For most of the riders in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s very little if any riding in January. But, that shouldn’t stop you from staying in shape. As a matter of fact, that should give you the opportunity to get in even better shape. Sure, in the spring and summer you can get a lot of riding and racing in and of course this is a great way to stay in shape but it also can be hard on your body especially if you are taking frequent soil samples and you know what they say, if you’re not crashing once in a while you’re not going fast enough. Winter training is a great time to heal up any nagging injuries that you have been aggravating with continued riding abuse. It’s also a great time to bring all your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints (your entire skeletal structure back into balance, this way in stead of being out of shape and more injury prone when you start riding again in the spring you will actually be stronger than you were last fall.
So many people are missing the boat when it comes to the rewards of a good exercise routine. There is just no substitute for a good training routine. I was raised on a farm and ever since I was old enough (about 10) I had chores and a lot of farm type work to do. My Dad had an old school farm, no modern push button operations. There was a lot of carrying stuff, digging, putting up hay bales, straw bales, fixing fence, riding wild horses, yea, wild horses. I’m not kidding, the first thing they would try to do when I got on them was buck me off. Most of the time I could stay on so when that didn’t work they would just starting running as fast as they could no matter how hard I tried to stop them. If I was still on by the time they got tried then the training could begin. I fell off a horse plenty of times while it was running at top speed. Some horses knew how to get me off; they would jerk to the side really fast and hard. I always rode bareback so this would cause me to slide half way off and most of the time couldn’t get back on. At the same time I was doing this farmer, cowboy stuff I was also practicing and racing motocross. To make a long story short it was a lot of physical work. This all kept me in pretty good shape but it was no where near the shape I reached later when I learned how to train with weights and cardio programs. The biggest difference between physical work (such as farming) and an exercise routine is that physical work may overwork certain structures of the body and not work others enough. And there is seldom a long steady period of aerobic activity that benefits the cardio system to any extent. The frequency and consistency is usually not there either. Sometimes the laborer is working the same structures too much and other times not enough. With a well balanced workout routine you can manage the frequencies, durations and intensities in a well balanced consistent routine. This allows you to grow to higher and higher levels of fitness and overall health and strength.
What about all the thousands for people who don’t have a physical job? What about all those people who have a desk, office or transportation job. Well, for these people a well planned exercise routine is a must, not only so they can race motocross but so your heart can keep beating.
The proper diet and a good exercise program is the best thing you can do for your mind and body. When this is missing in one’s life they will look for fulfillment from other sources like; over eating, legal (caffeine and alcohol) and illegal drugs and other bad habits that end up taking them further away from what they are really looking for, to feel good. Sure they may feel better right after using their crutch but soon after that they are feeling even worst than before because of the side effects and withdrawals, so they use their crutch again and begin to spiral down the tubes to an ever declining feeling of well-being, a kind of roller coaster ride on rusty, bumping tracks. The human body has evolved over thousands of years and physical activity has always been a big part of that evolution. We are designed to physically work. If you don’t use it you loose it. The uneducated think exercise is just for the muscles but this is far from the truth. There are many systems in the body that benefit from exercise. Of course the obvious is the muscles and there is the entire muscle skeletal system, the respiratory system, lymphatic system and endocrine system. There are certain drug like hormones that are released during exercise that make you feel good and are really, really good for you not only at that moment but for hours afterwards. When one acquires the discipline to workout consistently they become content and don’t have the desire to look for this feeling from other negative sources. It all boils down to a matter of attitude, how you view the situation.
One thing I can tell you for sure is that if you wait until you feel like exercising you seldom will. That’s why there is a warm up stage to working out. After an 8 to 10 minute warm up you are going to feel completely different. So don’t even pay attention to how you feel before you begin, pay attention to how good you’re going to feel about 10 minutes into the program and when you’re finished. The only problem with us older guys is that we warm up and wear out at the same time. I call it the microwave program; it makes for a shorter workout. Just kidding, it may take a little longer for us older people to warm up but once we get going we forget how old we really are and want to go for it. The biggest hurtle to overcome and make winter training really payoff is to make the commitment and follow through.
