Top 3 Exercises for Explosive Gate Starts

February 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Tips

mountain bike gate start 300x225 Top 3 Exercises for Explosive Gate StartsOne of the most frequent questions that I get from riders around the country is “what are the best exercises for gate starts?” Apparently a lot of people are looking for the “magic exercises” that will make a big difference in their perceived weakness out of the gate and/ or the few strokes immediately afterwards. First off, if you are looking for just one exercise to cover most biking ills I would have to recommend the deadlift, as a properly performed deadlift will target most of the areas aggressive MTB racers are lacking in and most are very weak in this lift.

However, this exercise is a must for every MTB rider and not necessarily specific to gate starts. Since off-season training is upon us I decided to reveal my Top 3 Exercises for Explosive Gate Starts. I think that anyone with a gate start at the beginning of the race (like you DH and 4X riders) will find these exercises extremely useful as a part of their strength training program.

First, you’ll quickly notice that there is not a leg press to be seen on the list. With few exceptions (injury being the only one I can think of right now) the leg press should never be used in an MTB strength training program. Sitting down and bracing your back against the seat back of the leg press will artificially strengthen the core. You are only as strong as your weakest link, which is usually the core’s ability to act as a platform to create strength from. By taking your core out of the equation as the weak link (as the leg press does) you create false strength, or strength that you can not use on the bike. Since you can not brace your back against something on your bike, the leg press should be avoided if you are serious about your strength program maximizing your riding potential.

1. Banded Deadlift –This exercise is indispensable in your quest to build an explosive gate start. A more advanced form of the regular deadlift, this requires the use of strength bands. These thick rubber bands are not the same as the rubber tubing you see in most gyms and are designed to add several hundred pounds at the lockout point of the lift.

By attaching the strength bands to the bar and doing a deadlift you will maximally overload the full range of motion, especially the top half, as well as really forcing yourself to accelerate and explode in order to overcome the stretching bands. If you watch a great gate start you will notice that the rider basically performs a ¼ deadlift action, throwing his hips out in an explosive manner. This action requires extremely explosive hips and few exercises can match the specific nature of this movement and its requirements like the banded deadlift.  Read more