4 Exercises Every BMXer Must To Do Well
By Jake Stephenitch
Being proficient in these four essential movements/exercises will help your rider express their full athletic potential. From my experience working with young BMXers, Basketball, Football players and coaching 1st-12th grade PE. The kids that have an above-average athletic ability can do these four exercises well. In fact, anyone of any age could (and should) use these to make themselves better BMXers.
When you think of BMX training we usually think of things like Squats and Box Jumps to build strength and power. Chest is one of the last things many people train. But Push-ups are actually more of a core and shoulder stability exercise/test than anything.
You can have super strong pecs but if you’re core resembles a wet noodle you can’t do a decent push up. Being able to stabilize your pelvis, ribcage and shoulder blades well enough to do a push up is actually pretty tough for many young kiddos. Hell it’s fairly difficult for grown ups too.
That pelvis, ribcage, shoulder blade stability thingy is kind of important for riding bikes, especially gate starts and standing pedaling. If your push up sucks, chances are you’re not strong enough to do a good gate start.
Often times strength isn’t even the issue in bad push ups. It’s more of a muscle sequencing thing. People don’t know what goes where and when to turn on their core. Instead of your core muscles reflexively firing, first the spine jams together, shoulder blades wing, neck flexes and then they finally rise into a somewhat of a push-up .
How to improve the Push-up
Use good cues and start in an easier position.
“The Hinge” is the basic foundational movement for athletics. Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer and BMXers all share this same movement. All the ball sports I named hinge to create vertical or linear movement. They also use it to keep center of gravity low so they can transition side to side as quick as possible. BMXers use the hinge while doing gate starts, manualing, jumping and turning.
You would not believe how many kids have a very difficult time understanding the Hinge at first. Be patient and you will probably have to use anywhere from 1-43 different coaching cues to get them to do a proper Hinge.
Stick with it though, it’s really important. Every new kids group I get I like to do a vertical and broad jump test on their first day. Then within the first week I teach them to Hinge. About a month later we retest their vertical and broad jumps and they gain like 4 or 5 inches of vertical jump height and about a foot of broad jump distance. No joke. Their parents think I’m awesome.
Many report big improvements on the track in the first month or two as they start to get into better riding positions and begin using their muscles the way they were intended.
Teaching “The Hinge”
Start in the easiest position, take your time and use several or many different cues over time.
Oh come on… “Crawling?!” Yes, seriously. It’s one of those things that everyone did as a prerequisite to walking, but believe me it’s not easy.
Everyone can get on the floor and crawl forwards but the real challenge is to be able to go forward, backwards and side to side while maintaining your stability. With my adult groups I like to have them imagine they have their favorite beer or margarita sitting on their low back. Their mission is to not spill a drop.
To do this you have to have good ability to stabilize the shoulders and pelvis, sequence the core activation in much the same way we did on Push-ups. This time instead of the forces being in a more forward to backwards (sagittal) they’re challenging your rotational core stability (transverse). And you can’t forget the challenge you face from side-bending (frontal) while taking each step.
So while it looks like something easy, it’s actually a very difficult 3 dimensional challenge to your core stability, sorta like riding your bike huh?!
How to teach crawling
Find a good starting position where abs are lightly on and shoulders are engaged (reaching arms long). Start on hands and knees and put something on their backs as a point of reference to remain slow and steady.
Finally onto something to really challenge the legs! Well yeah you will need leg strength to lunge but guess what, it’s a “core” exercise too. Those damn 3-D forces come into play again. While Lunges look simple, they’re not, especially for kids.
Again you need to look at more than just the ability to bend their knees and lower to the floor. They need to do that but also have control over their ribcage, pelvis, knee tracking and feet. This one can be really tough for some people.
How to fix a bad Lunge
It’s quite rare where someone just does perfect Lunges right from the start. So I like to start people in an easier position then they would think. If the balance beam in the video is too difficult you could start someone in a half kneeling position with arms reached straight out and finger tips on a wall. Get their torso into an upright position, ribcage and top of pelvis level and have them breathe and get used to it. Then progress to an isometric where they hold in a lunge position with knee a few inches above floor.
There you have it. If your athlete can do these things well they will be quite ahead of the curve. Having these 4 basic movements down will help them on their bike and also in the gym when they’re of age to really start training. If you would like any more ideas on training your kiddos please send me an email and we can chat.
*This article was originally posted on SparkBMXTraining.com. Thanks to Jake for lending his voice to News.