How to NOT be Dani Pedrosa during your trackday…

10 Apr

It was recently announced that Dani Pedrosa would not be racing for the next 3 rounds due to fascial release surgery to cure arm pump. Too bad Casey Stoner won’t be replacing him. But that’s a different story.

First a quick review of what fascia is. Think of it like the casing around a sausage link. The muscle is the meat. If the fascia is restricted, the muscle cannot expand or stretch. Throw in something like arm pump and the lack of fascial extensibility can essentially “choke” nerves that run through the forearm and cause tingling, numbness and overall poor performance.

In my personal opinion, having worked in physiotherapy for 8-years, this was a good call by Pedrosa. This certainly wasn’t going to get better over the course of the season.

But how can you work to prevent this from happening to yourself? Massage Therapy.

The best thing you can do for yourself is some type of myofascial release using a foam roller or massage stick.

For most people, muscles around the hips and ankles get very tight. Using massage therapy for these can be very beneficial as long as it’s done consistently. Kind of like brushing your teeth.

If you only do it before seeing the dentist, he’ll know. You can’t lie on this one.

How will foam rolling improve your fitness for trackdays? First off, being able to move around on the bike is crucial. Tight muscles make moving around more work than it needs to be on the moto. Additionally, as we’ve seen with Dani Pedrosa, myofascial tightness can make riding fast a challenge: legs get tight, forearms pumUse a foam roller to improve mobility of the hips and get rid of restrictions and back pain.p, shoulders tense. All can be minimized with proper fascial health.

How do we maintain fascial health? Foam roll the glutes, foam roll the calves. Spend about 60-seconds per side on each muscle group.

If you’d like a video “how to” on rolling the glutes, calves and quads, click on the links provided. Additionally you can see a simple way to perform myofascial release on your forearms here.

Myofascial release will keep muscles from feeling tight and impeding nerve function. When nerves are compressed, signals are delayed and muscles certainly don’t function as they should. By keeping the fascia healthy, movement comes easy and natural.

I’ll warn you though, myofascial therapy is quite uncomfortable. It probably won’t be the most comfortable thing you’ve ever done, but it sure is effective.

So let’s prep for our track day and get ourselves in shape to really ride the wheels off the moto! I’ve read interviews and seen video of MotoGP and WSBK riders using A) a foam roller, B) a massage stick or ball C) a physiotherapist performing manual myofascial release techniques on them.

Give the foam rolling a try before you watch the motoGP race from Circuit of the America’s this weekend. Then roll a little afterwards as well! You’ll be a fitter rider for it! Leave a comment and let me know how the rolling went and any questions you have! I’d love to answer them.

Also, leave a comment on your podium finishers for the Austin race! I’ll go first!

Troy Bayliss is back on the track… and you can be too.

18 Feb

With the most awesome announcement by Ducati that the legendary Troy Bayliss will be substituting for the injured Davide Guigliano at Philip Island this weekend, the questions come up about Troy’s fitness to ride at the age of 45-years old.

Troy Bayliss

Photo courtesy of: http://static.guim.co.uk

Bayliss has never been one to slack on his physical fitness and training, maintainingg a schedule cycling and working out multiple times per week.

But there are many guys out in the trackday circuits that are his age or often older. How should these guys get prepared for a day at the track?

Fitness is paramount. When physical fatigue sets in, we start missing marks, reaction time slows and our fun day at the track can turn into a memory as the day you dumped your ride on your last out.

Step 1 is being honest with yourself that you probably aren’t in the best shape possible. Now we can move forward.

Step 2 is that Bayliss has probably maintained his flexibility first and foremost. If you’re lacking range of motion (ROM) check out a few of these videos and make ROM your priority. If you’re tight on the bike it can hinder you in that it changes the feedback provided to your brain from your muscles regarding the amount of stretch, positioning of a joint and how much force is being produced.

Step 3 is to develop general body weight strength. If you struggle with pushups, then start there. Bench press is not worth doing if you’re pushups are poor. Push-ups are a moving plank exercise, using all of your core muscles to stabilize your spine all while pushing through your chest muscles. Are your legs running out of juice on more spirited moto rides? Start with body weight squats, keep the heels on the ground.

One simple, quick and effective way to combine these into a 10-minute routine is to do: 

Repeat as many times as possible in 10-minutes. If you can make 4 circuits, you’re looking good. 5 times around? Now you’re at the sharp end!

