Mar 30 2010

Warming Up and Cooling Down

One of the most overlooked aspects of training is warming up and cooling down.  When I first started getting into training, I would never really take the time to properly warm up and cool down and the next day, I could feel it.  When you take a few minutes to warm up, you get your body ready to put it through the stress of training and prevent injuries.  Cooling down after your session is just as important because you can prevent soreness and promote a little bit of extra flexibility.

Before you begin to warm up, it is a good idea to get blood pumping through your muscles.  Bodyweight exercises like push ups, squats, and lunges really get the heart rate up.  Trying to stretch cold muscles is not as effective as stretching warmed up ones.  This also allows your joints to get acclimated to the activity at hand.  You don’t have to kill yourself with the body weight exercises, maybe 30 seconds of push ups and lunges, then ending with 30 seconds of jumping jacks.

Now, you can start to do your stretches.  I really like toe touches because it helps with the hamstrings.  When you have tight hamstrings, your lower back becomes tight and lower back pain can be extremely painful.  Doing about 5 minutes stretches is a good amount of time to get everything nice and loose.  Make sure to hit all of the major muscle groups like your chest, legs back and core.  Another tip is not to bounce when trying to warm up; when you bounce at this stage in your workout, you have a greater chance of tearing something.

After you have completed your normal workout, whether it is strength training or cardio, you should really take about 10 minutes to ease out of the intensity of your workout.  For a 30 minute cardio session, I like to walk or spin at an easy pace for about 5 minutes.  The longer your cardio session, the longer your cool down needs to be.  As for strength training, once you perform your last rep of your last set, you can start to stretch.  Unlike warming up, you can bounce a little bit when stretching for your cool down.  Your joint and muscles have had plenty of use and blood flow through them.  Again, hitting all of the major muscle groups will help prevent soreness and promote recovery.  For cardio, I really concentrate on the legs and hips, since that is what bothers me the most the next day.

Once you get your warm up and cool down routines down, it will be much easier to remember to incorporate them into your program.  After you have done this properly, you will notice your endurance and strength will improve while still minimizing injuries, recovery time and soreness.  It makes a really big difference and you will see the results quicker than you think.

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Mar 24 2010

Security in Protection

By now, everyone in the motocross community has heard about Jesse Masterpool’s unfortunate injury.  The young star looked promising his whole career and I am sure that had he not has this injury, he would be battling the factory riders for a podium spot in a few years.  It seems like the serious injuries started with Ernesto Fonseca (now I am not saying that his was the only serious injury), but it seems like we are hearing more and more stories of spinal cord injuries or even fatal accidents.

Everyone knows what they are getting into when they ride a dirtbike, that’s why we ride. It seems like racing in general has taken on a new level and things are getting serious; even in the amateur ranks, kids are getting bikes that rival professional race teams.  The speed is getting ridiculous and the bikes and equipment get better and better each passing year.  If you throw a pipe on a 450, odds are, you will be pushing the low 50’s in horsepower.

That is just crazy.  Most people can’t even handle the stock power, let alone a modified beast.  However, with the technology advancements in mechanics, the advancements in protection have stepped up as well.  The Leatt Brace has saved thousands of riders from paralysis and chest protectors are not just a piece of plastic anymore.  Now I know that some of the protection costs a pretty penny, but having that security is well worth the cost.

I have crashed, washed out and swapped out too many times to count, but I was able to walk away from each one (knock on wood) because I had a quality helmet, neck protection, and a chest protector.  At first I felt like I couldn’t even move with everything on, but now I feel naked without everything.  Leatt, EVS and other companies are coming out with some great stuff and I urge everyone to look into their products.

I don’t know Jesse nor I have met him, but I have him in my thoughts and hoping for the best.  Please, try and save up, beg your parents or do whatever you have to (legally) to protect yourself so you can keep doing what you love…riding.

Mar 22 2010

Carbohydrates for Energy

Knowing how to properly mix two stroke oil and gas is very important.  Finding the proper ratio can help keep your “stroker” running clean and crisp to keep up with the four strokes!  However, when you don’t get that ratio right, you don’t get the power like you should and your lap times suffer.  Your diet is very similar to this.  Before and after training, your body needs nutrients to help your body maintain itself.  For racers, this means protein and carbohydrates.  Using simple and complex carbs can help you maintain energy and avoid slumps in your training.

Most people have basic knowledge on what carbs are.  They are basically sugar molecules joined in different types of structures to provide the body with energy.  The main difference between simple and complex carbs lies in the structure.  Simple carbs contain structures that can be broken down faster and easier by the body while complex carbs take longer to digest.  Many processed foods like white bread and sugary cereals contain simple carbs.  Since they are digested quickly, your blood sugar rises faster than whole bread and grains.

With this in mind, we can tailor our daily eating habits to keep our energy levels up without crashes.  Most whole wheat and grain products take longer to digest and keep your stomach full, longer.  For example, oatmeal is great in the morning because I have class and it is a long time before I eat lunch.  So, I’ll heat up some oatmeal, throw in a fruit flavored whey protein and cut up fruit.  The sucrose in the fruit keeps me awake right off the bat, while the slower digesting oats break down over time to keep my energy up.

However, right after training, your blood sugar levels are low, so eating a simple carb can help keep you from getting that tired and weak sensation.  Drinking a soda or eating a Butterfinger is not what I am talking about.  White rice, fruit, or even a small bowl of a Raisin Brand Crunch will prevent any type of crash.  The oatmeal may be good for you, but the sugars broken down are not enough and supplied fast enough for you to recover.  Remember, keep it simple before and after workouts and complex at meals.

Tired of Being Tired?

