I think we can all agree that the gate start is where many races are won and lost. But you could make an argument that cornering is nearly as important. There is nothing worse than getting a great gate start, leading the entire race until someone pulls off an awesome move on you in the last corner to take the win.

 

Body position and weight distribution are essential to effective cornering. Many people have a difficult time finding optimal body position. With many skills, if you can’t do it off the bike, you will have a very difficult time doing it on the bike. That’s where doing drills and exercises in the gym that mimic on bike movements can be so helpful.

 

Rio de Janeiro - Ciclista canadense Tony Nyhaug compete BMX nos Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016, no Parque Radical em Deodoro (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

 

THE HIP

We need to be able to move through our hips freely. We need to flex, extend, rotate, move laterally, and all combinations of these movements. But when we look at our training, we very rarely see anyone do any exercises that move and control motion laterally or in rotation.

 

Squats, Leg Presses, Deadlifts all do little to work on the mobility and control of the hip in any motion other than flexing and extending. In fact, for some, heavy Squats, Presses, and Deadlifts can really limit hip mobility. That’s why it’s important to sprinkle in a little extra lateral and rotational movement in the gym.

 

pelvis-xray
Your hips are meant to move all directions. If not you wouldn’t have ball and socket joints.

 

As I always say – “If you can’t do it off the bike, how will you do it on the bike?”. Lateral hip movement seems easy to most of us, but you would be surprised to see how many people can’t shift side to side with their hips. What often happens is they open up their ribs and side bend to think they are creating lateral movement. Core control is essential to good hip movement and hip stability. Pay attention to that as well. If you see the back arching, rounding or side bending, then most likely you are not stabilizing well through your core.

 

USE YOUR HIPS

Here’s a little drill that I saw for teaching snow skiers to turn and I thought… man that looks just like cornering on a bike! Give this a try. I want you to lean into the ball. Feel your whole outside foot (especially inside arch of foot), and practice pushing your hip back (rather than just bending and shifting your knee forward). If looking from the front view, you want to maintain a straight line from the center of your foot to your knee, hip and up to your shoulder. You can also practice turning your chest and belly button slightly inward as if you were going to turn a corner.

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Your body’s weight leaning inward while balancing on your foot and the ball, force your hip and core to do a lot of work to keep you upright and in control of the movement. This mimics the forces of going around corners for BMX so well. It teaches us to load up that outside pedal, push back into our hip, shift the hips, rotate the thorax, and have weight on the inside shoulder.

 

Your body’s weight leaning inward while balancing on your foot and the ball, force your hip and core to do a lot of work to keep you upright and in control of the movement. This mimics the forces of going around corners for BMX so well. It teaches us to load up that outside pedal, push back into our hip, shift the hips, rotate the thorax, and have weight on the inside shoulder.

 

MAKING IT MORE DYNAMIC

As we master the ball drill, it’s time to move more dynamically. I love, Love, LOVE medicine balls! Throwing them at a wall, using them to slam, or to add difficulty to certain exercises is not only fun but very functional.

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