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.

N1NO – Hittin’ The Gym.

You might have seen this video doing the rounds on social media recently.  It is from the web series about the training and life of XC whippet and all round MTB demon, Nino Schurter.  If you have not seen it, then take 5 and watch it now….

Having just watched the video myself I had a few thoughts I wanted to pass on about the way I train people and what I can learn from this.  I was also imagining people (like you!) going home and trying some of this crazy stuff in your garages and falling off your kid’s skateboard!

1.  I strongly believe in training balance and coordination and regularly integrate these things into my warm ups for my riders at the gym.  Sometimes I also use balance and stability drills in rest periods between sets as well.  Improving balance and your ability to correct yourself from an off-balance position plays an important role in injury prevention, especially when you are falling off your bike on uneven and loose terrain.

2.  Nino’s training schedule as a full time athlete allows him to do a dedicated and very intense session of balance, stability and core training.  He has time to ride lots (way more than you!).  He also has time to do conventional strength training in the gym and in order to do all of this, he must also have time to rest, eat and recover in order to grow as an athlete and avoid burn out.  Pretty much all of the people I train have full time jobs.  Training time is very limited and so choosing what will get the biggest return on your investment is crucial.  Would dedicating a whole session to this type of training each week be an effective use of your time?  Quite possibly, however you would be missing out on an opportunity to develop real strength.  This is where copying the pro’s is not always the best approach and assessing your individual needs as a rider is critical.

3.  I have never personally been a fan of ‘circus tricks’ in the gym, like standing on swiss balls and doing a shoulder press and other things like that.  I have never felt like they gave much of a reward and that they were always compromised and focussed too much on looking cool.  Take my shoulder press example:  Doing it on a swiss ball means you can’t press as much weight, so you won’t get as strong. It really is that simple.  However, Nino’s coach has programmed these movements specifically as part of a broader programme of balance and stability, so it does seem more justified.  For you, who probably has limited gym time, you could use an exercise like this as a great warm up tool for stabilising and preparing the shoulders for a series of hard sets of a standing press.  Again, with limited time, simply copying the pro’s is not always the best way to train.

4.  I found his ‘cognitive’ recovery periods really fascinating.  Rather than just chilling out between sets, he did something that challenged his brain and coordination (juggling) whilst he was basically ruined!  I already apply similar principles in some of my coaching, but will be doing some more in depth research and experimentation on this with myself and my riders over the coming months.  For instance I frequently programme a bike session that I call ‘Fatigued Technical Skills,’ where I get my rider to sprint for 10-30 seconds into the top of a DH trail so that they are riding the technical sections whilst breathing heavily and with a high HR.  This simulates racing and also teaches them to ride relaxed and to keep a clear head even when they are hitting 185 bpm!  In the gym I also coach a deaf mountain biker and we do a lot of work on her balance.  Now we have made some progress with her balance we are challenging her more by doing some tough conditioning work and then balancing in the rest periods.  This is something that I shall look at implementing with some of my riders as well.

5.  In their gym they have lots of cool toys to play with.  My old gym had an Indo-Board surf trainer which was awesome and I think I am going to invest in one myself!  I already use wobble mats and Bosu balls, but I think that some more varied challenges would be good for my riders so I might crack out the credit card!

6.  Remember that the things you saw in this video are all out of context.  Whilst he is showing you some pretty unique and interesting training, does he do this all year or just for a pre-season tune up?  Does he do it weekly or even more often?  How does it fit into his broader programme?  Don’t get too hung up on the detail of what Nino does here as I think the take away message is that for most riders there are a few things to be learnt from this video:  The first is to use instability in your warm ups and/or training to build robustness and to protect yourself.  The second is that you need a really strong core to ride at the top level.  The third thing to take away is that his training is fun and varied, and yours should be too.  Finally, he is working hard, completing quality reps (not quantity) and it is all part of an over arching programme.

What are your thoughts on the video?  What about my thoughts?  Do you agree with me or disagree? I would love to hear what you think!

