I’ve found that for pumping and for initiating a turn, I have more power with my elbows up as in a bench press position (you’re like this in the pumping video you just put up). However when I’m about to hit something like a mess of roots, it’s easier to keep my fore/aft balance (and my weight on the bottom bracket) if my elbows are low. Does this mean I’m too tense when my elbows are up, or is this normal?
I looked through at the photos in your book and saw lots of arms low, but I see more elbows up riding on your website. Do you have any advice for arm position?
Decent attack position.
You are correct to ride with your elbows out. Elbows-out gives you more power, control and range than elbows-in. Look at every good gravity racer and motocrosser.
Unless you train with your elbows out, you will feel strained to hold that position. It’s a matter of mobility and strength. Keep practicing. One of James Wilson’s workout programs wouldn’t hurt. His shoulder exercises … devious!
Do not hunch your shoulders.
Keep your shoulder blades pulled down, like you’re standing at attention (or Mountain Pose in yoga). Your neck should be long, and your chest should be out. This improves your stability and strength.
I’ll guess you are hunching, especially in rough terrain. It’s a natural fear reaction.
This site vs. the book
I wrote and shot Mastering Mountain Bike Skills about four years ago. I have learned a ton about body position since then. Look at the shots of that guy Lopes. He seems to have it figured out. 🙂
Right on. Go forth and rock!