There are four main factors that make up the program.
1. Weight Training ( which is anaerobic)
2. Cardio (which is aerobic)
Let’s take a look at some explanations and samples of all four.
1. Weight Training
Anaerobic means the circulatory system (blood and oxygen) cannot keep up with the work load, the muscle will fail. Regarding weight training for motocross I have found that circuit training works best. This is where you go from one exercise straight to another with no rest between. With circuit training super setting is a common method. Super Setting means to go back and forth between two or more different exercises. For example say you’re super setting two sets of bench press and lat pull downs. You would start with one set of bench then do one set of lat pull downs, another set of bench and another set of lat pull downs, all this with no rest between. Always warm up and warm down with cardio exercise before and after lifting. These periods should be at least 6 minutes each, 12 minutes is even better.
Aerobic means the circulatory system (blood and oxygen) can keep up with the work load, the muscles can keep working. Studies have shown that it takes at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise with your heart rate at 70% of your max for you to get any aerobic benefit. Find your age at the right of the chart below. Fine the 70% vertical column, multiply the corresponding number by 6 and that’s about where your heart rate should be for 20 minutes or more. These studies also showed this would have to be done at least 3 times per week just to maintain what you already have. So if you want to improve your aerobic conditioning you should do more than 20 minute more than 3 times a week. It depends on how much other type of training you’re doing. For the average amount of other type training I recommend doing 30 minutes of cardio 3 or 4 days a week. I also recommend getting your heart rate up higher than 70% at a few different times through the workout.
Stretching is one of the most overlooked disciplines with motocross racers. I guess it’s just too boring for them. I have to admit it is a little different than racing or jumping triples but so is sleeping and everyone does that. Again it’s all boils down to attitude, your view of the situation. Pacifying myself in front of the TV is boring to me, but many riders can do this instead of stretching. Which one is going to help your conditioning? Again, stretching is not just for the muscles, stretching has many benefits including the entire muscle skeletal system, lymphatic flow, even benefits for the mind; it relieves stress and allows you to relax better. I’ve found it best to do a 15 to 20 minute stretching routine late in the evening before bed. If you haven’t stretched much before it’s going to be tuff at first but stick with it for at least a week before you pass judgment on this discipline. You will be surprise at the progress you can make in a week. That feeling should give you the motivation to continue.
Diet, wow do most riders miss the entire rim on this one, or what? That’s because most modern day people are accustom to the quick fix and diet just doesn’t compute that way. For example let’s take the average American rider who eats, well you know, the average American diet. Say we put this guy on a high performance no nonsense high octane race diet. Okay, the first day the body goes oh yes, finally some real food. I wonder how this got past those selfish taste buds. The first thing the body does is go into clean up mode. It starts flushing all the toxins and garbage out of the large and small intestines and basically all the cells in the body. It’s like going into an old dusty attic with a broom and starting to clean up. At first there’s a lot more dust flying around. When all these toxins are released into the blood stream for clean out detail you are actually going to feel worst before you start feeling better. You see, the body will use what it can for its best resources. It may use energy and work eternally before it will express more external energy. It usually takes about 2 weeks for the average guy to begin to notice positive benefits from going on a high performance diet. This is another reason why this entire conditioning thing is more of a life style change.
The body is a truly amazing organism. For instance, did you know the large and small intestines have waves in them? They are not just a tube like a pipe. The inter walls are made in a wave like fashion, folds. Inside the round intestine there are these waves that are folded upon one another. This allows a much larger surface area for food to be filtered, absorbed and eliminated through these deep layered wall like pockets. If you took the average person’s intestines out and flattened all the folds exposing the entire surface area of the walls they would cover a tennis court. When you consistently improve your diet, sleep, training, take vitamin and mineral supplements and reduce your negative stress levels you will not only feel better you will have the potential to race faster, harder and longer and the thing about it is you’ll like it. Don’t cut yourself short; you get out what you put in.
As always ride smart and have fun,
Professional Motocross Trainer