Many athletes involved in various sporting activities today use alternative training methods to improve their performance. Due to the cardiovascular fitness and dynamic nature of mountain biking, there are many cross training methods that can be used to enhance your ride. having an alternate sport also helps you to keep your mind fresh, reducing "burnout". Cross training is especially useful if you live in an area where mountain biking has an off season due to the weather because it keeps you fit and will give you a leg up on the competition come spring time! I have created a list of activities that correspond well to mountain biking:
- road cycling. I thought I might put forward the most obvious cross training method first. Road cycling is a great way to build your endurance and condition cycling specific muscles. It is less taxing on your body than mountain biking so it can be a good form of recovery as well. Many professional mountain bikers actually spend about 70% of their training time on their road bikes.
- rowing. rowing is a great exercise for strengthening your arms, back and legs which are three important areas for mountain bikers. Rowers actually have one of the largest lung capacities in the sporting world which demonstrates the cardiovascular advantages you can gain from the sport, on top of the muscle development.
- running. running is fantastic for improving your cardiovascular fitness and increasing your max Vo2. The impact nature of running strengthens your legs and joints as well. Trail running is even more advantageous because the dirt is easier on your joints and obstacles gives you an added level of conditioning and joint stability.
- basketball. if you find running by yourself boring, you can get involved in a sport like basketball where running is fun! You can get the same effect with other sports like hockey or soccer (indoor or outdoor), just so long as your running and working hard.
- swimming. swimming strengthens your lungs which convert to big improvements on the bike. it is also great for strengthening your upper body.
- weight training. weight training is great for mountain bikers as it can help you push bigger gears, climb hills and control the bike. When you weight train, it is important to include all muscle groups and not just concentrate on your legs otherwise you will become heavily imbalanced. On the trail, you are practically using all of your muscle groups so strengthening these are pretty useful.
the sports I listed above aren't the only cross training methods and are just some ideas. you can include other sports like cross country skiing, down hill skiing, down hill mountain biking, hiking etc. just so long as you are working!