The start determines the end. A good MTB warmup not only enhances your enjoyment immediately after getting on the bike but influences your whole ride. Therefore, even a short warmup can drastically improve your fun. But for those who race, your warmup is so crucial to your result you need to take it seriously.
At the top of this article there is a video, in it I demonstrate 4 warmup variations. Each of the warmups are determined by the time you have and the importance of your ride.
But to accompany the video we have more information you should consider and also a brief summary of each one. You can screenshot the text here and and use it as a reference before your next ride.
Why MTB Warmups Work
It might not be appealing to you to spend any amount of time you have not riding. But even our short trail centre warm-up will help you get the most from your ride. In fact, you can scrap the idea of a warmup lap if you perform your warmup before you get on the bike.
The MTB Warmup works by opening your joints, priming your muscles and getting your heart rate up. All of these three key factors are what you will experience on the bike as soon as you hit a trail. So it is important to add a controlled amount of stress in a controlled MTB warmup environment before you hit that stress uncontrollably.
Raising Heart Rate
Firstly, the MTB warmup should include something to raise your heart rate. This way your blood is flowing and you’re more able to complete the next parts of the warmup more effectively. Not only that, but you will be preparing your system to cope with a higher heart rate before a trail starts, ensuring you are more comfortable on the bike when you have to deal with the stresses of actual riding.
Warmup Your Joints before MTB
Opening up your joints, especially your hips is crucial for a good ride. You might’ve already experienced lower back pain while riding, this is due to tightness pulling through your hips and into your lower back. Performing the MTB warmup will reduce the tightness and in most cases resolve your lower back issues before they start. Also, by opting your joints you are priming your body to be functional in positions before they arise on the bike. And sometimes those positions, unfortunately, are when you crash. So it’s best to be prepared before you snap your sh*t up.
Prime Your Muscles (warmup) – get the best from your MTB ride
Priming muscles during your MTB warmup will not only help you dig deeper during your ride but also can help you recover once you’re done. Various degrees of priming are advisable depending on the demands of your ride/race.
When and How to use a MTB Warmup
Just stop getting straight on your bike and riding. At the very least spare 2 minutes to open your hips and reset from your drive to the trail. I know it is appealing to hop straight on your bike and get going, I mean that’s what you’re there for, but in almost every case, you can squeeze some kind of MTB warmup in.
For a trail ride. When you get out of your vehicle, get your bike ready and your kit on efficiently. If you are riding with friends it is likely you’ll have time to perform some parts of the MTB warmup, let them faff while you get ready! The more time you wait for them without doing anything the less ready you will be for riding. So use that time and get a head start. The next time you are riding with friends note the difference in your ability to theirs when you’ve warmed up and they haven’t.
For a race. The importance and type of race determine how much MTB warmup you should perform. If you’re there to perform well the first thing you should do is ignore other people, if you are warming up well and you feel strange because no-one else is, don’t worry, they will only be underperforming when they get not he bike. You will race better for FREE with a good MTB warmup.
4 MTB warmup strategies (watch video for demos)
Trail Centre MTB Warmup
This is the bare minimum warmup you should be performing, for all of the reasons above and more.
1 Minute steady riding increasing speed as you go
Lacrosse Ball trigger point release (if needed)
Side to Side + Front to Back hip swings. 20 each side
20 hip hinges
20 heel raised, narrow foot squats
10-15 Band pull-aparts (if you have a band)
12-20 elevated/archer pushups
Add another full round if you have time, otherwise you’ll be good to go.
Longer MTB Warm-up/Uplift Warmup
This is a brilliant warm-up for those who are racing and pushed for time or those who are hitting an uplift day. You should perform the first “trail centre MTB warmup” first, then hit this:
2-3 Fast/Slow pedals to get heart rate up
Lunge 10-15 reps each side
Cossack Squat 10-15 each side
Back step lunge with twist and jump 6 each side
Full DH Race MTB Warmup
This is the warmup you nee if you want the best results from a race.
5 minutes steady state ride as a minimum (up to 15 if you can)
2 rounds of:
4 point lunge each leg
4-6 Dive bomber push-ups
10 second reverse push-up hold
On bike power increasing – Heart rate to 160+. 1 minute hard, 30 seconds between for 2-3 rounds
2 rounds of:
8-12 alternating drop lunge
8-12 alternating Curtsey squat with jump
8-12 archer pushups
10-15 band pull-aparts at speed
On bike power increasing – Hear rate to 170+. 20-40 seconds hard, 10-15 seconds rest 4-6 rounds
6-8 Attack position push pop
6-8 hip hinge to tall jump
6-8 alternating Split squat with half rotation and jump
You have your warm-ups, now practice them! In the gym before a workout is a great time to practice these MTB warmups, this way you will be familiar with them before it’s time to ride.
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