If you’re looking for the most recognised exercise to build strength you’ve found it – the squat. Strength training for Mountain Biking can seem complicated. With this squat workout we show you how simplicity can be as effective as anything else you’ve come across. In fact, it’s likely better!

Before we get into it, if you are going to try this workout we urge you to stay safe. Seek professional coaching for movement quality, establishing the correct positions and depths and recognise where your limits are. If in doubt, keep the weight light, focus on maintaining your natural spinal curve and don’t let your ego take over. Squats are definitely NOT something you should be ego lifting with.

Now the formalities are out of the way, what should you be doing?

The format we used in this workout is simple but very effective. We established a 5 rep max for the day (meaning it is not an absolute maximum) then add some volume with 90% of that for 4 more sets. The rest period between is 3+ minutes.

Why do we use this format?

Aside from this being a proven method of increasing strength in the squat, it is amazing for people who are out riding regularly. Normally the “science” you see in squat programs are only as good as the test group, not taking into account other variables such as riding the day before. This means percentage work at near maximum weights is often flawed for athletes who have other physically demanding activities which might leave them fatigued.

This is a great reason to establish a “max for the day”, which means if your legs are tired from riding you aren’t expecting to do 100% of what you’re normally capable of.

This is great for a few reasons…

  1. Keeps you safe. If you are following a traditional squat program along side riding and are asked to hit a max lift, the program doesn’t know how your legs are that day because it doesn’t take into account you ride. Attempting a max lift and failing is a fast way to hurt yourself.
  2. Allows you to increase strength fast. If your strength increases are fast (which they normally are in the early stages of training), following this method allows you to skip ahead of any percentage work you might’ve out grown before the end of say a 12 week cycle.
  3. If you are already an experienced lifter this method is great for maintaining your current strength by encouraging volume in the “sweet zone”. Maxing out a lift then doing nothing after is not training, that is just testing.
  4. The sets you perform after you establish the daily max are all sub max. This means you are safe and can get the correct volume for maximum benefit without dangerous near max lifts.

This format of lifting can also work well for deadlifts but keep an eye on the number of times per week you are using this against the riding you are doing. This type of strength training does take it out of your body so high volume is something to be wary of. On a side note to that, regular “deloading”, or “reloading” as we like to call it, periods should be scheduled in. That would normally be between 4-6 weeks.

This workout was Part A of a multi-part training day, check back next week for the capacity work we did after. There’s loads to learn around building capacity for riding following strength work.

If you don’t want to spend the time figuring out your own way you should sign up to a program specifically for your bike sport. Scroll down and follow the link relevant to your riding needs. We work with some of the worlds best riders, you can start that same program today… and for those who feel it might be beyond them, rest assured there are options to make this one of the most accessible programs available. Sign up now and start strength training for Mountain Biking and moto.