– Derek M. Hansen –
As a strength and conditioning coach, I get many opportunities to work with athletes from less conventional sports. While I am constantly working with athletes in football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, track and volleyball, I get the odd synchronized swimmer, gymnast and BMX racer. More recently, I met with a parkour specialist, discussing the training options for enhancing running speed, jumping ability and injury prevention. But one of the more interesting projects was working with a bike trials athlete who wanted to improve his overall performance.
I met Jeff Anderson approximately three years ago to discuss training options for his sport. I had never payed much attention to the sport of bike trials, aside from seeing the odd video of Hans Rey bouncing up and down a set of boulders. But when we discussed what was involved in the sport, it was easy to come up with a training approach that would improve his overall performance.
We agreed to approach the project from an Olympic weightlifting and maximal strength angle. Many of the critical skills in bike trials involves jumping power (translated through the pedals and bike frame) and significantly forceful landings. Olympic lifting seemed like the natural training tool since it involved explosive whole-body movements, coordinated pulling and forceful eccentric loading during the catch phases. Hence, a staple of the training program was a combination of power cleans and power snatches from various pulling heights throughout the training week. We included some deadlifting and squatting, as well as other upper body lifts to round out is training program. We also transitioned into various forms of concentric box jumps and medicine ball throws to work on explosive power from fixed positions.
Jeff noticed significant improvements approximately 3-4 months of training, particularly for the jumping skills with his bike. Although we didn’t emphasis strength endurance, the strength and power reserve he developed from improving his alactic abilities allowed him to perform high level skills for longer durations. As with any skill specific sport, improving an athletes overall strength and power will allow them to train specifically at their sport for longer durations, enabling them to further hone those specific skills.
Provided below is a short interview with Jeff outlining the basics of the sport and his experiences and results training with explosive, maximal weightlifting.