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3 Exercises to Get Started in a Strength Program

By Tina Meinhardt, PT, DPT

In mountain biking, building a strong foundation is crucial for enhanced performance on the trails. There are thousands of exercises that can help you improve strength and fitness on the bike, but it can be overwhelming on where to even begin!

Here are three fundamental exercises that you can do as a workout, or incorporate into your strength program that can make a significant difference to your riding. 

  1. The AIR SQUAT is an essential movement that targets your quads, hamstrings, core and glutes, mimicking the lower body engagement needed for powerful pedal strokes. Mastering this fundamental squatting technique not only strengthens your legs but also enhances overall stability, essential for navigating uneven terrains with control. Once you master this exercise, you can further challenge yourself and build more strength by adding weight with variations of the squat.

  1. The HIGH PLANK is a core-strengthening gem. Maintaining a solid high plank position engages your entire core, including the abdominal muscles, lower back, and shoulders. A strong core is crucial for maintaining balance on the bike, especially during technical maneuvers and quick navigation of the terrain. You can further challenge yourself by adding different movements to this exercise, like shoulder taps or foot taps.

  1. The PUSH UP rounds out the trio, targeting your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. Building upper body strength through push-ups translates directly to improved control and maneuverability while handling your mountain bike. A robust upper body is essential for controlling and steering your mountain bike, especially when navigating through technical and uneven terrains, giving you enhanced stability and balance, allowing you to better absorb bumps on the trail. 

These three exercises lay a solid foundation, helping you develop the strength and stability necessary to tackle challenging trails and elevate your mountain biking skills. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 reps of each movement (holding the high plank for 30 seconds OR doing shoulder taps for reps.)

Try them out!

Check out the full-length video here:


Coach Tina is the owner of Rowdy Ryder Academy, located in Arvada, Colorado, and also founder of Denver women's mountain bike club "Girls, Gears and Beers." She is a licensed physical therapist and mountain bike coach, with previous background as a personal trainer and sports performance coach (since 2002) prior to receiving her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in 2015 from Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles. She recently received the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certificate in October 2023, which she uses to help create effective strength and conditioning programs for her clients, to not only excel in their sport but in daily life.

Find out more about Tina's strength and conditioning services and programs, as well as mountain bike coaching clinics in Arvada, Colorado at her website  

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