Tag Archives: motorcycle fitness

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.

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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!

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.

This training strategy will get you “Trackday Ready”

25 Mar

One factor that never seems to get thought about in motorcycle racing is the use of isometrics. Think about it, Although a riders heart rate is racing, and muscle are being used, there isn’t too much movement that occurs.

So why do we spend so much time with dynamic contractions yet most of the movement while on the bike has the knees bent to 90-120 degrees of flexion. When we get on the bike our legs aren’t pushing our body all the way up. Instead we are hovering with muscles contracted for almost the entire time.

And this is what will make you sore. I remember my first time on a track. I thought I was going in fairly fit. But my legs were sore for the next 3 days. I just wasn’t expecting the soreness to reach that level. But shifting your weight from side to side quickly, requires a lot of work and also creates a lot of stress on the muscle. As a result we get a lot of soreness. No surprise there, huh?

So what would an isometric training program look like for motorcycle racers or trackday riders? Well, if you’re following this program it’s a 5-second hold and then come back to the top. Repeat 5-8 times.

Another exercise I’ve included in the Isometric phase is a lateral slide thru. Basically, you hold a a pair of dumbbells in a front squat position with your feet placed wide. Squat down and shift your weight to the right. Hold for 2-seconds and slide back thru to the left without coming up. Hold for 2-seconds and slide back to the right. Repeat this until you’ve done 10-12 per side. When that starts to get easy, increase the hold to 3-seconds.

There are plenty of great core exercises that are isometric in nature, which is what we trackday riders need most. Pushups, planks, side planks, dead bugs, mountain climbers are all great isometric exercises as they force our core muscles to overcome inertia during a movement. This is VERY similar to how we have to react on a motorcycle when hustling around the track.

Maintaing proper body position when accelerating or cornering is imperative to not upsetting the suspension. Keep the core rigid and you’ll become a part of the bike!

So give this isometric workout a try. But be prepared, isometrics will bring a new found level of soreness that is uncommon to most people!

Perform exercises in pairs, doing A1 followed by A2. Rest for 60-seconds and repeat for 2 more sets before moving on to pair B, and finally pair C.

A1: Squat + 5-second hold x 5

A2: Pushup triple pause x 10 (pause at top, middle and bottom of pushup for 2-seconds)

B1: Stability Ball Leg Curl + 5-sec hold x 5

B2: Wide Grip Row triple pause x 10 (same as pushup pausing)

C1: Side Plank x 45-seconds per side

C2: Chin-up eccentric x 6 (jump to the top of the chin-up bar and let yourself down as slowly as possible)

Again, just be prepared as these will leave you aching for days!

Also, you don’t necessarily have to do a full 4-5 week cycle of isometric work. But throw this workout in once per week to make sure you train that characteristic. You’ll thank me on your next trackday!


Cleaning up your carbs… pun intended

6 Jan

Now most riders view carburetors as an outdated technology. However, fuel injection on the other hand is something that motorcyclists are constantly refining and playing with. As different fuel maps as well as traction control and riding modes alter fuel delivery to effect power delivery, technology is trickling down from the upper classes of motorcycle racing to offer us mortals some VERY sophisticated trackday rides!

Even if your ride has modernized fuel delivery, changing the carbs in your body will enhance energy delivery to your body. I know what you’re thinking: smooth transition there nutrition guy!

Carbohydrates are our the primary energy source for our body. Why? Because carbohydrates are able to quickly be broken down into glucose.

But some carbs are better than others because they offer so much more in terms of nutrition and allow muscle and energy producing cells to function so much more efficiently.

Which carbs are these?

Veggies, fruit, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans; they all are what I call “nutrient dense” as opposed to “calorie dense”. Calorie dense carbs like white breads, pastas, fruit juice, ice cream, crackers, cookies and pastries provide a lot of calories/energy, but not much in the way of nutrients that help our body operate like the sophisticated piece of equipment that it is. Instead calorie dense carbs gunk up our fuel delivery system and give us the morning jitters and afternoon crashes.

By including oats, apples, beans, spinach, carrots, sweet potato, and the like as mainstays in our diet we help our body to manage fuel much better. We manage fat creating overload of sugar and have a much calmer energy application (think throttle) when the carbs are clean.

So try cleaning your carbs to improve fuel management. You’ll find it is the easiest way to improve body weight, body composition/fat %, and fuel delivery to get the most fun and safety from your race day, trackday or Sunday ride!

Check out Gourmet Nutrition in the sidebar to clean YOUR carbs!