Wattbike for Testing

If you are serious about your performance in any sport, then you need to test yourself regularly.

If you want to improve as an athlete or as a rider then you will need to train.  But how do you know if the training is working?  You may feel quicker or stronger, but how much quicker are you and how much stronger are you?  The way to find out is through regular testing of your abilities and current performance.

Regular testing will give us vital clues about what works for a certain rider and what does not.  Whilst there are many training techniques and approaches, what works for one, may not work for another.  By applying a training stress over a period of 4-8 weeks, recovering and then testing we can get a good indication of how effective that training period was.  Did performance improve dramatically?  If so, let’s continue to use these techniques until testing shows a plateau in progress.  Then we know that we need to change things to continue to get results.

Many people will try and make this over-complicated and full of jargon, which (you may have noticed) is really not my style!  It can be really simple, out riding your bike, or super high tech in a sports lab hooked up to all sorts of machines, with plenty of options in between………

At the simplest end of the scale, you may have a local hill or loop that you ride regularly and you can time yourself on.  Assuming no traffic issues and similar conditions you can get a good idea of increases or decreases in fitness by keeping a log of your times for the climb or loop.  Dare I say it????? Strava could be pretty handy here!

Another simple test to measure increases in explosive power after a period of strength training is the vertical jump test.  It does exactly what you would expect, and the athlete performs a standing jump up against a wall.  The height jumped is recorded.  A rider with better power to weight ratio will jump higher, so it is easy to show progress and you can do this at home on your own.

At the high tech end of our available options are the sports science labs offering VO2 Max tests, lactate tests and all sorts of other analysis.  These provide you with a wealth of information, but without professional help it is hard to make the most of it and to apply it in creating an effective training plan.  The tests can be quite unpleasant and also be rather invasive in some instances.

Then there is the middle ground.  Measuring power output in Watts, either with a power meter on your bike or on a Wattbike is a real world expression of how much work you are able to do and for how long.  It relates directly to your mountain biking performance and is very specific in its cross over.  For this reason, I have just purchased a Wattbike for use with my athletes this season and beyond.  There are several types of testing that I can perform with them depending on whether they are an explosive 4X rider or a marathon XC racer that will enable to me to accurately track their training progress and adjust their programmes accordingly.  It is also very useful for accurately setting up their training zones for use with a heart rate monitor, meaning that the training they do will be accurately targeted at specific physical outcomes rather than guessing how hard they are going.

Finally, the one benefit that I believe is really under-rated about testing is the confidence that it can give an athlete.  If, a week before a big event you are tested and beat your previous scores, you know that you are going into that event fit and strong and that you will have the best possible chance of performing.  Knowing this will help hugely with confidence and a confident rider is a fast rider!

Wattbike testing is also available to riders who are not coached by MTB Strength Factory – just get in touch with Ben.  ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com

Stay Strong


We Are Recruiting Riders!

MTB Strength Factory Racer

As you may have already seen on Facebook or on the website, the MTB Strength Factory will have access to a great training facility from 1st November in SW Bristol.  After a successful spring/summer of coaching athletes for National level racing as well as helping a number of trail riders across the UK, it is time to look ahead to the winter and preparations for the season ahead.

I am currently recruiting trail riders and racers from Bristol and across the UK who want to train with MTB Strength Factory over this winter and beyond.  I can provide face to face or distance training for men and women across all MTB disciplines and across all levels of ability.  The main requirements are that you will love riding your bike, be open minded about training and willing to work hard to achieve your personal goals.

There are a range of coaching packages to suit most people’s needs and wallets and you can find them on the Coaching page of this website.  As well as that I can offer power testing on my Wattbike where we will set up your power and heart rate training zones so you can train at the correct intensity for maximum results.

If you or somebody you know may be interested in working with MTB Strength Factory, then please get in touch and we can arrange a no-obligation chat to discuss how best to work together.  ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com

Stay Strong



New Training Location – Bristol

MTB Strength Factory Gym

I am really pleased and excited to announce that MTB Strength Factory will be using an awesome, private gym in West Bristol from November.  The gym is called Functional Fitness and I will be training clients there for this winter off-season and going into next year.

