Favorite BMX Racing Training Workouts of Olympic Medalists

Favorite workouts of Olympic Medalists Mike Day and Jill Kintner:

With their personal coach Greg Romero

When I was coaching and preparing Mike and Jill side by side for 12 months leading up to the games we had simply had fun everyday. Either way, my goal with their training was to keep it interesting and having them feel good about it. This month I’m going to touch on a few protocols that both Jill and Mike liked that had them leading up to eventual medal winning performances at the Olympic games!

I will touch on one off the bike and one on the bike training protocol for each athlete!

Jill Kintner off the bike exercises: Dynamic warm up.

If any of you have had the opportunity to watch Jill at a race then you might have seen her in the parking lot doing lots of funny callisthenic looking exercises near the pits or the rental car. What she is doing is what we like to call a dynamic warm up. First off, you’re going to need some regular athletic shoes. The first thing we like to do is open the hips so we start with a knee to chest walk. You take a step forward and with both hands grab below the knee and bring it to your chest and then immediately repeat on the next step.

This opens up hip extensors and lower back. The forward lunge is the next exercise yet targeting the antagonist hip muscles. This time it’s the hip flexors. Simply take a nice step (approximately 5 shoe lengths in front of you) and while keeping your upper torso vertically straight, bend at the back knee and follow with the front, and do this movement slowly. This is a nice dynamic stretch of the hip flexor in which will allow you to pedal efficiently! Jill says “If I can only do 2 warm up exercises then I would focus on the hip muscles so I can pedal without inhibition”.

Mike Day off the bike exercises: Plyometrics

Let’s face it, BMX is power and if you can pick one exercise that can hit all the components of power then it would be doing plyometrics. Plyometrics are basically jumping on your feet using your body weight only. The best exercises for kids are simply doing jump rope or skips and hops. This is perfectly fine and safe and they do this kind of stuff all day during recess at school. As long as they’re not jumping off 4-foot high boxes or ladders then their joints and tendons will be fine. They can first start off with jump rope skipping for 10-20 quick jumps. Mike’s favorite is the jump rope because it warms him up, hitting ankle joints, knee joints and warming up his wrists, elbows and shoulders. Then once he is ready he likes to move on to Jump Squats.

Simply place both feet shoulder width apart, keeping the upper torso vertically straight, push your hips back followed by a bend at the knees, lowering yourself to about 45 degrees and simply counter with an explosive jump as high as you can. The key is to take off through the ball of your feet and land on the ball of your feet with a nice slight bend in the knees and hips. You can do this one at a time or rapidly. Mike likes to do them one at a time, reset and focus for height. Mike says, “I’ll do the jump rope 3 sets for 20 skips and then jump squats 3 sets of 5 jumps, and then I am ready to train in the gym or ride the bike”.

Jill Kintner on the bike: Stand Start easy gear sprints.

In the past 5 years while racing Mountain Bikes, Jill never worked on explosive sprint power from a dead start. In BMX she came to find that it was necessary to give herself a chance down the first straight so she can have a chance at a medal. Her favorite sprint session was doing stand start easy gear sprints. I designed this exercise with an emphasis to program pure sprint acceleration out of the gate. We used flat pedals so that it was 100% focus on down stroke and we used an easy gear so that she was forced to accelerate it fast. “I love these so much I had a dedicated flat pedaled easy gear bike set up at the Olympics that I would use as a warm up between rounds of qualifying” Jill says.

What you do is gear down 1 or 2 teeth easier than race gear and change your pedals to flats. On a flat open parking lot with no cars around, take 2 cones, one for a start point and one for the needing point. You can mark of the distance by placing one down and then pedaling from the start cone to the ending cone. Jill liked to do these with approximately 7 full cranks. How to do the sprint: Standing up in the gate start position with cranks level, approach the start cone slowly and then explode keeping the front wheel down and straight.

Make sure to minimize the bend at the hips and try to stay tall, focusing on the extension of each pedal stroke through the feet. “It’s not a hard workout, it’s about a quality one, and I love this because when I get on the track I feel explosive out of the gate”, Jill says. Do 1 set of 8-10 efforts and rest 3-4 minutes between to recover the ATP energy system. This sprint workout is about neurological programming, not a muscle breakdown. In fact we hardly ever do any training that has an emphasis on muscle breakdown because BMX is about quality power.

Mike Day on the bike: Full Laps.

If you don’t have the gas to make a full lap without getting tired, then you’re not specifically fit for BMX. “There seems to be an impression that you need major endurance work on a road bike to be fit for BMX, and I haven’t touched a road bike all year, I do full laps,” Mike says. I say why not? It’s very specific, you get the dynamic power component of the jumping and the lactic build up towards the end. This is the perfect training protocol for those who find themselves struggling to get to the finish.

The key with this workout is to keep the intensity just below “all out”. What makes this workout work is that it’s training your ability to repeat motos at your fullest physical capacity. “Greg always talks about how repeatability is the limiting factor to a good day of racing” Mike laughs, “At first I hated these but then I started to see my racing getting better towards the finals and at the Olympic games, I never felt better” the silver medalist says. The key is intensity, the rest in between the efforts and how many. Mike likes to go out and do 5 full laps at 90% intensity with 10 minutes rest in between. For kids under 16, I would recommend a shorter rest interval of 6-8 minutes as they don’t produce lactate acid like the older crowd.