Speed Secrets: Racing Training & Preparation

By Ross Bentley

May 09, 2016

We all know that physical fitness is critical to how well we perform when driving on the track, no matter what level or type of motorsport we're involved in. What many drivers don't know (based on the number of questions I get asked) is specifically what to do to physically prepare yourself. And that's where Simon Hayes of Performance Physixx comes in. Simon has trained drivers of every level, from elite level pros to amateur track day drivers. And today he outlines a very practical program that you can build from. -Ross
As we approach the most famous sports car race in the world in June, Le Mans, our thoughts go towards the preparation for all of the professional drivers involved. However, our many amateur drivers take their training and preparations just as seriously. This article will help those racing in SCCA and other series with their physical, mental, and nutritional preparations both in the gym and at the track.
So what are the areas of the body a race driver should focus on training?
1.      Neck
2.      Shoulders
3.      Core (abdominals and lower back)
4.      Upper back
5.      Lower body
* And, of course, cardio.
You might ask, “How can I train with limited equipment?” Well, you can use bodyweight training, TRX/CrossCore (crosscore.com/en/) or other functional training device.

Below is a sample of a circuit, which can be adapted for an individual focusing on preparation for a race weekend for sports car racing, using a functional training device and bodyweight:
1.      Chest press on TRX or adapted push-up 15 reps
2.      TRX/CrossCore rows 15 reps
3.      Abdominal crunches or crunch on physioball 20+ reps
4.      Straight plank up to 2 minutes hold in active position with straight line from head to heels
5.      Rear deltoids raise or high pull TRX 15 reps

Gym based workout:
1.      Dumbbell chest press 15 reps
2.      Dumbbell single arm rows 15 reps
3.      Shoulder press 15 reps
4.      Lower back extension 20 reps
5.      Straight leg deadlift 20 reps
6.      Lunges with dumbbells held at the side 20 reps

As far as cardiovascular workouts go, cycle- or run-based workouts are very good and effective, but remember as you get older, cycling is a lower impact activity than running (which places greater forces on hips, knees, and ankles). So cycling outside - both road bike and mountain bike - may be better a choice than running.
Also performing somewhat of a cardio-based circuit is also a good idea, for example:
1.      Warm up shoulder rotations along with a five-minute jog
2.      Battling ropes various combinations
3.      Tire flipping (making sure that if this is included, you are experienced with correct exercise form)
4.      Burpees
5.      Physioball crunches

The above exercises promote the release of growth hormone (GH). In a recent study, researchers found out that the good old squat increased testosterone and growth hormone levels more than any other movement, as this type of strength training exercise utilizes multiple joint complexes and muscle activation.
Stretching and flexibility are also crucial before, during, and after exercise, and at the track between the times you are in the race car. Stretches are important for the lower back and hips to promote comfort in the car, which has a direct effect on concentration.
Make sure your nutrition and hydration are effective for the type and duration of event you are training for. For example, a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea, along with a  protein supplement. Try to get sound nutritional and healthy eating advice in preparation for your race event, which should cover both your training and the race event itself.
Smoothies are a great way to combine your favorite flavors into one nutritionally-packed glass. Sports drinks that include sugar and sodium are good things - when it comes to sports drinks! In addition to the electrolytes and protein included in most on the market, the sugar and sodium can bring your body back to balance faster than water, especially after a grueling workout lasting over ninety minutes. For shorter workouts, sports drinks may just mean a lot of extra carbs you don’t need. To cut some calories (and save some money), make your own sports drinks at home.
Unlike sports beverages, coconut water is low in carbohydrates, while still rich in potassium. And the unsweetened varieties can be very hydrating (assuming you like its unique taste). According to a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the all-natural beverage is effective in rehydrating after light exercise. But for more rigorous sweat sessions, the low-sodium drink does come up short in replenishing the salt your body loses. So chose to use this beverage (a favorite of IndyCar star Oriol Servia) at the correct time.
Hydration drinks are key for both having a bottle in the car and during the race week/weekend for an individual to use. Fruits and vegetables at meals will also serve this need. For example, pineapple, bananas, and strawberries contain various vitamins and minerals important for keeping a driver alert and healthy. Our clients use the best and most effective nutritional advice with customized preparations (www.pfcnutrition.com/).
Use the above information to formulate a training plan and preparation plan especially for you and your race event. Being as physically and emotionally prepared as possible is just as important as having the best car and race engineer. And work, if you can, with a great human performance engineer as part of your team!
​​​​​​​- Simon Hayes


Web: www.performancephysixx.com​​​​​​​