!MotoGP SPOILER! Fitness is Foundational.

4 Apr

After many blog posts, I’ve realized that I may be leading many people think that if your fitness is up to par, then there is no reason that you can’t ride at the top of the class and you’ll keep the bike upright all day long.

Well, after watching the Argentina MotoGP race, I was brought back to reality (rather harshly, as I am a Ducati guy).

When 8 of the worlds best motorcycle riders fail to complete the race, that’s not an indication of a lack of fitness. Instead it’s an indication that some other factor has come into play.

It’s tough to say that MotoGP guys aren’t in as good of shape as they could be. Nobody in the paddock is overweight or even average sized for their height. All are on the thin side. However, they are definitely strong with great anaerobic endurance. While their body shape and size is definitely an asset in a sport that relies on an optimal weight:power ratio, most track day riders are not that same size.

Back to the race this weekend. As rider after rider spilled to the tarmac, it was evident that these guys are strong enough. After hitting the deck, sliding 20-30 meters then sprinting to their bike and picking it up, their heart rate is going. Yes, adrenaline plays a role. Yet, many of these riders were operating at their highest levels of fitness!


Espargaro and Crutchlow run to bikes after crashing in Argentina. Photo: http://www.crash.net

You start to look at the riders who can sprint to their bike and pick it up out of the gravel pit and get back to riding. Then look at those who can’t get their bike going. This is where fitness definitely plays a role! Fitness allows us to keep riding even after a spill. It allows us to keep going after a long day at the track.

And if you’re Andrea Dovizioso, it allows you to finish the race!


Dovizioso pushes his Ducati the final 2 corners to secure 13th position in the Argentina MotoGP race. Photo Credit: http://www.zigcdn.com

So how does this play into your trackdays? Fitness is the foundation for sport. Athletes who are not fit for the sport will not be participating for long. Just because you’re currently riding track days does not mean that you have to stop and “get fit” before continuing to ride. Any improvement in fitness will pay dividends.

As for fitness advice following the Argentina GP, if you can put treadmill pushes or plate pushes into your training program. To do treadmill pushes, turn the treadmill off, get on it, grab the handles in front of you and start driving the belt using YOUR power. Lean into it and drive your legs into the belt. You’ll find there is a lot of resistance there. March on the belt for 15-20 seconds followed by a rest of 60-90 seconds.Repeat 10-times. As you improve in your ability to do this, try to push it as hard and fast as you can for 15-20 seconds. You’ll find this is incredibly exhausting but it will prepare you for those maximal effort situations such as dragging your bike off the road or pushing it for a bump start when the battery dies!

Have a great week and don’t forget next week’s MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas in Texas!


Goodness I hope you aren’t doing this…

5 Feb


As motorcycle road racers, we know that hanging off the bike is essential to enjoying the sport, being quick around the track and most importantly being safe.

We know we are supposed to use the outer leg to “lock in” to the fuel tank. But how do we train the muscles that we use to lock in? Being that the primary movement is to squeeze your leg into the tank, the quick answer would be to use the hip adductor machine.

lvseatedhipadductionBut do you really want to be the guy doing this? –>

There are many different methods we can use to train the inner thigh muscles that are:

  • Less embarrassing
  • More functional
  • More specific
  • Did I mention less embarrassing?

The first thing to consider is the posture that we are in when riding: knees bent, hips flexed, toes pulled up towards the shins. The video above is doing none of those.

Below are 3 different strategies on how to train these muscles. After all, as much as it feels useless to train these muscles, they are very important.

The first thing we need to do is to stretch these bad boys and get some new range of motion (ROM) out of them.

The most effective way to do this is through the deep lunge.

The deep lunge is done by beginning in a pushup position. Then you’re going to bring the right leg up until your foot is flat on the ground outside of your right hand. Very important: keep the right foot flat. If you let the heel lift, you’re going to feel a lot of discomfort in the right knee cap.

For many people, this may be enough to feel a stretch in the inner thigh. In fact, some people may want to put their hands on a workout bench to limit how far they lower their hips.

You’re going to hold this position for 5-seconds, then return the right leg to the pushup position and repeat on the left side. This exercise will allow you to do some pretty amazing things that require reaching the inside knee out toward the tarmac.

