#1 – Lifting arm weights encourages arm pump so avoid pumping weights to build muscles in the arms.
#2 – Ride a mountain bike to increase cardio and stamina conditioning. Also consider water sports and cross fit training.
#3 – Interval (intensity) training with your cardio workouts will help to condition your strength and stamina faster.
#4 – Doing squats will strengthen up the most important muscles for dirt bike riding; your back and legs.
#5 – TRX training is a great way to use your own body weight for strength based resistance training and will also strengthen your core.
#6 – Core exercises are vital for properly maneuvering your bike and also provides greater balance and control.
#7 – Flexibility training by stretching will maximize your range of motion when you are riding and will help to minimize injuries if you crash.
#8 – Riding your dirt bike in your chosen style at least 4 days a week will build your cardio and stamina in the places where you need it the most.
#9 – Recovery training by stretching after each riding session will keep you flexible and will help to recover your muscles faster. Having at least one day off from riding to rest is also very important.
#10 – Eating healthy food will give you a competitive advantage and will provide you with even energy and strength throughout your riding days. Healthy eating also aids in faster recovery.
Motocross Workout Introduction
There is no doubt about it, your fitness will be fully tested from riding dirt bikes.
Your muscles, skeletal system and every other part of your body will be working at their maximum capacity for hours on end when you ride.
This means that if you ride dirt bikes even only recreationally, then your fitness levels have to be solid.
If you want to go pro however, your fitness needs to be great.
You will need to take your fitness to a whole new level if you ever want to be competitive.
Achieving peak physical strength and stamina is not easy to achieve but should be the goal of all serious riders.
By achieving your peak fitness levels, not only will your riding skills and stamina drastically improve, it also means that when you fall off your bike you will minimize injuries.
Why? Because your strength and flexibility training will protect your body from injury.
Also the strong armor of muscle that you have developed on your body from your training will protect you as well.
Achieving your peak fitness levels will give you the advantage over other riders.
But make no mistake, it takes many years to achieve and it’s a lot of hard work and persistence.
There are no shortcuts and no easy way out.
As with any types of sport, there are some types of training that are good and some that are not.
In this article, I will be talking about the best type of training specifically for dirt bike riders that will help you to achieve peak strength.
These training ideas are not only used by myself but are also used by industry heavyweights.
In particular, I will be looking at training ideas used by Australian motocross racing legend, coach and Mad Max stunt man – Stephen Gall.
Also British enduro legend – Jonny Walker and USA motocross champ – Ryan Dungey.
#1 Don’t Lift Arm Weights.
Lifting arm weights make your arms look great but it’s no good for dirt bike riding.
Why? because it encourages arm pump.
Arm pump occurs when the forearm muscles are working at their full capacity for long periods of time and too much blood is pumped into the muscles.
This causes the blood to be backed up and the blood pressure in the arms to build.
As a result, the muscles go rock hard and you get lots of arm pain.
The problem with lifting arm weights is that the muscles are already hard from working out. This means that the blood will build up faster than normal.
As Jonny Walker said in a RedBull interview, “don’t ever lift any weights with your arms! That just gives you arm pump. The reason you get arm pump is because you’ve got all these muscles in your arm and it’s hard for the blood to get to them if the muscles are big. But if you’ve got little noodle arms and you keep them relaxed, you’ll be alright!”
Stephen Gall also believes that weight training on the arms leads to arm pump as mentioned in a recent Youtube enduro fitness training video. “I’ve noticed over the years that riders that do a lot of weight training, they unfortunately get forearm pump.”
#2 Ride a Mountain Bike for Cardio & Strength
The two most important parts of training that you need to build on are stamina and cardio.
And you can achieve both on a mountain bike!
Mountain bike riding allows you to keep your cardio levels high for sustained periods. This will help you to increase your stamina over time.
It also helps with building strength to the legs.
Mountain bike riding is also a low impact exercise which means that your knees will thank you in the future.
But I don’t mean a 20 minute ride to the store and back.
The number of hours you should spend on a mountain bike should be roughly the same time you spend on a single race.
Also, you need to be on the bike 6 times a week.
Because Jonny Walker rides in Enduro races that go for many hours, he will match that time on the mountain bike to build the required amount of stamina and cardio needed for his enduro races.
Like Jonny Walker says “I used to go cycling for 12-15 miles at a really hard pace and that was it. But that was pointless because all my races were at least four hours long. So now I go cycling for hours and hours.”
Ryan Dungey rides in motocross and so he makes sure that he gets a 1hr mountain bike ride in (or running or eliptical) at least 6 days a week.
Stephen Gall also recommends mountain bike riding for at least an hour a day.
Alternatively, he also recommends circuit training in the gym, as well as water sports. These include sports such as swimming, rowing and paddle boarding to build stamina and cardio fitness.
Cross fit training is also a great high intensity workout to condition your cardio and stamina and is used by Jonny Walker and many other pro riders around the world.
#3 Interval Training.
Whether you choose mountain bike riding, swimming or running, the key to maximizing your workout is to break up your workout into intervals of intensity (also called intensity training).
The definition of interval training is alternating periods of high intensity exercise and low intensity recovery periods.
An example of interval training is to sprint for 3 minutes then go slow for 3 minutes to rest. Then keep repeating for the entire workout period.
Ryan Dungey uses interval training in the gym at least twice a week to maximize his cardio and stamina.
“When you’re riding a dirtbike your heart rate is almost maxed out, so interval work helps me push my body to adapt to the stress of the load,” says Dungey.
Stephen Gall is also a big believer in interval training –
“Interval training is a better way to build your cardio vascular fitness quicker than it is to do steady-state training”.
#4 Do Squats.
Squats are especially important for enduro riding as the strain on the back and legs in enduro races is extreme.
