Most trackday riders aren’t doing THIS…

2 Sep

The way that many trackday riders approach a track day is similar to how golfers often approach a round at the course. It looks something like this: we watch professional racing on television and see all the bolt-on goodies that these motorcycles have and think, “if I only had better brakes,” “if I only had lighter wheels, I’d be a better rider.”

The biggest variable in motorcycle performance is the rider. I know my Ducati Supersport isn’t the fastest thing in the world, but I know from experience that it’s a lot easier to move around on the bike, a lot easier to ride harder longer, a lot more fun to ride when my body is fit and able.

But this brings us to a more specific question: what type of training should we be doing? After all, training is performing exercises for the purpose of improving a specific quality. For us, that’s our ability to ride a 140-hp animal as hard as we can for 20-minutes at a time. Our sport also requires optimal focus 100% of the time; it doesn’t take long for bad stuff to happen at high speeds and high lean angles.

So we have to be able to react quickly. Now granted, most accidents on a motorcycle happen faster than we can react. But there are times when we can react and overcome an obstacle such as if we see gravel or sand on the road. We need to be able to react. In addition, we also need to be able to produce high amounts of force. The more force we can produce, the faster the force will come on. The term for this is called “selective recruitment.”

A quick explanation of how muscle contracts. It’s called the “size principle” and essentially states that as a muscle group is called upon to contract, it begins with the smaller muscle fibers and gradually ramps up to contracting the bigger stronger fibers until the amount of force produced is enough to overcome the external force applied to it.

However, the principle of “selective recruitment” essentially states that when a muscle is trained enough, when the muscle is called upon to contract, it the recruitment process will skip the smaller, weaker fibers and go straight to recruiting the larger stronger fibers. Now it may not seem like it’s going to save much time, but we both know that a few tenths of a second is more than enough to make a difference!

So back to the type of training we need to do. Strength training needs to be included in a training program. it is necessary to improve reaction time as well as core strength and is a component of overall fitness. You don’t have to do a ton of strength training, but 2-3 sets of your foundational lifts with heavy resistance should suffice to increase strength. How heavy? Use a weight you can only lift 4-6 times.

In addition to building stronger muscles, it will also increase lactate production which in turn will improve your lactate threshold, as studies have shown that strength training improves muscular endurance. In other words, that point when you’re riding and your legs start burning won’t come so soon.

After you complete your heavy lifts, then you can get into your fat-burning core and muscular endurance training. Don’t be afraid to life heavy. Most trackday riders are afraid they’ll get huge. But if you follow this pattern of doing 2-3 sets of heavy training before you really get after your endurance training, you’ll find riding the bike so much easier. -TDF


6 Responses to “Most trackday riders aren’t doing THIS…”

  1. nbuchan September 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Great to see more people challenging the accepted wisdom in their sports when it comes to resistance training!


    • grandprixfitness September 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Absolutely. The general thought is still that if you’re strong, your bulky and inflexible. But strength and muscle size are 2 different things. Thanks for the comment @nbuchan


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