Apr 29 2011

Combing cardio and strength training

Cardio has always been something that was hard to get motivated for.  However, it is necessary in order to be competitive and push hard the whole race.  Depending on the time of year, you could be doing those longer, less intense sessions or the shorter, more intense interval sessions.  One thing about motocross training or any training for that matter is you should always keep your routine fresh.  Doing the same thing all the time gets mind numbing and getting motivated becomes difficult.  By combining some light strength training exercises and interval training, you can get a quick, intense workout for your next race.

Cardiovascular training is basically keeping your heart rate up for extended periods of time.  Whether this is riding a road bike or running, your heart will not know the difference.  As you approach the race season, you can do more interval training and using the longer rides as recovery.

If things are getting a little stale for you and the interval training doesn’t sound too fun, mix it up.  You can take a simple compound lift like deadlifts and utilize this movement in your cardio plan.

For example, after warming up and stretching you can do this easy circuit 3 times.  After the third time, take a 60 second break and go at it 2 more times.

3 minutes on Stationary bike (Zone 3) straight into 15 – 20 reps of Deadlifts

After you complete this circuit, you can replace the Deadlifts with push ups (feet on medicine ball) then leg raises after that.  Keeping the reps higher and weight light, you maintain a high heart rate.  Because of the higher intensity, you want to take it easy the next day with a longer recovery ride.  If you choose to do this, do it in the middle of the week with a day between the workout and your race.


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Apr 22 2011

Saving Your Neck

Neck Injury and prevention

Since the beginning of our sport, there have always been manufactures making protective gear.  Boots, gloves, helmets and eventually chest protectors become the staple for riding gear.  In the last few years, Leatt has come onto the scene and the neck brace is almost as common as chest protectors.  In a recent video with Ryan Hughes, he disagrees with the effectiveness of the Leatt brace.  Personally, I would not like to take a chance and not wear one, but he is right that the neck is point of weakness for many riders.

Everyone who has ridden motocross has fallen and you will fall again.  That’s how our sport is.  If you have taken a nastier spill, you know how it feels the next day.  Most of the time, the back of my neck is stiff, back is sore and I feel like I just got hit by a Semi truck.  Because of its unique construction, the neck is extremely vulnerable.

The spine is divided into four sections: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral.  So, when you hear some injured their C7 that is the 7th cervical vertebra.  Starting from the bottom, the spine gradually gets thinner and smaller in size.  All 7 of the cervical vertebra make up the neck.  Although it has many vertical muscles, the neck is still susceptible to injury from excessive forces moving it pass its normal range of motion.  When this happens, some of the muscles and/or ligaments may be stretched too far and this creates a strain.  A sprain is an injury to a joint where it is forced past its capacity.

Any time you have a high speed crash, momentum and velocity is going to wreak havoc on your extremities.  Having increased flexibility in the cervical area of the spine can reduce any type of strain, but compression still plays a part in injury.  This is when the vertebra is subjected to enough pressure that cracks the bone.

Here is a great video that goes over a few stretching exercises that you can do before workouts and motos.  Take the extra time and prepare yourself just in case.  Better to be safe than sorry.

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Apr 12 2011

Stress and Preparation

This past weekend was a special one for James Stewart.  After all of the controversy, he came out on top and finally got the win that he and his camp desperately needed.  With so much going on and off the track and the intensity of the competition, many doubted James’ ability to rebound.  His emotional interview on the podium was a clear indication of how much stress he is under.  Although James is at the highest level of performance, even amateurs have pressures that force them into a “funk”.

Let’s first look at a defined meaning of stress. It is a substantial imbalance between demand and response capability.  This demand and response can be broken down into 4 stages: Environmental Demand (physical and/or psychological), Perception of Demand, Stress Response, and Behavior Cosequences.  This is really a fancy way of saying that something or some one will create some kind of pressure or demand for you.  Depending on the extent of this, your body and mind will make changes to overcome this demand (not sleeping or anxiety) and these changes affect performance.

Obviously for James, he had more than a few demands and his performance was affected.  By breaking down what you are stressing over, you can change your training to overcome these issues.  Sometimes you may need to back it down and take a few days off or you may need to step it up to train harder.  In  most cases, the bigger the race the more, the perception of demand will be greater.

In my opinion, the only way to minimize stress is to be prepared both physically and mentally.  Stress from racing comes from uncertainty.  How do I compare to the other riders in my class?  The summer heat is going to kill me, will I be able to hold up?  Instead of asking these questions, put your time in during the week and avoid this void of anxiety.  Have confidence in your abilities as an athlete and a rider so you can concentrate on winning, not worrying about losing.

