Racing Fitness & Why You Need It!

I’m not a fit individual, by any means, but there are all sorts of reasons to become so:

  • First & best related to this blog, better fitness makes you a better racer – all the best race drivers are at their peak of fitness
  • When you are fit, you tend to loose weight – many are always trying to reduce their car’s weight, ignoring their own personal waistline dragging down their speed
  • You’ll feel better about yourself – a positive attitude always will help you with your racing results
  • When your body is better fit, you’ll be able to sleep better & shorter
  • Your clothes will fit better & your fit in you race car will improve as will your stamina
  • Bottom line, better health makes a for a better life & better racing

With all these incentives, & some personal discussion with a foot doctor recently, it may be time to get off my duff, & soon (especially since my day job & this blog development is all done sitting down in front of a computer – not ideal for the improvement my personal fitness).

Read this article about how UK racing students were tested to compare their health to those drivers in Formula 1.

UK Formula Student Racing Fitness Testing

The folks at the Racing Secrets Racing Newsletter recently posted about
RACING FITNESS TIPS: Fitness in Motor Sports Today
By Ilya Feynberg (c)

The Ferrari F1 team spends a little over $1 million a
season to make sure that their drivers are in peak
physical condition….

Mclaren Mercedes F1 spends $2 million on various
programs, trainers, and in house gym’s, all to make
sure that their drivers can not only endure, but excel
in the most demanding conditions possible……the race
car…

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart has a personal trainer that
goes everywhere Tony does….

Yet, somehow the “non-pro” driver seems to totally miss
the mark when it comes to realizing the incredible
impact that fitness has on his/her performance on
track. While many aspiring drivers easily see the steps
that high profile teams and drivers take to make sure
that they are in top physical condition to race, very
few seem to understand why, and most importantly why
they too should take part in something that can so
dramatically improve their driving that the world’s
best teams spend millions on.

The demands of modern racing are not for the faint of
heart, that’s why only a few excel at the sport. One
very linear and constant variable that you’ll find
throughout the whole field of top drivers, whether
NASCAR or Formula 1, is that the best drivers are
always the most fit. Why do they have to be fit?
Simple, because if their not, the demands that racing
exerts on the human body will drive them to failure on
track….literally. With cockpit temperatures easily
exceeding 125 degrees Fahrenheit (or 52 degrees
Celsius), up to 5 g’s during turns, and braking that
will have you looking at your knees within a second and
you start to realize that the demands of modern motor
sport are a lot like those of running a marathon with
some space shuttle adventures mixed in.

You don’t have to be in the pro ranks to understand the
need for fitness in the motor sports arena. You can
feel it for yourself every time you race, and witness
it from the sidelines. Whether you race just for fun at
local track events or are a future world champion,
fitness will play a very critical role in your ability
to perform consistently on track.

Becoming fit to race and increasing a drivers
performance on track is not an easy task but a
necessary one for any driver. There are four main areas
of fitness that a driver must look into to and create a
training program out of. These are:

Cardiovascular fitness

This area of physical conditioning is without doubt one
of the most crucial to increasing a driver’s fitness
level and on track performance. Cardiovascular fitness
refers to improving the overall fitness of the lungs
and heart, which in turn gives those vital organs the
ability of taking in higher levels of oxygen and
essential nutrients to the proper muscles far more
efficiently. Cardiovascular exercise also greatly
increases the strength and overall tone of the skeletal
structure.

Endurance Training

Structuring an endurance training program as a driver
can be of great benefit if done properly. Endurance
programs for driver’s can be a tricky area of training
as it requires a very considerable amount of time,
planning and carries the possibility of increased risk
of injury. However, since muscle and respiratory
fitness as well as endurance during long and hot (or
cold) races are what the aim is….it could be a program
that’s incorporated into a fitness regime. In turn, you
will reap the benefits of the extra hard work put it.

Weight Training

Weight training is the form of exercise that develops
strength and size of the muscles in the skeletal
structure. While it is the most common form of
resistance training, it is not the only form. Weight
training focuses on the strength and growth of the
muscles needed to drive and control a race car from
start to finish. This area of fitness is very
important. Cardiovascular training alone is not enough
to develop muscles and to instill the right amount of
endurance into them. However, weight training programs
for racers must be structured differently as the goal
is not size, weight gain and mass brute strength. The
goal is to develop the muscle so that it can withstand
constant abuse and work throughout the entire race
weekend at peak levels.

Mental Training

As if physical training and conditioning wasn’t
overlooked enough by racers in the motor sports
arena…mental training is even more of a hidden secret.
Developing and perfecting the right mental mindset is
critical and not an easy task to tackle. Proper mind
set up is not only curial to stand up to the pressures
of the sport, but also to simply get into shape. The
mind is a very powerful wonder that can become a great
asset to a driver’s efforts, or become his/her worst
enemy. From the first run down the dirt trail for your
cardio, the last repetition in your weight training
routine to the final lap of the race weekend…mental
fitness plays a much larger role then meets the eye.

If you’re still not convinced that proper physical
conditioning plays a major role in the performance
level of a driver and are not currently involved in any
training programs specific to racing, then go out for a
race among fit and successful drivers…..I promise you
that your mind will change half way through the race
weekend.

Good Stuff!  Learn more at the Racing Fitness Blog.

Racing Ready needs to take this post to heart & work on personal fitness…

Dan

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One thought on “Racing Fitness & Why You Need It!”

  1. Interesting read, only one problem regarding weight training.
    Muscles can do 2 things when it comes to being trained:

    1: Grow stronger, often accompanied by getting larger which is overcompensation from the stress and micro tears that happen when you lift weights.

    2: Grow weaker and smaller from lack of training or from being over-worked tot he point where the tears are not allowed to fully heal, which can lead to over-training.

    Personally, I had great success following a High Intensity Training regime pioneered by Author Jones and refined by Mike Mentzer, really helped my endurance and allowed me to drive longer stints behind the wheel without feeling fatigued.

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