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Get Fit for the Parks


Get fit for bike parks

As the last of the snow melts and the trails dry up (at least in the northern hemisphere), each weekend another bike park gets their summer season underway.  So whilst the trails are being groomed and prepped, what can you do to prepare yourself for the demands of bike park riding?  Our resident WorldBikeParks PTI (or Physical Training Instructor for the civvies) takes you through some of the basics…

Body and Mind

Firstly we need to think about the demands of bike park riding, which can vary considerably to your standard weekend ride.  Aside from the normal demands placed on the body by mountain biking, riding in lift assisted areas has a few extra stresses. The ability to do multiple descents in a short time means the upper body takes a beating in a way that is very difficult to recreate outside of the park. The hands and lower arm, triceps and core all work overtime to keep you in control. 

Aside from the physiological demands the mind is also challenged due to the progressive nature of the trails - you can push your limits much more quickly than is often possible on regular trails. This requires a real positive “go for it” approach and we can also work on this in our everyday riding.

So what can we do to prepare the body and mind for these demands? Firstly, we’re not going to go on about weight sets and reps here, it simply isn’t necessary. We ride in bike parks for fun and here at WBP we see no reason why the preparation should be any different.  Developing your physiological and psychological strengths can be done simply and with little or no extra time or financial commitment beyond your normal riding.  Here are three areas to help you develop as a rider without having to feel like you are training.


Ride your hardest home trails, reverse your usual routes and just see how far up that super technical climb you can get yourself. Deliberately ride out of your regular line on familiar terrain and see what other options are present.  Explore new terrain where possible – always try and ride something new on every ride, whether it’s a whole new route or a set of steps as you come back into town.  Race your mates, challenge them to wheelie competitions, sprint for signs – whatever it takes to give you a push out of your comfort zone. Develop those trials skills – find an area to practice track stands, bunny hopping, endos, riding backwards, ride stairs, jump kerbs, balance along a fixed line, manual, or even just riding no-hands - it’s great for the core.  Finally why not set up a trials section and see who can get through it the cleanest.


Find better riders and watch them. How do they attack a section? What lines do they choose? Where are they looking? How do they use their bodies to alter the direction of the bike? When do they brake?  When do they not brake?! Then go out and try to incorporate what you observed into your own riding.  You could even video each other through the same section of trail to see how you compare and where you can improve.  If you can’t find anyone to ride with then check out videos of the pros on the internet.


Borrow a few tricks from climbers to develop your hand and forearm strength. Static hangs from doorways, or repeatedly squeezing a couple of squash balls will develop your grip strength and endurance. Or use a Powerball and see how many RPM you can reach, and how long you can maintain it for.  Get those veins popping!

If you can incorporate just a few of these ideas into your regular routine, even taking a ten minute break in a normal cross-country ride, you will start to progress both physically and in your mental approach to your riding. No need to hit the gym or stress, we’re not going out to win medals.  But it makes that ‘just one more run’ at the end of the day a whole lot easier!

Daniel Smith holds a BSc (Hons) Degree in Sports Science and PE from Loughborough University in England.  With over 25 years’ experience of mountain biking and training for MTB events he is currently coaching cycling in Italy.

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