Granted 10-minutes is not a full day of track time on the bike, but it’s a start. And it’s not time consuming. I know most of the readers of this website are pretty busy folks who may not be able to cut away to the gym for 90-minutes a day.

But if you can get 10-minutes a day, you’re more likely to stick with it, complete it and when combined with a good/great nutrition plan, you’ll see results both in your performance and your physique.

Is Jorge Lorenzo faster because of THIS?

12 Feb

A recent report by the ever informed David Emmet over at www.motomatters.com Jorge Lorenzo has come into the MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang an impressive 4-kg lighter than he was at the same test last year. If you recall, Lorenzo had a bit of a rough start to last year following his shoulder surgery.

However, this year he looks to be on his game due to his improved fitness. Although 4-kg may not seem like much to most Americans, but at 5’7″ tall, and 148-lbs, losing 8.8-lbs on an already pretty lean body is quite the chore. To lose weight and minimize strength losses takes a fine balancing act.

Most motoGP riders are very lean. So to lose an additional 8.8-lbs without diminishing strength is a fine balancing act.

So how did JL99 make this happen? And how can you implement the same strategy as we are now 30-90 days away from race season, depending on your climate?

First off, JL99 has a guided training program. During the off-season he hits the weights hard. Not in terms of a body building workout, but more in the shape of a blend of cardiovascular training and strength training. Being that he is a spokesperson for Reebok, he’s probably a big proponent of CrossFit.

Additionally, he probably has a nutrition coach at his disposal to help him with what to eat and when to eat it. (Get similar results here with the Precision Nutrition System!).

So what type of training program might somebody like JL99 do?

Well first off, the program develops overall fitness or General Physical Fitness (GPF). If you aren’t training right now, you definitely need to start a training plan to get your body limber, supple and stronger. A simple 3-day/week training program will get you moving in the right direction. In fact, if you sign up to our mailing list by clicking the box up in the right hand corner, we’ll email you the introductory phases to the TrackDayFitness training plan. It’s a 3-phase, 12-week program, and when paired with the previously mentioned Precision Nutrition System, will have you looking, moving and feeling better than you quite possibly ever have before.

So what is it that Lorenzo IS actually doing during his workouts?

First off, he includes heavier strength training. Look, it never hurts to become stronger. And truth be told, you can get stronger without adding massive amounts of muscle. But as you’ve seen and read, riding a MotoGP machines is like riding a bull without horns for 45-minutes: you’ve got to be strong or it will eat you alive.

MotoGP rookie Jack Miller found this out at the post-season Valencia tests in 2014 as he made the jump from Moto3 to MotoGP.

That increase in power and the grueling lap count left the 19-year exhausted and he revealed he has plans to alter his winter training regime.

“Of course I’m tired. We did 71 laps. We need just more or less bike time to get my strength on the brakes. We’re working on getting a trainer and we’re starting a new programme. We had to wait for the Moto3 season to be over before we can do it. Building muscle isn’t what we are aiming for. We just need to use the muscle we have better so it’s lean.”

His weight coming into the Sepang 1 test? 8-kg (17.6-lbs) heavier than at the Valencia test! But he admitted he felt much stronger and in much less fatigued following the test.

Back to the main point; strength is key. Basic exercises such as deadlifts, bench press (for when you’re on the brakes) and squats are great for building raw strength. 

Next, muscular endurance is crucial. Again, a MotoGP race is 45-minutes of “full throttle.” Granted most track day sessions are 20-30 minutes, but you get the point. When we get tired, we make mistakes. You need to be sharp at all times!

Exercises in this category are lunges, pushups, rows, 4-count body builders/burpees, kettlebell swings, dumbbell overhead press and leg curls. These are exercises you’ll want to work up to higher rep ranges with.

In summary, as you’ve seen Jorge Lorenzo do what it takes to stay at the tip of the spear in motorcycle racing, fitness is crucial. Yes, the bike is awesome and he is talented, but as they say, hard work beats talent when talent won’t work hard.

The moto is out of balance… is your body also?

15 Jan

We hear a lot that motorcycles in MotoGp or Superbikes are “out of balance.” Heck, look at the trials Ducati has faced over the past 6 years. They can’t seem to figure out why their MotoGP ride can’t turn! Even the almighty GOAT Valentino Rossi and his pal Jeremy Burgess couldn’t get that thing squared away!

