Combined Strength

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As I have said before, my goal is to coach a rider who wins a World Cup or the World Champs.  To do that, I need to be the best coach I can be. I need to continually learn and develop.  I need to ask questions of myself, my riders and my techniques.

That is why I have joined Combined Strength.

Combined Strength is a group of coaches from across the UK, led my Andy ‘Iron Mac’ McKenzie.  Its goal is to improve the UK fitness industry and to develop world-class coaches capable of working with a variety of clients from desk worker to elite athlete.  As a member I can benefit from the knowledge and experience of the group.  We all give to the group and we all gain knowledge and support from the group whether it is training or business related. The group is not just open to any trainer though, and you have to earn your place. Not all who apply are accepted.

Andy Mckenzie. Combined Strength

Andy Mckenzie. Combined Strength.

This weekend I spent my first training weekend with Combined Strength, enjoying a variety of sessions including gymnastics strength training, animal flows and a fascinating talk about the mindset needed to initiate real and lasting change in yourself or a client.  Over the two days there were many take-away pieces of information that I will be able to apply to my coaching immediately, giving my riders a better service and hopefully contributing to better results at the races.  It was all rounded off with a brutal conditioning session of sled push, press ups, ball slams, sprints and farmers walks, but that was just for fun!

The group are diverse in their backgrounds, specialities and approaches but all share a passion for fitness and helping their clients reach their goals.  I know that as I continue my journey to the top of mountain bike sports coaching I have the support of some of the best coaches in the country.

When you choose to train with me at MTB Strength Factory you are getting a professional coach who invests in my education and personal development so that I can give you the best possible experience.

Stay Strong

Ben

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

 

 

Enduro Training Camp – French Pyrenees

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The first ever Enduro Training Camp run jointly by MTB Strength Factory and Altitude Adventure took place over the course of a warm and sunny week in April in the French Pyrenees.  Whilst we called it a training camp, it was not about early morning suffer-fests, interval training and early nights, and instead it was more of a riding holiday with an enduro training twist…..

Altitude Adventure, run by Ian and Ange Pendry, is a well established company providing fully guided riding holidays and trips throughout the summer and snow sports holidays in the winter.  The sheer size and quality of their trail network is amazing, with rocky wild mountainside single track, forest paths, and switchbacks galore as the group would find out on their first day of riding.  Each day had a different theme in order to give everybody a really diverse riding experience.  The first day was all about big mountain riding like you might find at an alpine enduro race, with the second day using one of the French national enduro series race tracks to test our skills against.  Some of the time we rode in a ‘train’ with smaller gaps between riders as you tend to on a normal riding holiday, but on other runs we were riding with 30 second gaps, encouraging us to look ahead, read the trail and to flow like you would in a race situation.  Riding like this really exposed areas for some of us to work on and when combined with some excellent coaching from Ian, meant that we all made improvements to our riding over the course of the week.

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The week was not just about amazing trails though.

Each day I would take the group of riders through a morning warm up before they rode and each evening we ran through some stretching and mobility drills back at the chalet.  After dinner each night I went through an informal talk about different subjects related to training for enduro racing.  I talked about general approaches and then more specifically about sprint training, nutrition and recovery as well as spending a lot of time chatting with the guys and answering their questions.

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The amazing setting and trails, combined with warm sunny weather and a great group of people meant that we had a really fun week of riding together.  Everybody got on well and encouraged each other to ride hard and we shared plenty of laughs over the week.  Most days finished with a cool beer (sometimes in the hot tub) and a chat about bikes and tyres and other rubbish that we can’t help talking about.  Plans are already afoot for a similar week or two next spring and I can’t wait!

Stay Strong

Ben

P.S. If you missed the camp but still want some help preparing for enduro, a riding holiday, or other race disciplines then drop me a line: ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com

BDS #1 Ae Forest with Team Wideopenmag.

Morgan Tyrrell

Photos: Ian Lean Photography

It is that time of the year where the hard work over the winter starts to pay off, both for the riders, and for me as a coach.  I have been working with the lads on the Wideopenmag team since November when they all came in for the first time to undergo pre-season testing.  Since then I have been programming their strength and conditioning as well as on-bike training and generally providing the support that a good coach should.