Now to strengthen this muscle, there are a few exercises that can be done.


Tall kneeling position on a stability ball. To make it even more challenging, move your knees wider to add more control.

The first is to use a stability ball and try to stabilize on it on all fours, progressing to an upright position from your knees. Doing this requires the inner thigh to not only contract, but to react to a changing surface, not unlike a motorcycle chassis flexing while leaned over. This is crucial because being able to quickly turn a muscle on, off and regulate force can improve cornering! Try to hold in the up position for 30-seconds. Once you can do for 30-seconds, try it with your eyes closed to improve proprioceptive feedback!

The second exercise we can do also requires a stability ball. Begin from a push-up position with your feet up on the ball. Roll the ball side to side using your lower body. This is an abdominal and inner thigh exercise that will greatly benefit us on the bike.  I call this Stability Ball Hip Swivels and it’s a pretty good inner thigh exercise on top of a killer abdominal exercise, both are great benefits for riders! For the Hip Swivels, aim for 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps per side. To make it more challenging, have your hands forward from your shoulders rather than directly under your shoulders.

Throw these two exercises into your next workout and see how you feel. Again, the inner thigh/adductor muscles provide more stability than they get credit for. Let’s not be silly in how we train them, but let’s not ignore them.



What a higher horsepower motorcycle requires of the rider… PSST – That’s you!

11 Nov

Often times we are consumed with more horsepower. Even now we see what has practically become an arms race in superbike production with more than 5 different manufacturers trying to 1-up each other in horsepower. Ducati, BMW, Kawasaki, Aprilia and Suzuki all have models that put out over 190-hp, while Honda, Yamaha and Buell each of models that put out over 180-hp. That is borderline hyperbolic!

Today’s superbikes require riders to be fit to get the most out of them!

But what does this mean for riders?

Riders must be able to handle the forces that bikes such as these create. The 4 biggest areas where strength and fitness is crucial are:

  1. Deceleration
  2. Change of direction
  3. Acceleration
  4. Endurance

After reading that, is there really anything else in motorcycle racing? Forces that act on the motorcycle during these maneuvers must be managed by the rider in a manner that does not upset the suspension. After all, the key to being a fast rider is to be smooth. And fatigue can effect smoothness.

So how do you train to handle a heavier, more powerful motorcycle? Well, it’s a lot like riding a bull. You need to have a lot of strength, agility, endurance, flexibility… you basically have to be the ultimate athlete!

While many people will espouse CrossFit as the ultimate in fitness, Xfit does have a bit of a reputation for not putting athlete safety at the forefront of it’s mission. While it is good for some people, some of the time, it certainly isn’t good for all of the people all of the time.

Other options that riders like is P90X and insanity. While exercise in general is good, there are some corrective exercise that need not be done going mach 3. Instead some corrective exercise to improve shoulder stability, and even some running to provide endurance training for the legs!

I know it sounds simple, but as you get better at riding and racing, your fitness will become more of a limiting factor. The bike will do much more than we can do. Thus the rider is the obstacle. Improving the rider from a physical aspect is something that we can easily do to allow us to ride well and hard for years to come.

Sign up for the email list and we’ll send you a free 12-week training program geared specifically for riders!

Core Training: Part 2 – Cornering

1 Oct

How often is it that we see that the phrase “core exercise” is just another word for abdominal exercise. Instead of doctors saying, “well your back hurts because your abdominals are weak” they now say “You need to strengthen your core” but then prescribe the same exercises?!

The best trainers in the world recognize that the “core” is bigger than just your abs. It includes the muscles of your hip and shoulder girdle, or rotator cuff.

And in cornering, it is these core muscles that are used extensively. Using the muscles of the hip to hold onto the bike, the muscles of the shoulder to push and pull with control and tact, and additionally the muscles of the core being used to keep proper posture no matter what position the bike is in.

Just like the chassis of a bike has to be able to flex laterally to absorb bumps on the track, so does the rider’s body. Which means they have to be able to flex laterally from a fixed position.

Side planks are a great exercise for beginners and veterans alike. Getting easy, just hold it longer!

