Rider, you fall from the bike constantly, drop marks on trial uncontrollably, you have trouble holding onto the bike when you stop before an obstacle… There is one simple reason for all this: you need to practice some balance exercises.
Are you familiar with that theory that says you need 10.000 hours to become skilled at something? Same goes with the skills needed for riding.
Balance is a complex quality, since not only your muscles are engaged (arms, legs, core…), but also the nervous systems in charge of your proprioception.
In this article, we tell you this skill works and we teach you some balance exercises to help you improve on the dirt bike.
How does balance work?
To improve with your balance exercises for dirt bike riders, you need to know how balance works and why we recommend this kind of training.
Each one of us has three main receiver systems in charge of sending information about external inputs to the brain. Because of all of these inputs, the brain is capable of holding the balance on the body:
- The vestibular system: is located on the inner ear and is in charge of balance an spatial awareness. It contains a fluid that moves when the head changes position. This is taken as reference by the brain to find out the actual position of the body.
- Sight: the eyes pass on information about external inputs as well as the position of the body. It also helps us keep our balance: if we keep our eyes fixed on some point, it becomes easier to hold our balance better than when moving the eyes around.
- Proprioceptive system: it’s made out of tension receivers, that capture the position of each part of our bodies (muscles, tendons, fascia, and skin) and pass that information on to the brain. This allows us to control our moves with high precision. The most powerful receivers are found on the foot soles, which makes it very recommendable to practise these exercises barefoot, to improve proprioception.
Developing your balance on the bike is key to improve your riding and your racing
It doesn’t matter whether you practise more trial, motocross, enduro, hare scramble… The instability of the ground is a factor is a barrier you must overcome.
We are going to show you how to do it by training your balance on the bike with some simple but effective exercises, that we’ve specifically chosen for this matter since they can be transferred straight to the bike.
Balance exercises to improve on the dirt bike
The main thing about these exercises is that you must practise them regardless of the moment of the race season, although there are some things you must adapt depending on your training period.
If you already use the POWERING OFFROAD training app, you do not have to worry about this, because the App calculates the ideal exercises for you according to the time of the season you are in, meaning you will practice balance exercises (and other skills) different depending on whether the races are near or far.
Anyways, you will need to put all your body receivers through this instabilities to force them to get better balance under unexpected circumstances. That’s the only way you will improve the mechanisms that control balance.
The following exercises are a progression you can perform from a lower to a higher level of difficulty.
First: simple balance taking control of your body
At first, you will have little control over your balance, so my recommendation is to begin working on it on a fully stable surface, such as the floor. Removing one leg from the floor you will turn on the muscles involved in your stabilisation.
Try the first moving sequence as shown below. If it feels too easy, try it with your eyes closed to engage more the other two receiver systems (vestibular and proprioceptive).
Second: balance on unstable surface
Moving on from the beginner’s exercise, you will now feel your body much more balanced than before. Now we will increase the difficulty by practicing the same exercise on an unstable surface, such as a Bosu ball or a Fitness ball. As before, to add a bit more difficulty, close your eyes.
Here are three variations of these exercises to practise on an unbalanced surface:
Third: balance exercises plus coordination
To finish improving your balance on the bike, you must internalize this skill in the deepest part of your brain, so it will be something your body does automatically, without you having to think about it when you need to use it.
To do so, you must work your balance and do some other moves at the same time, in order to combine your balance training with some coordination work.
Here are several examples where we show you how to merge the training of coordination and balance exercises for the bike:
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Fourth: improve your balance with a trial bike
An awesome way to train your balance for the motorbike with very alike exercises and moves is using a bike trial (cycling).
- It’s lighter and easier to manage than your dirty bike.
- You won’t lose focus on the coordinative work required by the brackets, the clutch, the throttle…
- You will see a very fast improvement of your balance on the bike.
Using a bike trial is a great idea, but only if you are already on an advanced level and you’ve gone through the exercises we teach you in this article.
Now is your turn!
Begin practising these exercises to improve your balance on the bike and increase difficulty as you master each progression. If you persist, a day will come in which you will notice how you’ve interiorized your balance on the bike and is no longer an obstacle for your riding.
And if you can think of some bike buddies that always get stuck or falls from the bike on sections, do them a favor and send them this post!