens in the saddle; it’s about your overall physical and mental health, as well. Mountain bikers who crosstrain often experience better PRs and fewer injuries, as well as quicker recovery when accidents happen.

Are looking to add additional workouts into your routine that diversify your fitness plans but also keep you in tip-top mountain biking shape? Check out these seven exercises and see which benefits are best for you.

Walking Lunges

Start with a clear path ahead of you with the ability to take about 30 lunges forward. Step forward and drop your back knee into a lunge, then straighten your legs, bring your back leg up and over, moving forward into another lunge. Walking lunges challenge your balance, build quad and hamstring strength and jack up your heart right.

Add more intensity: Hold dumbbells in each hand.

Modify the intensity: Stand with with your feet together in between each lunge.

Wall Sits

Stand with your back against a flat wall. Bend your knees until they are at a 90 degree angle. Keep your back pressing into the wall and your feet pressing into the ground. Start at 30 seconds and try to build yourself up to 90 seconds. Building strength and endurance in your thighs and calves will help you during those long, steep climbs up hill.

Add more intensity: Lift your heels and press into the balls of your feet. 

Modify the intensity: Don’t go down all the way to a 90 degree angle. Just go as far as you need to feel a burn in your thighs.

Sun Salutations

Yoga is a kind of moving meditation, which is why sun salutations can be so beneficial to a mountain biker’s physical and mental goals. There are several standard flows for sun salutations, but all of them will improve flexibility, balance, fine motor coordination and posture.

Add more intensity: Put a vinyasa or warrior sequence into your flow.

Modify the intensity: Use your knees for chaturangas and planks. 

Resistance Training

Strength equates to power; the stronger you are the more powerful you will be on your bike. Resistance strength training lets you build lean muscle without worrying about getting too bulky for your bike. Bench presses, bent over rows, shoulder presses and squats are four dynamic exercises that give you dramatic results.

Add more intensity: Use weights, dumbbells or resistance bands.

Modify the intensity: Use only your body weight or dumbbells 10 lbs or less. Use a chair to help with balance and weight support.

Balancing Poses

It’s a no-brainer; the better your balance on the ground the better your balance on your bike. Exercises that promote balance can be a big endurance boost to most mountain bikers. Any exercise that gives you a little wobble— like doing bicep curls while standing on one leg— is a balance boost. TRX suspension training is a whole program designed with using your balance to regulate intensity.

Add more intensity: Practice your strength training while standing on a half or full BOSU ball.

Modify the intensity: Practice standing yoga poses like tree, warrior 3 or dancer with support.

Rock Climbing

Mountain bikers have a taste for the extreme, which is why rock climbing is a great cross training workout. Like mountain biking, rock climbing is a full body workout that requires focus and stability. 

Add more intensity: Take on bouldering so you can work on low, technical climbs without much gear.

Modify the intensity: Wear a harness and try a gym with an auto-belaying system.

Core Circuits

Core strength is key to speed, stamina and endurance on a bike, especially the rough and rugged terrain mountain bikers often face. The stronger your core the longer you can stay comfortably on your bike, so for riders who want to start adding extra miles, core strength is a must. Try to start with a circuit routine of 30 seconds on and 20 seconds off. If that doesn’t give you a burn, up the time to 60 seconds on and 20 seconds off.

Add more intensity: Perform core exercises like plank with your hands or feet on a balancing ball.

Modify the intensity: Go easy on your lower back especially with core exercises that require rotation, like russian twists.

Cross-training for mountain bikers gives your body a chance to build up areas that might not get as much activity on the bike, which protects your body and helps promote healing. You only need one or two days of additional exercises a week, so your additional workouts won’t take away from your riding days.