If you’re a MTB rider who struggles up hills (don’t we all??), this article is for you. We will help you improve hill climbing for MTB with some simple principals. Watch the video if you can, it shows the difference only 20lbs can make to hill climbing. We use one of our pro riders to ride a Hope HB160 enduro bike and an Vitus E-bike and see what difference a weighted vest makes.

As you’re reading on I’ll presume you’d like more information in text format. Okay then…

You can go out and spend an obscene amount of money on a new bike that weighs less than your old one in the hope it’ll be easier to ride. You could save a couple of kg if you’re lucky. But instead, why don’t you turn your gaze inwards and take a look at yourself?

How much do you weigh? How much Power can you produce?

Both of these performance factors can be addressed and in the long term be a way better choice than burning money. Don’t get me wrong, buy that new bike if you really want it, but please don’t use its weight as a deciding factor if you’re even slightly overweight. By overweight I mean 6-13% body fat for males and 14-20% body fat for females.

So we’ve suggested a body fat percentage but what about power?

Power increases are possible with riding alone but if you want to dramatically improve or reach your true potential, you’ll have to start lifting. Many riders feel excess weight is counter productive and that “weightlifting” won’t help. I completely disagree and in the video linked I show you exactly why, so watch it.

How to Improve Hill Climbing for MTB.

Increase power to weight.

It sounds simple but the reality is many of us struggle to lose weight with adjustments to diet, and many struggle to make it to the gym. If you can actually do either or both of these things here are my tips to help you improve hill climbing for MTB… hand in hand with increasing power to weight.

Lose weight by avoiding sugar. This is the most simple but perhaps the most difficult at the same time. Sugar is a drug and we all crave it the more we have. It takes time for your body to adjust to a low sugar diet, but once it has, expect you’ll see things much more clearly.

Sugar can hook you… and sink you.

Each time you have sugar your insulin levels spike and in turn play havoc with your natural levels. As humans our physiology isn’t adapted to ingest the amounts we are exposed to in our modern culture. Therefore, any large amount (this is actually small but our body isn’t used to it) leaves a deficit in blood sugar once we have metabolised it. This leaves us hungry and craving more. Much like a drug cycle of getting high, coming down and craving more. You never get high like the first time, but stop eating sugar for 4 weeks then have some. Then tell me it isn’t a drug!

For the elite riders out there we can use sugar as a perfectly legal performance enhancer by going cold turkey and increasing sensitivity. This also works with caffein. If you are an elite rider then don’t hate on this article yet, we understand where there are uses for sugar. We also understand the effects of it on the majority of general riders who struggle with weight.

How to increase power.

As in the video, I suggest starting with increasing absolute strength. in simple terms, you don’t need to worry about velocity, olympic lifting, plyometrics in the early stages. In fact, many elite riders only focus on those things at particular times in the offseason. The reality is, the simple slow lifts like squats, deadlifts and lunges will increase your absolute strength. In turn, your absolute strength will produce more power, but also form a solid base for any specific power based training in the future.

Strength first is a well known principal. If you go all-in on power training, such as olympic lifting without a good strength base, you will fall short. Once you have fallen short you’ll likely introduce some simple lifts and see massive improvements.

What Next to improve my hill climbing for MTB?

At Fit4Racing we create programs you can follow in any gym, they are designed for beginners to elite riders. We cover everything we have mentioned here and a ton more. Each week you will receive a new program, one that hasn’t been churned from a 12 week repeated block, but one created brand new. Why? We are always improving the way we program and deliver so we have found ourselves in a position to be able to create, film and describe each workout for each day each and every week. It’s the best and most honest way for you to get the service you deserve.

You can sign up now by visiting our MTB Specific programs:

Enduro MTB – This program is for trail riders to EWS pros.

Downhill MTB – If DH is your jam and long rides aren’t, check this out.

Fit4Riding MTB – A scaled down version you can do from home, a great starting place.

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