5 Exercises to Improve Strength for Mountain Biking

20-minute MTB Strength Building Routine

with Olivia Smedley, Trail Squad

Mountain biking is a dynamic sport. It requires full-body engagement to stay balanced, in control and powerful on the bike, so it is important to build strength in different muscle groups.

As I train toward completing the 2018 Absa Cape Epic, developing my strength and power on the bike has been a top priority. With the help of Fryer Performance Coaching, I have been performing the following exercises to build strength for mountain biking.  The great thing about these exercises is that they require minimal equipment and can be completed just about anywhere! Watch the video for a quick demo and check out my additional tips below.

Always Warm Up!

Make sure you get warmed up before you start the exercises. A warm-up can be anything that gets your heart beating – a quick jog, a 10-minute ride around the neighbourhood, or just playing around and practising those wheelies on your bike!

Lower Body Power and Strength

On endurance rides, my quads are the first muscle group to start aching. Improving my strength and power in these muscle groups will help me tackle day after day of climbing during the Cape Epic.

  1. Squat jumps
  1. Body weight squat

Upper Body Strength

Developing upper body strength is important for effective bike handling and it also helps to prevent injuries from crashing. When the fatigue starts to set in on longer rides, arm and shoulder strength will keep you in control.

  1. Push Up
  1. Shoulder circuit

Core Strength

What exercise routine would be complete without the classic sit up? It is an important one for mountain bikers as we rely on our core strength to stabilise through corners and when biking over rough terrain. Start building your abs of steel today! Yes, it will hurt, but it will be worth it.

  1. Curl-ups

With advice from my coach, I started by doing 10 repetitions of each exercise per set for three sets (or 3x10). This routine generally takes around 20 minutes to complete. (By the way, there is no need to rush between exercises. Focus on completing each one with strong body posture rather than the time in which you have done it.)

I hope you find that repeating these exercises regularly will improve your strength and power on the bike! Enjoy.


Hailing from different countries, with different backgrounds, careers, and obligations, the women of the Trail Squad are just like you: they are moms, nurses, designers and teachers, and they love mountain biking. Together, these women are setting out to complete the most EPIC mountain bike stage race of them all, the 2018 Absa Cape Epic.

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