Even those of us who hit the gym five times a week or run marathons every weekend, admit that training isn’t always fun. Getting fit is hard, and unless you are really enjoying what you are doing, it’s often too repetitive and boring to stick at it very long. This is why we see so many people join the gym in January, only to leave by the end of February. We know we need to be healthier, we want to get fit, but the reality is it’s too hard and too dull for most of us.
What if you knew you could do a sport which strengthens all the major muscle groups, improves your core and overall balance, delivers great cardio all while having a quick recovery time and distracts you with fun through the whole session? That sport does exist. It’s known as MTB. Mountain biking.
There are various forms of mountain biking, but two of the most common are trails riding – you may hear this referred to as singletrack, and downhill MTB. Both are excellent for strength and conditioning.
Singletrack is a mixture of technical uphills and tricky downhills. It’s usually split into grades, a little like skiing.
Downhill MTB starts with a vehicle lift up to the top of a hill, great if you don’t like peddling up to the top of a trail, then you make your way back down on the bike. You will encounter more complicated turns and jumps, you’ll also be travelling a lot faster.
Both of these disciplines get your body working in multiple ways. When cycling up tricky climbs, your heart is working harder, and you are increasing oxygen in your blood. Because you are concentrating on the technical elements of the climb, it’s very different to cycling up a hill on a road bike. You will be able to tackle steeper climbs and won’t notice how hard you have worked.
MTB is one of the few sports that work almost every muscle group in the body. Alongside the cardio workout. Because of this, you could suffer from delayed onset muscle spasms, known as the DOMS. This can be eased with hydration and movement. So while you may ache the next day, you should think about heading out again.
Unlike running, MTB has far less impact on your joints. When you first start you may find you suffer from a little joint pain, this is due to technique and tension. It can be eased with topical cold or heat compresses. You can also find alternative topical treatments on the Harvest HOC blog.
It’s also a highly social sport. You’ll be sharing your time with friends, although you can go alone too. You also get such an adrenaline rush from completing downhill sections that you carry it through into any uphills, making them seem easier. A distracted mind doesn’t feel exertion as much as one that is focussed on the energy it’s using!
Give MTB a go and have some fun while getting fit.