Mountain Bike Fitness Training: The 6 best pieces of equipment

mountain bike fitness training

As with any sport, mountain biking is so much more fun when you have a reasonable level of fitness. However, this level of fitness is different for everyone. Some may just be starting an active and healthy lifestyle, some may just want to lose some weight, while others could be training for their first enduro race. Whatever point you are at in your mountain bike fitness training, the simple thing is, you just have to keep going.

The fact you have opened this page means you are looking to work on your mountain bike fitness training. Now I don’t claim to be the fittest bloke in the world, but I ride a lot and go to the gym regularly. In my quest to improve my riding (I need all the help I can get), I have looked in to lots of different ways of mountain bike fitness training. I have used or own variations of all the items in this list, so I can personally vouch for their effectiveness.

Where to start?

Obviously leg strength is important for pedaling however, but so is having a strong core. On a mountain bike, a strong core keeps your lower spine in sync with your pelvis, which reduces the likelihood of injury. A strong core also provides a good platform for your glutes, quads and hip flexors to push the pedals from. This means less energy is wasted, making your pedalling more efficient.

Mountain biking takes your body and your bike over terrain that calls for constant position changes and adaptations that cause stress on your spine. Therefore, stability in your core is essential.

So what can we do?

There are various body weight exercises that we can do, such as planks, crunches etc, but there are a few pieces of exercise equipment you can use at home to build up that strength.

Swiss Ballmountain bike fitness training

The inflatable Swiss ball is a surprisingly versatile piece of mountain bike fitness training equipment, as there are lots of exercises you can do with it. Some look like they are not that difficult, but when done properly, they are quite difficult, but very effective.

Before we get in to some exercises, you need to know what size ball to use. This is to reduce the risk of injury and to get the most out of your workout.

mountain bike fitness training

Swiss ball exercises add a bit of instability to your mountain bike fitness training. This helps you to cope with the unpredictable nature of riding your bike over rough terrain. There are lots of exercises you can do with this underestimated piece of equipment.

Placing the ball under your feet while doing a push up, plank, pike or knee tucks, will add a whole new dynamic to each move. Using it while doing exercises such as crunches or back extensions, gives you wobbly platform that you have to try to stay stable on. This helps to build those muscles you use to make rapid changes on the bike.

A great example of a gym ball is available from URBNFit. This one comes with the all important pump and an exercise book. It comes in a range of colours and sizes to choose from too.

URBNFit Exercice ball 
Mountain bike fitness
Mountain bike fitness
Mountain bike fitness

Medicine Ballsmountain bike fitness training

Medicine balls are excellent for working the core, as they add extra resistance to your exercise. They come in different weights, so you can go up a size when you start to feel the benefits. Medicine balls can be used to increase the difficulty of crunches, Russian twists, wood chops, toe touches and squats. But when placed under the hands or feet, they can also be used as a platform to increase the difficulty of exercises such as press-ups, planks and mountain climbers.

Medicine Balls 
mountain bike fitness

mountain bike fitness

Bosumountain bike fitness training

One of my favorite pieces of home exercise equipment is the Bosu. It is an inflatable dome placed on the floor in order to do many exercises. Like the Swiss ball, the Bosu gives you that little bit of instability adding an extra challenge to your workout.

Any standard exercise such as bicep curls, squats or shoulder presses can be performed while standing on the Bosu. You would be surprised on how much you need to correct yourself. Start off standing on the domed part, but as you progress, turn it upside down and stand on the flat part for extra wobble.

This wobble is also good for all the various plank positions. By placing the Bosu upside down I like to use it as a platform for press-ups too. This is a good chest workout, but putting my feet on the Swiss ball makes it more challenging and effective for the core.

If you have a spare set of handle bars, you can perform squat exercises, while simulating your riding position (I’ve seen Danny Macaskill do this, so it must be good).

mountain bike fitness

mountain bike fitness

Kettle Bellsmountain bike fitness training

You can use Kettle bells at all stages of your mountain bike fitness training. They are used by complete beginners and elite athletes alike. You can do whole body movement exercises with these bad boys, which are great for burning fat and muscle building. One of the benefits of using these, is that just like medicine balls, you can easily increase the weight as you get stronger.

Exercises such as the Turkish get up, windmills and plank renegade row, workout multiple parts of the body at the same time. While lateral swings, side raises, kettle bell crunches and Russian twists are all ideal for building that core.

Kettle Bells 
mountain bike fitness
from £9.95

from €11,90
mountain bike fitness

Dumb Bellsmountain bike fitness training

Strong arms, shoulders, chest and back are all very useful when riding, especially when you are fighting fatigue. If working out from home is your goal, a set of dumbbells is a must. There are lots of dumbbells on the market, but I really like the Bowflex Select Tech, and I have a set of these myself. I chose these because I didn’t want a huge set weights cluttering the place up. The Select Tech dumbbells look like two normal dumbbells, but you can change the weight of them. Turning the dials on the side of each dumbbell leaves parts of it in the carrier, altering the weight. They go up to 21kg, so they are good enough for most exercises.

Bowflex Select Tech 
mountain bike fitness
mountain bike fitness
mountain bike fitness

Suspension Trainingmountain bike fitness training

If you have a TRX system, you will have a very versatile home gym. You suspended the straps from the ceiling, a beam or door to give you lots of options for body weight exercises. You can extend and shorten them to target different areas of your body. For example, extending the straps to just above the floor, you can put your feet in the loops and while in a plank position, you can perform tucks or pikes to work your abs. Having the loops high, there are all manner of ways to train your upper body, from supine pull ups to one arm rows.

TRX Suspension Training 
mountain bike fitness
mountain bike fitness
mountain bike fitness

Now you can smash your mountain bike fitness training

You can find a lot more ways to get “bike fit”, such as indoor trainers and spinning bikes etc. But this stuff will train parts of you that indoor trainers can’t. Don’t forget, you can use many of these items together, such as the dumbbells and the Swiss ball or Bosu. Ultimately, using any of them regularly will help you have a great day on your bike.


  1. evilgodness

    Hi 🙂
    I’m actually a beginner into biking (which is super funny and embarrassing considering I’m 21).
    But as soon as I first tried biking I found myself unable to stop from having all that fun!
    The terrible thing is that I’m get tired pretty soon 🙁
    So, I currently use dumbells to try and get my strength up, and at this point, I can only afford one more tool – which one of those should it be? (I’m leaning towards kettlebells but still not sure).
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Tom Fortune


      I was a late starter too! It’s all good.

      I think maybe a Bosu would be best to get next. You can use it in combination with your dumb bells to work the core. Squats, twists, press ups, planks…..the list is endless.

      All the best


  2. Kegan

    I used to ride mountain bikes when I was a kid, but haven’t in many years except to ride up to the shops and back – but you’re right, there’s a certain kind of fitness that I no longer have. The swiss ball sounds great, but as I have some back issues – would you suggest that maybe the suspension or resistance training might be better for me?

    1. Tom Fortune

      Hi Kegan,

      There are exercises you can do on both the ball and TRX to help a bad back. The advantage of the TRX is that you can change the intensity of the exercise by positioning your body or the straps in different places. This way you can push yourself just enough to make a positive difference and easily progress.

      Don’t go too hard too soon, and I suggest consulting an expert before taking on an exercise programme.

      Thanks for your question.



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