Another motocross and Downhill Mountain Biking season is close to the end with only a month left.
There is no such a thing as “Failure” – but only “Learning curves” as long as you learn from it and you improve
Hopefully, you have had more achievements than failures, although I do believe that there is no such a thing as “Failure” – but only “Learning curves” as long as you learn from it and you improve, and what is the best time to reflect on our achievements and failures than the off season?!
As I mentioned on the previous article– off season training builds your foundation level of strength, power and endurance, but also is a good timing to look back and reflect on your racing season. Now is the time to review your program and decide how you are either going to improve on it or make sweeping changes and finally get into the type of condition that you have always aimed for.
This reflection should happen whether you are an aspiring pro, amateur level, or a weekend warrior. What you do over the next six months will determine how you perform next spring when it is time to line for the first race of the season again.
Reflecting on last season’s results is a very important part of the off-season program. Whether you had a great season or not, you should know what worked well or what not. Knowing your strengths and weakness will help you to continuously improving yourself.
Be brutally honest with yourself when evaluating last season’s performance as only you will know the real reasons why you may have failed. Think about factors which may have either prevented you from reaching your full potential, whilst also keeping in mind the factors that may have helped you succeed.
Make a list of both the hindering and helpful factors, and try to eliminate the bad whilst expanding on the good. This list can include anything from an unsupportive girlfriend, lack of money or time, hanging out with the wrong friends, or just laziness. If fitness was a factor that kept you from reaching your goals, now is the right time to put a plan in place and ensure that next year you will smash it.
Take some time off the bike!
Yes, that’s right! Take two weeks time off once your racing season ends. That will allow your mind and body to reset and recover from the intensity of the season, but also will allow you to avoid burnout. Go on holiday, spend some time with friends and family and do things that you haven’t had the time to do during the racing season.
In case you weren’t so lucky and maybe you had an injury during the season, then your main focus should be on fully recovering before starting your off-season training. Once you get the green light and taken the appropriate break, the focus of your off-season training should be on strength/endurance training, along with aerobic-based cardiovascular training.
Strength training is the core for all other conditioning, and higher levels of strength will ultimately yield higher levels of cardiovascular and muscular endurance in the pre-season.
During the winter, weather is pretty bad especially if you are based in UK, so it’s a good chance to sign up in a gym and start your training instead of suffering in silence due to lack of riding. Fail to prepare yourself for the next racing season – is a recipe for disaster.
Strength training should be set up according to the rules of periodisation
For the off-season, you want to start with low to medium weight with high repetitions and gradually shift to heavier weight with lower repetitions as the off-season training progresses. The emphasis is on strength, not mass or size.
Strength training can help you avoid overuse injuries by reducing muscular imbalances caused by motocross or Mountain biking riding and aerobic training. It can also prevent crash related injuries by providing muscle mass, which acts as an energy absorber, and by reducing the chances of joints getting injured.
Strength training can cause arm pump “Syndrome”!?
I often hear that riders avoid strength training because it causes arm pump. The reality is that arm pump is caused by death grip. Riders can learn a faulty motor pattern during strength training. Increasing the tension of your grip on the weights/barbell as the set gets more challenging possibly could carry over into motocross riding as a bad habit. This can produce arm pump quickly as your efforts on the bike rise.
While lifting and as the set becomes more challenging you reduce the tension you apply to your grip by relaxing your grip as the set progresses and requires more effort. This can actually produce a good habit that you could transfer it over to your riding skill and can actually prevent you from tightening up on the bike as you strive for more speed.
Take advantage of your cardio training
It’s during this time of the year when you can make great gains regardless what level of rider you are. Many MX/MTB athletes train in high intensity all the year around without an actual plan of what they are aiming to achieve.
This time of the year is right for building a base of cardio and to do that you must work on your aerobic energy system with longer, less intense cardio workouts.
Think as your foundation for building the intensity closer to the pre-season/racing season. Without a strong foundation you will be gassed after a few laps/ lifts.
By increasing your anaerobic threshold (lactate threshold), you’ll be able to race at a higher intensity and for longer periods of time with less fatigue.
The lactate threshold is the maximal effort or intensity that an athlete can maintain for an extended period of time with little or no increase in lactate in the blood. It is an effort or intensity and not a specific lactate level. It is most often described as a speed or pace such as meters per second, or times to achieve certain distances such as minutes per mile or kilometre for running and minutes per 100 m in swimming, or as a power measure such as watts.
Off season is too important to be ignored. As Seneca said once “ Success is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. Try to utilise most of your winter time, work hard but also work smart. Until next time, good luck with your training and if you have got any questions or you need help with your performance preparation, feel free to contact me
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