Dec 21 2011

Top 5 Resistance Training Movements

When strength training for moto, you want to choose the most dynamic exercises you can.  This means you want movements that will give you the most bang for your buck.  You don’t want to spend hours in the gym.  The main part of any training program is riding as the cardiovascular and resistance training should just be used to improve physical weaknesses.  With that in mind, keeping strength training movements to big, multiple joint exercises will have the greatest effect in the shortest amount of time.  In no particular order, here are 5 exercises that you should have in your strength training program.

  1. Front Squats – Normal barbell squats are revered as one of the best overall exercises.  Ever.  When you do these, you are utilizing the biggest muscle group in the body (legs) as well as the core and lower back for stabilization.  However, when you place the bar in front of your neck instead of behind it, this changes things quite a bit.  More emphasis is place on the quadriceps, core and lower back.  These will help with the attack position and correct form while riding with the quad work and core stabilization.
  2. Atomic Push Ups – Push Ups are great for everything upper body.  They engage the chest, triceps, shoulders and once again, the core.  Throw your feet into a TRX or similar suspension training device and you have yourself one of the best upper body movements for moto.  Think about anytime you went through braking bumps or a rough section; the bars are violently thrashing side to side and the whole front end is moving up and down.  This requires a lot of upper body strength and muscular endurance to maintain a straight and steady course.  You can even place your hands on an Indo board for even more core activation and added intensity.
  3. Dead Lifts – If you can’t squat, you dead lift.  This simple movement is only second to squats.  Deads are great for hip, hamstring, and posterior work.  If you are moving up in bike size or having trouble controlling the bike at the end of a moto, incorporating dead lifts will make a huge difference.  Forget the power lifting style of the wide sumo stance.  Go with a narrower stance with your feet about 12 inches apart.  For moto applications, it isn’t necessary to go super heavy with this, but still make sure you have the form down to avoid injury.
  4. Rows – These can be done with almost anything that creates resistance: barbell, dumbbell, kettle bells and suspension training devises.  There are even more options with hand positions and going unilateral.  This is a great movement for the latissimus dorsi as this goes hand and hand with the push up movement and braking bumps.  Rows are the ying to the push up’s yang.  Doing these will complete a strong, versatile upper body.
  5. Lunges – Another great lower body movement.  Like the rowing, there are so many variations like step ups, rear lunges, side lunges, etc.  This targets almost the whole leg: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, etc.  Lunges are not meant to be done with heavy weight so it is best done with higher reps.  Like the dead lifts, these can be extremely beneficial if you have a hard time keeping the bike under control at the end of a moto.  Lunges compliment and make a great end to a workout after dead lifts/ squats.

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Dec 13 2011

Headshake Solutions

When I first started riding big bikes, I was so stoked to finally have all of the power I wanted.  However, with great power, comes great responsibility…courtesy of Uncle Ben from Spiderman.  Sometimes, we can get ahead of ourselves on a rougher track and the braking bumps fight back.  Most of the time, the chop and speed result in head shake.  This uncontrollable shaking can be thwarted with a few adjustments.

One of the most common reasons for head shake is fatigue.  When you are fatigued, your form goes out the window and it gets worse as the moto progresses.  Your elbows drop and you cannot get enough leverage to keep the bars straight.  As you get more and more head shake, you begin to grip harder with your hands and the forearms pump up to bricks.  Sound about right?  When your upper body feels like rubber, the need to grip with your legs becomes even greater.  Again, the quadriceps and hamstrings are a much larger muscle group that can support greater loads of stress for longer periods of times.  Start the moto out with a conscience effort of using your legs more than your arms and you will be better off.

Another problem is RPM range.  The relationship between the motor and suspension is pretty crazy when you really think about it.  When you hear pros run through whoops and moguls, they are running a higher gear.  The RPMs are lower and take some of the load off of the forks and shock.  They travel smoother and won’t bind, which gives you that bouncing effect through the rough stuff.  If you shift down AFTER the braking bumps, you allow your suspension to ride with you, instead of against you.  The forks will travel through the entire stroke and do their job; soak up the terrain.

Weight distribution is also important.  Maintaining your attack position through the rough chop will help keep your elbows up and in good form.  This attack position will place your weight evenly over the bike, allowing you to make changes if need be.  As I have said before, riding on the balls of your feet will give you some extra “suspension” and forces you to grip the bike with your legs.

By throwing good form and the right gear together, head shake will be a thing of the past.  Of course, making sure your sag is set on the shock and your clickers are dialed is important, but the rider can make a big difference.  As always, remember the basics and keep it fun.

Dec 12 2011

Effective Braking for Faster Cornering

Everyone can go fast by hold the throttle pinned on the straights, but it’s when it comes time to slow down that separates the pros from the amateurs.  Next time you are at your local track, watch the fast guys around the track; they are either on the gas or braking.  Slower riders tend to have a bad habit of letting off before the corner and then braking.  However, teaching yourself to hold it on longer isn’t enough.  Learning how and when to use both brakes effectively will help take your corner speed to the next level.

Telling yourself to hold the gas on a split second longer is easier said than done, but it can be a life saver on the start.  Unlike road racing, there are no markers to tell us how close the corner is.  However, we can use simple objects like rocks, fencing or foliage.  Finding a marker can help you visualize your spot on the track and help you hold the throttle down longer.

Many people have their own theory on how to brake properly.  Some prefer just the front while others like the back.  I believe that there is no definite answer.  Each brake has different purposes.  The front brake is great for diving into inside ruts and coming to a stop quickly, while the rear keeps the rear wheel planted to the ground and keeps your momentum up.  Another interesting thing that seems to help me is to “push” the bike in the ground.  Trying to weight front or rear down will put more force on the ground to get that extra friction for added stopping power.

One thing that aids in your momentum and drive is to avoid locking the brakes.  When you lock up the rear brake, there is no control over the traction and where the wheel goes.  All of your RPMs drop and it just creates braking bumps even faster.  Your best bet is to “chatter” the rear.  This is a method where the rear wheel is spinning, but at a much slower rate.  This is great for maintaining drive in deep soil and it squats the rear end down to avoid swapping out.

Each situation is different, but remembering how your brakes control deceleration, you can utilize each one to its maximum potential.  If you have an outside line in a corner that looks good, use more rear brake than front.  For insides, you would be better off grabbing the front and getting that front end down.  Becoming comfortable with both brakes can allow you to have faster entry speed in any corner.