So relax, train hard and have fun racing your dirt bike.  Here’s a nice little quote:

Stress is an admission of weakness, a cry of defeat to the world. ~Carrie Latet

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Apr 12 2011

Basics to Passing

This next weekend at Seattle will be one for the history books.  The weather is starting to clear up, but the ruts will still be present.  Even more important than that, making those crucial passes stick will take timing and persistence to make sure each rider gets every critical point.  In any form of racing, passing is a necessity and it is not just about going faster than the other person.  It is a planned strike in order to keep the other person from passing you back.


If you are close enough to the rider in front of you, you can learn their lines and see what they do.  Amateur races are somewhat short so time is of the essence, but if you have time to plan out your pass you will be better off.  Look for sections where the leader is struggling; it could be rutted section or they could be taking a wide outside line.  Pay attention to this and stay as close as possible going into the section where the other rider struggles.

In For The Kill

Once you know the section that you want to make the pass, commit to it.  Life will be much easier if the other rider is on the outside of you because you can control both his line and your line.  If things get tight, you want to try and keep you elbow in front of his which will prevent your front wheel from getting taken out.  When passing in the corner, the best time is to get it done is in the apex (center).  That way, the other rider can’t slide underneath of you.


If you get a clean pass through, charge ahead.  Long battles usually just slow the two riders down and the rest of the pack catches up.  I know racing is a contact sport, but don’t use the other rider as a bumper because there is always a chance that both of you could go down.  By maintaining a clean pass, you save momentum and forward drive.

Not the cleanest move by Alessi, but this video shows the crude basics of passing:

Apr 08 2011

Zone Training Cont.

In the last article, I explained two different methods of finding your heart rate zones.  These zones are designed to help you train smarter and more effectively.  Once you have the zones set, you can tailor each cardio session for your needs and avoid overtraining.

Let’s break down each zone:

Zone 1: This is the lowest heart rate range that can still improve fitness.  This is a great zone if you need a recovery session or you are just starting out with your training.  This zone is extremely effective in utilizing fat for fuel.

Zone 2: The second zone is a great way to spend your longer sessions to build your cardiovascular foundation.  The heart is learning to pump blood efficiently and oxygen uptake is improved.  Again, fat is still a major supplier of energy.

Zone 3: This is the aerobic zone.  Staying in this HR range, your body learns to use fat more than glucose and thereby using energy more efficiently.  Keep training in this zone and you will see a big improvement in your ability to run harder for longer periods of time.

Zone 4: At this point, your heart is pumping pretty hard.  Things shift from aerobic to anaerobic.  Because your muscles require more oxygen than the body can provide, different energy systems are used.  At this point, lactic acid builds up to give you that burning sensation.  The longer you train in this zone, the better you will be able to tolerate the lactic acid build up.  However, this is high intensity and should be trained for shorter amounts of time than the lower zones.

Zone 5: This is the point where you are wide open (VO2 Max).  Lactic acid builds up extremely quickly and you begin to fatigue rapidly.  Only the most fit athletes can train in this zone for very long.  This is the state at which you perform intervals or sprints in.

With this information, you can now plan your week out.  If you feel run down and struggling through workouts, spend some time in zone 1 for a while.  Or if things are too easy, step it up to zone 4 or some intervals in zone 5.  Either way, use these zones to tailor your schedule according to your needs.

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Apr 07 2011

Zone Training

The old way of running until your lungs burst simply doesn’t cut it anymore.  Going all out every day in an effort to increase you cardiovascular capacity will leave exhausted and leads to overtraining.  Recently, cardiovascular training has become extremely specified in every sport as theories on heart rate zones come and go.  Finding your correct heart rate zones will allow you to tailor your training according to your needs, time of year or level of fitness.

The best method for finding your HR zones is the Lactate Threshold test.  This is actually a pretty miserable test, however it is extremely accurate.  In this test you go as hard as you go as hard as you can for 30 minutes.  Yet, only the last 20 minutes is recorded to get your average heart rate.  That average heart rate will then be your highest zone.

From there you can calculate the 5 zones:

Let’s say your average heart rate was 150.

Zone 1 = 150 x (0.83) = 125

Zone 2 = HR x (0.89)

Zone 3 = HR x (0.93)

Zone 4 = HR

Everything above your average heart rate is zone 5.

This is the most accurate way of training in your zones.  You have to exact numbers to plan your workout around.  The next method is much easier, but it is not as accurate.  If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, this is your best bet for getting your zones in order.  It is a simple equation called the Karvonen Formula.  It is pretty easy as it is just plug and chug.

Here is a link to the formula and the zone percentages.

Next time, I’ll explain in more detail how to use these zones effectively to avoid overtraining.

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