Want to improve your mountain bike fitness? Try this MTB strength challenge to boost your riding power

Myriam Nicole riding at Fort William
Former World Downhill Champion Myriam Nicole in an attack position riding at Fort William (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Like us here at Bike Perfect when it comes to riding fitness, it can often be an afterthought. Whether riding up or downhill, it's important to be as strong as possible so you can handle whatever the trail throws at you, and not be left behind by your riding buddies. Achieving fitness goals can sometimes be hard and if like me you're juggling work and family life, actually getting out on your bike and just riding when you can, is far more appealing than bashing out sets in the gym.

I recently found Fit4Racing on Instagram, and they have a load of unique fitness-building videos that mix up general gym work to help improve your mountain biking abilities. Founded by Jonny Thompson Fit4Racing is the official partner of YT Industries and Performance Managers to the YT Mob, with a huge following they've trained the likes of Jono Jones and a host of pro MTBers.

I generally need something to aim for, like signing up for an event, so I'm intrigued to see what these quick-hit fitness routines could do for me. One of my weakest areas on the bike is arm strength so when I saw this technique mixing it up with my other gym nemesis – planking, I thought I'll need to give this a go.

The idea for this strength training move is pretty simple, and can be done at home with no specific gym equipment required. A foam roller and sweeping brush will do the trick. It's balancing in the mountain bike attack position, as if you are about to hit a steep section of trail, and holding the position for twenty seconds, then resting in a straight arm position while remaining in the plank position. 

The length of the brush acts like a handlebar and the roller gives instability that replicates riding downhill or riding on rough terrain, and it certainly makes your arms and core burn. The aim is to last as long as you can 20 seconds on and 10 seconds resting, and you can't touch the floor with the end of the broom to grab a sneaky rest.

Isla Short on a steep climb at the World Championships in Glentress 2023

The balancing strength move can help going up as well as down (Image credit: Paul Brett)

As well as YouTube there's also plenty of other daily posts on the Fit4Racing Instagram with suggested workouts to improve specific areas of your riding. From conditioning workouts to core training to even neck training to build strength to negate the risk of head injuries should you come off and crash. It's pretty cool content regardless and I'll certainly be giving some of them a try.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm