BikeJames Podcast

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In this podcast I talk about becoming an MTB Warrior, or someone who is able to “bring the others back”. Being the kind of person who can help yourself and others both on and off the trail is something that the world needs more of and something I think we should talk about more as a sport. You can stream or download it from the link below or you can find it on Itunes, Podbean, Spotify and all other major podcasting platforms. The truth is that mountain biking is a hard, dangerous activity. And while the cycling industry keeps working harder and harder to soften the edges and make it as appealing to as many people as possible in an effort to sell as many bikes and accessories as possible, you can’t get rid of all of these elements. Wrecks on the bike and mechanical failures can put you in a position where you will need to know more than the geometry and specs of your bike. You also have to look beyond just the trail and make sure you are prepared to deal with potential issues like vehicles getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and hostile animals/ fellow humans. Because of this I think that it is important to look beyond the bike and become an MTB Warrior, or someone that can help themselves and others if needed. The point isn’t to become paranoid but simply to be prepared. Look at it like this - You can pretend that nothing will happen to you or you can pretend that something might and take appropriate steps. Either way you don’t know until the end how it turns out so you're just deciding on which “pretend” you want to play. In my experience there are 7 skill sets that you need to truly be prepared: Health/ Fitness - It all starts here. Being healthy and fit for the tasks needed is the foundation that all your other skills are built on. MTB Skills - Being able to ride with efficiency and flow is important not only for your performance but your safety as well. Riding at the ragged edge of your skills all the time because you have none is a sure way to end up hurt and the one needing help. Maintenance and Mechanical Skills - You need to know how to work on your own bike. While you don’t need to be able to build a wheel, knowing how to keep your bike running and safe is not something you want to outsource to someone else. You also don’t want to be the guy standing on the side of the trail hoping that someone will come along who knows how to fix whatever is wrong with your bike. Medical - We participate in a dangerous activity that can take place far away from where medical personnel can easily get in to help. This means you should know how to stabilize someone who has suffered a traumatic injury until help arrives. Combatives/ Self Defense - Violence can happen anywhere and to anyone. Pretending that it isn’t going to happen to you won’t help if it comes your way so you need to know how to spot it and handle it if it does. Bushcraft Skills - Since we can get pretty deep into nature it is only smart to know how to co-exist with it. Being knowledgeable about what you might encounter and how to survive overnight if needed can be the difference between a cool story and a tragic tale. EDC (Daily/ Vehicle/ Bike) - EveryDay Carry is simply what you have on you so you can be helpful if needed. From carrying a small knife and flashlight on a daily basis to having a tourniquet in your hydration pack, there are a lot of simple things you can carry that can keep you prepared for whatever gets thrown your way. My goal with MTB Strength Training Systems is to expose and educate my fellow riders on these other elements that I feel should be part of their training program. In the meantime you can join a BJJ gym, watch the free video series on Mountain Man Medical and make sure you have the basic things you need to fix minor mechanical problems on the trail. To close, here is a quote from one of my favorite warriors from the past... “The warrior attitude is very simple. Focus your mind on your goal, constantly strive to attain perfection, and do not allow yourself to be sidetracked.” Miyamoto Musashi Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I tell you why trying to use your ankles to absorb shock on your bike is a bad idea and actually makes it harder for your lower body to absorb shock properly. The notes for it also turned into an article, which you can read below if that works better for you... One of my biggest surprises with bringing the Catalyst Pedal and the mid-foot position it allowed to the MTB world was the push back I got from the skills training industry. It turns out that the vast majority of skills coaches and organizations have bought into the false logic of needing the be on the ball of the foot to move properly on the bike. The logic goes that you need your ankles to help absorb shock and that if you use the mid-foot position then it is like landing a vertical jump with flat feet, which is very jarring and obviously not the way to land a jump. The idea is that the range of motion of the ankle that is giving you the extra shock absorption that is making the difference in the two landings, which means that you need your ankles to absorb shock. The problem is that, once again, people are pointing to analogies from other sports/ activities that don’t reflect the context of being athletic on the bike, i.e. the feet don’t come off the pedals. When your feet come off the ground then you do need to use the ankles to help you land but even then they aren’t being used to absorb shock. In fact, MTB is the only sport where coaches are actively looking to put extra stress on the ankle joint. It is known as one of the most sensitive and easily injured joints in the body and the goal is usually to minimize stress in order to avoid injuries. The ankle joint is a small joint with a long lever arm, which magnifies stress being placed away from the ankle joint itself. It is not designed to absorb shock, it is designed to move itself (and the foot) into a neutral position to let the real shock absorbers do their work. The hips are surrounded by the largest muscles in the body and have amazing leverage for both producing and absorbing shock. They are the shock absorbers of the lower body. Most lower body movement problems stem from not being able to use the hips properly, which makes using them efficiently a top priority. But your foot has to be in a certain position and stabilized correctly to let the hips do their work in the most efficient way possible. If it isn’t then the hips can’t absorb as much shock, which places that stress on the knees and ankles. This means that being on the ball of the foot screws you in two ways… First, having the pressure point being so far away from the ankle joint increases the leverage and hence the force being placed on the ankle joint. This is why you’ll see people’s ankles buckle sometimes and in extreme cases Achilles tendon tears (ala Rachel Atherton a couple years back). This is why most DH riders actually run a more mid-foot position than you are led to believe. Second, by having nothing under your heel you leave that end of the arch unstable, which makes it much harder to recruit and use your hips. The back of the arch has to be able to create pressure into something so that the hope can work efficiently. This is why you are told to not come up on your toes when doing deadlifts or squats and to drive through the whole foot, including the heel.  Even OL coaches tell people to “stomp” their heels back down to the ground to get their whole foot stable before the weight starts to come back down and they have to absorb it. If you really needed your ankles to absorb shock then they would cue their athletes to wait until the weight started to come back down and then use the ankles to help catch the weight. And what about the vertical jump, which is the Holy Grail of analogies for this story? What you see during a vertical jump is the ankle moving to get the foot flat so that the hips can absorb the impact. Once again, it is not being used to absorb shock. Another thing that a lot of coaches don’t want to talk about is that vertical jumping is only one example of jumping, with the broad jump being another. However, it doesn’t conform to their logic as you see the heels hit first on a broad jump as this is the best way to get the foot flat while going along with the momentum. If you needed land on the ball of the foot for the ankle to absorb shock in all instances then this wouldn’t be the case. There are also a lot of examples where athletes absorb shock without using their ankles, including surfing, skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding. In the gym you see this with Swings, where you keep the foot flat on the ground because that is the best way to absorb shock in that context. When you look at analogies from sports and activities that have the same context as MTB you see a clear picture, which is that you need to have both ends of the arch supported so the foot spreads out the forces going into the ankles and it is easier to recruit the hips. Even the broad jump is closer to what you want to do on your bike, as the explosive movements we make are wanting to project energy forward, not straight up.  On a personal level for you, the rider reading this, this is why your ankles are stiff and you have plantar fasciitis, knee pain or low back pain - being on the ball of the foot creates a crappy situation for your lower body where it has to adapt by getting stiff in the ankles and spreading force meant for the hips over the other joints that aren’t meant for it. This is also why you have so much trouble moving properly when you stand up on your bike - your hips are locked up because of how unstable your feet are. It doesn’t matter how mobile you are off the bike, your ability to use it on the bike will always be compromised without the right foot position and support. And yes, there are a lot of good riders who use a ball of the foot position. That is a testament to their mental focus and the human body’s ability to adapt to just about anything, at least in the short term. What you don’t hear about is how much pain those same riders are in or how hard they have to work to keep it under control (massage, chiro, cryo, etc.) and how it adds up over the years. There is a difference between adapting for the now and creating sustainable movement habits. Just like the clipless pedal industry is still clinging to the “pull up on the backstroke” story to help the need to attach yourself to the pedals, we see a lot of well meaning skills coaches sticking with the “you need to use the ankle to absorb shock” story to sell the ball of the foot position.  And no, it isn’t a matter of “personal preference” or “what works for you might now work for everyone”. This is a nonsense argument that is used by people who can’t support their point of view. You should be able to give some sort of reason based in science, movement principles or context appropriate analogies or else you are just being what I call a “reality rager”, where you are mad at reality and refuse to deal with it. Basic human psychology tells us that once you’ve created a story and you have sold other people on that story it gets tough to go back and admit that you were wrong, even if a better idea is presented (it is called the Semmelweis Effect after the guy who figured out that washing hands could save lives but got thrown in an asylum for his “crazy” ideas). But at some point the MTB industry needs this to happen so we can move forward with finding the best ways to perform on our bikes.  Lastly, if you’re a skills coach then you owe it to yourself and the industry to do more in the areas of how to apply basic movement principles to the bike. At the end of the day you are a movement coach as you are trying to help people move better on their bike, so you first have to understand how to help someone move better in the first place. This will also help you spot the countless false analogies and faulty logic used in our sport to sell people on outdated concepts. Being on the ball of the foot to create or absorb energy is an old, outdated concept that we have to move past. Our sport isn’t very old and cycling as we know it is only around 150 years old so we have not had the time to work through the bad ideas like some other sports have. It is ok for us to have made a collective bad decision based on the best info we had at the time but it starts to become sad the longer we hang onto these ideas once they have been disproven and actually shown to work against us.  Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I answer some rider questions that I’ve gotten over the last few weeks. They include: Q: Is it alright to turn your feet out on the pedals? Q: What are your new strength standards for MTB? Q: How can I use intervals to train myself to keep pushing past the top of a climb? You can download or stream this episode, as well as see the show notes, by clicking the link below. If you have a question for me send it to and I’ll be happy to help. Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what to do to help you with your problem and I try to help as many riders as I can avoid that frustration.  Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I interview Chuck McGee III, a breathwork specialist from Northern California. Chuck is featured in the book Breath as the man who introduced the author James Nestor to the WIm Hof Method and someone has helped me a lot on my own breathwork journey. In this interview I share some of my own breathwork journey and what got me started down this path and Chuck tells us what most people don’t realize about better breathing, why nasal breathing is the way we were meant to power our efforts, how you can assess your own breathing and the transformational power of taping your mouth at bedtime. We also talk a lot about the Wim Hof Method, which has had a profound effect for both of us and something I now do on a daily basis. You can learn more about Chuck and sign up for his free Monday evening breathwork session at You can learn more about the Wim Hof Method at  Like I say in the beginning of the podcast, in many ways this is the most important podcast interview I have done because of the power that better breathing has. Coupled with how many people have some sort of breathing dysfunction, the info he shares in this podcast has the potential to help a lot of riders in a more profound way than just about anything else I’ve ever talked about on the podcast. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I interview strength coach Dan John. Dan is one of the most sought after strength coaches for his unique insights and ability to produce results with a wide variety of clients and goals. Dan has also been one of the most influential coaches on how I look at training, including his focus on Fitness vs. Health and how those two goals can sometimes be at odds with each other. His concepts have helped shape my training programs and philosophy and over the years I have had the chance to meet, train and even share a couple of beers with the man that many people affectionately call Coach. He is the author of several books, including the classic Never Let Go and his most recent work, Attempts. His website is also a great resource for great info and training programs and you can try it free for 14 days (as of this podcast you can use the coupon code CORONA to get a special deal on a membership). In this interview I ask Coach about his views on training for performance versus health, how his religious studies background has impacted his training philosophies and why Connect 4 can help you learn better strategy. And as always, Coach was full of great insights and stories that help you understand complex concepts. Until next time... Ride Strong, James Wilson  
In this new episode of the BikeJames Podcast I cover... Training Grip strength training for mountain biking: What to do, when to do it and why some common grip strength exercises aren’t very MTB specific. Skills Avoid the “Attack Position” - Why spending too much time in this position makes it harder to steer and maneuver your bike. Bro Science Effect of isometric strength training on mechanical, electrical, and metabolic aspects of muscle function - A look at the study that convinced me that Isometrics are some of the best cardio training you can do. You can stream or download this episode by clicking the link below. You can also find  the BikeJames Podcast on Itunes and Podbean. If you have any questions about this episode or anything else related to training or riding let me know, I’m always happy to help. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training System Show Notes: Training Grip strength training for mountain biking. I get most of my grip strength training from riding and my “normal” strength training. If I am riding less than 2 times a week I will add in some other specific grip strength work. I’ll also prescribe some grip specific work to help quickly improve that area if someone is deficient in the specific grip strength skills needed on the bike. The context for grip strength on the bike is needing to change tension levels quickly while stabilizing the wrists in all 4 directions. This is why things that work on “grip strength” by challenging the grip with static loads and no wrist stability have limited carry over for MTB...and yes, this even means Farmers Walks, which I do more for the High Tension Cardio than grip strength. The best ways to train MTB specific grip strength is through Swings and Mace 360’s/ 10-2’s. Swings can be either KB or DB. Mace 360’s/ 10-2’s are the best, most specific grip strength training you can since it does a better job challenging the wrist stability. Skills Avoid the “Attack Position” The Attack Position has a few names but it is essentially the Low position on your bike with your butt back and your chest down, kind of like the bottom of the Deadlift/ Hip Hinge position. While it has its uses, the trend to find a single position to move from on the bike has people spending too much time in it. As you get low on the bike your weight will naturally start to shift back as your hips slide back. This takes weight off the front end and biases your weight to the back of the bike. This is a good position if you need weight off the front end but your ability to steer relies on your weight/ pressure on the front tire and a lot of skills require a weight shift from front to back. If your weight is biased to the back then it makes it harder to maintain traction in a corner and to initiate skills like manuals, bunny hops, drops and jumps. The Attack/ Low Position is good for keeping you from going over the handlebars but unless you are in imminent danger of going over the bars then it isn’t needed and actually makes it harder to move and steer on the bike. You want to have a taller, more forward “neutral” position on the bike and drop down into the Attack Position as needed, not use it as your neutral position. Don’t be afraid to put some purposeful pressure on the front end and you’ll find that you can steer and move much more effectively. Bro Science Effect of isometric strength training on mechanical, electrical, and metabolic aspects of muscle function. 6 sets of twins were used with one twin doing isometric knee extension training on the right leg. Results showed several really interesting things: Iso group showed a 20% strength increase in the right leg AND an 11% increase in the left leg. Increased EMG activity in the Rectus Femoris. Decrease in the IEMG/ tension ratio at sub max levels, indicating a more economical/ efficient use of the RF Muscle biopsies showed an increase in the enzymes responsible for aerobic metabolism.  Conclusion - increased recruitment of available motor unit recruitment pool, improved efficiency at sub-max loads and enhancement of oxidative metabolism in the muscle. If this were a “cardio training” technique results like that would make it a must-use method but because it is a “strength training” technique it is dismissed. Isometric training improves strength and your cardio in ways that nothing else can, which is why I use them and recommend them to every rider.  
In this podcast I cover... Skills Trackstands: The most under-rated skill in mountain biking. At its core this is the skill of balancing without any momentum. The slower you are going the more you need your slow speed balance. Skills like switchbacks, technical climbs and rock gardens all require this skill. Allows you to use skill instead of momentum and luck. Easy to improve/ One of the best uses of your “off trail” training time. Make sure you work both feet forward. Rider Q&A Are flat pedals bad for your knees/ role of float in clipless pedals. Your leg and foot don’t create energy in a straight line, they use a spiral motion where the foot “screws” into and off what it is on. This movement is in relation to the ground/ what you foot is on. When you strap the foot to the pedal and restrict its movement in relation to the pedal then your knees will blow up from this lack of rotation. Putting float in clipless pedals allows a little rotation before you unclip, allowing the foot to rotate a little and taking stress of the knee. On a flat pedal your feet aren't restricted in relation to the pedal and so it can create that screwing motion into the pedal. This is the more natural way for your foot to function and captures the rotational energy the foot and leg produces. This is why people with knee problems often see improvement when switching to flats despite the lack of “float”. Float is a solution to strapping your foot to the pedal, which is a product of the unstable forces going into the pedal.  Your foot doesn’t need or want “float” as you find it in no other sport or situation.  If you fix the problem of the unstable energy through a pedal like the Catalyst Pedal then you don’t need to strap your foot on the pedal in the first place. Gear Review Sense Of Motion Shoes Small operation making shoes in Montrose CO. Foot healthy shoes. Light and breathable. Dry quickly. Just enough sticky rubber to do the job, especially on Catalyst Pedals.  Until next time... Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this episode I cover...   Training - The 3 Axioms of MTB Training:     Behind every technique on your bike is a movement skill your body requires - you can’t control your bike if you can’t control your body. Athleticism is contextual - movement demands are specific to the environment. Mindful movement practice helps to supplement the rest of your training.     Skills -  Effects of bar rise on your body and ride: Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of more rise and what you shouldn’t be using them to make up for. Rider Q&A - Isometric Training for Low Back Pain/ Slipped Discs: Should you avoid certain exercises and should you feel you low back getting “sore” from training?
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I talk about a few topics and how they can help your training and riding. On Bike Movement Skills Inside hand pressure for front wheel traction during cornering - The #1 thing you need to focus on to corner with precision. Bro Science 1 Set vs. Multiple Sets for Strength Training - Why you need both for best results and how I’ve been using Isometric Training to help me safely do this. Gear Review Wim Hoff Method app and Fundamentals Course - I’ve spent the last 4+ weeks following the Wim Hoff method and I’m convinced that it has a lot of value for riders looking to improve their performance and recovery. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below this post or send me an email to, I’m always happy to help. Until next time… Ride Strong,   James Wilson
I’ve always thought of mountain biking as a great way for men and women to come together. My wife and I ride together, I’ve had several female riding buddies over the years and, in general, if a girl was willing to show up and get a little dirty, she was welcomed into the group. Unfortunately, over the last few years I’ve seen the slow creep of the social justice warriors into our sport, which has led to the idea that women would flock to mountain biking if the stinky guys would just get out of the way. Part of this idea is the argument that mountain biking is “gender neutral”. At its heart this is well intentioned - no one should be discouraged from riding based on their gender - but it also ends up harming the same people it is trying to help. Nothing in nature is “gender neutral” and that includes mountain biking. It is in understanding the differences that we can help each individual find the best path for them. Pretending that there are no differences between men and women means that we can’t have honest discussions about the best path for each to improve. In this podcast I explore this idea and explain why mountain biking is not gender neutral, why this is alright and what this means for really empowering women riders to take control of their improvement. Like I say at the beginning of the podcast, my intention with this is not to discourage women from riding but to help them find their own personal path to mastery and enjoyment. Nothing is more discouraging than not knowing how to find that path because people won’t be honest with you, and in the end that will lead to more women quitting riding. I hope this podcast can help you better understand the differences between the sexes and how you can use that to make better training and riding decisions. We need more people using mountain biking as a tool for self improvement, not as a battleground for ideas that are not based in reality. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this podcast I share my insights in the concept of Riding For A Lifetime. Based on my own journey with getting older along with my 30 years of strength training experience - 20 years of it as a fitness professional and 15+ years focusing on mountain bikers - this concept is based on one simple idea... There is a difference between training for short term performance gains and training for longevity.  Performance enhancement and longevity can’t both be most important, you have to choose one. And for too long the info we’ve been getting from the fitness and cycling media places performance enhancement first...and we’re paying the long term physical price for it. In this podcast I share where the idea came from, why I think there is a critical need for this type of info and the three pillars of the Riding For A Lifetime concept, which are - 1 - Sustainable Fitness Training. 2 - Sustainable Riding Strategies. 3 - Efficient Movement On & Off The Bike. My goal with the Riding For A Lifetime concept and the camps, workshops, programs and other things I will create based on is to help riders understand the best ways to prioritize sustainable practices that will keep them riding strong tomorrow and for years to come. If you have any questions about the info in this podcast post a comment or send me an email to, I’m always happy to help. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
First, I hope that this podcast finds you healthy and safe. Mountain biking is an important part of our lives but there are much bigger things that a lot of people are going through and I hope that you're doing as well as you can with the situation. With that said, I know that a lot of riders find themselves trying to figure out how to modify their normal training and riding schedule - I'm one of them as well. So I wanted to put together a list of my top 3 tips for doing that. Top 3 Tips for Training During the CV-19 Pandemic Try to maintain your routine as much as possible and keep your normal training time.  If you need to outfit a home gym without a lot of money then consider using strength bands and isometric training to help. Use this time to develop the movement skills behind the technical skills you use on the bike.  Bonus Tip - Don’t try to make up for lack of trail rides with a lot of Crossfit style/ High Intensity strength training type stuff. The best cardio you can do is on a bike so if you have access to one then use it, otherwise don’t panic and start using strength and power training as cardio training. This type of training has a higher chance of getting you hurt and getting you back on the trail with bad movement habits and overuse injuries waiting to happen. Unless this is the endgame for the world government/ Illuminati and we end up under a medical dictatorship then we will get through this to ride another day. Doing what you can to keep up a good training routine will help in the short term and the long term so hopefully these tips will help you do that. Until next time... Ride Strong, James Wilson