But then look at the Yamaha since Jorge Lorenzo has been there. That bike has been the most “balanced bike” in the paddock. It balances power and agility. The Ducati and Honda both being a bit too abrupt on the power and not quite agile enough to stick with the Yamaha.

Rossi loses the front of the Ducati

Rossi had problems with the Ducati from the ground floor. This one infamously took out the only person who could actually tame the red devil, Casey Stoner. Image source: http://www.mundomoto.esp.br

Now granted there are a ton of physical forces that contribute to the balance of a bike and it being too stable vs too loose. But our bodies can be just as complicated.

When we are looking at training our bodies for riding on the track, we need to find a healthy balance between being too loose and too stable. There is a relationship between stability and mobility. Like a motorcycle, different parts of our body need to be mobile while others are more stable.

Most of us are too stable. We lack the ability to move freely. This is a result of Newton’s 2nd Law of Gravity – Inertia. An object at rest will stay at rest until acted on by an outside force. When we sit all day in our chair at work or in the car, our body says “Well, it looks like the owner wants me to stay in this position because he’s not doing much to change the position!

So we have to work on finding our own balance in our body. We need to be both mobile and stable. Functional Movement Screen creator Gray Cook has recognized the following relationships (the body joint:quality needed)

  • ankles:mobility
  • knees:stability
  • hips:mobility
  • low back:stability
  • upper back:mobility
  • shoulders:stability
  • cervical spine:mobility

Hopefully you recognize the alternating pattern there. When we have regions that have the opposite of what is needed, the joint above or below will compensate and develop the incorrect quality. This usually leads to injuries. To be in top shape for your motorcycle trackdays or club racing, you’ll need to work towards these qualities.

Now because I mentioned that we need to work on these qualities, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to stop there. So here are a few exercises, along with video links, that you can do to improve the qualities of the desired.

Ankle mobility: ankle mobilizations/calf stretches

Knee Stability: Split Squats

Hip Mobility: deep lunge, hip crossover, supine hip IR

Low back stability: Slow Mountain climbers

Upper Back mobility: Reverse diving,

Shoulder stability: Pushup + rotation

Cervical mobility: back scratch head tilt

Now for each of these exercises, I recommend doing 10-20 per side. But just be prepared, if you’re tight or too loose, you’ll probably wake up to some soreness tomorrow. But by addressing these issues, we find that beautiful balance between strength and agility that will make moving on the bike much easier and give us the endurance to keep our brain and body focused on the skill of trackday riding until the end.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post or any other post! I encourage you to leave feedback or perhaps there is a topic you’d like to learn more about! If so, list it in the comments section and we’ll get it addressed! Take care and work on getting your body dialed in to get the most out of your motorcycle on the track!

Smooth Riding is better riding. But what is “smooth”?

3 Dec

We hear it a lot in MotoGP. Reg Pridmore built his career (and his book on it). Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way

But being smooth is the best way to ride, bar none. Rough riding, deceleration, acceleration, lateral transitioning all will upset the suspension and make riding feel like work instead of fun. With winter coming and the weather starting to get sour in many parts in the world, riding time will decrease.

But how can you work on being smooth when you’re in the gym training for your trackday?

It’s actually quite simple.

Think about what it takes to be smooth when you’re on the bike. You have to roll on the throttle and roll off in a controlled manner. Control is simply being in tune with your body and being able to make small adjustments instead of making large inputs. Large input disrupts handling. Looking at MotoGP or World Superbike, when you’re on the edge of the tire is no time to be making large input changes to the bike.

When only 1/1000th of the tire is making contact with the ground is not the time to make abrupt changes. However, smooth riding is rewarded with faster cornering.

Now the best riders can make small, accurate inputs very quickly. I know when i’m riding and I focus on being smooth and not upsetting the suspension, it feels as though I’m taking a very long time to provide the input. And this is okay. It will get better, I will get better and the inputs will become more accurate and become quicker.

But how does a person improve smoothness?

By becoming more in tune with your physical body. When doing exercises, don’t just go through the motions and hope for change to happen. Instead, be intentional with your movements. Focus on how your muscles are working and which ones are working.

Imagine that your body is a computer. A really nice one. Your brain, it’s the CPU. Your muscles, joints and limbs? They are the hardware. The hardware relays information to the performance of your body back to the CPU. But if the hardware isn’t very sensitive, it’s not going to do much for the CPU.

