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

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

Enduro Training Camp: 9th-16th April, French Pyrenees

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I am really excited to announce the first ever MTB Strength Factory and Altitude Adventure, Enduro Training Camp this spring.

Set in the stunning Pyrenees Orientales about 40 minutes East of Andorra, Altitude Adventure have been serving up amazing riding to mountain bikers from the UK for many years.  They have been featured in numerous articles in Singletrack, MBR and MBUK amongst others and people keep on coming back for the epic, natural riding on offer.

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The week is designed for anybody who wants to improve their fitness and skills for enduro racing this season.  It will be a mixture of uplift and pedalling to get you to the best trails in the area, with each day’s activity carefully chosen to offer you different challenges and to develop you as a rider.  This area is a hotbed of French MTB talent with riders like Damien Oton hailing from the region and training on the same tracks that you will be riding.

To compliment the riding you will be doing, I will be doing daily flexibility and mobility work with you all, helping you to recover and educating you on how you can improve this often neglected aspect of MTB training.  Without turning it into a school trip, there will be talks and presentations from me and Ian and Ange (Altitude Adventure and both ex WC level riders!) in the evenings to inform and educate you so that you can race at your best this summer and beyond.  We will cover topics such as nutrition, training, race prep and tactics, as well as offering you almost unlimited opportunity to pick my brains on all things training related!

Whilst we are calling this a training camp, it is not a fitness based camp with endless interval training and sprints!  Whilst you should come back feeling fitter and stronger on the bike after so much riding, including time at altitude, it is just as much about sharpening your skills and getting lots of demanding technical trail riding done, and even riding under race conditions using our timing kit.

If you are planning on racing enduro this summer and you want to go into the season better prepared than ever, then this is the trip for you.  The cost is £695 including:

7 nights ensuite accommodation with jacuzzi on site!

6 evening meals, all breakfasts and packed lunch on all riding days.

All your drinks – although you probably won’t be hitting the beers too hard on training camp!

Guiding, coaching, and uplifts.

Education and practical sessions with Ben from MTB Strength Factory.

You will have to arrange and pay for return flights to Barcelona as well as paying for transfer.  You will also need to pay for one evening meal out during your stay.

If you have any questions relating to the MTB Strength Factory side of the trip, including training, content and so on then please feel free to email me direct on ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  If you have questions about the area, accommodation, what bike to bring, flights etc, then it is best to visit the Altitude Adventure website or drop them a line on info@altitudeadventure.com being sure to mention MTB Strength Factory when you email them!

This trip is going to be so much fun as well as taking your riding and racing to the next level!

 

We are moving gyms!

As of yesterday (1st July) I have moved into a new gym to train all of my riders.  It is a lot bigger with plenty of kit and heavy stuff to pick up and throw around. It also has loads of space to move around which is really important to me and the way I train people.

The other benefit of moving gyms is that I can now take on a few more riders for coaching and may even run a class or two over the winter to compliment my MTB training workshops that will also run over the winter.

If you want to come and visit me for a chat about MTB training and check out the gym then get in touch by emailing ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  For now though, check out this little video tour I did!

Address: 13 Brookgate
South Liberty Lane
Ashton, Bristol, BS3 2UN

Stay Strong

Ben

Great Feedback on the Bodyweight Strength Programme

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I got a great email out of the blue yesterday from John F, pictured riding in Les 2 Alpes, who bought a copy of the Bodyweight Strength Programme earlier this year.  Check out what he had to say…..

Really been enjoying (?!) the workouts Ben.
Documenting them has been massively helpful in seeing my progression and motivates me when I need it. I’m onto my 5th week now after redoing my consolidation week 4 as I picked up a flu bug and was floored for a week.
Pull ups were never my strong point but now I am able to knock out a decent set of reps of good quality. I am also finding that with the finisher that I am able to maintain or even increase my reps during the 20secs as I go.
I live in the Highlands of Scotland and the snow has had a detrimental effect on how much I have been able to get out on the bike so having a session in the gym is keeping me going.
My snowboarding is coming on too! Lol.
Anyway, thanks for the tips and the motivational emails.

If you want a simple, effective and proven programme that you can do anywhere, then check out the Bodyweight Strength Programme for only £18 and covered by my money back guarantee.

Bodyweight Strength Programme

Bodyweight Strength Programme

Stay Strong

Ben

Changing Things Up In The Gym

 

Joe's Programme

Things can get stale in the gym pretty quickly unless you change things up from time to time.

That’s why last night I ran my rider Joe Finney’s session a bit differently to normal.  We were a little short on time, and Joe was a bit tired and sore from riding Moto on the weekend, so rather than going through a really structured session I decided to put the session into Joe’s hands to see how he got on.

I prescribed what I wanted to achieve in the session and wrote it on the chalk board and the rest was down to Joe, selecting what he wanted to do and when and also selecting what weights to lift for the deadlift in order to reach his 2000kg target for the session.  If the session only took 20 minutes then that would be it – all finished for the night and job done!  It was simply about getting a prescribed amount of work done on his terms.  Here was the plan in case you can’t read my writing on the picture!

Deadlift 2000kg

Goblet Squat @20kg x 50

Press Up x 60

Get Up x 30

Mountain Climber x 100

Fat Bar Chins x 20

KB Swing @32kg x 40

This workload is within Joe’s capabilities and is neither easy or super hard for him.  It will have a beneficial conditioning effect as well as the strength and power gains from the big lifts, due to the non-stop nature of the session.  It took about 25 minutes of steady graft in the end.