Have you ever heard the saying that “to achieve what others can’t, you must be willing to do what others won’t”? Of course, you can use this saying to motivate you to work out or watch what you eat...and you should, because those are important things...but I’d argue that you should also use it to motivate you to get more sleep. Most people reading this are sleep deprived in some way, either from a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. And while I knew that sleep was important, it wasn’t until recently that I realized how important it was. Whatever the cause, the results from sleep deprivation are the same… Decreases in aerobic capacity Decreases in strength and power Increases in reaction times  Increases in catabolic “stress” hormones ...and this is just to name a few. As the guest on this podcast put it, sleep is the lever that you can pull that will impact everything else in your body. In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast, I interview sleep coach Nick Lambe. He helps people improve their sleep habits and the quality of their sleep through his business The Online Sleep Coach and he came on the podcast to share some insights and tips to help you with yours. You can learn more and contact Nick on IG at @theonlinesleepcoach or online at He does both private and small group sleep coaching and I highly recommend checking out the free stuff he posts on Instagram.   Sleep is like a legal performance enhancing drug that far too few of us take advantage of. Hopefully this podcast will help you achieve better results both on and off the bike by daring to do what others won’t...getting enough sleep. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast, I recap the 3 lessons I took away over the course of the two day skills and fitness camp I hosted a few weeks ago. All four riders who made the trip made some big breakthroughs with how they moved on and off the bike and I hope that these lessons can help you too. They are: The importance of Isometric Training for developing strength. The importance of having weight on your hands to drive your movement on the bike. The importance of mobility training if you want to “ride for a lifetime”. I also give a review of the Eliptigo M-SUB, which is a stand up bike that I used at the camp to help the riders get a better feel for some of the positions I was talking to them about. I think that it has a lot of potential for us as mountain bikers - definitely a better off season training option than a road bike - and you can check them out at after you listen to the podcast if you’re interested in learning more.   Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
Last week I posted a review of a new soft tissue tool I’ve been using called the Boomstick. At roughly 2 feet long and weighing 20 pounds, it opens up ways to address tightness and mobility that I didn’t know existed. Having a long history with the foam roller I thought I knew a lot when it came to improving recovery and mobility through soft tissue work but after experiencing the Boomstick at a seminar I realized I still had a lot to learn. So I decided to go to the man behind the Boomstick, Chris Duffin. Chris is the founder of Kabuki Strength, a company dedicated to moving the fitness industry forward through innovative training tools and education. He is also the author of the book The Eagle and The Dragon, which tells the story of how he overcame a lot of obstacles to get to where he is today. I got Chris on for a podcast interview to go over his views on strength and recovery and how they tie into the next level soft tissue work you can do with tools like the Boomstick. We also touch on barefoot training and Mace Swinging (a.k.a. 360’s and 10-2’s). It was a great talk covering a lot of topics but one that anyone interested in maximizing their recovery while decreasing the chance of injury should check out. If you’re interested in learning more about Chris, the Boomstick and Kabuki Strength you can check them out at or one of the other links below: Educational Content - @kabuki_virtualcoaching  Kabuki Strength - @kabukistrengthlab Chris Duffin -  @mad_scientist_duffin I hope you enjoy this interview and get some stuff from it. And be sure to check out the Boomstick Review for some videos on how to use it on common problem areas for riders. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training System
In the book Sapiens - which I highly recommend BTW - the author talks about the superpowers that separate humans from other animals. We have a couple of them but the one that I like to focus on is the ability to purposefully affect our future-selves. Unlike other animals that are only focused on the present, humans can see into the future and project themselves into it. This allows us to make sacrifices now that we know will help ourselves in the future. But, like any superpower, if we choose to ignore it then it doesn’t do us any good. You have to embrace the power and the responsibility that comes with it if you want to put it to use. This is why I tell people that if you are a mountain biker then you are a mountain biker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every decision you make is going to affect your future self, both in the short term and the long term. Trying to separate yourself from the impact of your decisions on your riding is ignoring your superpower. What you had this morning for breakfast, your sleep habits and your recovery strategies should all looked at as to how they will impact your riding. Which brings me to this week’s BikeJames Podcast. In this episode I recap the Bioforce Coaches Weekend, where I saw some great presentations and met some really smart coaches.  I had a lot of takeaways from it and have a couple of the speakers lined up for podcast interviews so we can dive deeper into some of the subjects.  I hope you get some useful stuff for your own training, sleeping and recovery plan. I’m looking forward to putting some of the things I learned into place and sharing the results with you down the road. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
By the time you get this podcast I’ll be on my way back from a seminar in Seattle. It’s hosted by Joel Jamieson for his Bioforce Certified Coaches and I’m looking forward to sharing some of what I learned with you over the next few weeks. In the meantime, though, here is a new BikeJames Podcast. Here are some notes from what I cover in this episode... Training Balance training for mountain biking: Does “balance training” work for improving your balance on your mountain bike? Skills Training Why dropping your heels on descents or dropping your outside foot in corners is a bad idea. Bro Science Do clipless pedals increase the risk of hip injuries? Three studies would suggest the answer is “yes”, which means a lot for the discussion about clipless vs. flat pedals. Links to the studies - Study #1/    Study #2/    Study #3 Rider Q & A Studies show that sitting is more efficient at sub-max efforts so why do you recommend standing up to pedal so much? I hope you enjoy this episode and get some stuff you can apply to your own training. And remember that if you have any questions or comments about this episode or if you have any suggestions for topics you want me to cover let me know. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
