Burpees for MTB – Why They’re F*cking Great!

Watch and learn why Burpees are amazing for riders

I really don’t understand why people think burpees are a “bad” movement choice for riders…. or anyone for that matter. It seems many of the benefits are lost when people hate on them. For that reason we put this video together to show you exactly why they are great! Burpees for MTB all day long…

Don’t get me wrong, safety is always a consideration when choosing movements but there are 1000’s of movements that pose more risk than burpees. That’s not to say we haven’t described some of the small risks you may be exposed to. The main two we are conscious of are the risk to your lower back being over extended and the high impact nature of the landing on wrists, elbows and shoulders. I will say this though, I have 3 gyms, one of them has been open for 9 years, before then I was a trainer for over 3 years. In all of that time I’ve never seen an injury from a burpees, and we’ve probably done them in some capacity every single day.

The main point we’d like to get across is that burpees alone are not the be-all-and-end-all of movements. They do however offer unique opportunities for eccentric loading and conditioning.

Why is eccentric loading important?

If you are training in the gym or at home to improve your riding you might find yourself sticking to what you know – slow lifts in the traditional sense – squats, deadlifts, pressing and pulling. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can form a really good structural base of strength. With all of these lifts though, it becomes difficult to load eccentrically (resisting load).

If you take a look at the video, we show you how the landing off a drop loads your upper body in a way burpees do – eccentrically. This important part of the training puzzle is very often missed, especially by trainers who jump on the bandwagon of hating burpees.

Why do people hate on burpees?

I genuinely think trainers and athletes hate burpees because we see so many of them in CrossFit. Trainers hate CrossFit because since the exponential growth of it, they have been losing clients to it. I firmly believe there are better ways to train riders than simply “doing CrossFit” (Fit4Racing being one of them) but to dismiss a movement based on personal feelings towards a modality is pretty shallow minded.

On the other hand, some trainers will suggest there are better movements. But they fail to qualify those movements as being better than burpees in the combination of benefits it presents.

Playing devils advocate here… are burpees the best for building the posterior chain/hinge? No, deadlifts are better. Are burpees the best at building upper body pressing? No, dumbbell benchpress is better. Are burpees the best at eccentric loading? No, help from an experienced spotter is better. Conditioning? Assault bike. Core? Holds and carries… The list goes on of movements that are better than burpees at something.

So I pose this question – If training specific elements of physicality for sport separately is best, look at this protocol and tell me what you think:

  • Calf raises. 20-30 reps with 3 minutes rest between.
  • 3 x 10 partial squats with 3 minutes rest between.
  • Side planks
  • Arm windmills
  • Wattbike in zone 2 for 90 minutes

Would this be the best protocol for runners? Or would it be running….? All of the above are better at some part of running than actual running so why wouldn’t you train like this to become a better runner?

Don’t go mental yet, I know we’re advocating burpees for MTB so you might say “just ride your bike”. But the reason we are training differently for MTB is that you can’t expose yourself to the stresses you are up against without increasing danger massively. So to train eccentric loading on the bike would mean massive drops multiple times and to make the best gains timed rest.

So why are Burpees for MTB so good?

Hopefully you have a better understanding by now of our position on burpees for MTB. But to sum up, we love them BECAUSE they have so many elements, not because they are good at any one thing. Much like riding, the stresses you are exposed to don’t come at you one by one, they are all things all of the time. To add burpees to your conditioning prepares you better for riding than the old reverse engineering of separating elements of training. We do wholeheartedly separate some elements in our programs, when the desired effect necessitates it. But for conditioning, there’s nothing better than a barrage of multiple movements to increase your overall physical ability.

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