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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there is no better training than just riding but its not always practical to drive an hour or two to get to a good DH run. I'm mainly looking to improve upper body strength and stamina because most of the runs around here are very rough. Are there any specific exercises workouts for the sport the will help improve shoulder arm and core strength. Thanks

292 Posts
just whatever makes you feel good. if you have a gym, weights. Having a really heavy build is bad (heavy as ****) but you do want some brute strengh but mostly endurance. One good thing to do for endurace is time yourself for doing pushups for 2 minutes. do as many as possible and do not stop for the time, push really hard, it only 2 minutes. do this in the mornings 3-4 days a week if you arn't used to it, but everyday if you are. take this with a grain of salt though, i am no dh'er, i ride all mountain , and upper body makes a huge difference when technical climbing and rapid high speed turns. i can imagine this is even more important in dh. it is also a good idea to do wrist excercises, as it can get fatiging holding on for dear life :D

31 Posts
push ups, pull ups, curls, and tricep exercises which are what you are doing on the bike most of the time anyway

but I mostly ride XC because I live in central OK and we dont have a whole lot of hills

AKA Dr.Nob
887 Posts
Some fun* gym workouts tricks:

Push ups: (This needs a bit of strength) Do all these in one hit - No break between
Do 20 standard pushups,
15 on your knuckles,
10 with your arms really close to your body (to use your triceps),
10 with your hands in a star in front of you (index finger touches index finger, thumb touches thumb)
Collapse in a heap.

Any supersets with high rep, low weights

21s with any small muscle groups (upper arms, triceps, side deltiods)

and my favorite

Using an olympic bar (20kg) with NO weight on it on a bench press bench,
#this must be done with with PERFECT form#
Do 30 reps
60 second rest
30 reps
60 second rest
30 reps
60 second rest
30 reps
Ask the lightest person in the gym to lift the bar off your chest.

Really any exercises with low weight and high reps is good.

All must be done with perfect form

*fun not guaranteed

2,659 Posts
Seems like you don't need to get to the DH runs to train for DH.

Here's a World Class racer's downhill training tips; third article of this 3 article series. Lots of stuff she does away from downhill trails:

Mikki's Downhill Training Tips #3
Mikki Douglas
Monday, April 12, 1999
Spring is here and the Pacific Northwest is ringing in the season with blue skies and record high temperatures -at least it was when I wrote this. We've had an especially wet winter (which is quite a statement coming from a native Seattlelite), so to actually experience something other than gray clouds is quite a treat. I'm not even racing anymore and I'm chompin' at the bit to get on the starting line! As a racer, you should be feeling the same way: You've done your homework, you've put in the time, you've endured the pain of interval workouts and you're ready to test your new level of fitness on the racecourse.

One of the most difficult times for an athlete occur just before the season gets rolling. You begin to question your own fitness, wonder if your competitors have worked harder, and you are anxious to get going. This is when I have to slightly restrain my athletes (and myself in an earlier life) and convince them that the real season has yet to arrive. Early-season races are fun, but they really only count as test-races and tough training days. Bottom line: there is still much work to be done.

Races in March and May should be added to your training routine, however don't kill yourself trying to win them. In other words, if you are peaking for these races, what kind of athlete will you expect to be in September when all the major championships roll around? Keeping your ego in check is everything during this two month period.

As a team we used to meet in Arizona every March to train and compete in the Cactus Cup. It was easy to get excited and competitive because everyone was showing off their new team colors, their fitness level or their latest and greatest "on bike" trick. It was a time to have fun, but it was also a time when some major posturing took place. Don't get wrapped up in it! Spring Fever is great, but you have up to thirty races ahead of you, and pacing yourself is everything.

Okay, enough lecturing! Here are our early season objectives:

· Increase or create a "snap"

· Increase sprinting ability

· Continue to increase anaerobic capacity

· Build muscular endurance


· Early-season races to get mind and body back into the race mode

SNAP: Ouch, that sounds painful. But we're not talking bones here, we're talking reflexes. Again, downhill and dual starts are so vital to winning races these days, you have to develop what BMX racers refer to as a Snap. What we are doing is teaching all those developed muscle fibers in your legs and arms to react instantly at the brain's command. Often times this is easier said than done. Some people were blessed with quick reflexes, others have to work at developing them. However, everyone can benefit from the training.

1. I usually dedicated two days a week to skill training. Those days also included my short (snap)sprint workouts and dual training. Some people like to simulate race conditions as closely as possible by building a staring ramp and practicing their timing. I wasn't that meticulous however. My primary goal was to train my muscles to respond rapidly from a dead stop and to increase my spin (the ability to turn the cranks very fast). I always used my dual bike with platform pedals in order to achieve maximum acceleration (no rear shock to absorb energy) and to increase my pedal efficiency. Here are a couple of workout options:

a. Option One: From a ramp (I used the handicap access ramps at a local school and on a weekend, of course), start with a track stance. Explode into a full sprint and continue for 100 Meters. I usually added a corner so I could simulate more closely actual race conditions. After the corner I would again stand up and sprint for another 50 meters. I would do about 10-15 reps. Don't bother with a heart rate monitor; the sprints are too short. Allow maximum rest between intervals.

b. Option Two: Same goal as Option One, but we start in a parking lot or a quiet road. Make sure you are sprinting up a slight incline. Sprint length: 15-25 seconds. Start from a track stance.

SPRINTING: Anaerobic Hell best describes an all-out-effort downhill race. There are few things in the world that hurt quite as much. As an athlete, you want to learn how to embrace that pain. And I'm not talking about some New Age, mystic, get-in-touch-with-your-inner-child psycho crap (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'm just suggesting that you acclimate yourself to the pain that you will experience after a 100% effort. Unlike the afterlife version, this hell is temporary, and it's nice to know that it will pass. Sprint training doesn't just offer the athlete psychological benefits; in addition, you will develop power - and power wins downhill events!

Here are some sample workouts which work those monster quadriceps muscles.

1. Uphill Sprints: Medium Grade (5%-8%). Length: 15-20". Same as the Option Two Snap workout, but begin with a rolling start. Find a gear that is fairly easy to turn at the start, but one that becomes difficult toward the top. Don't shift. Concentrate on turning the cranks over and gutting it out. Complete 10-12 reps. Your heart rate should drop to 120-125 before starting the next interval. A heart rate monitor may be used to determine proper recovery. Don't worry about the highs as the sprint is pretty short.

2. Downhill Sprints: Medium Grade. Basically the same, but you get to do what you like best-ride downhill! The objective is the opposite of the uphill sprint: You want to pick a fairly difficult gear to start with, but one that will cause you to "spin out" near the end. Don't shift; instead concentrate on acquiring those goofy cartoon legs. See how fast you can spin the crank around. Complete 10-12 reps.

3. Track Sprints: Can be completed at a Velodrome if you're fortunate enough to live near one, or you can use a ¼ mile track (but beware of the angry, anal school custodian - they tend to frown on the use of bikes on school property). For some morbid reason, I really liked track sprints, although I could never explain why. They hurt like hell and they are only a few heartbeats short of being classified as interval training. Sprint the straights and coast the corners (your sprint will be approximately 100 meters). Find a gear that you "spin out" by the end of the straight. Complete 2 laps (approximately ½ mile, which includes four sprints) and relax until you are completely recovered. Complete 2-4 reps.

4. BMX: BMX tracks offer great sprinting opportunities while adding two important elements to your workout: TECHNICAL TRAINING and FUN. The former is critical for any downhill racer, while the latter reminds us just why we got into this sport in the first place! If you can't incorporate fun into a workout, get involved with track racing or accounting. Downhill racing was developed from the premise that FUN, BIKES and SPEED are all interrelated. Maintain the tradition.

ANAEROBIC CAPACITY: I would procrastinate all day to avoid this workout! But when all was said and done, this is the best "dig deep, gut wrenching, show-what-you're-worth" training session. The reward is the

finish line, and if you drive yourself to exhaustion, you will always feel a sense of success and pride after you limp home and collapse on the couch. Here are a few of my favorites.

1. Technical Intervals: When you dissect the sport of downhilling, and you exclude equipment, you basically come up with three very important elements: technical skills, power and the rider's anaerobic capacity. Wouldn't it be nice to have a workout that includes all three? Well, we can actually come up with several. Here are a few examples.

a. Slalom-vals: This workout is explained in Part 2 of my training articles. Keep doing them as a workout option, but increase the overall interval time to 3-4' as opposed to 2-3'.

b. Downhill Speed Runs: Complete 3-4 timed downhill training runs. These will differ greatly from regular training runs where you will be working certain sections or skills. Ride them as though there is a medal and cameras waiting for you at the finish line. Of course, tuck the reality of "just training" somewhere easily accessible within your brain so you will remain healthy enough to compete in the real events.

c. Pyramid Training: Hated them. They are described in my Part Two article. You can add some variety by doing them on logging (fire) roads or on a familiar trail. Just make certain that your work intervals will be consistent. In short, make certain there isn't a long downhill right in the middle of a three minute work period.

d. Uphill Intervals: By this time, I like being in the dirt, so many of my workouts are completed in the hills or mountains as opposed to the city streets. I live near a dirt mountain road where I can complete 4 minute, uphill intervals. Complete 3-4 intervals.