The team consists of:  Elite – Rich Thomas (sadly Rich T did not race this weekend due to a concussion the weekend before). Expert (after winning Masters last year) – Kye Forte.  Junior – Charlie Hatton.  Youth – Morgan Tyrrell.

This weekend would be the first time going to a BDS with the team, and my role was simple.  Make sure that every rider was fully prepared for their practice, seeding and race runs, both physically and mentally.  As I won’t be attending all of the BDS rounds I was keen to get the season off to a positive start by getting the lads into good habits, eating and drinking at the right times, warming up and cooling down properly and creating a professional and fun atmosphere that would let them thrive. Ideally we would do this at a lower profile event earlier in the season, however this was not possible this spring and we had to crack on anyway.

Charlie Hatton

For a race run at the BDS, the warm up is effectively split into two halves.  At the bottom of the hill in the pits a rider needs to perform a more general warm up and possibly some mobility and activation work before heading over the the uplift to get to the top of the hill.  After sitting on the uplift bus for 20 minutes the second part of the warm up begins at the top of the hill, and this is more specific to the race run and to the needs of that rider.  For instance, this weekend all 3 riders did  different warm ups with me at the top of the hill.  The variation in specific warm up drills comes from my knowledge of each of them as individual riders, personalities and athletes.

Despite the crappy Scottish weather, the weekend was a massive success for the team and for me as their coach.  All of the riders went into their race runs well prepared and  this showed with some great results with all three of them on the podium at the end of the day!

Morgan – 3rd Youth

Ky – 5th Expert

Charlie – 1st Junior

The key now is to take away lessons from this weekend.  What could be done better?  Did the riders feel limited in any sense this weekend?  Has racing exposed any weaknesses in the riders or in my programming?  Can we further refine our race routine for each individual rider?

Massive thanks to the whole crew at Wideopenmag for helping to create a fun, friendly and winning atmosphere: Jamie and Dave running the team.  Drew and Ryan on the spanners.  Ian, Luke and Ryan on media duties.

Stay Strong

Ben

Factory Knowledge #1 – Knee pain and running.

Factory Knowledge is your chance to pick my brains.  It is your chance to get your MTB specific training questions answered and to take the steps required to become a better rider.

In the first episode, Ben from MTB Strength Factory talks about knee pain on long rides and about whether running is effective for mountain bikers looking to improve their fitness.  If you would like to have your questions answered then head on over to the MTB Strength Factory Facebook page and leave a comment by the video or on the wall.

Stay Strong

Ben

 

2016 Goals: Coaching and Racing

Heading into November and the winter training season, it is important to look ahead to next season and set some goals for training and racing.  For me, as a professional coach it is also an opportunity to set some professional goals, for my personal development and education in particular.  Below I will share with you my thought process and my own personal and professional goals.  I am going through this process with all of my riders at the moment, and you should too.

Coaching Goals

I have learnt a lot over the last couple of years coaching mountain bikers, and an important part of my self development has been constant evaluation of my methods and coaching approach.  I regularly ask myself if a programme was effective.  How could it have been improved?  Does a certain exercise or training method work for that particular rider?  By doing this I have learnt a lot.  It also exposes areas that I need to work on as a coach.

In 2015 I spent a lot of time, money and effort on my self development, in particular interning with top strength and conditioning coach, Darren Roberts who looks after extreme sports athletes from Red Bull amongst others.  This taught me a lot about my coaching style and helped me to shape and develop my general, over arching approach to training my riders.  He also made me keep a coaching diary which has been a useful tool for my personal development and self awareness.

For this winter my education focus is on developing my bike programming further, particularly using power meters, and using the excellent coaching interface on the Training Peaks software and website.  Whilst I am familiar with training with power, through use of my Wattbike and have programmed successfully for many riders, I need to build a more in depth knowledge of the intricacies of training with a power meter.  To do this I am riding with a Stages Power meter on my roadie and getting properly into the weeds of what it is capable of, especially when paired with my Garmin Edge 520.  I also have a very experienced and knowledgeable rider who is going to help me and speed up the learning process.  Similarly, I have a guinea pig lined up who will be coached with his power meter over the coming months, allowing us to learn and make mistakes together.  The specific goal is to have the knowledge, experience and confidence to offer power-based coaching to riders across the UK from early 2016.