Stay Strong

Ben

Scotland – Enduro World Series and World Cup

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I have just spent the last 2 weeks up in Scotland, racing the Enduro World Series and then going to watch the World Cup in Fort William.  Despite the fact that it rained EVERY DAY, it was a great trip with awesome riding and racing and lots of fun times with my riding buddies and my wife.  Here is what I got up to and my training-related thoughts about the 2 events and some other random stuff too…….

Home for the EWS!

Home for the EWS!

The EWS at Peebles in the Scottish Borders is known for being one of the most technical, steep and slippery tracks on the EWS circuit and this year was no change.  The constant rain meant that the steep and root infested stages around Innerleithen were super slippy and getting a clean run would be very difficult.  Practicing all day Wed and Thurs and resting on Friday, I felt fit and strong on the bike although not quite at race pace as I had only had the bike for a couple of weeks.  I found my riding to be quite inconsistent and found it hard to get a rhythm in practice.  Some parts went really well and I rode right at my limit and at other times I was making silly mistakes, including a pretty big crash at the bottom of stage 7 at Glentress that left me with a pretty multicoloured thigh for the next 10 days!  I think that the main issue for me was getting in the right frame of mind.  Maybe the scale of the event and the quality of competition got to me a bit, but I found it hard to relax and ride my best.  I need to have a think about this and work on improving it in the future.

The inconsistent theme continued on the Saturday with some sections going really well, even catching the rider in front and other sections of the course feeling like I was a toddler without stabilisers for the first time!  By the end of day 1 of racing at Innerleithen I was feeling very second hand, having had quite a big run in with a tree, leaving my shoulder very stiff and sore, and with a stiff wrist and finger from punching a tree in the tight sections.  I was sitting about 200th out of 269 in E1 category and that would have put me in 12th in E2 category out of about 100 riders riding the same course.  I was hoping for better results from day 1 and felt a bit frustrated.  The main thing that I took away from day 1 is that I am just not used to riding and racing such long downhills of 5 minutes or more.  I need to improve my race conditioning by doing two things:  1- Increase the length of my conditioning sessions in the gym ton reflect longer stage times.  2- Actually ride some bigger hills and tracks and do them in one go rather than in sections with a chat to my mates half way down.

Waking up on Sunday morning I knew that I would not be able to race properly.  I could not lift my right arm past shoulder height and my wrist felt pretty weak too so I decided to withdraw which is a bit of a bummer.  For me, as an amateur racing for fun, it is just not worth it, especially being mid-30’s and self employed!  The silver lining was that I got to watch the pro’s come down the final stage into Peebles and that was awesome!  They are at another level and it was inspiring to see them riding so fast on such tricky tracks.  Maybe I will do another EWS next year?!

The week leading up to the World Cup, my wife and I had planned to ride loads, but it did not stop raining the whole time so we only got out once.  Fortunately it was an awesome ride at a little trail centre called Laggan Wolftrax.  This place is really unique in that it is mostly on really grippy (even when wet) rock.  I have never ridden anywhere like it and even if you don’t normally ride trail centres, I would urge you to check it out.  It has some cool features including a massive North Shore style rock roll which was loads of fun and is something I have never seen in this country before.  The cafe is also pretty decent!

You probably don’t really need me to talk much about the World Cup as the MTB social media and web world has been flooded with content, so here are some thoughts about seeing it first hand and the physical considerations for racing DH at a high level.

Every rider who did well was f**ked at the bottom.  No matter how fit they were, they all gave 100% to the final sprint and motorway section.  The lesson here is about mental toughness and determination.  If you want to do well you need to give it all, and push through when the legs and lungs are screaming for you to stop.  This can and should be developed in training, both on the bike and in the gym.

The best riders raced smart and conserved energy on the windy top sections of the moor so that they would have more power available to sprint hard and clear the massive jumps on the motorway section.

The top section is rougher than it looks on TV!  You need to be smooth, relaxed and on the right lines with good upper body strength to move the bike around and pump for speed.

