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

 

 

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

Fort William World Cup 2016

Fort William 2016.  Photo: Ian Lean

Fort William 2016. Photo: Ian Lean

So, I am just back from an amazing 4 days in sunny (honestly!!) Fort William where I was working at the UCI Downhill World Cup.  I was really excited about the weekend as it was my first World Cup that I would be attending as a coach, rather than as a spectator.  On a personal and professional level this was a really big deal and marks a milestone for MTB Strength Factory.

My main focus for the weekend was Charlie Hatton riding for team Wideopenmag in the Junior category.  Charlie was coming into the race on a solid run of form, having just won the BDS at Bala and with a podium at Fort William BDS just a few weeks earlier.  We all know that Charlie is capable of winning a Junior World Cup and the team worked hard to put everything in place to help him do so.

Over the weekend I would also be working with Veronique Sandler (Vero), riding in the Women’s field, Duncan Ferriss racing 4X for DMR Bikes and randomly ended up helping out long term MTB Strength Factory rider Monet Adams as she also got roped into some last minute 4X action!

Saturday saw massive crowds, brutally hot weather and a dusty, wild mammoth of a track for qualification.  Both my DH riders put down storming runs with Charlie coming down in 2nd, less than a second behind Finn Illes and with plenty left in the tank.  Vero also put down a solid run to secure 15th in qualification, securing her place in the finals for Sunday.

After the DH had finished on Saturday, the 4X Pro Tour kicked off. The track was a true MTB track, rough and loose with some great features.  Dunc put in a smooth first moto, finishing second and progressing on to the quarter finals with being pushed too hard.  Unfortunately and despite a good gate he was then knocked out in the quarters, getting over taken on the inside of the last corner.  I know that Dunc was gutted, but that is racing!  He still rode well all week and was feeling strong despite a niggling shoulder injury sustained in a crash earlier this year.

Women’s 4X seems to be struggling a bit and with only 3 entrants it was going to be cancelled unless a few more ladies stepped to race.  Thankfully, 3 brave women ‘volunteered’ including Monet and the race was on!  There would only be 2 semis and then the final due to the small size of the field.  Monet easily won her semi, leading from the gate on a borrowed bike, wearing jeans and a borrowed lid too.  In the final she would be up against the world champ and a seriously good 4X rider from Germany called Steffi Marth.  Monet was stoked to take a comfortable second place overall and a big fat cheque that will help her go to Crankworx this summer.

Sunday saw even bigger crowds and an amazing atmosphere.  After warming up and doing some mental focussing drills together I took Charlie to the start hut for his finals run.  Dropping in, he was flying.  Fully committed and looking confident on his bike I though that this would be his day.  Sadly a puncture ruined it just as he entered the woods and he limped down the track to the roars of the crowd chanting his name and with sparks flying off his knackered rim!  The team are gutted, but still full of confidence for the next round in Leogang.

Finally, Vero would drop in for her run.  She looked committed and stylish in the top section until she made a mistake and ran off the track, costing her vital seconds.  In the end she finished in a very respectable 19th, her best result for some time and she is also on the road to Leogang feeling hungry for a better result.

Overall it was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to travel to more world cups with my athletes in the future.  We all learnt a lot, grew closer as a team and are walking away from the Fort with our heads held high.

Stay Strong

Ben

MTB Strength Factory Race News

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Let’s just keep this simple……  I know you are often only as good as your last race result, but this season has seen a steady stream of good results in races across the UK and Europe for MTB Strength Factory trained riders.

Every weekend my riders are smashing out solid race results and this weekend was no exception with plenty of podiums and a couple of wins to add to the trophy cabinet.

Glentress 7 endurance MTB event:  1st place for Joe Norledge.  I provide strength training for Joe who programmes his own riding and over arching training plan.

British Downhill Series, Bala:  Elite Men – Rich Thomas from Team Wideopenmag 17th in a stacked field and whilst holding down a full time job, beating a few full time pros with a rapid time.  Watch out top 10!

Elite Women – Veronique Sandler 4th in her first BDS of the year, riding for Loose Riders.

Expert Men – Kye Forte 5th riding for Team Wideopenmag.  Kyle is now the number 1 ranked Expert in only his first season up from Masters.

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Women – Lindsay Hanley in 2nd riding for NX2 and bouncing back after a massive crash at the Fort William BDS a couple of weeks before.

Junior Men – Charlie Hatton taking another win aboard his Nukeproof riding for Team Wideopenmag.  He put a good couple of seconds into the other juniors and leads the overall standings.  He is going into the World Cup at Fort William feeling fast, strong and confident.

Youth Men – Morgan Tyrrell in 7th although there is some controversy being resolved over some suspect timing issues so who know how well he actually did.  What I know is that he is working hard and riding really well and still managing to study for his GCSE exams.  Top work Morgs.

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I am just doing my last few gym sessions with my riders for the week before heading up to Fort William for the World Cup and the 4X Pro Tour.  I have Charlie Hatton racing in Juniors, Veronique Sandler in the Women and Duncan Ferriss racing the 4X and with a score to settle from last year!  Bring it on……..

Stay Strong

Ben

Coaching slots are still available either face to face in Bristol or via online coaching.  Drop me a line on ben@mtbstrengthfactory to find out more.

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

Wrist strength and training for MTB.

A really common problem with riders I train is pain or discomfort in the wrists when they are doing press ups and other floor based movements.  We have all fallen off and jarred a wrist and maybe even broken a wrist or two over the years and it often leaves the wrist with a limited range of motion and uncomfortable in certain positions.

In the video below I outline some simple tips that will help you to train with wrist issues as well as generally strengthening the wrists so that they are more robust for riding and training.

Good luck with your training and don’t forget to check out my new kettlebell programme for building full body strength!

Stay Strong

Ben

Learning The Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is the defining kettlebell exercise.  When you learn to do it correctly, it will help you to develop a strong and powerful back, core and legs as well as offering a great conditioning session if you do higher reps.  There are loads of different videos out there in the internet showing you how to swing the kettlebell, some are very good, and sadly a lot are very poor.

Below here you can find my kettlebell instructional videos (Part 1 and Part 2) taken directly from my Kettlebell Strength Programme.  In the videos you will learn that the swing is all about generating power from your hips.  It is not a squatting motion and you should not be lifting the kettlebell with your arms!  Hip power is the key to becoming a better athlete in pretty much any sport and it directly relates to mountain biking by helping to create a strong ‘Attack Position’ on the bike as well as helping to develop your leg power for out of the saddle efforts out on the trail.

In Part 1 you will learn the basics and develop a rhythm with the swing:

In Part 2 you will take the basics and build on them to create a full swing up to shoulder height.  You also get to see me looking ridiculous doing my ‘spaghetti arms’ coaching drill!

Remember that the swing is all about technique.  You must invest some time and effort into learning the swing with good form!

If you want to use kettlebells to get faster on your mountain bike, then the MTB Strength Factory Kettlebell Strength Programme is for you.  It is a comprehensive training programme that will offer many months of training gains.  All of the exercises have professionally produced video tutorials so you can be reassured that you are doing the right exercises in the right way.  To download your copy today, just hit the link…  Kettlebell Strength

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