Greg Minaar MTB Workout

Greg Minaar on a mountain bike
(Image credit: Greg Minaar)

Use this workout, devised by mountain bike world cup champion Greg Minaar, to increase your pedal power, strength endurance and ability to control the bike around berms, over jumps and down steep trails.

If you want to build up your cycling strength it’s not enough to just hop on a bike and go for a ride. This will only train your aerobic fitness rather than your muscle-based anaerobic fitness. “I visit the gym to focus on lower-body exercises because it has a real impact on my pedalling power,” says Minnaar.

The occasionally airborne nature of freeriding means that you don’t just use the handlebars to steer. “You push and pull on the bars to control your pitch in the air as well as to get your front wheel out of holes in the trail, so your arms and back need to stay strong all the way to the bottom of the run,” says Minnaar.

Do these four exercises to build your cycling strength endurance and ability to stabilize your weight on the bike. 

1 Walking dumbbell lunge

Why “‘This exercise improves strength endurance, especially at the tops of my knees, which is where you feel it first when cranking up your pedalling power,” says Minnaar.

How Step forwards with your left leg and drop until your thigh is level with the floor. Walk forwards, lunging with alternate legs. Keep your shoulders drawn back.

2 Side jump squat

Sets 2 Reps 10 each side

Why “‘This plyometric move is designed to increase your explosive power and prepare your elbows and knees to act as your own personal suspension units,” says Minnaar.

How Squat down and swing your arms behind you. Swing your arms up and drive out of the squat, jumping to your left. Relax your elbows and bend your knees as you land to cushion the impact.

3 Gym ball dumbbell row

Sets 3 Reps 10

Why “‘Pulling up on the bars is a key part of riding, and this move trains you to bring your shoulder blades together and strengthens the upper back,” says Minnaar.

How Start with the dumbbells slightly raised off the ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row the weight up. Pause at the top to maximise the muscle contraction.

4 Offset medicine ball press-up

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side

Why “‘The medicine ball provides a challenge to the side it’s on and irons out strength imbalances when pushing on your handlebars in mid-air,” says Minnaar.

How Keep the tops of your feet and ankles in touch with the ball and your core braced. Keep your shoulders level as you lower down. Press-up more slowly than usual to retain control.

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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.