Improve Your Body Position for Mountain Biking

Words James Wilson
Date May 14, 2014

James Wilson is well known in the mountain bike world for training athletes at the World Cup and Olympic level, but he’s also got some great tips for the everyday rider. Here he shows us how to strengthen our riding position…

In my experience one of the hardest things to teach riders is how to get into good body position when standing up. I’m not talking about getting them to bend their body in a way that looks like good body position, I mean where they are actually strong and balanced on the bike.

And no, these two things are not the same.

I can get someone to act out good body position by telling them “butt back and chest down” and “get your elbows out” but that doesn’t mean that they are strong and stable there. What you will often see is someone who can act out good body position in a parking lot but will revert back to bad body position habits as soon as they get out on the trail

The reason for this is that you need to get down into that position while maintaining a strong core and upper back position. Simply leaning over with your elbows flared out isn’t going to do that for you.

While there are a lot of great exercises to train this movement skill like the deadlift and swing, the best exercise to learn the movement is probably the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing.

Created by strength coach Dan John, I learned this exercise recently while attending one of his seminars. This exercise is so great because it gets you into the same position you want on the bike while forcing your hips, core and upper back to stay engaged. This gives you the same feeling you want to transfer to the bike and greatly improve your ability to hold your body position on the trail.

In this video I show you the Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing (in case you’re wondering Dan named it that so it would be obvious if someone tried to take credit for the exercise) and explain more about how it can help you improve your body position on the bike.

Try doing 2-3 sets of 10 reps of this exercise with a 25-25 pound kettlebell as part of your next workout. You can also work a set or two into your warm up for workouts with deadlifts or swings to help get the core and hips online. You can also use it before doing your skills drills to help create the feeling you want to maintain on the bike.

All in all this is a very valuable exercise to add to your toolbox.

Remember that the real key to improving your skills and fitness on the trail is to work on improving how you move off the bike so you can move better on the bike. Knowing what to do won’t work if your body can’t get into the right position in the first place.

Hope you liked this mountain bike exercise tip, if you have any questions about this exercise or how to use it as part of your program please leave a comment below and I’ll answer it as soon as I can. And please help me spread the word by clicking one of the Like or Share buttons below.

Until next time…
Ride Strong,
James Wilson MTB Strength Training Systems

MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit to sign up for the FREE 30 Day MTB Skills & Fitness Program and to find more free training tips and resources.

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