Important Interval Information: Make certain your H.R. has returned to 65-70% of maximum before starting the next interval. Record your high, low and the time it takes for your H.R. to return to 120 beats per minute after each interval. As you get in better shape, you will notice your heart rate drops very fast immediately after your interval. It's fun as well as beneficial to chart this progress! Keep good training records.

e. Time Trials: Ten minute time trials are a great way to increase your anaerobic threshold. Many clubs offer early-season, organized time trail events. Of course, they are usually held on the road, but it's still a great training tool! I used to do 2-3 timed events every year during my pre-season training. I also had a 15-minute timed cross country course laid out over rolling terrain, close to my home. Many early season races, like the Cactus Cup or Sea Otter, offer time trial events.

MUSCULAR ENDUARNCE: Hey-you haven't quit paying your gym dues yet, have you? I hope not because we aren't through with the sweatshop yet. Your training, however, will change dramatically. Enough of that heavy, power

lifting, for crying-out-loud, you're beginning to look like Arnold! Scale the weight back and increase the number of reps. Leg exercises may include lunges, light squats, extensions, presses and curls. Repetitions should be between 15-20. Upper Body: sit-ups, pull-ups, chest fly, back pull-downs, shoulder press, lateral D/B shoulder raise, triceps press, barbell curl and forearm curls. Upper body repetitions: 12-15. Work with a trainer if you're not sure how to perform these exercises. Complete a full body workout at least two times a week, no more than three, and make certain you allow at least one day of rest between workouts.

SKILL: There is no substitute for skill practice. You can be in the best shape of your life going into the season, but if you haven't put in the time on your bike, you're just going to be another fit rider in the crowd watching the award presentation. I'm assuming you would rather be flexing those bronze biceps from a top the podium. If not, you just wasted a lot of time reading this article! Focus is everything when you are skill training. Unlike timed downhill runs, these training sessions require that you identify a weakness and concentrate on overcoming that deficiency. I would practice high-speed turns one day, drop-ins the next. Work on something that holds you back. This requires that you be honest with yourself, listen to the criticism of others and work very hard in overcoming those weaknesses. A reminder, always start a skill training session by drilling the basics. Basics are boring, but they are so important! If you are making mistakes on a fundamental skill, you'll never be able

to master a complicated maneuver. What are a few basic downhill skills? Turns, controlled slides, controlled braking (without skidding!), shifting and bunny hopping are a few. I used to ride a course a called the "Urban Assault" a couple of times a week. It meandered through the city and included curbs, park benches, stairs,

off-cambers and "jumping bums" (for fear of being labeled insensitive, I'll refrain from elaborating).

The point is, make it fun, make it functional and make it consistent.

EARLY SEASON RACING: As explained at the beginning of this article, don't attack the early-season events. Have fun, but strive to peak later in the season when crossing the finish line first means a championship. Also bear in mind that downhill racing is extremely physical and injuries often plague a rider throughout the season.

Don't take unnecessary risks during a race that, in the long run will appear insignificant on your resume. Choose your battles wisely. Pace yourself.


I've included a lot of different training ideas. Please don't try to do everything in one week. You'll be over-trained and wiped out by day three. Here is an example of a work week. Substitute different exercises that are found under the same category in order to mix it up a little and reduce boredom.

Monday: Rest Day. Easy spin on road. 1.5 Hours / Weight Training

Tuesday: Skill Training / Downhill Training - Skill / Road Ride (moderate pace, 1-1.5 hrs).

Wednesday: Interval Training / Weight Training

Thursday: Skill Training / Cross Country Ride (1-1.5 Hours)

Friday: SNAP and Sprint Training / Weight Training / Downhill, Slalom or Dual Practice

Saturday: Road or XC Ride (1.5-2 Hours) / Skill Training

Sunday: Early Season Race or Timed Downhill Shuttle Runs

Best of luck and above all else, have fun.

7,992 Posts
You know there nothing like old fasion push-ups. They will help with that upperbody strength, but more importantly strengthen your shoulders. Strong shoulds are more resistent to seperating and dislocating when you crash.

1,082 Posts
Check out this link for what works for DH training:

The DH/FR people we've worked have benefitted from an increased ability to produce force with the arms and legs through the trunk. They accomplished this through increasing their hip stability, balance and trunk strength. When that goes up, it is very easily to improve power production in the rest of the body.
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