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.
How to balance on a bicycle: tips for people learning to ride a bike. First, I recommend choosing a flat place to practice and making sure you are using the right height of the bike so that you can still touch the ground with your feet. Try to gradually increase your speed as you lengthen your cycling distance. Cycling in a straight line can help you improve your balance and build confidence at the same time. You can then sharpen the skill by turning left and right. Or you can practice balance exercises such as single leg squats, pranks with leg lifts, use a swing board,…
Balance is the most important skill one should learn when cycling. You cannot always rely on training wheels, as there will come a time when you need to get rid of them. For you to fully enjoy biking, you must work on balance and be comfortable with it.