Free Nutrition Guide with any Strength Programme

I want to make sure you start 2017 heading in the right direction……. heading into the Spring feeling fit, strong and healthy.  That is why I am offering you a free copy (worth £9) of my newly updated Nutrition Guide with any strength programme purchased before the end of January!

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It could not be simpler:  Just head over to either the Bodyweight Strength Programme page or the Kettlebell Strength Programme page.  You simply place your order for your new strength programme and the Nutrition Guide will automatically be sent to you as well!

The Nutrition Guide has just been updated for 2017 to include loads of extra info, all laid out in plain English, free of jargon and developed for you – a mountain bike rider or racer.  Have a read below to see what is included:

Meal planners to help you figure out what to eat and when.

Learn which foods work for you as an individual by following the ‘3-Week Experiment.’

What to eat before, during and after training.

A guide to supplements and how to use them.

Remember that all MTB Strength factory Products are covered by my guarantee:

“Ride faster or your money back.”

Not only are you getting a free Nutrition Guide with your Strength Programme but it is all totally risk free as well.  When you look at it, it represents great value too.

For only £16 you get a copy of the Bodyweight Strength Programme with the free Nutrition Guide.  That is less than a pair of grips these days!  I know which one is going to help you ride further and faster over the coming weeks and months.

Or, for only £24 you can get the Kettlebell Strength Programme with the free Nutrition Guide.  This is a really powerful programme for developing your strength and power on the bike.  If you are paying a gym membership already then this one off payment for the programme represents a great way to get even better value out of your gym.

Whichever programme you choose, I hope that you enjoy it.  Literally hundreds of riders just like you, across the UK and beyond have already used these programmes to help them ride further and faster.  Bring on 2017!

Stay Strong

Ben

 

 

Building Endurance

MTB Endurance

Endurance is the ability to keep on going and ride all day; up hill, down single-track and everything in between.  It is an important physical attribute whether you just want to ride laps of a trail centre with your mates or race an XC or enduro event.  At the extreme end of MTB endurance are 24 hour and marathon races, as well as multi-day stage races requiring consecutive long days in the saddle at high levels of effort.

Endurance can mean a few different things, depending on your goals and your ability as an athlete.  For a beginner, new to exercise and MTB, increased endurance could mean being able to ride for over 2 hours with minimal stops.  A more experienced rider may work up to their first 60km off-road ride, including 2000m of climbing and plenty of descending.  An XC racer may only race up to 2 hours at a time, but needs ‘speed endurance,’ which is the ability to maintain a high pace for a long period of time.  The marathon rider needs to be able to ride almost non-stop for 8-24 hours at a time.  For the purposes of this article, endurance will mean the ability to ride further or for longer periods.  Speed and power endurance will be covered in future articles.

Here are a number of factors that affect a rider’s endurance and some tips to help you improve them……

1. Genetics:  Some of us are built for explosive, powerful movements, and others for long, endurance type events.  Usain Bolt will never make a good endurance athlete!  You can work to reach your genetic potential for endurance, but you can’t beat nature.  If you are naturally a more explosive rider you can still make good progress with a proper training plan though, so don’t be dis-heartened.

2. Bodyweight:  Power to weight ratio plays a part in how far you can ride, especially in hilly or mountainous areas.  Quite simply, if you are carrying excess body fat (or too much muscle bulk from the gym) then you are using loads of extra energy, meaning you can’t ride as far or as fast as you would if you were leaner.  The best way to improve your body composition is to cut down body fat levels through good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.  There are lots of ways to do this, but on the whole you should keep your diet as natural as possible, drink lots of water, eat loads of veggies, and cut out sugar and processed foods.  In the MTB Strength Factory Nutrition Guide I take you through a 4-week experiment where you learn about which foods work with your body and which don’t, allowing you to make a personalised nutrition plan to improve performance on the bike and help you loose excess body fat.

