Fitness: Adventure Bike Fitness

Get bike fit this year with this simple yet effective training plan

The shoulders are important for muscle balance purposes, in that all of your body should be in the same kind of shape as far as strength and muscular endurance are concerned. They are also important at those rather annoying times when you’ve just hit a rut and put the bike into the nearest hedge (I know exactly what this feels like from personal experience).

Of course, you’ll have to have the strength to lift the bike out of said hedge, and the shoulders will be part of the muscular package you’ll need to achieve this feat and get back to having fun.

In many exercises, you can use multiple muscles (compound) or one set of muscles (isolation), the shoulders lend themselves well to both methods of training.

The shoulder muscles, when focusing on physical exercises, utilise the trapezius (from the neck to the arm at the top of the back) and the deltoids (at the top of the arm). The compound exercise you should focus on is the shoulder press as it works the deltoids, the trapezius, and the triceps at the back of the arm as a bonus.

You’ll need the resistance band for these exercises that we highlighted a couple of issues ago.

Shoulder Press

Depending on the length of your resistance band, you can either sit or stand for this one. Either way, you need to stabilise the band under your feet (standing) or backside (sitting). Make sure you have enough resistance in the band to fatigue your muscles in between 12 and 15 reps.

If standing, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and the hands holding the handles of the band at shoulder height. Then simply raise both hands together until your arms are almost, but not quite, locked straight above your head.

Use the 1:1:1 tempo (one second up, hold one sec, one second down) for the whole 12 to 15 reps. If you can reach reps 15 easily you need to shorten the band to increase the resistance. Do this exercise for two sets in total.

Front Raises

This is an isolation exercise that is very specific when transferring the action to picking up the bike after a tumble. Although you should be lifting the bike predominantly with your legs to protect your lower back, you’ll still need strength in your shoulders.

This is a standing exercise, so with your feet shoulder-width apart step one foot forward and place the mid-point of the resistance band under that front foot. Now, keep the arms locked in a straight aspect throughout the movement, raise the handles to shoulder height and return to the start position.

The key is to only move the arms around the shoulder joint, so everything else should remain static. Use the same 1:1:1 tempo here to complete 12 reps for two sets to make a total of four sets for the shoulders.

A good alternative I have used to provide the resistance in these exercises is a loaded dry bag or if you are capable, a half-loaded hard pannier. Merely hold these with both hands and repeat the instructions. Use the handle to lift in the case of the front raises and remember the weight may have to be adjusted, as the front raises isolate the anterior (front) deltoid and will tire quicker than the compound shoulder press.

The Circuit So Far

If you’ve been following our fitness plan throughout 2017, you’ll now be able to build a complete full-body circuit that’ll help you strengthen the muscles you’ll need while adventure riding. The idea is to work through the whole circuit three times, allowing yourself 30 seconds of rest between each exercise (i.e. complete 15 squats, rest 30 seconds, complete 15 lunges).

The complete circuit should look like this:

Squats: 3 x 15 reps
Lunges: 3 x 15 reps
Press-ups: 3 x 15 reps
Seated rows: 3 x 15 reps
Reverse flys: 3 x 15 reps
Shoulder press: 3 x 15 reps
Front raises: 3 x 15 reps
Abdominal crunch: 3 x 10 reps
Ab bicycle: 3 x 20 reps
Plank: 3 x 30 seconds
Standing calf raises: 3 x 15 reps
Seated calf raises: 3 x 15 reps