Get in Shape for Mountain Biking

Pretty much everyone I know wants to start working out to sculpt a healthier, stronger body. But getting in shape without spending tons of dough isn’t possible, is it? There are all kinds of expensive equipment to buy for your recommended training regimen and courses to purchase. But what if I told you that you can get in shape for mountain biking without spending money? Yes, it’s possible. This post is all about how you can get in shape and become a better mountain bike rider without decimating your savings.

Reasons People Take Forever Before Starting Exercising

I work out on a regular basis, and while my body isn’t quite there yet, I’m in relatively good shape. But when I ask people why they’re not taking action right now, I get all kinds of reasons.

Some people say they’re insanely busy and working out consumes tons of time. Others say working out costs too much comfort. Getting in shape necessitates enduring pain and sacrificing personal comfort.

A few say workouts are pretty boring, and they’d rather do something else that’s more exciting, like reading a book. Or doing yoga. Or playing some instrument. Or whatever.

But the vast majority of people say their hesitation stems from the required equipment being too expensive. And I get it. Bowflex fitness training equipment isn’t exactly cheap. And gym memberships can be prohibitively expensive.

Here’s good news — it’s possible to get in shape without depleting your entire life’s savings. Below I give you 4 ways to get in shape for MTB without spending a dollar.

4 Ways to Get in Shape for MTB That Don’t Cost a Dime

Here’s a list of 4 effective but cost-free strategies for becoming a stronger, faster MTBer without touching your credit card:

  1. Build a Strong Core
  2. Get Your Upper Body Stronger
  3. Grow Stronger Legs
  4. Get Your Endurance to a Good Place

I’ll now shine some light on each of these strategies so you can learn how to benefit from all of them.

1. Build a Strong Core for Mountain Biking

Any good core strength trainer knows that building your core strength can make you a faster, more confident rider. Mountain biking can be extremely demanding, and you’re going to need all the strength you can muster.

According to Mayo Clinic, exercising your core doesn’t require any kind of specialized equipment. Nor do core exercises necessitate gym membership.

Any exercise that has you coordinating your back muscles with your abdominal muscles counts as a core exercise. Paul Ryan, a certified personal fitness trainer, recommends glute bridge exercises, cycle-the-bike exercises, shoulder squeeze exercises, and back extension exercises.

Other core-strengthening exercises Ryan suggests include oblique crunches, single-leg glute bridge, straight arm planks, back extension with elbows, and more.

Core Exercises Taught By Paul Ryan (Video)

Watch the video below and learn how to strengthen your core right in your bedroom or living room. Zero equipment needed here.

Benefits of Core Exercises, According to Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic further says that core exercises offer multiple benefits. One benefit is that these exercises improve your stability and balance. And there’s no successful mountain biking without you having great balance and stability.

Another benefit that comes from having a strong core is it can help you tone your abs. Toning your abs is simply burning your abdominal fat and strengthening the underlying muscles.

Most importantly, building a strong core makes doing physical activities such as running, golfing, and biking easier. Additionally, strengthening your core makes you fatigue less, increases your endurance, and reduces MTB injuries.

So, put in the work required to build up your core strength. As your core gets stronger, you’ll struggle less doing MTB tricks and maneuvers that need lots of strength, stability, and balance. Bunny hops, trackstanding, jumps, riding berms, name it.

2. Strengthen Your Upper Body Through Proper Workout

What’s better than having six-pack abs and bulging biceps to boot? What’s better than catching cute women checking you out? Nothing! That’s why you should combine a strong core with a strong upper body.

To make your upper body stronger, two types of exercise are critical. You need to consistently do push-ups and pull-ups.

Do these upper-body strengthening exercises every day, and you’ll soon start noticing your bike getting lighter. Also, cycling up hills, riding switchbacks, and riding technical trails will start getting easier. If you practice hard enough and consistently, you’ll probably achieve your MTB fitness goals sooner than you imagine.

My husband’s trainer recommended 20-25 push-ups every day. But my man does 40 push-ups daily. And I think he’s the strongest guy on the planet. Sorry girls, I’ll not show his pics here for obvious reasons ha.

As for pull-ups, 20 good ones each day should get you in great shape for MTB damn fast.

While doing your pull-ups, Jason’s trainer said to have your chin above the bar each time. It’s going to be hard — at first. But with time, it’ll start getting easier.

I find push-ups somewhat harder than above-the-bar pull-ups. But things keep getting easier the more I practice.

3. Train Your Body and Grow Stronger Legs

Leg workouts are an integral part of a good MTB fitness routine. Good mountain bikers have strong, muscular legs. They have legs that don’t complain when asked to make faster pedal revolutions to improve cadence.

What’s the secret to building bigger, muscular, stronger legs? It’s committing to a series of daily workouts that focus on your legs.

So, do squats, lunges, and glutes every single day.

3 Cost-free Ways to Develop Strong Legs for Mountain Biking

Let’s dive in.

1.Do Squats Every Day

Learn how to do squats. That’s because squats are the foundation for pretty much all lower-body exercises according to Men’s Health.

Instead of trying to squat heavy each day, focus on amassing squat reps. Form the constructive habit of staying in a deep squat position for 5-10 minutes each day.

Certain kinds of squats may have you needing to use appropriate equipment. But this post is about getting in shape for MTB without having a budget for it. For that reason, I’ll just focus on squats without weights or squats that don’t require any kind of specialized equipment.

The squats you need to build stronger legs include pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats, single-leg squats, and jump squats. You may also need to do pause squats and yoga squats. There’s lots of useful videos on how to squats. Watch them. Learn. Practice.