Side planks are a great exercise for beginners and veterans alike. Getting easy, just hold it longer!

The most simplified way to do this is the basic side plank. Think about the longest corner you can on your favorite track and try to hold the side plank for 3 times that long. The longer you can hold it, the better.

Other lateral core exercises you can do are cable chopping exercises, both upward and downward chops. These are great because, contrary to how most people do them, they are not rotational exercises. They are actually supposed to require a strong, stable core while the muscles of the chest and shoulders pull and push the handle of the cable. Additionally, the hips are supposed to rotate inward as the movement is progressed.

Upward cable chops train the core to contract and remain tight while the head and shoulders are moving.

Upward cable chops train the core to contract and remain tight while the head and shoulders are moving.

Lastly, a more advanced core exercise is a side plank with the bottom leg elevated. This exercise is great for motorcycles because you’ll feel the inner thigh of the top leg really working to hold you up; which is EXACTLY what it does while your banked over in a turn. So if you can progress to this exercise, give it a try. It will pay off handsomely!

So there are your primary core exercises for cornering. Don’t worry about side bends, don’t worry about twisting exercises. We need stability! And these 3 exercises provide it in spades!

A much more advanced, but very specific side plank for moto racing!

A much more advanced, but very specific side plank for moto racing!

The BEST Core exercises for moto racing… (pt. 1)

7 Jul

Every racer has an opinion on core exercises. Some racers swear by crunches and sit ups as seen in many riding books and online articles. These books are very good when it comes to riding technique. I own a handful of them!* (See bottom of post).

Unfortunately, each book contains only a short section/chapter on fitness. It touches on the very basics of fitness training and the exercises and recommendations are not specific to riding high performance race bikes. They are simply recommendations that I would give to any average Joe wanting to lose weight.

But when you really look at the forces at play on the track, you begin to see that we probably need something a bit more specific than simply doing crunches. After all, are we really lying on our back pulling our torso off the ground when we are on the track?

So shouldn’t we have something a bit more specific for riding? So here’s what this post is going to do: First, take a look at the riding position. Weight is forward, braced by legs and arms. This is just in a static position. Now obviously when we accelerate, brake or corner, momentum and inertia will place different forces on the bike and our body.

So looking at straight acceleration.  If acceleration is strong enough to lift the front wheel, it’s strong enough to push your torso up as well. But at the same time, we are holding onto the bars and will be trying to lean forward without pulling on the front end of the bike. The action created here is actually the abdominal muscles resisting spinal extension and contracting in an isometric (no change of length) fashion.

The exercise that I recommend for this is a Stability Ball Rollout. Now you can do this with an ab wheel or to make it even more challenging use a TRX or Jungle Gym. But make no mistake, this exercise is probably going to be the first one you go to in your trackday fitness training. Aim for 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions.

The next sequence to consider is in line braking. The forces during this skill will push the body forward. At this point we want to minimize the movement and contribution of the rider’s weight to destabilize the bike. We need to be still, but able to feel the bike. Generally, stability ball knee tucks are good for this exercise. To make it even more challenging, try to do a push up after you’ve brought your knees to your chest. 

Another great exercise that is a bit more dynamic is a reverse bear crawl. This exercise utilizes an arm pushing motion while maintain core stability. Both are great and if you can implement them both into your program, do it! Aim for 2-3 sets of 20 repetitions.

As you can see, when deciding which exercises are the best for our trackday needs, the more specific you can be the better. Motorcycle racing is different than any other sport because the forces are magnified exponentially by the speeds we reach as well as the fact that our body mass has a much greater contribution to the movement of the motorcycle.

In the next blog post, I’ll explain how we can train our core to better cornering and what exercises are the best for this part of racing. Until then, ride well, train hard!

Total Control by Lee Parks

Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way by Reg Pridmore

Twist of the Wrist II by Keith Code and Doug Chandler

Training and riding is a balancing act…

18 Jun

Have you ever had those days where it just seems like you’re having a hard time staying in that optimal state of arousal?

When arousal is too high, we are unable to perform at optimum levels on the motorcycle. Often we can get too focused on something and begin to filter out relevant information/stimuli. When this happens we have poor performance. We may miss an apex, brake too late, too hard or lose our position on the bike to where something just feels off. At worst, it can have disastrous effects as the rider below experienced.

