With bike season upon us here in Whistler, we checked in with local, mountain bike athlete, Hailey Elise to see how she gets ready for riding. Hailey spends a lot of time in the gym and holds a degree in Kinesiology, which she finds helpful given the active nature of her lifestyle in the mountains. 

Hailey divulges her top four must-do exercises for bikers that can be done in the gym or at home before you hit the trails this bike season.


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Must-Do Exercises for Mountain Bikers with Hailey Elise

For years, I would try to ride my bike throughout the winter, travelling to find dirt in an effort to keep my fitness level up. What I’ve learned is that time off doing other sports (skiing in my case) and a dedicated fitness program can really help me go into the season strong, healthy and fired up to ride. As they say, the real work is done off the bike. 

In addition to logging some serious hours on a trainer, a gym program that supports strength, mobility and balance can really set you up for a season of progression and good ol’ healthy fun. Here are a few exercises to help you start your best bike season yet so you can spend more time in the saddle and on the trails.

An athletic stance is referenced a number of times. The athletic stance is with your knees slightly bent, hips hinged forward around 45 degrees, and hands on your hips. To start out, try two sets of 10 of each exercise (except for the Plank and Monster Walk), and build up to three. 

Note that Hailey is not a doctor or certified training professional, so if you have any doubts about whether these exercises are for you, please check in with yours before giving them a go. 

Pro biker, Hailey Elise, performs a plank, a great exercise for getting ready to bike season.

Bike Exercise #1: Plank

I wish it had sunk in sooner about how important core strength is to the sport of mountain biking. This simple exercise helps to stabilize, balance and power the body as it’s navigating the trail. 

  1. Start in a push-up position, except put your elbows on the mat under your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Rest your weight on your forearms and on your toes. Try to keep your body in a straight line, this includes your neck. 
  3. Remember to breathe!
  4. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, working up to more. 

Bike Exercise #2: Chest Press on Ball

Mountain biking is basically doing push-ups over and over due to the position of your body above the bike, so it makes a lot of sense to train in the same movement pattern in the gym. This exercise targets some key players including the pectorals, deltoids and triceps. This exercise targets some key players including the pectorals, deltoids and triceps. Pick a weight that enables you to keep good form but makes you push hard to get through the final few reps.

  1. Rest your upper back on an exercise ball, engage your core, and bend your knees so that your body and thighs are parallel to the floor.
  2. With dumbbells in hand, position your upper arms so that they are parallel to the floor and your elbows are at right angles.
  3. As you exhale, push the dumbbells up toward the ceiling until your arms are almost straight.
  4. Lower the dumbbells slowly until your elbows are at right angles again. 
  5. Repeat!
Pro biker, Hailey Elise, performs a backward lunge, a great exercise for getting ready to bike season.

Bike Exercise #3: Reverse Lunge

Similar to skiing, the quadriceps play a very active role in mountain biking. They help us pedal up and support us on the way down. Although the quads are center stage, it is important that we strengthen the supporting actors, the hamstrings and glutes, to remain balanced.

  1. Start in an athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips 
  2. Step back onto one leg and bend the back knee until it almost touches the floor.
  3. Push through the heel of the leg that did not extend backward and contract your glutes and hamstrings, and move back up to standing.
  4. Repeat on the same side. 

Bike Exercise #4: Monster Walks

If you’ve taken a mountain bike lesson before, you may have heard your instructor reference a hip hinge. Not only do your hips help with technique, but they also work hard when pedalling. To help prevent injury to this area and a wealth of other benefits, it’s good to include an exercise that targets the hip abductor muscle group.

  1. Wrap a looped band under the balls of your feet. In an athletic stance, step your feet out to shoulder width apart, creating tension in the band. 
  2. With your body facing forward, take a step to the right with your right foot, stretching the band, then slowly step your left foot to the right so that your feet return to your original stance.
  3. Repeat each step 10 times and then the same on the left side.

Throw in some time on a spin bike and you’ll be climbing and descending more comfortably this bike season. See you in the mountains and on the trails!

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Hailey came to Whistler for a season and never left. Now, the local community, world-class mountain biking, and endless adventures are what keep her feet firmly planted in the mountains. When Hailey isn't writing, she can be found on a trail, photographing other athletes in action or working freelance as a digital strategist and content developer. Hailey's favourite mountain bike trail is Hey Bud on Blackcomb.