One of the recurring themes in my life lately is the need to identify the right problem before you can come up with the right solution. Sometimes we think the problem is one thing and work like crazy to find answer to it only to be frustrated over and over again because we were seeing the wrong thing. From life to training to riding your bike, it is all one big series of “problems” to solve with physical and mental tools you have available. But you only know the right tools to develop when you know the problem to solve. The reason I bring this up is that “find the right problem to solve” became the theme of this episode of the BikeJames Podcast. By shedding some light on a new way to look at some common problems we face on the bike and in the gym I hope I can help you come up with better solutions to them. In this episode I share some thoughts on... Training: Horizontal Loading vs. Vertical Loading: What is it and which is better for improving hip movement on the bike. Skills: Pressure vs. Weight for Standing Climbing: Why you don’t need or want you butt on the seat for traction. Bro Science: Functional Threshold Power vs. Intermittent Power to predict XC race results: Does improving your FTP improve your MTB? Equipment: Angles 90: Great training tool for chin ups and deadlifts. I hope you enjoy this episode and get some new perspective on the problem how to improve your power, endurance and skills on your bike. I’ll be in touch next week with a new video showing how standing climbing makes it easier to navigate technical climbs. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson
Hope you had a great holiday weekend. I had a good one myself, getting some riding in with Aka the Trail Mutt.  Aka is getting a little older - just like his master - but he just refuses to slow down. I joke that he gets me out as much as I get him out but it’s true...without his enthusiasm for getting out on the trail as much as possible I probably would have skipped more than a few rides over the last 7+ years. But I’m always glad when I do get out. The combination of being in nature, getting the “runners high” from a long, grinding climb and the adrenaline rush of some sweet momentum fueled fun is something that never gets old. Nothing else provides this combination of soul-recharging elements, which is what makes mountain biking so unique. The struggle it provides and the environment it provides it in are the things that keep me coming back to the trail after almost 2 decades of riding. That’s also why I love sharing my passion for riding and training with everyone. I know that mountain biking isn’t easy but with a little knowledge you can fast-track you progress and avoid unnecessary frustrations.  Which brings us to this week’s podcast. In this new BikeJames Podcast I cover some topics that I think will help you ride faster, longer and with more confidence on the trail. This Week’s Podcast Topics Rider Q & A: Why does my female training partner who can’t deadlift as much as me (load or strength-to-weight ratio) outclimb me? Doesn’t my higher deadlift strength mean I’ll have more power and can outclimb her?  Bro Science: Three studies that  tell us the characteristics of a good mountain biker. Training: Why Crossfit or “Mixed Cardio” isn’t as good as “regular cardio” for MTB specific training. Skills: Cockpit Control workshop overview and insights. Equipment Review: Neat Ice Bag You can stream or download this episode below. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems
This week I’ve got a new BikieJames Podcast for you. A lot has happened since the last one and I had a few interesting topics to share, including... The opening of my new Catalyst Training Facility in Fruita CO Rider Q&A: Is speed determined by power? Why your handlebars are too wide Resistance Bands: Why I like them and some experiments with them Bro Science: The role of emotions on Pacing Strategy Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems
This week I’ve got a new podcast to share with you. Instead of a single topic, I had a few random things that wouldn’t make for a whole episode alone so I put them together into this BikeJames Podcast. In this episode I cover… Knee Stomp vs. Hip Stomp: Why “stomp your feet” can be a bad coaching cue for jumping or manualing your bike. The importance of foot position on the bike for using your Hip Hinge and “stomping your feet” the right way (and why this is a major reason the Catalyst Pedals work so well). Some history on the Turkish Get Up and why you may be missing out if all you do is the kettlebell version. Some interesting studies on Isometric Training and my Bro Science interpretation of them for us as riders. I hope you enjoy this month’s episode and I’ll look forward to sharing more stuff with you in the next one. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems
In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I look at two recent studies and their application to mountain biking and training. You can find the full studies below: Recovery Posture Low Carb Diets  Until next time... Ride Strong, James Wilson
Everyone knows that training hard is part of getting better. If you don't push your body past what it did yesterday then it won't have any reason to improve your fitness levels. But we also know that if you push too hard things can go wrong. Usually referred to as Overtraining, almost everyone reading this has experienced the symptoms of pushing our body harder than we should have, which include lack of energy, getting sick and overuse injuries. Your body will force you to take time off and rest but taking time off is one of the worst things for your progress. Staying consistent with your training is important and so pushing your body hard while also avoiding Overtraining is the key to long term progress. In this episode of the BikeJames Podcast I dive into the subject of Overtraining, letting you know exactly what it is and how you can use that information to help you. I also share some tips, strategies and tools I've found to be especially helpful for this goal. Until next time, Ride Strong, James Wilson
