A high power output (of up to 500W) is typical during a steep climb and at the start of a race. Crucial for mountain-bike performance is a high power-to-weight ratio. Research has shown that mountain bikers at the national level are able to produce more power than average cyclists or non-cyclists.

It’s open to debate if road cyclists need strength training, but it certainly can help improve the power output of off-road cyclists, especially if you do cycling specific, multiple-joint exercises that build strength and power in the lower body. We’re going to target your thighs. These exercises will also help your body absorb impact and return energy with every bump you take out on the trail.


Use a squat rack with a barbell or dumbbells. Squat to a 90-degree angle at the knees using appropriate weight to ensure a full range of motion and proper form. Do two to four sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

Reverse Lunge

Use a Smith rack, dumbbells or barbell. Alternating feet, lunge back as far as possible, ensuring that your front knee remains in a safe position. As on a bike, watch for lateral movement and hold the front knee steady. Come up using as much of your front leg as possible. Do two to four sets of six to eight repetitions.

Squat And Jump

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. With arms at your sides, squat until your hips reach knee level, keeping your weight back and your knees even with, or behind, your toes. Then explode straight up, jumping as high as you can. As you land, bend your knees to absorb impact. Return to the standing position and repeat. Beginners should do two sets of 10 jumps, intermediates three sets of 10 and advanced riders two sets of 15 to 20 jumps. Rest a minute between sets.