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Mar 17 2010

Blitzing through whoops

Most of us will never ride a true pro level, stadium supercross track.  For those of you who say you could, I would love to see you hit the triples and whoops.  Speaking of whoops, those can really be a time saver or a time killer.  Even if you aren’t hitting whoops in a stadium, they can be pretty darn intimidating.  Getting over this factor of fear is a necessary step in hitting the cleanly and riding through them, instead of ending up on the ground.

Before you even commit to the whoops, getting yourself straight and steady is number one.  Going into any kind whoops like this will have eating soil before the second whoop.  If you are just coming out of a turn, remember to weight the outside foot peg and roll the throttle on to ensure you don’t get the rear end out too far.  Once you are shooting straight, you want look ahead and get your line through the whoops picked out.  You don’t want to just bomb in there wherever the bike takes you.  If this happens, you end up all over the place and hit uneven peaks.

So, you are all set to get through these.  Before your front wheel even hits the section, you need to shift up, possibly even twice.  This is so your engine doesn’t tap out half way through.  Since the rear wheel revs out in between peaks, the RPMs grow progressively as you get further and further into the whoops.  When your RPMs are lower, the suspension is more supple and the rear shock absorbs the peaks much better.

Now you can finally begin to blitz through the whoops.  Holding the throttle steady as you approach the set can be scary, but if you chop the throttle, it is even worse.  So, just keep her steady and it’ll be much easier.  If you stand on the balls of your feet and point your toes inwards, your knees will naturally want to grip the bike…which is necessary for anything in motocross, but this is especially important.  Standing in that attack position with a slight lean back will help get that front wheel light so you can skim over the peaks.

Depending on the type of peaks, you may want to change your approach.  The more peaked the whoops are, the more you want to attack and skim across them.  If they are more of a mogul type section, you can lean back more and use more throttle to get the front end up; almost wheeling through them.  If you commit to the section and come in straight, you should be okay.  Start small and work your way up to faster speeds and deeper whoops and before you know it; you’ll be skimming through them like Speedy Reedy!

Mar 15 2010

Time change and Benefits of Sleep

This time change is killing me.  I have lost an hour of sleep and I didn’t realize how much I needed that one more hour.  Of course, this time change does have one benefit; it stays lighter longer, which results in more time riding.  However, this time change and my sleepiness got me thinking about the benefits of getting a good night’s rest and your racing/training.  The two go hand and hand.  You can train, eat and ride like a champion, but if you don’t get enough sleep, all of that is going to waste.

As most people know, sleep help repairs the body at night.  On your rest days, when you don’t ride or hit the gym, you still subject your body through damage.  Although this damage is not significant, your body needs to repair the damage in order for you to perform at an optimum level.  Sleep is even more important when you do train or ride because more abuse is taken.  As your body sleeps, it goes into“hibernation” so the repairs can be made.  As tissue is broken down or lots of energy are expelled, your body’s “batteries” are recharged.  Children need to get plenty of rest because growth hormones are released night and provide strong bone, muscle and brain function.

Speaking of brain function, a lack of sleep can also lead to a lack of concentration and focus.  Researchers have found that neurons in the nervous system (i.e. your brain and nerves) shut down and repair themselves.  Without enough sleep, these neurons wear down and get overused.  In addition, waste products build up and hamper the function of the neurons.  It is almost like leaving a dirty air filter on your bike…you gotta keep it clean!

For adults, 7 to 8 hours has been found to the right amount.  For kids under 18, they need more than adults; 9 hours is a pretty safe bet.

Here’s a couple tips to help you adjust to the new time change, even if you haven’t done so yet:

Don’t take naps – get through the day and you will sleep like a baby all night and get up feeling much better

Go to bed an hour early – you may miss a few shows on TV, but tricking yourself into bed early will be like going to bed regularly before the time change.

Drink a glass of milk or take a hot shower – this will help get your body to slow down and start to get tired.

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Mar 11 2010

Stronger Core Training

When it comes to a strong core, most people think of crunches.  While this may be a typical way to get a six pack, they can only do so much.  A linear crunch or any other variation will create a core that is strong in one way.  When you ride, your core twists, bends and contorts in crazy ways.  So this results in weak points in the core, which as you know, is a crucial muscle group in riding.  Here is a little workout to make sure your core is strong before the real races start:

One Legged Deadlift

When you do a deadlift, you are engaging your lower back, hamstrings and more importantly, your core.  When you perform this exercise on one foot, you actually use your core much more.  Balance is required to keep you upright and the weight in control.  Keep the weight light on this exercise.  To avoid injury, pivot at the hips and as you lower the weight, raise your other leg higher.

Knee Up Chin ups

Pull ups are a great way to work the back muscles and build up strength and power.  When you raise your knees and keep them there, your abdominal muscles are used to hold them in position.  This adds a whole new dimension to any kind of chin up or pull up.

Russian Twist

This really works the oblique abdominals well.  Begin by sitting down on the floor and lifting your feet off of the ground.  Balancing yourself on your butt, clasp your hands together and touch your hands on either side of you.  By adding some light weight (about 10 lbs), you strengthen the sides of your abdomen and gives you another dimension to your core strength.

Alternating Dumbbell Presses

For the most part, bench press should only be used for strength training.  When you lay down, you isolate your chest and your body is supported by the bench.  However, when you lay down on the bench so only your head, neck and shoulder blades are touching, this more emphasis is placed on your core.  The alternating motion works the sides of your abs, while the overall motion helps build up core strength.

Here’s a little workout to get that core nice and strong:

One legged deadlift – 3 sets, 12 reps each leg

Russian Twist – 2 sets, 30 reps (touching both right and left sides is one rep)

Knee up Pull up – 3 sets, rep out

Alternating Dumbbell Presses – 3 sets, 20 reps

Tired of Being Tired?

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