Motorcycle Riding Fitness Tips
Most riders think that in order to ride faster, all they need to focus on is body position, pushing the speed limit, hard braking points, quick throttle control and other suggested riding techniques. The truth however can be learned talking with anyone who can truly be considered pro-level fast. If you listen to what these guys have to say, the first thing you’ll learn is that fitness ranks at the top of the importance scale.
What you find with many riders being involved in such an active sport is that their training and gym routines are usually focused on building those infamous “glamour muscles”. The main of such a routine is to look good in photos, build outer self-confidence and full out those tight shirts. The feeling of ultimate confidence even after calming your mind, does not equate to the feeling of confidence on a bike. As it turns out, “looking fit” for the camera doesn’t necessarily translate into “being fit” when it comes to athletic activities. Many learn this the hard way as they begin to really get involved in the sport and dirt riding.
You’ll noticed that no matter how frequently you lube your chain, even if you do it properly, you often get fatigued early on ride days and that you need several days to recuperate afterwards. Ever feel stiff after lunch and find that your pace quickly slows as you got too tired and lazy to really move around on the bike when pushing yourself at the track or even just trying to enjoy yourself with some friends out on the trails? Ever find yourself needing frequent breaks when riding dual-sports out in the desert and feeling confused since you thought you’re the guy that was “in shape”?
Eventually you’ll realize, you’ve built all the wrong muscles and you’re not going to get any better until your endurance and strength in some specific areas improved.
The right exercises and weight training improve your performance, help prevent injuries and give the added benefit of allowing you to heal more quickly if you do get injured.
To figure out just which exercises are best, you could enlisted the help of crossfit trainers or sports specialists. The generally consensus is to focus on the most important exercises to work into your weekly routine.
There are three main focus areas you need to address to improve your riding: strength, mobility, and endurance.
For high-performance riding, whether it be on road or off, you’ll need powerful legs, core, back, and shoulders. You consistently rely on your legs to change your body position and help you to control the bike, so strength training improves both stability and endurance. There is literally nothing worse than coming up to a section of whoops in the desert or motocross track and not having the strength or energy to stand up and brace your body as you hit them. Taking them on in the seated position can be extremely strenuous on your back, so you’ll want to be sure you have the strength to hit them just right.
You often hear phrases like “be loose,” or “be light on the bars,” or “hold the bars like you’re holding baby birds.” In order to master any of these techniques strengthening your core and lower back should be a primary focus so they can support your body which leaves your arms free to steer the bike and operate the all of the controls with ease. Sport bike riders who complain of tight or stiff wrists are using their handlebars and not their core muscles, to support the weight of their body. It’s amazing how easy it becomes to flick a bike through tight and twisty corners when your upper body is free to move around with ease and you’re using your hands to operate the controls and not relying on them to support your body by leaning on them.
Your upper back and shoulders need to be strong to assist you with controlling the bars. Pushing a heavier bike through a race track or even a lighter dirt bike through single-track trails or an MX track can take away a lot of strength which means you’ll burn your arms out way too fast if you aren’t supporting yourself by getting your whole upper body involved.
Recommended strength exercises:
Legs: Lunges, Squats, Leg press, Leg extensions, calf raises
Core: Cable crunch, plank, hanging leg raise, Russian twist
Back: Rows, pull-ups, Supermans
Everybody probably knows in the back of their head that they should start incorporating more leg exercises into their gym routine, but most people never really consider how important flexibility can be when it comes to riding a bike. Not only do you need some flexibility just to push your body to fit on most sport bikes, but you also need to be able to easily and comfortable open your hips as you get your body to hang off the bike or rotate your shoulders into awkward positions as you operate the bars while tucked into various and odd riding positions. Many riders struggle to get their knee out from the bike in order to a knee down on the surface. This is generally one of those sudden and awful cramp positions if you don’t warm up properly. You’re more inclined to feel as though you’re riding a scooter through Asia than actually riding the bike the way you’d like to be.
Focusing on improving flexibility and proper stretching before rides, as well as improving flexibility in the gym can often lead to one of the most noticeable improvements. This is because many riders have such a hard time and feel so awkward moving around on the bike, constantly getting cramps in their hips. Not only does this improve your range of motion, but it also helps your muscle stability which further improves your ability to apply that strength in many more ways. There’s a reason why the top riders take yoga and Pilates classes, it isn’t just for the babes in yoga pants, these are the real Kings of today.
Founder stretch, foam rolling, hip & groin stretches, pigeon stretch
The famous superbike racer Ben Spies has a maximum heart rate of 195 beats per minute. He says that his heart rate hovers around 185 for the typical race, which lasts about 45 minutes. In contradiction to what most people think that the motorcycle is doing all the work, professional racers know far better and this generation of professionals has massively stepped up their training routines. Whether you’re a Motocross or MotoGP racer, or just the regular weekend warrior, endurance plays a huge role in your ability to ride efficiently and safely, because physical fatigue leads to mental failure.
Getting involved in cycling, whether that be road cycling or mountain biking, frequently comes up in almost every article about any professional riders training program. Honda motocross racer Cole Seely said, that he’d fallen in love with mountain biking as a way to improve stamina and build leg strength Similarly, Spies said he and the majority of the superbike guys are very involved in cycling for their training as it allows them to keep their heart rate up while not putting too much strain on their bodies. Some of them are nearly professional-level bicycle racers.
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