Training data!

Training data!

My other main coaching goal is to go to more events and races with my riders and really improve the support that I am able to offer on a race weekend.   The long-term coaching goal is to coach somebody who wins a World Cup or World Champs, and to get to that level I need to refine exactly what I can provide at a race to give the rider the maximum chance of success.  This is about keeping track of recovery and nutrition, developing a good pre-race routine that works for the individual rider, and generally supporting them so they can perform.  I will be attending one or two BDS rounds and probably the Fort William World Cup where I should (fingers crossed) have more than one rider competing in 2016.

In the gym, my focus for my education is going to be on human movement, bodyweight training and mobility.  This is partly down to personal interest, and partly down to the realisation that most of my riders who work a 9-5 get the most benefit from learning to move better and increasing their mobility.  Whilst I have always worked on these qualities, I am going to prioritise them more before moving onto lifting weights.  I will be attending a couple of courses and seminars in 2016 as well as using books and online resources to deepen my knowledge on these subjects.

 Racing Goals

2015 was a great season for me, reaching my personal goals of finishing consistently in the top 30 of my age group at the UK Gravity Enduro (RIP) series.  I felt that my riding came along a lot, partly due to riding with faster people and partly down to some excellent skills coaching with Pedal Progression in Bristol.  For 2016, and the newly formed British Enduro Series, my goal is to consistently finish in the top 20.  I would also like to get a top 10 at a regional race such as the Mini Enduro.  To achieve that, I have identified a number of training goals to work towards:

Jumping.  It has got a lot better in the last year, but I still need to work on it, especially when things get fast or when the landings get a bit sketchy!

Airtime with Ride Ibiza

Airtime with Ride Ibiza

Cornering. It sounds simple, but I need to continue to improve my basic technique, especially when the corner is flat and slippy.  I will be getting more coaching and spending some time practicing in my own time.  I am currently a bit one sided and turn left a lot better than I turn right.  I want to bridge that gap.

Repeat Sprint.  I am naturally a pretty powerful rider.  I can put out about 2000W on the Wattbike, but my ability to perform repeated maximal sprints was not as good as it should have been for the 2015 season.  Going into the new year and early spring, my programme will make this a priority.

Mobility.  I am fairly flexible and mobile, but feel like I can achieve more to make me more relaxed and fluid on the bike.  I will be doing more bodyweight work this year, with a focus on the mobility and movement that I mentioned earlier.  In particular I am prone to stiffness in my lower back over the course of a riding weekend and if I can move better and be more balanced then I should be able to prevent this.

Pistols.  I can already do pistols on both legs, but my right is a lot stronger.  I would like to be able to do 20 on each leg, developing left/right symmetry as well as strength endurance critical for long, demanding stages.

Riding Goals

These goals are less important to my racing, but are still aspirations I have for the year ahead.  They will help to motivate me to work hard and to ride my bike lots.

Ride 100 miles on the road.  Basically I have never done this and I think it would be a good challenge, so this winter I am going to build up to it.  I am mostly worried about my gusset!

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Race the ‘Ard Rock Enduro with a load of my riding buddies and have an awesome weekend.

Get to the mountains – Alps, Pyrenees, Whistler, I am not picky.  Just get me on a chair lift!

Ride down Mt Snowdon.  It just looks like so much fun, except the push to the top.

Maybe you have some goals for the winter or for the summer ahead?  It is really handy to write them down and make yourself accountable for your actions and your performance.  On a cold, wet evening when you just can’t be arsed, thinking about your goals may just get you out the door to go riding.  Setting goals does not mean you take all the fun out of riding.  It does not have to be deadly serious, but it is just about making the most of your time on the bike and adding some structure to your training if you need it.

If you are serious about your training goals, then maybe consider checking out my Coaching Packages for this winter.  With different options suitable for riders across the UK as well as in the Bristol area, I am sure that we can find a way to work together and smash your goals.

For more info about Coaching with MTB Strength Factory, please follow this link: http://mtbstrengthfactory.com/coaching-mtb/

Stay Strong

Ben