3 Weeks Deep into my "Off Season Getting Back Into Shape Routine...."

First off, welcome back to your apartment and computer Dad following your 8 weeks of rehab! I bet it feels good to be back.

14 degrees this morning as I type this.

Getting back into shape for me...

Since mountain bike cycling alone is not really the best way to get into shape or work the entire body as it is a very specific muscle group and limited work of all that hamster cage rotational leg movement, I always look forward to the November - March time segment to "reconstruct" my body with core exercises and weights. I just didn't do my weekly maintenance weights this year like I should have and even simple tasks like mowing the lawn were more strenuous than in the past with weaker muscle groups than in prior years. So, it's time to rebuild.

One of the mountain bike training guru's I follow says it best:

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when getting into mountain biking is to think that it is a great way to get into shape. This mindset is actually a big problem with the fitness world in general – playing a sport is not how to get into shape. Things work out much better when you have a base level of fitness going into trail riding and it becomes a way to apply and hone your fitness.

There are a couple of problems with trying to use mountain biking as a way to get into shape. First, riding a bike is great fun but it is not the healthiest thing to do from a structural point of view. Sitting in a hunched over position while taking your legs through a shortened, repetitive range of motion a few hundred or thousand times a ride causes all sorts of imbalances. Sitting down also takes your core and hips out of the equation and will cause movement dysfunctions that can lead to problems down the road.

Sure, you may lose some weight and gain some cardio fitness but you don’t create the type of broad based fitness you really need to be healthy from a larger point of view. Remember that you are a human being first and a mountain biker second – don’ ignore the need for basic human function before you try to develop specialized fitness.

Another pitfall to the mindset of using sports to get healthy is a lack of perspective on the training plans of the pros. As I mentioned before, sport is not really about health, especially at the highest levels. To get your body into shape to be excellent at a few things means that other types of fitness and movement patterns will suffer.

There is an old Greek saying – where good sport begins, good health ends. Pros know that there is a physical cost for what they do to hone their bodies into peak shape for the demands of their sport. However, your average rider who looks at riding as “healthy” doesn’t have the same perspective.

They think that the pros represent the pinnacle of “fitness” and try to emulate the lopsided, unbalanced programs they use. They don’t realize that the pros usually spent years developing their fitness base and go back to work on it often – all they see is the amount of time spent working on specialized fitness qualities and think that copying their approach is the key to achieving their fitness goals.

The truth is that most riders have no business following a program inspired by a pro rider – they need to focus on building their fitness and movement base through a strength and conditioning program and then just getting out on their bikes and riding hard. In fact, focusing too much on the narrow fitness qualities needed to excel at the pro level of mountain biking may lead to short term gains but will lead to long term stagnation and injuries.

My point is that if you love riding then ride for fun, not for “fitness”. Use a smart, balanced strength and conditioning program to address your basic fitness and then ride hard to hone that fitness into “mountain biking shape”. Riding is a great way to take your fitness to another level, just don’t come into it thinking that it is a great way to get into shape in the first place. Keep some perspective on what the pros do to excel at the highest levels and you’ll progress further, enjoy riding more and avoid overuse injuries by taking this approach.

-James Wilson-

Last night was a "core" workout session and a circuit session of weights with 30 minutes of spin on the C7i bike. I almost hate doing the core exercises the most, but it sure improves everything from posture, to stability, to energy throughout the day. Thank goodness our basement home gym is comfy and the big screen TV provides plenty of entertainment to keep my wife and I working out in the winter months. It probably is not the best thing to be working out while watching the Food Network, but that's what we do.


I'm 3 weeks into deadlifts, squats, lunges, upper body work and base building on the bike. And I'm about 3 weeks into holiday eating and snacking as well. ;-] I'm trying to be careful, but the caloric increase is noted and the body is responding! I always forget how weight lifting increases my metabolism which in turn fires up my appetite. I'm trying to eat 5 times a day (small snacks like raisins or nuts between meals) to feed that appetite and fire up the metabolism even more with the digestion requirements of 5 eating sessions per day compared to 3.

Tonight is a recovery spin and stretching workout before Tara and I take a night out (we've earned it this week).

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