For such a long, sustained track where you may only sit for a few seconds during the whole 5 minutes, core strength and endurance is critical to enable you to maintain a good riding position, absorb hits and put down power when you need to.

Manon’s crash was pretty huge and could have been a lot worse.  As well as her helmet and body armour protecting her from injury, the fact that she is a high level athlete certainly helped too.  Muscle is like armour, protecting the skeleton and organs from injury and impact.  I would also bet that she does regular neck training as part of her strength programme and this will help her to bounce back from big crashes as well as protecting her at the time of the crash.

DH MTB World Cup

DH MTB World Cup

The atmosphere in the finishing arena at For Bill is amazing!  Get it on your MTB bucket list if you have not been already.

I am now back to the gym and back to work.  3 Weeks until UKGE round 2 in Grizedale and the trails back home are dry and dusty.  Happy Days…

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

 

Prioritising Your Races For Improved Results

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For those of you looking forward to a busy 2015 MTB race season, now is the time to start planning which races you will be doing and which ones are most important to you.  Some of you may have already done this, but as not all the race series have announced their firm 2015 dates yet, it is not always possible to do so early.  As a general rule though, you should have it all sorted by the new year as your training plan from January will be built around the summer’s racing and your priorities and goals.

The first thing to consider is how many races or events you can actually do over the season.  You should think about cost, travel, time off work and also your physical ability to perform week in and week out for a prolonged period of time.  You may find that you will get better results by entering less races, allowing you more time train.  Bear in mind that after a hard weekend of racing you may take a few days to totally recover and if you are racing consecutive weekends then this basically leaves you no time to train.  Also, do not underestimate the mental strain of racing, especially if you are a competitive person.  Racing too much over the summer can burn you out and leave you lacklustre and less focussed on training and racing.

Assuming that you have decided which races to do, you now need to have a think about which ones are most important to you and which ones less so.  The reason you should do this is that you will want to properly peak for the most important races to give you the best chance of a good result, however you can’t peak for lots of races as you will lose fitness over the season.  Generally races are divided into “A” “B” and “C” priority races with “A” being the most important and “C” being your least important races.

You should start by selecting 1 to 4 “A Priority” races that will be your biggest focus next season.  Picking these races can be tricky and it is important to think it through properly.  For instance you may immediately think the National Champs in your discipline will be an “A” race, however you know that this race will bring out all of the strongest and most competitive riders.  Can you actually compete against them?  If not then maybe you should prioritise another race that may have a slightly weaker field, for instance a national series race on the same weekend as a world cup.  It will still be a hard race with a strong field, but your chances of a good result will be greatly improved if the top riders are away on WC duties, meaning that if you peak properly and put in a good performance you could get a solid result!

Next you need to add the “B Priority” races to your calendar.  These will be fairly important races that often make up the bulk of the race season, especially as they tend to be made up of rounds from a race series.  Consistent attendance and performance ensures a good overall result with these races so they are worth being fresh for and whilst you won’t properly taper your training in the run up to the event you may reduce your training somewhat in the week before so that you are fresh.

Finally, the “C Priority” races are added to the race calendar.  These races are nice extras that you basically train straight through.  They basically become part of your training programme.  The results are not important and you may not even put in 100% effort for these races.  They can still be valuable in their own right though, for things like developing race craft and tactics and for trying out pre-race routines.  For instance you should not ever try a new warm up or pre-race energy drink before an important race.  You should experiment in training and then test it out on a “C” race to see if it works.  Keep a diary and use these races to make sure that you are best prepared for the bigger races throughout the season.  If you are feeling fatigued mid-season then you should look at skipping any “C” races that you may have planned.  Think of them as a nice-to-do part of the main season and a great way to get race sharp in the early season.

Based around the prioritised races you have in your diary now as well as your personal and work life you can construct your training plan to build up to an peak for the “A” races whilst training through the “C” races and something in the middle for the “B” races.  The exact way you will do this and how you programme it will depend on you, your discipline, experience and level of racing which is why I have not gone into it here.

