Tag Archives: core strength

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!

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.

And you thought all you needed was cycling…

5 May

Ben Spies might have his own professional cycling team, but it goes to show that cycling can’t be the cure-all for motorcycle fitness.

Spies cycling

Cycling won’t help a weak shoulder. Photo courtesy of http://www.gpone.com

After off-season shoulder surgery to repair an injured rotator cuff, Spies raced in Qatar and again in Austin. However, it now appears now that Spies will miss the Jerez race due to chest and back pain from racing with an injured shoulder.

In the rehabilitation world, we call these “compensations.” Spies’ back and chest have had to work overtime on the bike due to the shoulder being unfit for racing. You’ve been on the track before. You know how much effort it takes to move that bike from side to side and remain stable during braking. There are exercises that can be done to maintain rotator cuff strength and maintain proper muscular balance to ensure that every muscle does it’s job.

And then there’s Dani Pedrosa who was having muscle cramps in his left triceps during the second half of the race. Again, although as racers we’re taught to maintain a certain level of softness on the handlebars and let your legs do the work of grasping the bike, the upper body plays an enormous role in riding a motorcycle fast.

Pedrosa would later state that conditioning is to blame for his cramping.

So what can you do to address these two areas of weakness?

For rotator cuff strength we can do what’s called the “Shoulder Matrix.” Lie face down on a flat bench or floor and make a “Y” with your arms, keeping your elbows straight. Next put your arms out to the side and make a “T” with your body. Next bend your elbows to 90-degrees and have your palms facing down. If lying on the ground, lift your arms off hte ground. Then slide your arms up over your head until your elbows are straight. Then return to the starting position.

Work hard at pulling your shoulder blades down toward your lower back. This turns on the lower traps which are VERY important for keeping the shoulder blade (scapula) in proper sequence with the upper arm. The movement of the arms trains the rotator cuff to help keep you injury free!

Now how do we train the triceps for the demands of motorcycle racing? Push-ups should be in every riders exercise tool box. Why?

stability ball pushup

Pedrosa should have been doing these between practice sessions. Photo: Coreperformance.com

Pushups train the chest, abs, shoulder stabilizers, triceps, and even quads. They really are that amazing! But for our purposes, we’ll add a little twist to our pushups. Try them on a stability ball and see how much extra work your chest and triceps have to do! Now if you’re hesitant about falling on your face or you’re just not quite confident of your ability to do a pushup on a ball, then don’t worry. Just do them from the ground but move your hands a little closer together! Aim for 3-sets of 20 reps and see how much of a difference it makes in YOUR riding!

4 Important exercises to IMPROVE your riding safety

13 Feb

In many parts of the country, riding season is quickly coming upon us. With the coming of March, warmer temps and sunnier days are ahead! Just like your bike needs a tune up, your body could use a tune up too prior to heading out for a ride. 

How early should you prep? Well it depends on how much time you’re willing to commit. The more time, the better prepared you’ll be. 

The minimalist might stretch a little and then hop on the bike and go.

The guy who really wants to remove some rust will get started a few weeks prior to going out on his first ride. 

The first step is to regain some lost mobility and then rebuild some core strength/postural endurance. 

We can do this with a few exercises such as a Pigeon pose pushups, some calf stretches and some Backstroke Divers/thoracic spine extensions. 

Some of the core exercises we can do are Birddogs, Inchworms, side planks (see picture)hip bridging and hip crossovers.

Image 

Each of these exercises will improve your mobility and endurance on the bike, reducing fatigue and making you an overall safer rider when you get back out on your favorite road! 

Be safe, and enjoy the pleasant riding whether!