Coaching with MTB Strength Factory for 2017

MTB Strength Factory trained racer, Charlie Hatton on the top spot of the podium.

MTB Strength Factory trained racer, Charlie Hatton on the top spot of the podium.

It is fair to say that 2016 was a breakthrough year for MTB Strength Factory and my riders with podiums and victories at home and across the world.  Working with and getting to know such talented riders has been amazing. It gives me a massive buzz to see them grow stronger in the gym and on their bikes, and when they turn the hard work into podiums and medals it makes it all worth while.

Here are just a few highlights from 2016: (If I listed all the good results we would be here all day!)

Charlie Hatton, Junior DH, Wideopenmag:  6th at World Champs, 1st overall in BDS, 6th in Vallnord World Cup.

Chris Hutchens, Elite Enduro, Wideopenmag: 1st overall Scottish Enduro Series, 3rd overall British Enduro Series, 37th at Irish EWS.

Veronique Sandler, Elite DH, Loose Riders: Leogang DH World Cup 16th and 2 other top 20 WC.

Joe Finney, Elite Enduro, NS Bikes: 14th overall British Enduro Series.

Oliver Parton, Youth Enduro, Pedalabikeaway: 1st overall British Enduro Series.

Duncan Ferris, Elite 4X, DMR Bikes: 1st overall British 4X series.

Kev Baines, Grand Vets Enduro, Hope Factory Racing: 2nd overall British Enduro Series.

Monet Adams, Elite Enduro, Wideopenmag: 17th Ireland EWS, Crankworx Les Gets DH 10th, 4X Pro Tour Fort William 2nd.

Maddy Brown, Women Enduro/DH, Pedalabikeaway: 3rd DH National Champs, 1st Eastridge BES.

I also coached riders who completed the Trans Provence, Trans Savoie, Ard Rock Enduro, MTB Marathons, and many more!

Now is the time to start getting your winter training going to prepare yourself for the 2017 race season and I am currently looking for riders and teams to work with.  I have already signed up a number of well known riders and a new team for this winter and all will be announced soon, so I only have limited spaces available for coaching, but if you want to work with MTB Strength Factory, then get in touch.  For an outline of what I offer, please check out my Coaching Page which explains what is available.  Other options are also available, including consulting services for teams and clubs as well as one off coaching days to suit your needs.  If you are serious about your racing or just love riding, and are willing to put in the work then drop me a line…. ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  I would love to hear from you.

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

 

My Training: 4 Weeks of Strength

 

Squat Rack

Squat Rack

I think that for many people, especially those involved in endurance sports, strength training is misunderstood and rarely applied properly.  When I hear riders talk about doing winter strength training in the gym and how they did 30 reps of squats or whatever, I always want to say, ‘That is not strength training!!!!!’

Strength is the ability to exert maximal forces and to train your strength in the gym you need to move maximal loads through a full range of motion.  This usually means working with weights that are about 80% of your 1 rep max or higher for low reps, like 1-5.  Obviously there is a time and a place for higher rep ranges with lower weights; for instance you may want to put on a bit of muscle, or when first learning an exercise or movement.  Also, there will be supporting exercises that compliment the main lifts of squats and deads, and these can be carried out at higher rep ranges.

Below is my actual training I did over the last 4 weeks, starting on Monday the 3rd of November which was my first day working out of my new gym in Bristol.  To help put it all into context, I will first tell you a bit about my training history…….

The first thing that may surprise you is that prior to November I actually had a quite a long period out of the gym.  This summer I had a big crash at Afan and was unable to train properly for about 2 months, and when I was able to train I only had access to a crappy council gym which was ok, but not ideal for my needs.  I had trained regularly from April when I moved to Bristol up until late June when I fell off.  Before that my wife and I had taken a year out to go travelling and snowboarding so I had done loads of exercise and bodyweight training but very little gym work.  In early 2013, before going away for the year I was the strongest I have ever been, deadlifting 195kg, back squatting 155kg and being able to press 75kg overhead all whilst at 80kg bodyweight.

I was therefore coming into November knowing that I needed to get the basics nailed and that I needed to keep things simple and build my strength back up over the core lifts and movements whilst continuing to rehab my shoulder post-crash which was still hindering press ups, pull ups and overhead exercises.

Training Diary.

3rd Nov

3 minute Aerobic Test on Wattbike – DISGUSTING!

Deadlift:  8@60kg,  8@80kg,  5@100kg,  5@110kg and then 5×3@120kg

TRX Rows 5×8

Kettlebell (KB) Goblet Squat 4×12@20kg

Lying Leg Raises

Press Ups on Fists 4×8.  This is due to an ongoing wrist injury, meaning press ups on palms can be painful.

6th Nov

Back Squat 8@40kg,  8@ 60kg,  5@80kg,  3@90kg,  5×2@100kg

Attempted Overhead Squats but failed due to shoulder.  Pissed off.

