5.5 Tips For Stronger Legs on Your MTB

The following is taken from my MTB Momentum weekly newsletter. You can sign up to get your weekly dose of MTB fitness here: MTB Momentum

Who doesn’t want stronger legs for mountain biking? More power, improved endurance, a stronger riding position. The list of positives for stronger legs is nearly endless.

To help you get stronger legs in time for spring, here are 5 & 1/2 MTB training tips just for you:

  1. Anterior & Posterior Training. This is a fancy way of saying that you need to train the front of your legs (quads basically) and the back of your legs (hamstrings and glutes) in order to be strong. In practice this means doing 2 types of leg exercises: Knee-dominant exercises like squats and hip dominant exercises like deadlifts. Many riders do loads of quad work and not enough work on their glutes and hamstrings, so make sure you have some balance in your programme. 
  2. Train On A Single Leg. Yes, there is a time and a place for heavy barbell work on both legs, but most riders will benefit from doing most of their leg training on a single leg. This will work the stabilising muscles around the lower leg and hip as well as improving balance and control. It also allows you to load up the single leg with a demanding load without putting so much force through your back which may be a consideration for some riders. Example exercises are lunges, step ups and split squats.
  3. Focus on Range of Motion. Big weights are cool (especially on Instagram), but getting deep into a single leg squat shows real strength and mobility that will transfer to the bike and to life. I would always rather a rider used less weight and went through a greater range of motion than going heavy and not going deep enough.
  4. Remember the Lower Leg. Yes…. this means doing calf work. Sorry, not sorry. Remember that your foot and ankle is what connects you and transfers force to the floor and the pedals, so you need it to be strong. Ensure you are getting some calf work in as well as working the lesser known tibialis anterior (muscle on your shin). This will have the added bonus of keeping your knees happy.
  5. Train in 3D. Ensure you train in multiple directions, not just forwards and back. Moving laterally (side to side) and adding gentle rotation to some exercises can help to develop a really robust body by working a lot of the stabilising muscles that might otherwise get missed.

Example Exercise: Below is a video taken from my online exercise library showing you a Cossack Squat. It ticks a lot of boxes as the goal is to get deep and improve range of motion, whilst we are also working laterally, and on alternate single legs.

Have a watch and try adding it to your next session. Just make sure you are warmed up properly and start slow.

Cossack Squats for Improved MTB Performance.

As usual, I am here for you. Hit reply with questions, suggestions or feedback. Everyone gets a reply and that’s a promise.