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.
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly...
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly for the workout. After racing in an Xterra, I realized that a new bike was in my future. ( I could tell a huge story about the process of purchasing a new MB and the massive amount of miss information you can obtain from bike shops. Especially when you know nothing about bikes. ) Not long after I purchased the new MB, I had my first over the handle bars wreck. I still cannot remember the actual crash. I can see the rut that I am about to hit on the downhill, and then I remember waking up on the trail barely able to breath. The crash gave me some time to catch up on email. One of those emails was a beginners MB clinic hosted by Richard and the Ride Like a Ninja crew. I swallowed my pride and signed up. To date I have done everything I was taught. I made every adjustment to my bike that was recommended. I then had the bike fitted. The skills taught that day are priceless to me. For the first time I understand what position my body needs to be in for each type of terrain. I am not perfect by any means, but in my mind I am shouting the word NINJA to remind myself. I practice the techniques ever time I ride. ~ Hal N.
I have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are...
I have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are great teachers. I have been a bit apprehensive about jumping in the past but after two days of instruction with Richard, Aaron, Daniel, Ivan, and Erin I feel much more confident and won't be afraid to take on jumps anymore. The instructor staff are all very experienced riders and it showed. They are all also very friendly and most importantly patient. They aren't afraid to share stories of their mistakes while trying to explain why not to do things a certain way. You truly are part of the Team Ninja family when you are at the classes and I can't wait to go back to another class! Thank you Richard and all of the other instructors. ~Jonathan R
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class...
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class exceeded my expectations. The first day was basic fundamental training from bunny hops to cornering your bike. The second day we put those skills to the test by climbing and downhill at all different skill levels, Richard and Aaron even took video to help improve our skills. Well worth your time if you want to improve! ~Russ Anderson
Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes!
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team...
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team was awesome. I learned how to approach uphill switchbacks, how to "pre-turn", and most important, how to descend with confidence. Bottom line: I am more efficient and safer rider. As another review said, "best money spent on mountain biking." You can have an expensive bike, but if you don't know how to ride, what's the point? Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes! ~Rean
Everything you need to learn to fully enjoy mountain biking.
Mountain biking is a relatively new sport compared to road biking. So the opportunities to find a good mountain biking...
Mountain biking is a relatively new sport compared to road biking. So the opportunities to find a good mountain biking skill clinic are quite scarce. Richard La China and his team offer such clinic! Richard has the training as a Coach from USA Cycling and the experience as an expert racer to develop in you the skills and therefore the confidence to negotiate the treacherous obstacles on your path as a mountain biker. His clinic has several levels from beginner to expert and is organized incrementally to facilitate the learning of more and more difficult skills. In addition to his and his expert team's demonstrations, I also like his verbal explanations about the why of a specific position or skill to have. Richard and his team have the dedication and patience to teach you anything you need to learn to fully enjoy mountain biking. ~ Anne-Catherine
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.