Press 4×8@20kg

Pull Ups 4×5

Hanging Knee Raises 5×5

10th Nov

Deadlift 8@60kg,  8@80kg,  6@100kg,  5@100kg,  5×5@115kg

Superset of 5 sets of 12 Press Ups on DBs and 6 Chin Ups

Stiff Leg Deadlift with 4 second lower. 3×5@60kg

Hanging Knee to Elbow Raises 5×5

12th Nov

Front Squat 8@40kg,  8@50kg,  6@60kg,  4×5@70kg

Press 4×12@20kg

Had to cut short due to late client!

14th Nov

Back Squat 8@40kg,  6@60kg,  5@80kg,  2@90kg,  1@100kg,  1@110kg, 2×1@112.5kg

Kettlebell (KB) Swings 20@16kg,  2×20@20kg,  5×10@32kg

Press Ups (On hands but bad wrist taped for support) 4×10

Hanging Knee to Elbow Raises 4×8

17th Nov

Deadlift 8@60kg,  8@80kg,  8@100kg,  5@120kg,  2@130kg,  5×2@140kg

Superset of 5 sets of 14 Press Ups on DBs and 7 Chin Ups

Plank 3 x 1 min

Standing DB Side Bends 3×10 on each side @25kg  This was easy and I made a note in my diary to go 10kg heavier next time.

19th Nov

Back Squat  12@40kg,  8@60kg,  5@80kg,  5×5@100kg

Press  2×8@20kg,  8@25kg,  3×8@30kg – Shoulder feeling good today to increased weight to 30kg.

TRX Rows  4×12

Lying Leg Raises

21st Nov

Front Squat (4 second lower) 8@30kg,  8@40kg,  6@50kg,  5×5@60kg

Superset of 4 sets of 15 Press Ups and 6 Pull Ups

KB Cleans 2×10 each arm @20kg

KB Snatch 2×10 each arm @16kg – This KB work was more revision and practice as I have not snatched a KB in a couple of months due to shoulder injury.  As well as the main reps recorded here, I spent about 20 minutes practicing and working on good form with a variety or weights.

Hanging Knee to Elbow Raises 4×8

25th Nov – Week 4 of Programme and a Recovery Week.

20 minutes of mobility work and movement.

Super deep KB goblet squats with 5 sec hold at the bottom position.  5×5@24kg (2x12kg KBs)

Shoulder stability work on TRX.

20 minutes of stretching and foam rolling.

27th Nov 

This was also supposed to be a recovery day of quality movement and stretching, however I got offered a day labouring on a new MTB and BMX track in Bristol for Architrail who I occasionally work for.  This was actually a total beasting, pushing really heavy wheel barrows across a grassy field and up a hill as well as carrying heavy stuff all day.  Not what I had planned, but I gotta pay the bills!  I did 20 minutes of stretching in the evening though.

Present……..

That brings us nicely to the first week in December where a new 4 week training block begins in the run up to Christmas.  On Monday the 1st (today) I will repeat my 3 minute Aerobic test on the Wattbike and hopefully get a better result as I should be stronger and more powerful than 4 weeks ago.  Over the next 4 weeks I will incorporate more variety into my training and more intensity as I am well aware that I took things pretty steady to get started.  Importantly it all fits in with my long term strategy to prepare myself for next season so I don’t feel like I am behind or anything!  As I go forward I will have to review and evaluate the last 4 weeks and that is where my training diary is essential to my long term progress and goals.

I hope that this is helpful to you in some way.  It is not about showing off (I have a long way to go anyway) or about saying that this person or trainer is wrong and that I am right, but it is about letting you know how I do things and a bit about why.

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Daily Maintenance – The Baby Squat

 

Baby Squat

As a mountain biker it is super important to look after your hips and back, so that you can ride comfortably, move around on the bike and get the power down when you need to.  This basic mobility drill is something I have my athletes do every day for a couple of minutes, as well as before training or riding.

It is called the Baby Squat.  It is called that because that is how babies and toddlers sit naturally.  Interestingly it is also how most of the developing world sits as it is how we are meant to rest when not lying down.  I have even seen people sleeping in this position in Iraq and to me at the time it was mental!  Now I understand better though and have worked gradually to a point where I can sit like this for 10 minutes quite comfortably.

Most of you reading this will spend a lot of time in chairs, at the office, driving, reading this or watching the TV.  The problem is that a chair is not a natural position for us and it leaves our hips really tight and unable to move as freely as they should.  This manifests itself on the trail with lower back, hip and sometimes knee pain, so obviously if we want to enjoy riding more, we need to improve our hip mobility.

Watch the video below and try and find a couple of minutes per day to work on it and you will be surprised at the difference on the bike.

The Baby Squat is also part of the warm up drill before each session on The Bodyweight Strength Programme available here.

Stay Strong

Ben