Elbows in or out?

Hi Lee and thanks for all the great info online.

Last year I got some instruction at Whistler and my instructor kept on stressing elbows out – “chicken wings.”

Then I bought the book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills 3rd Edition and learned that elbows out used to be taught but is actually wrong, hold elbows behind grips.

This week I’m riding sweep for my son’s DH camp and the instructors stress elbows out. I even spoke to one great, extremely experienced instructor after and he doubled down on elbows out.

Can you clarify the thinking behind in and out and why you changed? I haven’t been this confused since girls in high school.


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Thanks for reaching out.

My online school at www.llbmtb.com has lots of detail on this subject.


I believed in and taught “elbow out” for years. Here’s one of the more popular (and wrong) infographics I’ve created:

Elbows out was wrong, and I apologize to everyone who believed me. That position is weak, encourages you to pull and push in the wrong directions, and, it turns out, is very bad for your shoulders. I really am sorry.

People who teach elbows out are teaching what they know, but that’s based on old, flawed logic. By the way, elbows out is a hallmark of an older style of teaching. If someone is doubling down on that, be aware the other things they’re teaching might also be erroneous.

Now that I know more, I suggest your elbows spend most of their time behind your grips. This provides optimal range of motion, pull strength, push strength and shoulder health.

As you might expect, your handlebar width determines your elbow position. The online school has calculators to find ideal bar width.

This is a neat photo, but the elbows and hands are way too wide.

This feels better and is way more powerful:

I hope this helps and makes sense,


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