For those of you that follow our newsletter, you already know that on January 9th of this year – I started the Enduro MTB Training Program provided by Dee Tidwell. For those of you that don’t know how Dee Tidwell is…he is the one that trains the factory Yeti team, Missy Giove, Jeremy McGrath and a host of other X-Games athletes and riders. Needless to say…that gives him a pretty impressive resume.
Dee and I got to talking and we decided it would be a cool idea to start the program and document it here. He sent over the 6 month training program and I got to work on the second week of January. It was also a fitting time to start this as I just weighed in at the heaviest I have been in my life at 213 pounds. The back issues over the past couple of years combined with my crazy travel schedule last year had really put a strain on my body. It was time to do something before it really got out of hand.
Why a training program?
First, why a training program like this? There are several out there so it is up to you to choose the one you feel the most comfortable with but the reality is that I need a schedule with everything laid out day by day. I am not a personal trainer and if I just leave it up to myself to workout every day without some kind of structure…I won’t do it. This training program has a day by day of exactly what you are supposed to do and when. That makes it a brain dead process of just following the calendar. That also makes me feel more accountable to get things done as I feel bad if I skip a day.
Another great part about this program is that 99% of the workouts can be done with exercise bands and other items that are easily found for cheap or in hotel workout rooms. I needed a program that didn’t require a ton of gym equipment to get the job done as I don’t have access to that all of the time with travel schedules and family life. I ended up buying a set of bands that easily fit in my suitcase as well just to be able to be more mobile.
Mountain biking specific training programs also tend to focus on the areas that really improve our riding and performance instead of a generic strength or weight loss program. If I am going to work out, I might as well improve the parts of my body that affect riding the most. It’s a win/win at that point.
Program 1 / The Start
Starting off with the program, you do a self-assessment to see where your body currently sits as far as mobility/flexibility. It was no surprise to me that everything was super tight. I have never been the most flexible person in the world to begin with but it was even worse than usual. The idea with this assessment is that you do it at the end of each cycle to see your progress.
The program also includes a stretching routine you are supposed to do before you ride or workout. I’ll be the first to admit that I did not do this every time. I do have some back stretches that I do a lot but I wasn’t as diligent about his specific setup. I do need to do a better job of that moving forward.
After I got done with all of the reading and preliminary work I got started on the calendar. I am a huge data geek so I like to track progress pretty regularly. I printed everything out and put it into a binder with the calendar up front and center. I would check off each day as I completed it and on every Wednesday I put my weight on the calendar to track that progress as well. The first part of the program is 6 weeks long. Dee provides written instructions of all of the workouts along with videos of every single one for reference when you sign in to the website. The videos really helped a lot with the exercises I wasn’t as familiar with.
Program one is really centered around what Dee calls “Rebuild/Restore” with the goal of “Postural Stability, Flexibility and Mobility”. You get a combination of stability training with cardio and then during the last two weeks, you start building in strength training. Having had serious disc issues in the past, I was really excited about the amount of core workouts are in this program and how it really does build you into the process. The exercises mimicked a lot of what I used to do in physical therapy.
During this first 6 weeks, I literally attempted to follow this program to the exact schedule. Since I was trying to lose weight at the same time, I did add in some additional cardio workouts on the treadmill that I would do after the scheduled workouts. I was very careful not to over train though as that could send mebackwards. Any cardio that wasn’t on a cardio day was kept under 75% effort and the goal was just more calorie burn not more training.
As the weeks progressed, I kept with the system, adjusted some eating habits and by the end my posture was better, my back pain was a lot less and I was riding stronger than I was the previous weeks. It was a great start and the results started showing after the first week. My body doesn’t feel nearly as tight as it did previously. Even better news…I am down to 198 pounds! While I still am off from my goal weight it was almost a perfect 2 pounds lost per week.
Now that I am moving into the second part of the program, the exercises get kicked up a notch and there is more focus on strength training with core muscles and the other groups you use for riding. It really goes to show how much he wants to build your body up gradually without risking injury or over training.
A couple of edits to the program for me
As with all things, it is very rare that everyone can follow everything exactly. One of the biggest areas I did this is with the food part of the plan. Dee really encourages to eat only organic and cut out everything else (beer, sugars, breads, etc) from your diet. I am not going to spend a grand at the grocery store for food and I still like to have fun with my friends on weekends having a few beers and cooking awesome food. What worked better for me was finding a balance. During the week I would substitute vegetables for any mashed potatoes or other sides that aren’t as good for you (you can have as many vegetables as you want). I would order salmon instead of steak at restaurants. I cut out beer during the week and instead would have a small glass of wine. Those changes in habits helped greatly without making myself miserable. I am not a pro rider and I do not get paid to ride. I just want to ride stronger and be healthier.
Also – as I mentioned before – I added in a little bit more cardio to the program to kick start weight loss a little bit more. If you are starting at your ideal weight and just want to workout to become a stronger rider or you already ride a lot during the week…you probably don’t need that little addition.
If you are a racer there are also edits to the program as supplements that give you a different schedule leading up to events. I didn’t use these as I stopped racing mountain bikes a long time ago.
Thoughts at the end of program 1
I can’t not be happy with the results. Down to 198 from 213 pounds on its own is enough to make anyone happy. On top of that…my body just feels so much better overall and with all of these core workouts I really find myself stronger on the bike and a lot less prone to back pain and fatigue.
I have now started the second part of the program so I’ll check back in once I complete that 6 week session.