In my past I , as many of us do, take our youthful strength and resilience for granted.
I was able to ride everyday not needing much time to recover and eat whatever I wanted.
Getting older (I am now 55, have gone through menopause which by the way put me in the ditch for a couple of years), I am working on strength training.
I like to call it “training for life”.
I eat well (I eat zero processed foods, refined sugar or flours- click to read more & see some recipes) & exercise daily.
Last year I bumped up to a full size (well ok, the Beta Xtrainer is 15% smaller than a full size 250cc dirt bike) dirt bike, inspired by a 5’3″ woman rider, Megan Griffiths. Granted she is 30 years younger than myself and a powerhouse of a gal but non the less I was inspired to make the leap from a junior bike to a full size. (click read my story about Megan’s inspiration).
I am a small woman, 115 lbs on a good day and 5’5″ tall. While in years past when I was as strong as a horse I probably would not have a problem with handling a machine that weighs 235 lbs.
Last year I did not do much for strength training. I hiked everyday and did a couple of mountain bike rides but that was about it.
I found it exhausting handling the dirt bike, and had a heck of a time picking it up.
So I decided to start training over this past winter, so that I would be better prepared for riding this summer.
The training has/is paying off! My riding has improved, as my core strength is stronger and I am able to get into an aggressive riding position, leading the bike & not just “hanging on”.
Being stronger and working on my bike handling skills has bumped me up to the next level and has allowed me to have more enjoyable and less exhausting rides.
I’ve had some interest from a few of my followers to let them in on what I do to train..so here’s the low down:
I start my day by doing 100 crunches and stretching for about 10-15 minutes while my coffee brews.
Then I go for a hike. I must say that I am very fortunate to live where I have endless forest out my back gate, so it is easy to get out and enjoy sunrise views and fresh air every morning!
I find that getting outside for an early hike sets me up for a great day. I find it easier to concentrate on work tasks throughout the day and I feel energized from breathing in the fresh air.
Over the winter I started building my stamina by extending my hiking routes. Once I started to go faster on my usual routes, I would add onto them, making them longer. Next, I threw in a couple of hill climbs; trying to stop less each time I did the climbs, and working up to going faster then running up them.
As the weather warmed and the snow left, I alternated my hiking with mountain biking.
I have a couple of routes that have climbs and loads of ups and downs, which work the core.
Next, I added a light weight truing routine to my program. As I have not done any weight training for years, I started REALLY slowly!
The key point to take seriously when starting weight training, is making sure my “form” is correct.
It is very easy to pull a muscle if you are not doing your exercises correctly.
To start I used little or no weight at all, making sure I have good form. Keeping my core tight, making sure my knees are slightly bent, and concentrating on the pelvic tilt position are some of the main things I keep in mind.
I have a large mirror on the floor so that I can see that I am doing all of those things.
I want to work on my core strength and my upper body as I feel I get most of my leg strength from the hiking and mountain biking.
Some of the exercises are taken from a Siberian work out program, where a medicine ball is incorporated. Though as I don’t have a medicine ball I use flat weight instead.
1) Warming up is a must; I use two, 2 1/2 lb weights and do circles, loosening up my shoulders.
There are many warm up exercises, you can google to find one the works for you!
2) Part of my warm up includes dumbbell shrugs. I started with 8 lb dumbbells and have worked up to 15 lbs.
Each set includes 10 shrugs, and I do 3 sets per exercise.
3) Next is my Siberian twist-press exercise.
This is a hard exercise that works the core, lats, sides, arms, neck, shoulders & legs!
I stated with a 5 lb weight and am now up to 20 lbs and if I feel strong I use a 25 lb weight for one set.
Begin with a twist from the centre touching the floor to one side, with a slight bend in my knee, then extending up with a “leg press” I push the weight up to the centre above my head. (Do not swing the weight, but move it in a controlled fashion). Next bring the weight down touching the weight to the floor between my legs, then press up above my head, then twisting touching the floor on the other side then up above my head to the centre, then touching the weight down between my legs then up above my head and again to the other side and repeat. Exhale when pushing the weight up into each press.
Each set includes10 twists from side to side, and I do 3 sets.
4) Figure 8: This works the core, shoulders, arms & neck.
(bonus: I find that my hands are also become stronger just from holding and lifting the weights)!
Key: I don’t let myself rock back and forth, I keep my torso as tight as possible, I do not allow the weight to ‘swing” from side to side, keeping the motion controlled.
The further away the weight is from your body, the harder it is and easier to injure myself.
Keep it close.
I started with 10 lbs and am now at 25 lbs.
Each set includes10, and I do 3 sets.
5) Tricep Dips: I don’t have a bench so I use sturdy wooden chairs.
This exercise works your triceps.
I started with my legs quite bent, working up to having them straight. I could only do a couple at a time, and have worked up to 3 sets of 10.
Once I can do them with totally straight legs, the next step is to put a weight on my lap. (In my hayday I use a 25 lb weight lol!)
6) Dumbell bicep curl. I keep one hand behind my back to keep my body from swinging.
Twist the weight as it comes up from my side.
Squeezing my bicep at the top of each curl, breathing out as I bring the weight up.
I do both arms, 10 reps, 3 sets each.
I started with an 8 lb dumbbell and have worked up to 12-15 lbs.
7) Push ups, I could only do a couple when I started, not going all the way down but as far as I could, and have worked up to 10 reps, 3 sets with a “downward dog” stretch after each set.
8) Finishing up, I like to test my strength by hanging off a bar one handed and twisting. In the beginning I had to keep one foot on the ground while twisitng as I could barely hang on. Now I can swing freely, twisting to both sides, one arm then the other!