Every time you focus on what your muscles are doing while you move, it’s essentially upgrading the hardware to match the upgraded software. So when you are focusing on being smooth on/off the throttle, you’re refining your hardware and your CPU is recognizing the upgraded hardware.

Think about the tunability of the CPU on a MotoGP machine, pretty awesome right? We’re always talking about how software makes these bikes amazing. Well upgrade your own software and hardware!

You can go out and run, cycle or randomly go through some exercises. Yes, you’ll see a modest “hardware” upgrade. But to really see some results in your ability to move on the bike, you have to focus and pay attention to what is going on during your workouts.

What are some ways to improve “hardware” sensitivity? First, gain some flexibility. Muscles that don’t stretch much, can’t provide optimal feedback. Start working on mobility with a deep lunge/Spiderman, lateral squats and hip crossovers. 

Strength exercises you can do are single leg squats, chin ups and dumbbell bench press (dumbbells require more rotator cuff use). For energy system development (ESD)/cardio, I would recommend a rowing machine, a VersaClimber or even some heavy rope slams as these all involve very dynamic movements that transfer well to the art of motorcycle riding.

So this winter, improve your smoothness by giving each workout the mental attention it needs and deserves. I think you’ll be pretty impressed by the results come spring riding season.

You’ve hit your own REV limiter… see how Lorenzo went through his.

13 Oct

Well, the 2014 MotoGP Championship has been sealed by Marc Marquez. After finishing 2nd in a great race at Motegi, he’s definitely no joke and is certainly going to give a strong effort for a three-peat. However, what was, and should continue to be, astonishing is Jorge Lorenzo’s ability to ride the wheels of the M1!

Despite claiming to be at 100% prior to the first race of the season at Qatar, Jorge Lorenzo attributes much of his recent form improvement to better fitness levels.

Yes, the teams of both he and Rossi are getting the bike more dialed in than earlier in the season. But, it cannot be underestimated, the improvement in Lorenzo’s physical fitness. The way he is able to muscle the bike around the track pays a huge compliment to the smoothness with which he also rides. And fitness is a major component to that!

Coming off of multiple surgeries for a broken clavicle, Lorenzo said he was at 100%. However, a broken clavicle can often have effects that reach far beyond just the fitness of shoulders and arms. It can affect grip strength, core strength and even leg strength. Who knew a little 14-cm bone could have such far reaching effects?

Consider this: the clavicle is the only bony attachment from the arm to the rest of the body. Even the shoulder blade glides over rib cage and is attached to the spine via muscles. So when the clavicle is injured, expect it to be difficult to hold on to anything. This means you can’t pick up weights, it’s almost impossible to ride a bicycle on the road, and leg exercises are limited to body weight. Even running is challenging because as you land from one foot to the next, the clavicle acts as a suspension unit. With the weight of the arm and shoulders pulling down on the clavicle, every little bounce is painful.

So getting back to the main point, how did Lorenzo break through his fitness plateau to get back on the motorcycle? And even more importantly, how can you do the same?

Below is a 30-minute workout that will greatly help improve muscular endurance and smoothness of transitions while on the motorcycle. Repeat the cycle as many times as possible within a 30-minute window.

  1. Stability Ball Plank for 60-seconds. Because core strength is imperative to every high performance athlete. Not sure if you’re an athlete? Check here.
  2. Lateral Slide Through. Start with a very wide stance and squat down to one side. Now, without rising back up, shift your weight to the other leg. Hold for 2-seconds on each side and shift back and forth 10 times per side.
  3. Bent Over Barbell Row. Pick up a barbell, pivot from the hips and tip forward. Keeping your weight on your heels to keep your back from being overloaded. Pull the bar to the bottom of your sternum. and lower back down. Perform 15 repetitions.
  4. Stability Ball Knee Tuck Push up. This is a great one for keeping posture while being tucked. And it is tougher than it looks! Start with hands on the ground and feet up on a stability ball. Simultaneously bring your knees forward and lower yourself into a pushup. Hold for 1-second and push back up and roll the ball backwards by straightening your legs. Perform 15 repetitions.
  5. Speed Squats. Perform a squat as fast as you can for 30 repetitions. Rest 30-seconds.

So as you can see, fitness, particularly cardiovascular fitness, can be done using body weight exercises. Stress your heart, stress your muscles, improve your TrackDay Fitness!

If you’re looking for a nutritional component, check out Precision Nutrition for a fitness/nutrition combo that can’t be beat!

Leave comments below and let me know how you like the workout!

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.