Spending some time getting stronger is one of the best things you can do to improve your perfomance on the trail. While nothing can replace riding your bike, there are 3 reasons that strength training will help you in ways that just riding your bike can not. 1 - It helps you work on tension skills that you need on the trail but don't do enough on the trail to improve past a certain point. 2 - It helps you work on movements you need on the bike in a less stressful learning environment. 3 - It helps you avoid acute and overuse injuries, helping you stay consistent with your riding and training, which is the #1 secret to improvement. In this podcast I go over these points in some more detail and hopefully convince you that strength training is not an option if you want to be the best version of yourself both on and off the trail. Until next time... Ride Strong, James Wilson
In this new episode of the BikeJames Podcast I share my thoughts on Enduro Racing and how approach training riders for it. A lot of riders are making some common mistakes with their training and my goal is to help you avoid them while knowing what you did need to focus on to be successful at Enduro Racing. Click the link at the bottom of this post to stream or download the MP3 file for this episode. Remember that you can download the BikeJames Podcast through Itunes and Podbean as well. If you are a seasoned vet looking for an edge or a new racer looking for a place to start your training journey, then this podcast will have a lot of great info for you. Enduro Racing can be a fun and rewarding part of your mountain biking experience and with the right training plan it can be even better. Until next time… Ride Strong, James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems Show Notes: Goal with this podcast is to inspire you to take your results into your own hands. With the right approach you can make dramatic changes in your performance. Enduro Racing gets scored on the DH sections, which makes them the most important. There is no bonus for transfer times so they don’t matter. Top Enduro racers come more from a DH background than an XC background. For them Enduro Racing is slower than their normal pace and for XC it is faster. It is easier to train slower for longer than to increase your speed. Big mistake riders make is training like it is an endurance event and not emphasizing where the points are really scored, which are the shorter DH style sections. In DH your strength-to-weight ratio and your technical skills are the biggest factors. This means they should be emphasized in your training. Enduro specific fitness includes having the anaerobic engine to ride as fast as possible on the timed stages while being aerobically fit enough to ride the transfer with minimal impact on the anaerobic energy system. In the gym this includes getting stronger and more mobile to improve strength to weight ratio and movement efficiency. This includes 2-3 days of strength training and 5-7 days of mobility work (can be as little as 10 minutes a day). Right now I like to get strong with Ramping Isometrics (great for Strength to Weight Ratio) and use tools like Indian Clubs and the Steel Mace to work on movement efficiency. I’ll mix in some “traditional” movements for variety but I’ve found that using them to get “stronger” usually led to getting hurt or having my training take away from my riding. Cardio Training = Breathing/ Make sure you are training your breathing. Domino Theory - Last domino is “cardio” but first one is breathing. The best cardio training you can do is trail riding…but only if you do it right. You won’t become a better Enduro Racer in the gym or on a trainer - it will only happen on the trail. Most Enduro racers waste their most precious training time by just going for a ride and calling it training. To be training it must reflect what you are training for, which isn’t a normal trail ride. Enduro training trail rides should include 2 types: Moderate Skills Focused Rides: These rides have you focusing on riding as smoothly as possible instead of trying to go hard and fast. They are a great time to pick a specific skill and focus on it. Avoid redlining for sustained periods of time and focus instead on using as few pedal strokes as possible. Get 2-3 of these a week. Hard Race Simulation Rides: These should reflect how you race, which includes transfers with climbs followed by timed sections. On the trail you should try to mimic the length of time you would ride a transfer stage while focusing on keeping your breathing under control and not redlining, which includes walking if you need to. You should also have some sections that reflect a stage and can vary in length. Rest if you need to but focus on putting down your hardest effort for those runs. In other words, instead of just riding “hard”, have some easy and hard sections. This may include lapping the same section if that is all you have access to to train on. Do 1 of these every 7-10 days. Some easy rides or days that you work on skills drills can round out your riding. If you can’t ride and have to do some “cardio training” I would encourage you to include some “cardio strength training” like combo drills or mace flows (Upper Body Cardio/ Grip Endurance). Watch out for programs that treat you like a roadie or XC rider with lots of long, sustained effort rides. If it doesn’t seem to reflect the realities of Enduro Racing and they can’t give you a really good reason why not then odds are they are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Enduro Training doesn’t have to be rocket science but you do need to apply some critical thinking to it. You have what it takes to be successful already and with the right training program you can unleash that.  
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Podcast Details

Created by
James Wilson - MTB Strength Training Systems
Podcast Status
Nov 24th, 2014
Latest Episode
Apr 12th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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