If you have been stuck on the side of a mountain trying to get back on the bike in slippery mud then you will know exactly what I mean.
But it is no less relevant for other styles of riding. Your back and legs will be used the most in any type of riding.
Your stamina and strength in these areas have to be solid.
This is why squats are really important. Even better than squats are squats with extra weight on your shoulders, like a bar bell.
If you are doing squats though, make sure you are getting your technique right.
Getting it right means that you aren’t putting unnecessary strain on your back and joints.
“Squats for your lower back are really important,” says Johny Walker. “You need a lot of back strength in hard enduro, because you’re bent over all the time on the bike.”
#5 TRX Training.
Another favorite training program of Jonny Walker is the TRX straps.
TRX straps are elastic straps that you fasten to the ceiling or a wall.
They allow you to use your own body weight for resistance training (such as pull ups).
TRX straps are great because using your own body weight as resistance training is the most natural way of working out in my opinion and strengthens your muscles in a more natural way than using free weights. TRX also let you do a whole bunch of different exercises for all parts of the body.
Here is a basic TRX all in one training system if you want to get started using TRX straps.
In the words of Jonny Walker – “I do TRX every day – I do a lot of that for arms. And TRX really works your core, which is great because everything’s centred around your core when you’re on the bike. I’ve got a routine where one day’s back, one day’s chest, one day’s legs – and that’s all on TRX. There’s so much you can do on those things.”
#6 Motocross Core Training.
Core training is so important because your core strength is what you will be using 100% of the time when you ride a dirt bike.
Not only does core strength provide greater balance but it also give you greater control over your bike.
That strength will let you throw the bike around more and properly guide it in the right direction. The other great benefit of training your core is that you get great abs!
Your core strength comes from your abdominals and they are exercised only with certain training exercises.
Great core exercises include yoga ball push ups, sit-ups and plank variations.
Stephen Gall also recommends water based training such as paddle boarding and rowing if you live near water.
For an awesome guide on strengthening your core, check out Delavier’s Core Training Anatomy.
#7 Motocross Flexibility Training.
Flexibility training is also an essential part of your overall workout to maximize your range of motion while you ride.
If your range of motion is limited and you are not highly flexible then you are far more susceptible to injury when you ride.
Flexibility training will minimize injury from hyper-extended muscles, ligaments and tendons from a long days ride or having a crash and so it’s really worth doing.
It’s also really easy to do and as Stephen Gall says, “just watching the tv at night, you can get down on the carpet and spend half an hour of quality stretching time.”
Ryan Dungey reports that he spends 15 minutes doing yoga before he starts his daily workout programs.
Personally, I spend about 20 minutes a day using the stretch out strap. It’s cheap and effective and it’s also really fun to use while I’m watching Netflix in the evening.
#8 Ride Lots!
This one is the most important for obvious reasons that every rider on the world can agree on.
Riding every day on your dirt bike will help to build stamina, cardio strength and muscular strength in all the right places and is the key to finding your peak fitness.
If you look at the schedules of any serious rider, you will find that they ride their dirt bike for many hours for at least 4 days a week.
And not just any type of riding either. A pro rider will concentrate on their chosen field of riding and develop their strength and skills in that area.
If you are a motocross rider, there is no point in riding your bike on trails because you will not develop the necessary strength when it comes time to hitting a motocross track.
Jonny Walker reports that practicing his enduro riding builds the right strength that he needs to win races.
Ryan Dungey rides 4 times a week, 4 hours a day and switches up his training into shorter sprints and longer rides as well as standard motocross racing format to hone his strength and skills.
Stephen Gall says it perfectly. “The most important part of physical conditioning is to ride the motorcycle. Whatever specific style of riding you do whether its adventure, supercross, trails, trials, it doesn’t really matter. You need to do that specific riding to get fit on the motorcycle. Nothing will replace that time in the saddle”.
#9 Recovery Training.
After a big days ride and your bike is back in the van or trailer, that doesn’t mean the day is over.
Loosening up the muscles that you have been using all day by stretching yourself out will give your body a much better chance to recover.
It’s also important to stretch straight after you ride while your muscles are still warm.
If you do it when you get home, your muscles will be cold and you will find it twice as hard (and twice as painful) to stretch yourself out.
Here’s a great video to show you how to do post dirt bike stretches.
Also when you are stretching, make sure you are drinking lots of water to re-hydrate from your days ride and your recovery time will be greatly decreased.
Electrolyte drinks are also good but try to avoid anything that has a high sugar content or contains caffeine.
Also, a big trick to training is to give yourself at least one days rest from any type of training or riding.
Resting your body is just as important as training and over training does a lot more harm than good.
#10 You need a Good Diet for Motocross!
Healthy eating is another important key to finding your peak strength and mental strength.
Eating junk food will put you at a dis-advantage if you are riding a dirt bike.
You just can’t derive the nutrients and energy from junk food that you will need to keep your body going.
Also, junk food will peak your energy too quickly and you will end up with nasty fatigue for the rest of the day which is the last thing any rider needs.
Pro riders can burn up to 5000 calories! on riding days and so the right fuel is vital for energy, stamina and recovery.
Pro riders usually will have a nutritionist on hand that will map out their weekly eating plans.
The diet of a pro rider is made up of protein, carbs and vegetables for regular days and high carb food for race days.
Ryan Dungey has two favorite dishes; “salmon with brown rice and a side of asparagus or pasta with marinara sauce and a side of broccoli.”
Follow these 10 tips to finding your peak strength and fitness and your results are bound to dramatically improve.
What type of training do you practice that helps you the most? Let me know in the comments below and if you liked this article, please give it a share on social media.
Title photo courtesy of Freestyle Champ Jarryd Mcneil
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