Remember that if you have any questions about this article you can post them on my Facebook Page and I will do my best to answer them.

Have a Strong Christmas

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

 

MTB Strength Factory are Proud to Announce Sponsorship of Monet Adams for the 2015 Season

Monet 2Photo Credit:  Chris Davidson

I am really stoked to announce that MTB Strength Factory are going to be supporting Monet Adams for all of her training for the 2015 British Downhill Series and Downhill  World Cups.

Monet is a super talented rider who is not afraid to go big.  She has a great list of results to her name and loads of potential to make it onto podiums at the highest level.  She is fully committed to her training and racing and is going to be one to watch for 2015, both at home and abroad on the WC circuit where she will be attending all races.

We started work in the gym this week with initial testing and assessment of her abilities, and are working together to build a programme that will help her to realise her full potential next season.

Watch this space…….

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Downhill World Cup Rd 2, Cairns: Some Thoughts

DH MTB Sideways

I am not really a fan of Red Bull as a drink, however I am a massive fan of the DH World Cup and Red Bull’s amazing free coverage.  I am so glad we get to see all the runs with Warner and Cunny’s hilarious commentary and plenty of camera angles and course coverage. As well as just chilling and enjoying the racing, I was thinking about training and just how strong those top riders need to be in order to stay competitive now.  To ride at this level you need to be a proper athlete.

Here are a few thoughts that I scribbled down at the time.  Have a look, and let me know your thoughts over on Facebook.

Staying Loose:  To ride this sort of mud and slop well, you need to stay loose on your bike, and let it do its own thing to a certain extent.  At first you may not think that this style of riding needs you to be super strong, but in fact it is the rider’s strength and mobility that allows it to happen along with a large dose of skill and big Kahunas!  Can you relax and let the bike flow if you are in a death grip at the extremes of your upper body strength?  Can your knees stay soft when your thighs are pumped, burning and ready to give out?  The answer is, ‘No’ and the only way to improve these factors is to be stronger and better conditioned.

Hitting Your Lines:  Letting the bike step out of line, means that at some point you need to pull it back and put it on your line. By using your feet, hands and body to regain a line, this puts a considerable  strain on the muscles and joints, especially with a 35 lb DH sled underneath you and all that momentum.  Seeing the way the riders manhandled their bikes into some of the tight and tech corners and in particular into the left hander at the top of the rock garden was amazing.  They made it look easy and smooth, and it was so impressive to see.  Obviously this comes from moving their body weight around, but guess what?  You can’t move around on your bike like that if you are weak and/or inflexible!

3 Days of Riding:  With practice, qualifying, more practice and then racing, the riders are putting in a serious amount of riding over a few days.  Add to that the demanding nature of the course, the peanut butter mud, and the tropical heat and humidity and you have a tough race overall.  This is where the winter conditioning and all the road miles really come in.  Quite simply the fitter a rider is, the more quickly and easily they can recover from a hard effort like a practice run.  If a rider has done the winter miles, then their cardiovascular system will be super efficient, both during and after riding, and this means that they will be better prepared to complete multiple high effort runs during practice and still pull out a top performance on race day.

The Finish Straight:  Like it or loathe it, the end of the race was dominated by a long, mostly flat sprint to the line.  It was controversial, but who cares?  It was there and all the riders had to dig deep if they wanted to do well, and it was the same for everyone.  The simple fact is that the most powerful and best conditioned riders would have the most to gain on this crucial part of the track.  That time in the gym, time doing hill sprints and anaerobic endurance training paid off for the top riders whilst it was clear to see who had not put in as much work in the winter months.

I am just getting excited finishing this off now and thinking about Fort William in about a month.  It is going to be amazing, and it will show again that these amazing men and women are true athletes and if you want to get to the top and compete with them, then bike skills alone won’t be enough.

Stay Strong

Ben