Get on the train(ing) before it leaves you behind…

12 Aug

In a recent interview with MotoMatters, Alvaro Bautista was asked about fitness for riding. I’ll give you the full quote here:

MF: Jorge had some physical issues…

AB: What issues? I’ve heard about it recently but I don’t know the details.

MF: He had three operations in the off-season and he couldn’t train properly. Is fitness really that important in MotoGP nowadays?

AB: It’s very important, because when you’re riding at the limit, you need to be really strong and really fit, also to keep you concentration. If you’re not fit, you lose concentration, then you lose a lot of time on the braking, in the corners and so on.

MF: How do you train?

AB: I train a lot. I train with some triathletes. I like cycling a lot but also do some running and swimming. Then I go to the gym.

So you can see that fitness training is very important for moto riders. From a rider who is at the pinnacle of the sport, fitness is important, particularly late in races. 

But how should you train? Well as Bautista states in the interview, his trainer makes the program. However, that does not mean it is a “top secret” type of workout. Most workouts are fairly simple as long as you look at the demands of the sport and then build the program around those demands. If you haven’t done any exercise in quite some time, then just about any program will result in positive effects on the bike. A book that I highly recommend is the New Rules of LIfting series from Alwyn Cosgrove. Cosgrove is originally from the UK but has landed himself in southern California where his primary clientele are people trying to lose weight.

So let’s take a look at the demands of the sport and then help you decide what the training plan should look like. Sound good?

1. First off, before the motorcycle is even moving, you have to be able to achieve and maintain the proper position. This requires flexibility from the hips and ankles, as well as endurance from the core muscles. A deep lunge stretch is great for increasing mobility in the hips and legs. 

2. Once we get underway and the bike is moving, We have to be able to shift our weight from side to side. This involves leg strength and endurance. Exercises that would be beneficial for moto riders are squats with heels elevated (more emphasis on quadriceps), single leg squats, lateral squats and isometric squats. 

3. Upper body training is also necessary. Although on a bike the upper body needs to be relaxed, when you’re racing hard, sometimes things happen. A strong upper body is necessary for lifting the bike back up if you crash as well as hanging on during the rare tank slapper. For this, chin-ups (which also engage your abs) as well as a dumbbell chest press variation are optimal.

 4. Lastly, we would need to work on our muscular and cardiovascular endurance or as we like to call it, Energy System Development (ESD), preferably at the same time. To do this we can do a variety of traditional exercises such as running, cycling or swimming. Those are good options. However, we prefer something a little more practical and adventurous, such as a set or 2 of super legs, followed by a longer spin or swim. But here’s the kicker: the average rider has his heart rate around 80% of max during the race. So your training should reflect this. Don’t go off for an “easy jog”. Work hard! Get that heart rate up! Take a look. 

Now this is nowhere near a fully comprehensive training program, but its just to point you in the right direction. You could take this information and build a very raw workout but that’s about it. A comprehensive training program requires a lot of planning and direction. More so than this blog would allow. 

So for the meantime, start with some stretches of the hips, strengthen the legs, and core and finish off with a challenger and some energy system work. 


One Response to “Get on the train(ing) before it leaves you behind…”

  1. Alex October 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Great advice! Your workouts got me faster and with much higher stamina when hanging off the bike for 20 minutes at a time. Racing next season so I’ll be checking for updates frequently!


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