Fitness – Adventure Bike Fitness

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Dropping your bike is just a reality of life for a lot of us, so being in good enough shape to pick your machine up without injuring yourself. Here, Mark Ansell runs through a quick routine that will help you become a bike lifting powerhouse

In this issue of Adventure Bike Rider, we are going to be looking at how to get yourself fit for an adventure that’s predominantly off-road. This means that we’ll have to shift from the endurance programme of issue 49 as, in order to prepare for more strenuous endeavours, you are going to need to build up a certain amount of strength.

Reasons for this increased strength include picking the bike up after a spill, moving the bike in order to pick it up, and physically manoeuvring the bike during more challenging off-road sections.

Picking your bike up

When riding off-road spills are likely to happen, and it pays to be strong enough to pick up your bike if you do happen to drop it. Ideally, you’ll have a few mates with you to help if you do hit the deck, but it’s worth being in a position where you can right your bike by yourself if they’re not around.

When picking up your machine, you must use your legs and not your lower back in order to avoid injuring yourself, which could put you at risk of being stranded where you are. The first thing you’re going to want to do after you drop your bike, providing you’re not seriously injured, is spring to your feet and try and wrestle your machine upright. It’s almost as if you get it up quick enough, no one will notice that you went down.

This is a bad idea and can lead to a lot of wasted energy and potential injuries so, first of all, don’t rush to pick the bike up – gather yourself, assess the lay of the land and turn the handlebars so the front wheel points upwards. Grab the lower handgrip with both hands, legs bent, back straight.

Use your legs to push the bike up, maintaining leg strength – you may need to push your thigh into the petrol tank once the bike gets to a certain point to brace it before you put it on the stand.

The scientific guidelines for strength training are three to four sets of exercises with four to seven repetitions in each set. In this programme, we will start at the bottom of these.

Bear in mind that each set should be completed to failure in order to achieve maximum adaptation to the muscle being worked – this means that the weight used has to be heavy (for you) and you will need to experiment in week one to find your individual weight for each exercise.

Strength Programme

This is a ‘general’ programme that works all major muscle groups. It is important to remember that for adventure biking, muscle balance is paramount. All areas of the body need to be conditioned.

This programme should last four-six weeks initially and you should choose weights that will fatigue you on the last rep of every set (in order to know how hard this is you shouldn’t be able to do another rep after the last rep).

All exercises will be three sets of four repetitions:

  • Barbell squats – quads and glutes (you can use a free bar squat rack or leg press as an alternative)
  • Leg Curl – hamstrings
  • Lat Pulldown – mid back, biceps
  • Chest Press – pecs, triceps, anterior delts (you can use barbell bench rack or chest press machine)
  • Shoulder press – delts, triceps (dumbbells or machine)
  • Calf raise – dumbbell or machine Bicep curl – barbell, dumbbell or machine
  • Tricep extension – dumbbell or machine
  • Ab crunches x 30
  • Back extensions x 30


Now the progression: as you get stronger, after four-six weeks, you need to adapt the programme accordingly. This is where you can maintain the weight but increase the reps in each exercise. In order to stay in the ‘strength zone’ this must only reach seven reps before you return back to four with more weight, then repeat the whole process.