It is not a great big globo-gym full of machines, TV’s and cardio-equipment, instead it offers a great space to develop as an athlete, with barbells, kettlebells and your bodyweight.  It is run by a couple of really good trainers with a great ethos about training and I am really pleased to start working in that environment.  If you look closely at the photo, it even has monkey bars!  How cool is that?

To accommodate the type of training I want to do with my riders I will also be adding some more barbells and discs, and a Wattbike for power training and testing.  In case you have never used a Wattbike, they really are the best tool around for indoor cycle training, measuring power, HR and many other factors, allowing us to monitor your progress and test regularly as well as putting you through some precise and gruelling winter workouts.

The gym is in Ashton, West Bristol.  It is only a few minutes cycle from Parson Street train station and 10 minutes from Bedminster. Check it out on Google Maps below:


I am just finalising the details of exactly what training packages and prices to offer, however if you live in Bristol or the general area and think you may be interested in training with me for recreational riding or racing, then please drop me a line on ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  Distance packages will also be available with details to follow next week when the website will be updated.

I look forward to seeing you in the gym soon!

Stay Strong



Autumn Down Time


Before you get into this article and start shouting at the computer, I am NOT telling you to not ride your bike when you want to!

Now we got that clear……

For the racers amongst you, it is probably the end of the season.  Behind you is a long summer of racing, travelling, training and hard work as well as loads of fun and good times.  Many of you will be thinking about next season already and making plans for your training, improved fitness, new bikes and general race domination.  That is cool and it shows you are passionate about racing your MTB and I am giving you a big high-5 for your attitude.

However…… the start of October is too soon to start winter training.

After an intense season you need time to relax mentally and physically and let your body recover from the demands of the season before.  If you go straight into your winter training plan now you are probably going to burn out and be sick of riding and training by June, just when the season is getting into full swing.  It is different for everybody, and depends on where you live and at what level you are racing, but as a general rule you should look to start some sort of structured low intensity training in November or December.

Obviously if the weather is great then go and ride your bike with your buddies, but make sure it is not too hard and make sure it is for fun.  Turn off the HR monitor, the Garmin or the Strava.  Who cares?!  Just have fun.  It is also a great time to do other sports and to enjoy the outdoors on foot at a more relaxed pace.  Keep active, go swimming, hill walking, climbing, play football, ride BMX at the skate park, go for a run, it really does not matter!  Just chill, enjoy nature and don’t worry about training or racing.

If you have taken a month or 2 out from proper training, with only weekly rides with mates and a few other sports or days out in the hills then when you do start your training programme you should feel refreshed, energised and ready to commit your body and mind 100% to your goals for the next season.  You are also less likely to peak too soon and burn out like the rider who trained right through and started doing intervals in October.  That rider may be quick for the first race of the season but probably won’t last the distance.

For many racers there is always that worry about what other racers are doing.  “Do you think Dave xxxx has started training yet?  I really want to beat him, so I am going to start training a week before him!”  For a start the fastest racers will ALL be relaxing and taking a break right now and even if one or 2 are on a different programme, does it matter?  You need to go into the season as well prepared as possible, and that means taking time out now.

The final thing I will add to this is more personal but still really important.  Many of you will place demands on your friends and family to support you through your race season and whilst you are in intense training.  Whether that is missed family gatherings, your wife driving you to the trails, your parents paying for your bike and race entries, there is usually some sacrifice by somebody close to you.  Now is the time to spend some time together, thank them for the help, catch up with people and restore a bit or normality (normal does not have to be boring!) to your life.  Let them know that their help is valued and do something they want to do instead, even if that means going to Ikea on a Saturday instead of riding!  I know it all sounds a bit sensitive and some of you are probably wondering if you have wandered onto the wrong website, but having a stable home and personal life is super important to the success of any athlete.

Chill out and stay strong.