The key message I think is that there are so many ways to get stronger, fitter and in shape for any goal.  The key is to vary the training stimulus so that the body and mind do not adapt and are always kept guessing.  Whichever path you take, you should be committed and you should believe in the programme and your ability to succeed.  By doing this I gave Joe ownership and responsibility for his own training and self-development and this is a powerful tool for a coach to wield with his athletes.  Tomorrow night we will be doing something completely different in terms of stimulus, format and outcomes.  That is how you grow physically and mentally as an athlete and rider.

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Interning with Darren Roberts

Me and Darren Roberts

I want to be the best coach I can be.

I want to train an athlete who wins a World Cup or World Championships title.

I know that I need to work hard to improve my knowledge and methodology in order for this to become a reality and that is why I have recently started a 3 month internship with Darren Roberts.  You have probably heard of Darren; he has a column in Dirt, and he used to be in charge of the high performance programme at Red Bull, looking after many top riders like the Athertons and Danny Mac.  He has trained athletes to the highest levels and succeeded.  He is now focussed on rehab for top extreme sports athletes and is over seeing Martin Soderstrom and Josh Bryceland as we speak.

Last week I went and spent the day with him in their facility in Wilmslow, just outside Manchester.  I coached a gym based power session in the morning and a conditioning session in the afternoon, all under Darren’s watchful eye.  Based on this he has given me some feedback on my coaching style and methods.  It is never easy to take (even constructive) criticism, however I know that I am not perfect and that I make mistakes and that in order to develop as a coach I need the truth.  Darren is straight talking and I have a list of things to work on before our next session.

In particular I realised that I need to improve my understanding of applying plyometric exercises within my programmes.  Darren had plenty of great ideas and exercises that I had not seen before and I will be focussing on this aspect of my personal development and education over the next month or so at least.

I should be re-visiting in about a month and I will let you know how I get on.

Stay Strong

Ben

 

New Athlete: Liz Fowler, Current 4X National Champ.

Photo Credit: Adam Richardson

Photo Credit: Adam Richardson

I am really happy to announce that last week I started working with Liz Fowler, the reigning Women’s 4X National Champion, who also represented team GB at the Worlds in Leogang this summer.  She is going to be going into the 2015 season fitter and stronger than ever and has set some high goals for herself, so watch this space!

 

Guest Post – Sam from Pedal Progression

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This winter Sam (From Bristol based coaching company, Pedal Progression) and I are doing a skills swap.  I train him once per week in the gym and give him a bodyweight training session per week to do at home and in return he is doing a skills coaching session with me once per fortnight at a variety of riding spots across Bristol and the SW.  The aim…..  We both want to ride faster!

Here is what Sam has to say about our training……

“Being 6 foot and 65kg’s, the phrase ‘skin and bones’ gets used a lot by my mum when we greet! I’ve always undoubtedly been a physically weak man but being a skills coach I’ve tried to ignore that fact when I get on my bike and over the years I’ve just focused on moving my fairly agile frame around on the bike to make things easier. Over recent years though, I’ve noticed myself reaching a plateau due to being weak towards the bottom of long runs. Making mistakes due to getting muscle fatigue on my hardtail at a winter race last year was the first sign my strength was letting me down on the bike.

When Ben from Mtb Strength Factory moved to town I immediately wondered if there was another way to improve my strength for riding other than my previous gym experience. Pushing heavy weights on machines worked fairly well in the short term but I soon lost the little muscle I gained as soon as I stopped. I wasn’t really able to keep it up with my fast metabolism as I needed to eat nearly 6000 calories a day and none of the lifts I was doing were specific to being able to fight a 40lb downhill bike.

As I struggled to do 6 press-ups this summer I wondered that if the fastest riders train to get stronger then so should I if I want to improve my riding. My goals are to be able to ride those long tracks and not make stupid mistakes getting caught out of position when it gets gnarly and can’t wait to test myself on some races in 2015. Helping to prevent injuries as I get nearer 30, so I don’t miss days at work, was another aspect of wanting to give strength training another go.

The skills swap was also exciting in that it would give Ben and I the chance to see how our two worlds of expertise inevitably collide, allowing us to analyise the way we deliver our own programmes and make tweaks to make them even better for our customers.

In the 6 weeks that I’ve been training with Ben, he’s smashed my perception of what going to the gym should be like for a mountain biker. I’ve been to his gym once a week and used the online strength programme to train at my house with no weights or expensive equipment to supplement the gym stuff. With Ben’s watchful eye, it’s been easy to focus on my goal knowing that every lift or body bending move is going to absolutely make me better on the bike.

Being a rider, he knows exactly which movements and muscles you need to focus on in a workout in order to maximise your gain out on the trail. The programme so far has also given me ample time to rest – being able to ride the next day rather than being totally destroyed is really important for me!

The key thing for me though has been the workout’s focus not only on the weight you lift but also the movements involved that go into making you more supple, flexible and ultimately able to use your strength properly on a bike. I’ve eaten well, as I usually do, but not focused purely on gaining weight like I did 5 years ago. There’s no doubt that I was doing it all wrong in the gym before and that my posture and core strength are now on the right track again. I feel stronger already and more aware of the strength involved in the movements that I do on my bike and if you want to go faster like I do then that is priceless.

Bring on the races!”

Stay Strong

Ben