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RipRow in place of weight lifting?

RipRow in place of weight lifting?

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!

I just got my RipRow yesterday, put it together, and tried my first workouts. Pretty interesting!

If I was considering a strength training program (squats, leg press, hamstring curl) that was cycling specific, could RipRow workouts replace that? The strength program is from Frank Overton (Fascat coaching) and is cycling specific but IMO really road specific. My focus is to get better with both skill and strength in MTB.



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Thanks for reaching out.

Short answer: Yes. For reasons of practicality and effectiveness, your RipRow can replace a traditional strength program. Be sure to mix up long/light efforts with short/heavy efforts. Do the full variety of movements. Our dampers go to 12!

Now the longer answer:

Frank Overton knows his stuff (he’s a legend here in Boulder). That said, I can’t imagine anyone, in this modern era of functional training, doing leg press and hamstring curls. Especially not a mountain biker, who needs hand-to-foot, complete strength and coordination. 

Everything is better than nothing. If you're not doing any strength work, every program is better than the one you're [not] doing. If you do anything with consistency and progressive overload — bands, weights, calisthenics, carrying rocks — you'll get stronger. 

If you’re going to follow a gym-based MTB strength program, look into REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance and Enduro MTB Training. These people know the demands of mountain biking 

If you love going to the gym, go to the gym. If that was the case, you’d already be lifting, so you wouldn’t be writing to me about this.

I’ve done all sorts of training over the 30 years I’ve been a mountain biker. Road riding, running, swimming, old school weights, yoga, new school weights, bands, ‘functional’ fitness classes, MTB-specific gym stuff, etc. and etc.

Most of it didn’t make me much better on the bike. Of course I got stronger or fitter or more limber, but the work did not translate efficiently to my mountain biking. Put another way: Let’s say I dedicated 25% of my training time to off-bike work, and I got 5% better. As a matter of fact, over the years my back went out, and my shoulders got destroyed. So, overall, on hindsight, I have to give my training until about three years ago a fail. Hmm. Yeah, a fail.

What has made me better on the bike and in my daily life:

1) Consistent physical therapy per REVO. For three years they've had me doing band work for my shoulders, stretches for my shoulders and hips, and some very basic strength work. 

2) A variety of physical stuff like shoveling snow and carrying rocks. Humans are made to do work. 

3) RipRowing. I grease the groove almost every day. Big days are 20+ minutes. Most days are 5-10 minutes. Light days are one minute. I mix up light endurance work and heavy strength work, and I work the full variety of movements. 

Your ideal program would include RipRow, weights, resistance bands, endurance training, sprint training, BMX, motocross, yoga, Pilates, massage, rock climbing, meditation, visualization, sleeping in an altitude tent, summers in Whistler, winters in Santa Cruz, and a highly qualified personal trainer to plan it all … but most of us can’t do that. You need a program that meets your training needs and fits into your life. If you're riding or pedaling a lot, you have to be careful with additional training load. 

RipRow is a killer addition to riding or stationary pedaling. When you RipRow, you develop all of the shredding muscles in an integrated, functional way. You build muscle memory: Every rep on the RipRow is a perfect pump, hop, manual, jump, turn, sprint, etc. You can work at light resistance for endurance or high resistance for strength. I’ve backed way off my pedaling training in favor of RipRow time. 

After the past three years of steady PT, general activity and diligent RipRowing, I'm feeling: 

1) My back is strong.

2) My shoulders no longer need replacement.

3) I'm confident that I can physically handle any riding situation I put myself into.

4) My riding skills are better than they’ve ever been.

5) I’m PRing the local climbs despite less time spent pedaling. I think this is because I’m so much stronger hand-to-foot.

You already bought a RipRow, so that sale is made. I strongly recommend trying it for your off-bike strength work. The site has lots of workouts. 

Please tell us how it goes — and holler with questions.


1 comment

Sep 21, 2019 • Posted by Albert T.

Hi Lee, btw. it is said the Turkish Get-Up is a “perfect” exercise to rehabilitate shoulders. I’m curious if you’ve tried it?

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