Strength Training for Motocross (Principles)
by Racer X Virtual Trainer
It’s no secret that weight training is not a Racer’s top priority. If it were, you would probably be looking at a different web site: one on body building not motocross. I certainly have never been able to figure out why guys that race motocross think that the benefit of weight training does not apply to them. I here the same old lame excuse over and over; weight training causes arm pump! We have already covered arm pump in a previous article, so if you want to learn all about what causes arm pump and its prevention click here. No doubt, if you train like a body builder, you will most likely develop arm pump and a multitude of other negative results. However, if strength training is entirely left out of your program, you may be missing out on more than just buff biceps and ripped abs. Strength training is a smart supplement to any racers program because it strengthens muscles and joints, which can not only help improve lap times but prevent injury as well. Any one can go fast for a lap or two on a smooth track, but when the track gets rough and you have to manhandle the bike, strength training will prove to be an invaluable asset. Do you think Ricky Carmichael is the master of saving a swap by being a weakling.В Remember the mudfest a few years ago at the Seattle SX when RC saved it through the whoop section and never went down?В That takes strength, especially on a 450!
The problem most racers have when they start to weight train is that they do the same old exercises that they learned from their high school football coach. Most think they are doing the right thing simply by increasing the number of repetitions and lowering the weight; however the standard gym-rat routine of bench press, bicep curls, military press, leg extensions and a few other well known exercises will not get the job done. No doubt these exercises are beneficial in making you look good; however they are much less effective at making you a better rider. One major problem in following the herd at the gym and performing typical exercises is that they can lead to a major strength imbalance not only between the upper and lower body but also between the front and back of your body. Unequal balances like these may even lead to an increase risk of injury by creating an imbalance at the joint. Motocross is tough enough on the body, so the last thing you want to do is increase your chance of injury before you even get on the bike.
Racers need a strength training program that targets key muscle groups and keeps them in balance. The following program is based on four basic principles that will no doubt improve not only your strength but your lap times. The program focuses on exercises that are total body movements that are sport specific to motocross.
The Posterior Chain
Concentrate on your back:The typical gym-rat exercises focus on the muscle groups that are clearly visible in the mirror; chest, arms, abs and quads. While working these muscle groups is important, it is equally important to work the muscle groups in the posterior chain (back, hamstrings, and calfs). The muscles in your back are as equally important in maintaining a proper riding stance as the chest, shoulders, and quads. A weak posterior chain will lead to a slumped posture and fatigue the chest, shoulders, arms, and quads more rapidly. A strength imbalance between the front and back of your body can lead to general fatigue and poor riding style as the race progresses. So, someone new to weight training that is lifting improperly will blame weight lifting as a cause of their arm pump when in actuality it was their choice of exercises and the way in which they were lifting.
Strong Core Muscles are Key
Strong Core Muscles are Key:If you think core training is all about having a great six pack so that you can flex next summer when you take off your jersey, you would only be half correct. Strong core muscles are responsible for maintaining good posture and eliminating lower back pain, and act as the base of support for the entire body. Proper training of the core region is imperative to maintaining proper form and function during a race. If the core muscles are weak, a rider will alter his or her posture and riding position, therefore transferring work to the weaker shoulders and arms. When this happens, the arms, shoulders and even legs do more of the work and become fatigued quickly.
Hope this isn’t What you had in Mind!
Weight Train for Strength not Endurance: Motocross racers are experts at endurance training and therefore usually weight train for endurance (low weight, high reps.). But lifting heavier weights for fewer reps is necessary for building strength. Strong muscles increase the stability of your joints which reduces the wear and tear on ligaments, and will help you recover when a lot of strength is required to recover from a big swap or for the unfortunate time you come up short on a jump and case it. If you are afraid of bulking up, don’t be. Body builders only wish it were that easy; lift some weights, get big. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the body builder) adding a significant amount of muscle requires a steady surplus of calories and workouts that focus on muscle size not performance. The proposed workouts, which are performance oriented, will certainly not bulk you up.
- Concentrate on Total Body Movements: Since most people don’t have a lot of spare time during the week, the proposed weight training program is designed to be quick and efficient. The key to an efficient total body strength program is to incorporate exercises that require the use of multiple joints versus isolation exercises. For instance, exercises like a step-up press, dead lift, and power clean, give greater overall strength benefits in less time than single-joint exercises like bench press or bicep curls. By performing exercises that are multi-joint oriented (and sport specific to motocross) you will be sure to gain the required strength while keeping gym time to a minimum.
Remove the Guesswork
At Virtual Trainer, we believe there is a right way to train for motocross. It starts with having a clear goal, finding expert instruction (on and off the bike), performing structured training and receiving immediate feedback throughout the process. Coach Seiji (Andrew Short‘s longtime trainer) has teamed up with Virtual Trainer to offer our audience an exclusive motocross community geared towards improving your performance on and off the track. The community offers motocross specific training plans designed by one of the best вЂ“ to help you achieve your best performance. This is literally a one-of-a-kind training and conditioning experience for you, the motocross athlete.
These overall strength and conditioning exercises are intended for moderate to advanced levels of fitness. If you are a beginner or need some additional instruction, email VT and I will be sure and point you in the right direction. If you are able to work this routine into your normal workout schedule, I guarantee you will see results on and off the track. If you overlook strength training and use the lame old excuse that weight lifting causes arm pump, then you need to reevaluate and educate yourself on the benefits of strength training.
That’s it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.