There is another theory that seems to be a bit more in line with what motorcyclists go through. It’s called Catastrophe Theory. It’s tough to explain, but essentially it states that once you go beyond the optimum level of arousal, there is no turning back within the event. Even if we were to back off and try to adjust our focus levels, we would not be at the optimum level of arousal and performance.

So it’s important to not (ahem) over stimulate yourself prior to riding. Too much caffeine, poor sleep, tension can all lead to over alertness to where you are focusing on things/stimuli that are not relevant to the task at hand. Part of me is wondering if that happened in the video above. Perhaps this guy was focusing too much on a single stimuli, creating a tunnel vision effect. Obviously he had enough space to the side of the other rider to miss him.

As he was not braking as early as the other riders in the frame, this would tell us something about his level of arousal. No matter what the cause, there is a lot information to take in when on the track. its a fine balance to take in all of the information coming at you without missing necessary stimuli.

To get acquainted with this skill, practice when you’re driving your car. Are you picking up too many details and “missing the forest for the trees”? Or perhaps you’re missing task relevant cues and changing lanes too late, having to rush passes and upsetting the flow of traffic.

Try it and see if you feel a little anxious while driving, a little relaxed, or if you feel like you are in the sweet spot, not too relaxed, but not too anxious. Once you begin to feel this on the road, take it to the track!

MotoGP goes to Mugello: Fitness for a Fast Track

20 May

While Le Mans is a bit of a tight track with the occasional straight away, the top speed is under 280 km/h. It has quite a few slower, tighter corners.

To really hammer on the throttle, a solid core and strong legs are important to make keep the majority of the weight up on the front of the bike. Otherwise, you open up the throttle and it wants to wheelie. 

Mugello on the other hand has the longest straight on the schedule, sees a top speed of over 320 km/h and has multiple very fast corners. So how does this change the fitness of requirements of riding? How will Marc Marquez, Andrea Iannone, and Dani Pedrosa manage with their injuries?

Let’s first talk about a track with a long fast straight away. The first thing to consider is the fitness required for the hard acceleration as well as the hard deceleration at the beginning and end of the straight.

Obviously crunches would be your first thought. However, take a look at how the body functions on the bike and you start to see there are some different options.

First off, the thing we don’t want to do is to try and pull our selves forward using the handlebars. I’ll give you 2 guesses as to why, but you’ll only need 1.  Full throttle acceleration will cause the front wheel to get light. It gets even lighter if you pull yourself forward using the bars. Use your legs to push the back end down instead!

If you don’t practice getting strong from down low, you’re going to struggle to use your legs on the bike. Photo credit: http://www.bretcontreras.com

That’s right, you’ll pull the wheel right off the ground and only encourage a wheelie. Not what you’re looking for when you’re trying to move forward.

So you’ll need some good leg strength from the crouched position. It is exactly for this reason why it’s important to work on getting a very low squat.

So whether you use a dumbbell to do goblet squats or a barbell to do front squats, either way we just need to focus on getting our hips down.

This way we push our weight over the front wheel to help keep it down without unintentionally pulling the front of the bike up.

The second thing to consider is on deceleration. We need to use our legs to grab the tank and keep us from sliding forward over the front wheel. Yes the bike will turn better with more weight up front but it also makes  it easy for the back to move around and unsettle the bike. Here we can use our arms as well to keep us from sliding forward. However, remember that if we put to much pressure onto our arms, it gets transferred to the front wheel. With that being said it is important to keep a solid posture by using our glutes and core to keep us from folding over during braking.

Looking at the image of the squat, you can see that doing squats also requires good posture. This makes squats a very good choice of exercise when training for riding. However, here’s a nugget of information for you to make the squat even better for moto riding.

When at the bottom of the squat, rise up 1-2 inches and hold that posture, focusing on contracting your glutes and postural muscles for 3-4 seconds before returning back to the up right position. Do this 2-4 sets of 6-12 repetitions.

So it’s a simple trick, but throw it into your workouts and see how well it transfers over to your riding! You’ll be amazed!