I hope you have a moment to read because, in our little MTB world, this feels like a major evolution.
Many of you are familiar with the good ol’ Light Hands/Heavy Feet approach to riding. I came up with that philosophy when I wrote the first edition of Mastering Mountain Bike Skills more than a decade ago, and it’s become standard wisdom in mountain biking. I’ve used Light Hands/Heavy Feet to train thousands of riders, including more than 1,000 high school coaches, and most other instructors teach the same principle.
One of my classic infographics. It was good for its time, but now I know more.
For example, elbows should NOT be out like that. They should be behind your hands.
There’s nothing untrue about Light Hands/Heavy feet, but at a certain level of riding energy it starts to break down. You might be balanced on your bike, but in this model you are a separate entity from your bike, and that limits how balanced you can be, especially when things get rowdy.
For more than 14 years I’ve been gradually working my way toward the Grand Unified Theory of Shred (GUTS). There have been moments of brilliant clarity, but the process has mostly been a slow burn.
As my shoulders deteriorated I’ve had to learn to ride perfectly.
As my coaching practice has grown, my understanding of riding — and my ways of teaching — have become more elegant and more effective.
As my ideas about bike setup have evolved, I’ve created the RideLogic™ Bike Setup System: a logical, practical way to position handlebars for power and control.
As my study of human movement has deepened, it’s led me to invent the RipRow™ : an off-bike training device that develops endurance, strength, speed, power and, most profoundly, a deep sense of great movement, of perfect integration between bike and body.
For the past few years I’ve been training with various stages of RipRow™ prototypes. I’m learning a lot, and I’m learning fast. The magical things I’ve seen great riders do: They finally make sense. I can see in myself, my skills clients and in pro riders the subtle differences in technique that elevate riders from sucking to being good to being great to being the best.
Ripping an imaginary pump track on a RipRow™ prototype. Sign up for updates and special offers at www.RipRow.com.
So far, everyone I’ve taught has “gotten it” at some level. You might learn faster or slower, but you can definitely start your journey to ultimate shred. This process has huge benefits including:
• Riding with true power and engagement.
• Staying balanced and safe in crazy situations.
• Being kind to your joints so you ride with less pain.
• Adding decades to your riding life.
• Having tons of fun!
The old way was called Light Hands/Heavy Feet. That still works, but now we add the new way:
The Lee Likes Bikes MTB School has tons of details, but basically:
When your bike rolls through a trough, your bars rock back toward you, and you should pull. This is a row.
When your bike rolls across a crest, your bars rock away from you, and you should push. This is an anti-row.
When you row, you’re pulling with arms and pushing with feet. This locks you into your bike.
When you anti-row, you’re pushing with arms and pulling with feet. This also locks you into your bike.
When you’re constantly executing a Row/Anti-Row cycle — even if it’s tiny or it’s sideways in a turn — you’re not just balanced on your bike:
YOU’RE LOCKED INSIDE YOUR BIKE!
This gives you immense control and power, especially when things get interesting. Watch the best BMX, MTB and MX riders: They all Row/Anti-Row (whether they know it or not).
Since I discovered Row/Anti-Row I’ve made it part of my daily training routine — using a RipRow™ of course — and I’ve taught hundreds of riders how to move and ride this way. The improvements are profound. Beginners get very good very quickly, and pros are reporting insane levels of easy speed — in mountain biking and motocross.
On your next ride, keep your hands light and your feet heavy, but add some row and anti-row!
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