Ninja Instructor and Personal Trainer Bekah Rottenberg recently inspired us to add strength training to our routine so we can reap huge benefits on the bike (check it out here). Since January is all about new year’s resolutions and (for many of us) limited riding opportunities, Bekah’s back to share her favorite 6 moves to boost your balance and stability!
So… why are balance and stability so helpful for mountain biking?
Low speed tech: Keeping our bike upright at low speeds makes it easier to navigate through technical bits of trail. If a move requires a pause or bit of maneuvering and we can’t stay balanced, we simply tip over. TIMBERRRRR!
Cornering: Bike-body separation is key for effective cornering (check out our tips to Corner like a Pro). Our legs need to be weighting the bike and absorbing the bumps while our upper body is pushing the bike into the turn and rotating toward the exit.
How Does It Work?
These exercises mirror the complexity of mountain biking by challenging our bodies to respond to multiple cues, move in different planes of motion, and keep our legs engaged in one activity while our upper body works independently. Multi-tasking at its best!
A stability ball, 2 dumbbells, a slamball or medicine ball, an Indo Board, and a yoga mat or gymnastics pad (depending on your flexibility).
A note on progression and safety
Exercises that challenge one person may be fairly simple for another – that’s why progressions are so important (and an excellent gauge of your improvement!). Athletes like Kate Courtney inspire us by sharing their seriously impressive exercises (like this and this!), but as with mountain biking, it’s important to weigh the risk vs. reward. Take safety into consideration before you attempt these moves. If you’re getting up onto a ball or Indo Board, make sure the area is clear of hard objects you could potentially hit your head against if you were to fall off.
1. Ball Balance
Start by rolling yourself onto the ball and balancing on your knees for 30 seconds.
Level up by adding two light weight dumbbells and do presses while you balance on the ball. Next, use a slamball or medicine ball to practice woodchops.
2. Stability Push-Up
Place a dumbbell in a vertical position (on it’s bell) and stack your feet on top. If you don’t have a dumbbell, or are struggling to stay on top of the dumbbell use another unstable platform for your feet like a foam pad, a BOSU ball, or a medicine ball. Perform push-ups to failure and be sure to keep your spine and neck neutral!
Note: if you struggle to do a regular push-up then hold off on this exercise until you can do 10 strict push-ups.
3. Dumbbell Plank with Rotation
Grip two dumbbells and place them below your shoulders in a plank position. With control, rotate your torso to lift one dumbbell straight up into the air. Keep your feet wider apart for maximum stability.
Level up by moving your feet closer together working towards stacking feet on top of each other… and add a push-up!
4. Indo Board Exploration
Start by just trying to stay balanced on the Indo board for 30 seconds… you got this!
Level up by doing 10 air squats. Next… get crazy! Add a ball(s), weight plate, dumbbells, or juggle for an added challenge (and some Instagram-worthy videos).
5. Stir the Pot
Start with regular plank on the ball. Feet should be on the ground and forearms on ball. Once stable, make a “stirring” motion with your forearms. Alternate directions and shoot for a full minute on the ball.
Start with a mat anywhere from 1-2” off the ground. Lay flat on the mat then curl your body towards your feet and stand up!
Level up by reducing height of mat, then hold a light (1-3# weight). Finally, do the exercise on the floor without a weight.
Bekah Rottenberg is a NASM certified personal trainer, Certified USA Olympic Weightlifting Coach, and PMBI certified Mountain Bike Instructor. Head on over to www.bravendeavors.com for a free sample MTB strength training plan.
Bekah Rottenberg is a former professional enduro racer who now runs her own business, Brave Endeavors, which specializes in on-line strength training programs for mountain bikers. Bekah believes that through strength training we can improve confidence, longevity, and mindset and ultimately have more fun on the trail and move through life happier and healthier. Bekah is a Ninja instructor and coaches kids on mountain bikes in her hometown of Hood River, OR. Bekah is a NASM certified personal trainer PMBI certified Mountain Bike Instructor.
I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo!
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop falling down during each mtb ride. The class was small and super fun...and the instructors (Richard and Kris) were informative and dynamic. The clinic was small enough for each member to practice each learned skill and receive immediate feedback. I learned many new skills on that day and felt much more confident with my bike-body connection. I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo...the 55 mile route! Woohooo!! The next day, as I was road biking (training for the Solvang Double Century), I dodged a bullet on the Snake/Mulholland by applying my learned mtb skills--a long towing truck went over almost half of our lane on a blind turn as we were descending. Instead of fixating on the truck, I remembered the importance of looking for a clear path and keeping my eyes on where I want to go....Now I understand what people meant when they said that mtb will help improve my road riding skills too! I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to the next clinic! ~ Uyen N.
I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails.
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails. There is one drop and one off camber downhill section I never have had the courage or skill to ride until today. It was so fun to ride them and not get off and walk. Richard La China and Courtney Cowan were fantastic instructors. Not only did I up my technical skills in Sedona it was also a ton of fun! ~Patty Elliott
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though I always knew I didn't really understand the mechanics of it, so it was a kind of "huck and hope" affair. The result was that I didn't land about 1 in 5 attempts. The clinic with Aaron was great! He explained the mechanics of how the bike is handled coming into, through and out of the jump and starts with individual small skills progressing step by step in a very manageable way (even for me, and I started this stuff at 45 and I'm not very coordinated). What I feel sets Aaron apart is his ability to communicate his explanations and demonstrate movements in a way that makes them easy to learn even for someone with little experience. He is also very patient and encouraging, which helps when one is starting out and struggling a little with some movements. I definitely intend to do more clinics with Ninja MBS. I feel like it will save me a lot of time and frustration as well as possibly a lot of money in medical bills! ~Jill M.
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
Ninja Mountain Bike Performance
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.