3.  Fuel:  Chances are that if you can’t ride longer than 2 hours, then you are not fuelling your body properly.  You will need to have a meal that is high in carbs, with some protein and a little fat before you ride in order to fuel your efforts.  You may also want to use energy products or just carry some water and a bar or two to keep you going.  Either way, you will need to plan and prepare your food for long rides.  A great way to improve your endurance is to become more efficient at using stored carbohydrate from your body and to use more fat as fuel instead.  One of the best ways to do this is doing ‘energy work’ where you ride at low intensities for increasing durations whilst in a fasted state.  A great way to incorporate this is on a morning commute.  Ride in at a steady pace and have brekky when you arrive instead of before you leave.  Just be careful not to, ‘Bonk’ and build up the distance gradually.

4. Programming:  How do you expect to go out and ride for 6 hours if the longest you have ever ridden is 3?  This is the harsh reality that a lot of people find when they go to the Alps for the first time and they get knackered on the first long day of riding and end up having a silly crash!  You need to build up your distances gradually.  Write a basic programme where you build for 3 weeks and then have an easy week.  Do a short ride after work one day where you do some intervals and some skills work and then a long ride on the weekend……. Week one: 25km, Week two: 30km, Week three: 35km, Week four: 20km.  You then repeat the 4 week cycle with longer distances, so Week five would be 30km and so on until you reach the desired distance or time that you need to ride for.

5.  Efficiency:  We can become more efficient on the bike by improving pedalling technique, body position and even bike setup.  When we are more efficient we can ride further or faster for the same amount of effort.   You can get professional help for your bike setup at your LBS who should help you out unless you are a bit of a dick.

6.  Flexibility:  If you are really tight with poor flexibility and mobility then you will be restricted on the bike, affecting your efficiency, speed and endurance.  You may also pick up injuries or suffer from lower back pain, meaning you can’t ride as far as you would like.  My approach to flexibility is ‘little and often.’  Do some stretching most days, and always do some basic mobility before a ride, especially if you are straight out of the car or straight from your desk.  The best athletes are supple, and can move freely.

7.  Weakness:  The further you ride the more likely it is to expose your weaknesses.  If you always get the same pain on a  long ride then that is a clue that you should listen to.  Maybe the muscle in that area is weak or not working properly?  You can use your bodyweight or go to a gym to get stronger, just make sure that you work with good form and that you integrate it into your broader training plan.  Also check out my MTB specific Bodyweight Strength Programme to put you on the right track!

8.  Mental:  Don’t be intimidated by a long day riding.  Just ride at your own pace and take sensible precautions like having enough food and water.  Ride with more experienced and fitter people to give you confidence.  Finally, remember that endurance is very trainable, even in older riders , so get out and ride!

Stay Strong

Ben

Fat Loss

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Mountain Bikers, beer and cake go together like Charlie Sheen, hookers and coke, however too many beers and cream buns and it won’t be long before you start bulging out of your shorts and sweating like a sex offender on the uplift bus.  Excess weight is not your friend on the bike, especially if you happen to be the type of rider who wears a lot of lycra.

Saving weight on your bike has been at the centre of many a marketing campaign for all the mainstream companies, and continues to this day, including in the world of gravity oriented racing as well as XC.  To save 500 grams from your bike it would cost you literally £100’s probably, and whilst when your mate lifts your bike up in the car-park they will be impressed by the svelte and slender weight of your whip, if you are still fat and out of shape you will still get dropped on the climbs anyway.  It fascinates me that you can go into a shop and spend £50 on a bottle cage to save 3 grams on your bike, but so many riders don’t consider spending on skills or strength coaching that will actually make you faster.  Next time you are going to buy a £4000 carbon bike, drop down to the aluminium one, and save a grand.  Then give me £500 to get you strong, flexible and fit and £500 to a good coach (like Pedal Progression) for a long term series of sessions to give you the skills to pay the bills.  You will be faster and leaner and you will have more fun.

Anyway – how to lose the fat…….

At the heart of this is your diet.  This is more important than anything else here as it holds the key to your long term health and longevity.

FACT:  There is no such thing as a healthy fat person.

FACT:  You cannot build performance without health.

Your diet should be as natural as possible, based around vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, poultry, some nuts and seeds and a few other bits and bobs like eggs.  You will need to learn to cook.  You will need to plan meals and prepare packed lunches.  If you are fat then trust me – you don’t need an energy drink to get you around the Blade at Afan.  Water will do just fine and you should drink plenty of it and always filtered as tap water is full of oestrogen, chlorine and all sorts of other stuff we don’t want or need.  Keep it simple and cook from scratch.  Avoid sugar like the plague and eat as many greens as you can fit on your plate.  For a more in depth guide to how to approach nutrition as a rider, check out my Nutrition Guide for only £9.

