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Bekka Mongeau
March 27, 2023

Summer Strong: Mind & Body Training Tips for Bikepacking

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This is a guest article from Sarah Histand of Mind and Mountain.

Summer Strong: Mind & Body Training Tips for Bikepacking

— Mind & Body Strength for Bike Season —


Spring is almost here, and we’re all excited to jump on our bikes and hit the trails for some fun! As we move from winter to spring, it’s the perfect opportunity to prepare ourselves for biking by tuning up our bodies & minds for the summer season. In this blog, you’ll find some easy exercises and mindset tips to help you train and prepare for your biking adventures.

The key to making the most of your time on your bike is building mind & body strength through cross-training! Investing time into practicing foundation moves and building strength goes a long way toward avoiding injuries, keeping up with your buddies, and having a blast outside. And we get it, figuring out how to cross-train for bike season can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why we’ve created this post!

So, let’s jump in and start building mind & body strength for the biking season ahead!

Training Tips for Strong Biking Bodies

Cross-training is especially critical for bikers – particularly bike packers – because the majority of your on-bike time will strengthen the muscles in your frontal plane. These are the muscles that propel you forward – great for the time when you’re making good time on a predictable trail.

But when things get weird and you need to push your bike, duck to avoid a branch, or catch yourself when you fall, you’ll need to quickly recruit the muscles in your sagittal, transverse, and posterior chains. These are the muscles that help the body twist, side bend, and stabilize from behind, and they’re critical for acute injury prevention in the funky positions bikepacking can require.

Cross-training also helps develop muscular balance between push & pull muscle groups, which is an important piece of injury-free endurance rides as well as longevity as an athlete.

Here are some simple cross-training moves for biking you can do in your living room without any special equipment.

We’ll cover exercises to help you build strength in your:
• upper body
• lower body
• core
• and your mind!

Okay, let’s dive in!

Biker 8×2’s Upper Body

As you know, cycling requires upper body strength and mobility in the shoulders and upper back. That’s why we love Bikers Babes – a move that fires up your arms, shoulders, core, and legs all at once. Take this as fast or as slow as you want. Get into a plank position (or modify with a knee-plank), then bring your right knee forward, followed by your left knee, 8 times. Then do 2 push-ups before starting over again. Keep on repeating and feel the activation!

Exercises for Lower Body

To be a strong biker, you need strong lower body muscles – the quads, hamstrings, calves, and knees! That’s why we suggest trying out two moves: Biker Twists and Biker Hops.

Bikers Twists

Grab a yoga block (or a pile of books) and a ball (a shoe works too!). Stand with your feet close together, facing forward. Hop into a twisted squat, rotating your knees and hips. Work on keeping the shoulders square to the front while the hips and lower body rotate. Explode out of your twisted squat (with an optional jump if you want) and then rotate to the second side. Touch down on your elevated marker while keeping your back straight and chest up. Imagine the ball as your handlebars staying relatively centered on the trail as your legs and hips twist into squats and hold banked corners.

Biker Hops

Grab your ball (or shoe) and stand with your feet hip-width apart. This move begins with a step or a hop laterally to one side, dropping into a squat, then exploding up and moving laterally to a squat on the second side. Feel free to step or jump this one. Bring your knees and feet together and lower down into a squat. As you squat, activate your arms by pushing inward on your ball (or shoe). Imagine the ball as your handlebars staying relatively centered as your legs and hips move laterally into squats and around corners.

*BONUS* Center Loaded Lunge

Here’s a move that’ll help you crush it on your bike – center loaded lunges! This move targets your adductors – aka, those inner thigh muscles you squeeze to stay centered on your bike. Want to make it even more fun? Grab a gliding disc or paper plate and a lightweight ball or shoe.

Start by standing and anchoring through one leg. Slide the other leg out to the side for a side lunge. The majority of your weight will stay on the center leg (that’s why it’s called a Center Loaded Lunge). To stand up, push down through the heel of your centered foot, engaging the glutes on the standing leg and the inner thigh of the sliding leg. Switch sides and repeat!

Biker V-sits for Core

Don’t miss this one! Your core is crucial for generating power when you’re biking. Whether you’re dodging obstacles or pedaling uphill, it all starts with your core. That’s why we recommend Biker V-sits. Sit with your legs extended in front of you and twist your torso to bring one knee and the opposite elbow together. Switch sides and keep going.

Mindset Tools for Strong Minds

Our nervous system and mental health play a huge role in how our outdoor adventures and our cross-training. That’s why we at Mind & Mountain make mental health a priority in our programs and use mindset tools to prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead. By intentionally working with our nervous system, we can build strength & self-trust without overwhelming ourselves or risking stress-related injuries.

Here are three essential skills for training and adventuring while keeping your nervous system in mind:

• Titration – Add challenge in small, manageable steps to increase difficulty without overwhelming your nervous system. Especially when taking on outdoor adventures that might feel scary, right-size your challenge so you can stretch your comfort zone without flooding your system with stress chemicals. Remember, it’s always okay to opt for an easier option.
• Pendulation – Take a pause between challenges to return to a sense of safety in your body. This helps your nervous system learn that challenges are within its capacity and ultimately strengthens it.
• Mental Tracking – Notice your mental space and self-talk during workouts and outdoor activities. Use positive mantras to stay in a supportive mindset and enhance your growth. Try simple yet effective mantras like “Moving is Winning” and “I got this” to boost self-encouragement during those tough times. Play with different mantras and stick with the ones that work for you!

These mindset tools can be helpful ways to stay in a supportive mental state. Learning what ways help you stay in a regulated nervous system state helps both fun and growth. We especially love cross-training with the nervous system in mind as a way to strengthen these strategies in a controlled environment, so they’re more accessible when you really need them outside.

Want more?

Interested in learning more moves and mindset tips like these? Check out Summer Strong, our online training program designed specifically for summer sports enthusiasts. Our program offers a structured-but-flexible approach to training, a supportive community, anti-diet culture nutrition, and nervous system-aligned workouts to help you prepare for your biking adventures.

At Mind & Mountain, we use Mindful Interval Training to incorporate these strategies – titration, periodization, multi-directional movement, and playfulness – into our workouts to build functional strength for outdoor activities from the comfort of your own home, all without sacrificing your outdoor time!

If you’ve been unsure about joining our programs, now is the perfect chance to test out our workouts. Try our Functional Strength for Biking workout or our FREE Two-Week Workout Trial designed to give you a taste of what it’s like and how it feels to train with Mind & Mountain.

And if you’re excited to get started, sign up for Summer Strong here.

About the Author:

Sarah Histand is a personal trainer, mental health counselor, and outdoor adventurer from Alaska. She uses these exercises to prepare herself and her clients for summer & winter sports seasons, backcountry adventures, and seasonal mood & stress management. Follow her work at or on Instagram