Body parts targeted: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core, and arms
Forget your stationary bike. Trust and spontaneity rule all on the trail making for a thrilling experience for your senses. Whether you’re climbing or descending, the ever-evolving terrain will be full of obstacles that challenge your reflexes, core balance, explosiveness, strength, agility, drive and primal instincts.
There are four important factors that influence your riding experience: body posture, seat position, braking, and preparing to fall. You’ll be in one of two positions at all times, neutral (elbows bent, even weight on the pedals, butt on the seat) or ready (elbows bent, fingers over the brakes, and butt back and in the air.) When going uphill, you’ll want your seat high enough to maximize the efficiency and power of your leg extensions, and on the down, you’ll want to lower your seat 2-3 inches and put your weight toward the back of the bike, holding the handlebars firmly with fingers on the brakes, ready to adjust velocity for turning, steering, and stopping. Cliffs, rocks, mud, and loose gravel can come out of nowhere so it’s crucial to be present in mind and body at all times.
Intensity tracker: There are three types of trails: single tracks, double tracks, and fire roads, but most trails have a little of each. Harder trails, called single and double tracks, can mean steeper ascents and trail drops and jumps. Easier trails or fire roads, can be just as demanding on the body but are easier in that the actual terrain is flatter with less obstacles and may not require as much aggressive maneuvering.
Expert tip: “Rather than scan the ground for spots you want to avoid, focus on where you want to go. Pick a path and stick to it to get over and around tricky sections of trail. And if you get stuck in a rut, don’t “fight the bike.” Do your best to ride it out, but if it’s impossible, hike your bike. There’s no shame in stopping and walking it out,” says Steve Tischler, REI Outdoor fitness expert.