Assuming your diet is OK, there are a number of training approaches that you can use to help shed the weight.  Rather than prescribing exact workouts, I want to give you an understanding so that you can apply them yourself.  I want to introduce the idea of being in-efficient in order to promote fat-loss…..

If you are a mountain biker then you probably ride bikes all the time, and are therefore rather efficient at it.  Riding further or longer may help, or it may just lead to you getting fatter (trust me on this one!).  You could do some intervals as they are pretty effective, however as you are so well adapted to riding your bike, you are actually quite efficient, making it hard to really burn the fat.

A great option is to start strength training.  This will benefit you as a rider as well as being very effective for fat loss.  Quiet simply, build muscle to burn fat!  If the general population starting using strength training instead of fashionable ‘cardio’ bullshit then they might actually lose some fat when combined with decent nutrition.  FYI: I used to run a very successful London bootcamp based around strength training and intervals to get people to lose fat.

Now, outside if the gym let’s think about a different type of strength training; taking a 30kg sandbag and lifting it up, carrying it 20 metres, putting it down and repeating on the other shoulder.  Unless you are a builder, I would suggest that you are not well adapted to this type of training and therefore it is really in-efficient for you to do.  Doing this for 3 minutes, 5 times would be a pretty awesome fat burning session as well as great training for your core and back.

You basically need to give your body a new shock or training stress that it is not adapted to so that you are in-efficient in the way you carry out the task.  Movements should be whole-body and your heart rate should get pretty high.  Keep durations quite short; 2-5 minutes and recover in between.  Simple drills like get-ups are great for this and can be done anywhere and any time.  Simply stand on the spot, then get down and lay on your front with arms extended, then stand up and repeat onto your back.  Try that for 2 minutes flat out and see how hard it is!  Just remember to warm up first.

On the bike training for fat loss is also possible, especially for those of you who don’t ride much over the dark and wet winter months  and are therefore less adapted to riding all the time.  Doing hill reps, sprints and time trials can all help you to get your fat burning going as long as you are eating right and taking the time to recover properly.  The key is to do something that you are not used to.  Do you do a weekly interval session and still need to lose fat?  If so, then you need to change it up or do something off of the bike instead.  You may want to try doing some fasted riding first thing in the morning before brekky.  It is effective for many people, just watch out for the dreaded bonk and if you do too much then you may start burning up hard-earned muscle and losing power as you lose the fat.

The final part of the puzzle is your wider life.  Stress, sleep, emotions, trauma, work and so on.  Health comes from being happy, content and on top of your stress.  You should sleep at least 7 hours per night and do everything you can to insulate yourself from the stress of modern life that catches so many people out.  Stress is one of the biggest killers in the western world and is disastrous for your health.  If you are chronically stressed then you need to take action, seek help from friends, family or a professional (talking is always better than drugs in my opinion) and make it a priority to reduce your stress.  You need to be comfortable with who you are, and accepting of the present, no matter how out of shape you may feel.  The past does not matter, you just need to look forwards and make sure that above all else – You Love Yourself & Believe You Can Do It.

Stay Strong – Stay Lean

Ben

‘Cereal Killers’ Documentary

 

Diet and nutrition are subjects that divide opinion, both on and off the bike.  I have not really talked about my views on the subject yet, however I broadly believe in a natural, hunter gatherer style of diet, lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat and protein than most.  If you want to give it a label, then ‘Paleo’ is how I try and eat most of the time.  I also understand that allowances and exceptions have to be made, especially when it comes to long rides and competitions where I will use energy drinks and other manufactured products to allow me to perform at a higher level for longer.

As a way of introducing these ideas to you, there is a documentary available for free for the month of July, called ‘Cereal Killers.’  It follows an Irish ex-athlete on his journey as he changes from a typical, so called healthy diet based on government guidelines to one a lot higher in fat and without any sugar or wheat.  The results are impressive, and hopefully it will get you thinking about what you eat, and maybe even stimulate some further research and reading.

Stay Strong

Ben