Arm position when pumping?


I have pump track envy! That just looks like so much fun.

I also have a question about arm/wrist position when pumping. I notice that some people cock/flex their wrist more at the grip that leads to a more elbows out position, and others keep their wrist more perpendicular to the bar and elbows more inline with their body. Which is correct? Or more effective?



Thanks for writing, and for the kind pump track words.

The tracks we build for the public follow strict standards for spacing and flow. With my backyard track, we wanted to experiment with the steep grade and mix in some really big rollers. The result is a lot of work to ride, but it sure is fun. Check out the video:

Your question touches on the kung fu secrets I reserve for skills clinics, but I’m here to help, so I’ll ask you to think about:

• Any time you bend your wrist, you create tension and negate strength. So keep your wrists as straight as possible.

• Pumping is a dynamic activity with lots of angle changes, so there is no single position. Instead of trying to maintain some ideal alignment, I think it makes sense to find a good median position — and to optimize for the most critical, most powerful moments.

• Pumping involves some very powerful pulling and pushing. Imaging you’re in the gym doing bench press and rows. How would you position your arms?

I’ve learned a lot by doing long workouts, say 10 sets of 10 laps. Right around lap 77, you get so tired you have to be efficient!

Watch this:

This video is shot by ski technique expert Ron LeMaster. He’s using this footage to teach pump to skiers.

By this time I’d been laying down a lot of laps, and I was tired — but settling into a groove. Notice how neutral my elbows are most of the time. Not close to my sides like an apologetic roadie; not all the way out like an agro motocrosser. Middle.

Don’t pay close attention to my shoulders. They are not OK.

These photos were made by Leslie Kehmeier, who was shooting for a new IMBA book.

If you can see my biceps, you know I’m pulling hard. Pretty neutral elbow position.

Pumping through a high-speed berm. More neutral elbows.

Complex right-left transition. One elbow bending, the other extending.

About to push “down” into a berm. Elbows out to align forces.

Aggressive pump through a tight 180. Elbows are pretty neutral, but they’re managing big angles.

Max, I hope this is helpful. For full details, check out a skills clinic or email me for remote coaching. We can discuss techniques, and you can send me videos.

Rip it,


Know more. Have more fun!

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