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.
Had a great class Oct 11. Kris and Richard were very helpful and knowledgeable. They made things fun and easy...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
Had a great class Oct 11. Kris and Richard were very helpful and knowledgeable. They made things fun and easy going, even while rolling you off the the lunch table bench. Came away with a bit more confidence which I have already put into practice. I really appreciated the review of what was covered in the class in the follow up email. Looking forward to taking the Jan intermediate class at Balboa, hopefully it will be up for registering soon. In the mean time I have a lot to work on. ~Linda Peterson
Don’t hesitate, sign up for the next skills clinic in your area!
My adult son and I participated in the "Fundamentals" camp on Saturday at Hildebrand Ranch in Denver, Colorado. We were...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
My adult son and I participated in the "Fundamentals" camp on Saturday at Hildebrand Ranch in Denver, Colorado. We were both very pleased with the clinic and would highly recommend it to anyone who has recently started riding full suspension mountain bikes. We have already been back out on the single-track trails practicing what we learned in the clinic. Aaron and Richard did a great job breaking down all the fundamentals and honestly amazed at the impact on my riding. Still have a lot to work on but if I follow the instructions I can improve my riding. We are both scheduled to attend a two day clinic in Santa Fe with Richard and looking forward to taking our riding to the next level. If you want to improve your skills, don't hesitate to sign up for the next skills clinic in your area. ~Dan Mitchell
My brain is still swelling with knowledge one month later.
I had a great time at a 3 day camp in Big Bear, CA and my brain is still swelling...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I had a great time at a 3 day camp in Big Bear, CA and my brain is still swelling with knowledge one month later. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleased with the professionalism and detail that Richard and his team brought to camp. They not only take the time to teach you great MTB skills, but when and why you should use them. They begin with the fundamentals skills and reinforce those skills throughout the camp, which I found quite helpful. The skills progress quickly and we covered a lot of ground in three days. I was able to do a few skills I had never really tried before by the end of camp. I recommend highly and plan to attend another camp in the future. ~Joey W.
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road triathlete, I had very little experience and no technical skills on a mountain bike. I took the Ninja beginner and then intermediate classes almost back to back. Richard is a great teacher, and taught the sequential skills that matter most. He does a great job of "breaking things down" with the what and the why, and illustrates the information well with his demonstrations, all the while, delivering it with a sense of humor and enthusiasm. Richard's instruction helped me successfully get through a very technical course in Maui without major injury! Yea, thank you Richard!!. Whether a complete beginner or an advanced rider, I promise you can take a lot away from his classes.... and, let's be honest ...Who doesn't want to be a Ninja! ~ Ray S.
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.