Welcome back to the last installment of the Lifestyle Blog: Motocross Training Part 3! In Part 1, I briefly reviewed the Sport, Sport Demands, and Popular Training Approaches of Motocross Training. I gave you a quick back ground of the sport and essentially why it's important to be physically fit. In Part 2, I shared my philosophy on the use of Strength Training and Plyometic Training when training Motocross Riders. In Part 3, I'm going to cover another very important topic to the Motocross Athlete; Conditioning!
When it comes to Conditioning for the Motocross Racer, we keep it all primarily aerobic based. We perform training that focuses on primarily using oxygen as it's primary fuel source which is your Aerobic System. Whereas compared to the other two systems, Lactic and Alactic Systems that do not use oxygen as their primary fuel source. This is critical to understand because when we can utilize oxygen for energy, we can sustain our energy outputs for potentially hours on end. If the racer doesn't have an efficient Aerobic System, their heart rates will likely climb higher much faster and more often when they try to push the pace on race day.
When heart rates become too high, your body doesn't want to use oxygen as it's primary fuel source anymore. It needs something that works faster to produce more energy. It starts using glycogen (sugar) from your muscles to create that energy to keep up with the higher rate intensities. This is what we call our Lactic System. This may sound like a good thing, like it's your body's reserve, and essentially, yes it is. But, after 30-90 seconds of running off of your lactic system, this will cause immediate fatigue and you gas out. At this point, you will basically have to ride around slow to bring your heart rate back down until you can recover. This may take a few seconds or even a minute or two and in a race, we don't have this kind of time to spare. And, this cycle will probably keep happening the rest of the race if you try to push the pace again if you don't have an efficient and developed Aerobic System.
So at this point, you may be asking yourself...
"How come when I watch Supercross, the announcers say that they are 90% of their max heart rates? That seems really high to me."
To answer this question, yes it is high, because of stress and anxiety levels. Think about sitting down to watch a scary movie. Your heart rate may be elevated compared to what your body physiologically is doing inside. It's stress hormones that is causing the increased heart rates. Motocross Racers are humans, not aliens with special powers.
At this point, if you are feeling confused, just realize that there is a certain number of your heart rate that you will quickly run out of energy. And you do not want to race above this heart rate number (remember, this number will be lower inside of the gym compared to on race day). We call this the Anaerobic Threshold; the tipping point where you start to shift from using mostly oxygen to using glycogen.
What do I recommend and do for our racers? It's pretty straightforward, nothing too fancy. It's just manipulating a few numbers and following some parameters. We really just focus on developing a couple of qualities to improve aerobic performance.
We covered why a Motocross Racer needs to be physical fit for competition, Strength Training, Plyometric Training, and Conditioning all so they can perform on race day at a higher level.
What I want to leave you with is a realization of how this all fits together. Because Motocross Racing is a sport with a large amount of variables that dictate success, you have to realize that your ability to ride the bike is ALWAYS the most important variable. Everything else that you do should support this variable (riding ability). Your physical fitness, practice, bike set up, nutrition, and overall planning and organization of your program. Training WILL WORK BEST when it is working with your riding abilities. If you put good work in the gym, but are not riding, the work will not fully be able to express itself because of decrease in seat time. It's the same thing as building your race bike in the garage to have all of the best parts, but you don't decide to ride it until round 1 of your series. The gym is the garage for your body.
I hope that you've enjoyed this series and you can now take away some value or at least clear up some confusion on certain fitness topics in regards to Motocross Training. If you've enjoyed what you've read so far, you will really enjoy and get much more from my eBook that I am re-releasing Friday March 1st. The JYT Moto Method 2.0. It will have much more detail than what I've covered in this series, plus an 8 Week Competitive Training Program, 4 Riding Practice Methods, and a Moto Mindspace section where you can gain insight from today's and yesterday's top racers!
We'll see you inside The JYT Moto Method 2.0!
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Physical Prep Coach & Owner of Joel Younkins Training.