Tag Archives: strength

!MotoGP SPOILER! Fitness is Foundational.

4 Apr

After many blog posts, I’ve realized that I may be leading many people think that if your fitness is up to par, then there is no reason that you can’t ride at the top of the class and you’ll keep the bike upright all day long.

Well, after watching the Argentina MotoGP race, I was brought back to reality (rather harshly, as I am a Ducati guy).

When 8 of the worlds best motorcycle riders fail to complete the race, that’s not an indication of a lack of fitness. Instead it’s an indication that some other factor has come into play.

It’s tough to say that MotoGP guys aren’t in as good of shape as they could be. Nobody in the paddock is overweight or even average sized for their height. All are on the thin side. However, they are definitely strong with great anaerobic endurance. While their body shape and size is definitely an asset in a sport that relies on an optimal weight:power ratio, most track day riders are not that same size.

Back to the race this weekend. As rider after rider spilled to the tarmac, it was evident that these guys are strong enough. After hitting the deck, sliding 20-30 meters then sprinting to their bike and picking it up, their heart rate is going. Yes, adrenaline plays a role. Yet, many of these riders were operating at their highest levels of fitness!

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Espargaro and Crutchlow run to bikes after crashing in Argentina. Photo: http://www.crash.net

You start to look at the riders who can sprint to their bike and pick it up out of the gravel pit and get back to riding. Then look at those who can’t get their bike going. This is where fitness definitely plays a role! Fitness allows us to keep riding even after a spill. It allows us to keep going after a long day at the track.

And if you’re Andrea Dovizioso, it allows you to finish the race!

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Dovizioso pushes his Ducati the final 2 corners to secure 13th position in the Argentina MotoGP race. Photo Credit: http://www.zigcdn.com

So how does this play into your trackdays? Fitness is the foundation for sport. Athletes who are not fit for the sport will not be participating for long. Just because you’re currently riding track days does not mean that you have to stop and “get fit” before continuing to ride. Any improvement in fitness will pay dividends.

As for fitness advice following the Argentina GP, if you can put treadmill pushes or plate pushes into your training program. To do treadmill pushes, turn the treadmill off, get on it, grab the handles in front of you and start driving the belt using YOUR power. Lean into it and drive your legs into the belt. You’ll find there is a lot of resistance there. March on the belt for 15-20 seconds followed by a rest of 60-90 seconds.Repeat 10-times. As you improve in your ability to do this, try to push it as hard and fast as you can for 15-20 seconds. You’ll find this is incredibly exhausting but it will prepare you for those maximal effort situations such as dragging your bike off the road or pushing it for a bump start when the battery dies!

Have a great week and don’t forget next week’s MotoGP race at Circuit of the Americas in Texas!

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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.

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.

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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?

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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!

The most important MOTO – MUSCLE…

19 Mar

If you’ve ever been to a motorcycle riding school or a track day that provides instruction, they tend to passively gloss over one aspect of riding while highlighting another.

Most schools will attempt to teach proper riding posture, braking posture and cornering position. These have one BIG thing in common that you are required to do:

Changing posture or positions.

That’s right. You have to move and use YOUR BODY. If your body doesn’t want to move very easily, very quickly or to a specific position, there is a good chance you won’t be able to do what the instructor AND the bike need you to do.

Do riding schools purposely skip fitness? Well probably no purposely. But they don’t emphasize it. Why?

You’re there to become a better rider by learning technique and skill. You’re not there to learn to workout. You’re there to learn to ride.

Lean Haslam

To hold this posture – knees wide, pegs loaded, head turned, body hanging – requires strength in MORE than just one muscle.

So although fitness isn’t a super emphasized part of riding, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Every sport coach will ask there players to do things to execute a play or strategy. But movement and being able to move is the foundation for sport and likewise for riding. And when you can move well, you have strength and endurance, you can do what your riding instructors tell you to do!

So what is the MOST important muscle? There really isn’t just ONE. We can argue all day about the legs being the most important, or the spinal extensors. But in truth, we have to use them all. We could argue that the neck muscles are the most important. But we’ll save that for another day.

We can strive to improve just one muscle group, but safe riding doesn’t just require one muscle or one movement quality. To increase your riding ability, a rider needs to improve their flexibility/mobility, core strength (no, not with sit-ups), and yes even leg, chest and back strength. But they can’t just go into body builder mode and have a chest day, back day, leg day and ab day; the body doesn’t operate like that on a motorcycle.

RDP

Randy DePuniet – Fitness is a part of every high caliber athlete’s training. And cycling can’t be the only tool in the box.

Thankfully there’s a solution. It’s called Grand Prix Fitness. It’s a 4-phase training program that targets the muscles, joints and weaknesses that keep riders from being the fastest, enjoying the ride, and losing focus.

  • Legs giving out half-way through the ride? We’ve got a fix for that.
  • Your belly rubbing on the fuel tank as you shift from side to side? Our Track Day Nutrition plan can fix that.
  • Have back pain that’s causing you to cut your rides short? Our Stop Moto Back Pain program will cure that.

So, keep an eye out for Grand Prix Fitness, a revolutionary fitness and training program that addresses the specific needs for motorcycle rides and racers. It will change your life. Guaranteed.

Till next time!!