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So you want to improve your motocross fitness? That can definitely be done with the right knowledge and health/fitness program, but with so many motocross fitness programs and products out there today where do you start? And which one is right for you? A good place to begin is with the basics.
Motocross/dirt bike riding is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. So how do you train for it? It’s not rocket-science sort of stuff, so hopefully, this will steer you in the right direction.
This is a guide only. You should seek professional advice before beginning any serious training.
I’ve always been an active person and have been working out with weights since I was 18 years old, so I consider myself to be fitter than your average person and relatively strong. However, when it comes to doing a few laps on a motocross bike, if I haven’t been riding for a while, it’s tough – the body suffers big time! The reason is my muscles are being used in a way they are not used to.
If you look at the professional riders like Ricky Carmichael – possibly the fittest rider motocross has ever seen – you’ll see that they are well built and strong. So there is no doubt that muscle strengthening programs have a positive impact on your riding. But when you are out riding for many hours, whether it be enduro, bush trails or 30 laps on an MX track, you need stamina and endurance as well. This can be helped by cross-training.
The G.O.A.T used cycling to increase his cardiovascular system. And his trainer – Aldon Baker – says they used to incorporate a lot of cycling into his motocross fitness program because it’s not hard on the joints and areas that a lot of riders have had previous injuries with. Swimming is another fantastic form of exercising that is low impact but achieves great results that can be used on your bike. I have been a surfer for 16 years now which has given me a strong upper body, esp. the shoulders and back which helps me a lot when on the bike.
Like anything you wish to improve on, you need to figure out how much time and energy you are willing to put aside to achieve your goal. There’s no one specific program that all motocross riders or athletes use, so don’t waste your time looking for it! Professional MX trainers customize their programs to each individual they train depending on their body type, injuries, mental strength, goals e.t.c.
Whether you race motocross, enduro, compete in hare scrambles for fun or just free ride with your mates, if you don’t already have some sort of motocross fitness program in place and you really do want to improve your riding, then I suggest you consider putting the following ideas into action…
Motocross Fitness Tips
- Regular Riding: This one’s a gimme. This is the best form of training by far, and it will have the greatest impact on your motocross fitness. The problem with this is not everyone has the time or money to ride 7 days a week. Plus, injuries will often prevent you from kicking the old girl over, which leads me onto…
- Cross Training: When you’re not on your bike try swimming (or in my case surfing), cycling, skipping or running in soft sand. These types of exercises are great for the cardiovascular system and your strength – and they’re low impact exercises which mean less damage to your joints and ligaments. Oh, and did I mention they don’t cost much 🙂
- Stretching: I learned this invaluable piece of advice through karate and gym training. Trust me, this will definitely improve your riding. Plus it will lower the risk of injury and save you a lot of aches and pains as you get older. Be sure to stretch out your forearms / arms to help prevent ARM PUMP. Stretch not only before, but after riding to improve your recovery and flexibility.
- Breathing Correctly: Surprised? Again, I learned this through karate. Breathing is THE most fundamental function of the human body but very few of us pay any attention to it. I won’t bore you with specifics but basically most people take short, shallow breaths which deprive your body of vital oxygen resulting in inferior muscle use, lower energy levels and less ability to concentrate. Pretty important things huh? Even worse than shallow breathing is the fact that many people temporarily cease breathing in intense situations. Practice taking deeper breaths, really filling your lungs up (without hyper-ventilating) and see how much more relaxed and clearer you become.
- Strength Training: It’s hard work riding at pace on dirt bikes these days and it definitely requires a lot of muscular strength to ride at your best! The sheer power of these modern bikes are constantly trying to tear your hands and body away from them. Ask anyone who doesn’t ride and they will tell you “the bike does all the work”… bollicks! Lifting weights at the gym is an obvious way to increase your strength. Have a gym instructor write you up a program that you will stick to – higher reps and lighter weights are better for MX than lower reps and heavier weights. If you prefer to train at home, you can perform exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups and chin-ups to improve your muscle strength. Make sure you keep it balanced and train your back muscles equally – too many people disregard this and it results in an unbalanced upper body lacking real strength. By building a stronger body you also decrease the likelihood of injuring yourself through accidents. More muscle equals more protection.
- Nutrition: Watch what you consume! If you’re serious about improving your overall fitness you have to eat good, healthy, energy-rich foods and avoid tooth-destroying fizzy drinks like coke. The stuff you put into your gob provides the fuel for your body – crap in… crap out. Simple.
- Rest: If you’re going to make the effort to do all of the above don’t forget to rest your body and mind! Sleeping is like plugging a rechargeable battery into the power socket. This is the time that the body needs to repair itself.
Tip: Refrain from working out the day before you ride. You want your body to be fully recovered and working at its best.
So, short of having your own motocross fitness trainer these are probably some of the best things you can do to begin improving your fitness levels on your bike. Be smart about it, be consistent, keep your program balanced and you will get results with less injuries.
I spent lot of time with my good friend and personal trainer putting a training program together that is focused on improving riding fitness for motocrossers. The result is a beginner, intermediate and advanced program – complete with video instructions – that will dramatically improve your riding if followed properly. You can find these programs and much more in The Garage Manual. My hope for you is this.. if you can pump out more laps and feel less fatigued, you’ll have more fun and ride for longer and thereby improve your skills.