As you get better at squats, consider adding weights to make them a little harder. That’s how you start getting better, bigger, faster results.

2. Do Lunges to Help Strengthen Your Legs

There’s a boatload of lunge varieties you can learn and start practicing. And you can do all kinds of lunges at home. The best part? Some lunges are simple but effective exercises that don’t require any kind of equipment.

Lunges are a great way to strengthen your lower body while enhancing coordination, balance, and stability. So, invest enough time daily in curtsey lunges, reverse lunges, and lateral lunges.

As time goes and you’re OK with spending a little money, you can combine lunges with weights. Make sure to learn the correct barbell lunge technique before starting.

The barbell lunge is a single-leg strength exercise that strives to strengthen your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

3. Learn How to Activate Your Glutes, Too

Cori Lefkowith, the founder of California-based Redefining Strength, recommends doing Glute Activation Exercises before doing squats and lunges.

The trainer says activating your glutes before proceeding to other exercises helps alleviate pain while getting your glutes fired up.

4. Focus on Building Up Your Endurance

Endurance is what you need to overcome fatigue while remaining strong and laser-focused in the saddle. If you build up enough endurance as a mountain biker, you’ll struggle less when doing even the longest MTB rides.

Are you prepping for a mountain bike challenge or a cross-country racing competition?  You’re going to need tons of endurance if winning the race matters to you, and I bet it does. You’re going to need lots of mental and physical capacity to get better at mountain bike riding.

But how do you build endurance for mountain biking? There are quite a few ways to build the amount of endurance you need to push your cycling skills to the next level.

4 Ways to Build Your Endurance for Mountain Biking

Here they are:

1. Spend More Time in the Saddle

One of the best ways to boost your endurance is to ride more. You realize that biking is a great workout by itself, don’t you? It is, and you want to ride as much as you can.

Si, ride to work. Ride to church. Ride to buy groceries. Ride with your wife when you want to eat out and just bond.

Ride after a busy day at work to unwind. Ride whenever an opportunity to do so presents itself. As you put in more and more saddle time, your endurance levels will soar.

2. Work on Your Psychology (Increase Your Mental Resilience) 

Any good mountain biking trainer knows that working on your psychology is as important as physical training. Your mind is more powerful than the most powerful computer ever built, they say. And your mind can be an asset or a liability when it comes to learning endurance for MTB.

If you don’t control your mind, your mind will control you. Simple as that.

When you bonk after a ride over particularly crunchy terrain, your mind will whisper, “You’re gassed. You can’t ride a mile longer. Quit already. You’ll never become a good mountain biker.”

When that happens, tell your mind to shut the eff up. Tell yourself you’re tougher than the steepest trails and switchbacks. And that you’re tougher than anything your road cycling or trail adventure throws at you. Tell your mind you’re strong enough to push your limits a just little more — safely.

If you don’t train your mind to stay focused, you’ll soon start following the wrong lines. You’ll have less stability, and your balance will deteriorate. You might even crash and sustain severe mountain bike injuries. Or even get bitten by some rattlesnake!

Related: How to Avoid Rattlesnakes while Mountain Biking

On the other hand, if you train your mind to stay focused the entire time, you’ll build loads of stamina. And you’ll overcome muscle fatigue without trying too hard.

What’s more, you’ll become more alert. You’ll ride faster, for longer.

3. Make Your Lungs More Efficient

A chunk of any good endurance training program for mountain biking consists of purely proper breathing. It’s all about training your lungs so they can start breathing right for mountain biking.

If you breathe correctly, you’ll keep your body adequately supplied with oxygen. Did you know that holding your breath is a surefire path to an oxygen-starved body? Well, it is.

One way to strengthen your diaphragm and boost your lung capacity is to breathe correctly. That’s why no self-respecting endurance training consultant crafts a training regimen devoid of good breathing techniques.

Using proper breathing techniques strengthens your diaphragm, and that increases your lung capacity.

Good breathing significantly improves carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange efficiency, too.

How to Breathe Correctly and Increase Your Lung Capacity 

So, how do you breathe correctly while riding a mountain bike?

First off, breathe deeply. That should expand your chest through your shoulders, extending your breath.

So, instead of panting while pedaling, try to relax a little and take deep breaths. As you start, let air in through your nose and exhale via your mouth while fighting off sharp, short breaths.

After practicing this for a couple of weeks, try holding your breath for a second before releasing. Ask me, this feels tough, at first. My lungs felt like bursting, but I stayed consistent. I persisted, and you too should.

But as I learned to breathe better, my lungs kept adapting to those new developments and expanding. In the end, you’ll have earned a pair of super-efficient lungs, an accomplished athlete’s lungs.

4. Rest and Relax Some of the Time

To keep your body in great shape for mountain biking, allow it a bit of downtime. Your body needs to rest a little especially after a long ride through the most technical trails.

MTB does abuse your body quite a bit. That’s why you shouldn’t be riding every day of the week. Get off the trails a day or two each week so that your gassed muscles can rest and repair.

And as you relax and reminisce about your adventures, eat good food. Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated. Have a consult with a nutritionist having adequate knowledge in endurance training to help you plan your meals.

Eat lots of nuts and fresh veggies. I’m always munching crunchy nuts of all kinds on my rides. Ask a professional nutritionist what else to include in your MTB diet.

How to Get in Shape and Build Endurance for MTB: Final Word

Mountain biking isn’t for everyone. It’s for people that are willing to do whatever it takes to become a fitter, more efficient rider.

Build up enough endurance. Learn good breathing techniques to expand your lungs. Grow a strong core and powerful legs. And don’t neglect your upper body.

Do push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges each day. Relax a bit whenever you need to. Eat well, too.