Forge the Blade vs Sharpening the Edge

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August 13, 2014


In this new episode of the MTB Strength Coach Podcast, James looks at three areas that you can apply the philosophy of when to "forge the blade" and when to "sharpen the edge," which are:

  • Your development as a rider over your career
  • Your skills development
  • Your annual training plan

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Better Skills and Endurance through Strength Training

Episode background:


Last week James took his family to Glenwood Springs, which is a small town in the mountains about an hour and a half from where he lives. One of the main attractions is the Glenwood Adventure Park and Caverns, which is a small amusement park set atop one of the peaks overlooking Glenwood.


They have some really fun rides that add in the twist of making you feel like you are going to fall off a cliff. Their signature ride is a giant swing set next to a 200 foot cliff that swings you out and has you staring straight down the cliff. Even though you know you won’t die your “lizard brain” has a hard time believing it, making for a terrifying and fun experience.


The park itself has a western theme and as part of it they had a blacksmith shop set up. His little boy, Z, was mesmerized by the process of taking a lump of metal and turning it into a finished object. While Z was paying more attention to the fire and hammering (which was pretty cool), James noticed a pattern to his work.


He had two distinct phases to his work. The first was the taking the raw lump of metal and pounding it into the basic shape he wanted. He then switched gears and started using different tools and methods to refine the basic shape into the specifics of what he wanted.


This reminded James of a saying in strength training about “forging the blade vs. sharpening the edge”. This saying is used to remind people that there are in fact two distinct phases of training. This pattern applies to a lot of things during a mountain bikers career and failing to recognize it can make it hard to improve.


As you’ll learn in the podcast this concept can be used to help you make smarter training decisions based on your needs. You’ll also be able to better understand how workout programs you come across fit into the grand scheme of things better as well. What works for one rider may not work for you and knowing what you need will help you avoid blindly following the wrong plan.



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