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Mountain Bike Tips

Mountain Bike Training: Arms, Wrists, and Hands

Mountain Biker looking directly at camera as comes down a trail through the woods

Today’s Guest post with from Matthew Sklar at evo

Moun­tain bik­ing is all about strong legs, right? Hit the squats and you’ll be ready to rip — or not. Your upper body, name­ly your hands and wrists still play a major role in moun­tain bik­ing. These areas can also be major sources of pain. So, in order to stay pain-free, it’s impor­tant to take care of those upper body appendages that moun­tain bik­ers so often ignore. Obvi­ous­ly, your hands are one of the main con­nec­tions between the rid­er and the bike and in rough, rocky ter­rain, those hands have to hold on tight, no mat­ter how sweet your new full sus­pen­sion moun­tain bike is.

Step num­ber one is the prop­er moun­tain bike siz­ing. The angle of your brake levers and bike shifters are a com­mon point of wrist fatigue. Shoot for a 45-degree angle, this should match up nat­u­ral­ly with the angle of your arms and wrists while rid­ing. Your body posi­tion on the bike also changes the stress on your arms. Keep­ing your weight on your feet allows you to be light on your hands, and puts you in a bet­ter posi­tion to attack the trail. Check out the video for more:

Even with the right bike size and tech­nique, your arms will still get tired dur­ing a ride. There are lots of great exer­cis­es to help your grip and wrist strength. The first is the ket­tle­bell suit­case car­ry, which focus­es on grip strength, core strength. and wrist strength.  This exer­cise will also help to coun­ter­act some of the ill-effects of long days sit­ting at your desk at work. Focus­ing on core and shoul­der posi­tion­ing will give you the most ben­e­fit, and help build arm strength that you’ll need out on the trail. 

Ket­tle­bell Screw­drivers are anoth­er good exer­cise for moun­tain bik­ers, focus­ing on strength­en­ing the wrist in the neu­tral grip posi­tion that moun­tain bik­ers use when grip­ping the bars. These also have ben­e­fits to the shoul­der and rota­tor cuff.

Grip strength is a good start to get­ting your arms ready for moun­tain bike sea­son, but it’s also a good idea to mix in some mobil­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty exer­cis­es. If you’ve ever felt “pumped” out after a long descent, or your fore­arms just feel worked, these are the exer­cis­es for you. Build­ing up a good foun­da­tion here will reduce the fatigue you feel while rid­ing. Prop­er rid­ing tech­nique, espe­cial­ly not “death-grip­ping” your bike han­dle­bars is impor­tant here, too. 

Com­bine the above exer­cis­es to get ready for Spring rid­ing. Strong legs and core are essen­tial to moun­tain bik­ing,  but focus­es on your arms, wrists and hands will make you an even bet­ter rid­er,  with more con­trol and less fatigue on the trail. 

We are evo — a ski, snow­board, moun­tain bike, surf, wake, and skate retail­er based in Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, USA, with stores locat­ed in Seat­tlePort­land, and Den­ver. We seek to bring our cus­tomers the high­est qual­i­ty out­door gear all while cre­at­ing an extra­or­di­nary cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, and giv­ing back to the com­mu­ni­ties in which we work and play. evo also likes to trav­el to remote places across the globe in search of world-class pow­der turns, epic waves, or leg­endary moun­tain bik­ing loca­tions through evoTrip adven­ture vaca­tions.