How To Get Started With Your Training - Parts 4 - 7

Part 4

In Part 3 I discussed some inexpensive equipment that you can use in creating your home training program. In Part 4 I want to add a couple of more pieces of equipment that can be obtained for free or a small price.

First, an old car (or motorcyle) tire can be used for a couple of different things, and you can get them for free at your local tire dealer. They usually throw them in the alley to be hauled off, and you can have your choice of just about any size that you need.

Besides lifting tires - overhead presses, curls, tricep extensions, squats, farmer's walk, etc (use your imagination) - they are great for pulling. Get a tow rope or secure a couple of tiedowns together, hook it your weightlifting belt, tie the rope to the tire (or use a hook) and pull. You don't even have to run with it. Just a fast walk pulling the tire is a great workout for your legs in addition to your breathing (endurance training). You can go about 30-40 yds, then turn around and go back. You'll be surprised with the difficulty of this activity. This is a great leg workout that stresses, not only the thighs, but the posterior muscles of the lower body such as your calves, hamstrings, butt, and hips. If one tire is not enough, try two, or place a piece of plywood in the middle of the tire and add some sort of weight on top of it for more difficulty.

You should balance your forward pulls with backward drags also. Bend your knees a little and walk backwards while pulling. This will really work the thighs (quads), and you will feel the burn after a few trips with the tire. Pulling sideways with a crossover step is another good exercise that will develop the hips in addition to increasing stability in the knees and help balance out your leg workout.

Now that you have a tire, get yourself a sledgehammer (start with a lighter one). In fact, you may already have one at your house to help you get started. Using an overhead swing, simply hit the tire(s) with the sledgehammer. Alternate swings from each side to balance your upper body workout.

Again, this is a great activity for your entire body, but your upper body will especially feel the results. And, it is fantastic work for your hands, wrists, and arms. Do this for five consecutive minutes, and then let me know how you feel.

However, I must warn you - before you do this, be sure that you are familiar with the use of the hammer and that you start slowly because it is potentially a dangerous activity. You must control the sledgehammer through the entire swing and when it rebounds off of the tire. It will take a few practice swings to get it just right, but controlling and stabilizing the hammer is key throughout the entire movement. I take no responsibility for any injuries while doing this exercise. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety, and I don't recommend this for younger athletes. BE RESPONSIBLE and TRAIN SMART!

Part 5

In part 5, I want to focus on increasing intensity and adding variation to your training. We have previously covered setting goals, finding the proper exercise information, and obtaining equipment for your home gym. Now that you have got started with some basic exercises on a regular basis, what’s next?

I always recommend starting slowly with a few basic bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats, pullups, and situps. After you can do 4-5 sets of 10-20 reps with these exercises without too much trouble, then it’s time to increase the intensity. This can be done in several different ways such as:

- Adding resistance or weight to the exercise in some form. For example, wear a weight vest or backpack with some weight added for your pushups and squats.

- Add more reps and sets

- Decrease your rest time between sets

- Train in circuit fashion by doing one exercise followed immediately by another different exercise for a total of 4-5 exercises in one circuit. Do several sets of these with little rest.

- Jump rope, sprint, run hills or stadiums between sets of an exercise.

These are just a few examples. You can use your imagination to come up with other methods of increasing the intensity of the workout. Remember, motocross is a unique combination of endurance, intensity, strength, reflexes, balance, and flexibility. In order to be at your best, you must incorporate all of these factors into your training. Don’t get too caught up with only one type of exercise or training because you will then suffer in the other areas.

For example, if all you do is distance running without any strength training, flexibility work, intense sprinting, or interval training, then you are not addressing all of the requirements of your sport. Your training program needs to be balanced to give you a healthy, athletic body that will be able to handle the stresses of motocross.

Part 6

The previous five parts of this article series have discussed several different factors involved in creating your own home training program. Research, exercises, equipment, and intensity have all been addressed in the previously. In Part 6, I will focus on staying consistent and motivated with your training.

Many times someone gets excited about starting a new exercise program, pays the gym fees, hires the personal trainer, and goes for about a week before tapering off. Then they start finding excuses for not training. Then they stop altogether with their training. Of course, this scene is all too common amongst non-athletes. In most cases, athletes are more inclined to keep a regular training schedule, but many do fall off the schedule at some point.

If you want to stay consistent and motivated with your training, I have a few suggestions to help you. First, you should set obtainable goals for yourself and write them down. Then outline the steps - week by week - that you are going to take to reach these goals. Set small goals first with bigger ones to follow after a set amount of time. Reaching these small goals should help you stay motivated in keeping a regular training schedule. But, be realistic in setting your goals. You can't reach them all in one or two workouts (or weeks).

Secondly, I recommend that you follow the K.I.S.S principle - Keep It Simple Stupid - when planning your training. Select a few (4 or 5) important exercises or drills that you plan to do and stick with them. Don't get bogged down with too many exercises per workout. You see this sort of thing all of the time in gyms around the country - people doing endless sets of non-productive exercises - just wasting their time. Pick the important exercises that you need, work them hard with intensity, eat well, and rest. Keep it simple.

Third, keep a training journal of all of your workouts. By doing this you can keep track of everything that you have done which will help you measure your progress over the course of weeks, months, and years. Personally, I have kept a training log for 30 years. It is a valuable tool in evaluating your progress and setting goals. Everyone should keep a journal of their training.

Part 7

This will be the final installment of this article series about getting started. In part 7, I want to talk about maintaining balance - both in your workouts and your life in general. After you have followed my recommendations in parts 1-6 in establishing your training program, it is important that you set up your training in balanced manner. By this I mean that you establish a program that addresses the different parts of overall fitness - strength, endurance, flexibility, speed, reflexes, balance, riding skills, etc. You need to design your program to develop the whole athlete.

Of course, this short article doesn't allow for a detailed description (see Motocross Fitness), but I will say that you should try to choose exercises that address several of these factors together. For example, I highly recommend performing your exercises in circuit fashion with little rest, which addresses strength and muscular endurance in the same workout.

Your training should also include flexibility exercises (stretching) to help prevent injury. It is also important to incorporate speed work (sprints, interval training, jump rope) into your program to raise the heart rate, increase workout intensity, and develop quicker recovery. Endurance work a couple of times a week with running or biking should also be done. You can also include other exercises to help develop reflexes and balance.

But, don't forget the most important activity, which is riding your motorcycle. When you practice, be specific on what you are going to work on that day and practice that particular obstacle numerous times until you can consistently "get it right".

For example, you can work on cornering speed, jumping, whoops, or starts individually in a practice session before putting them all together in consecutive laps. Then you can either put together a couple of long motos, or several short, top speed motos (sprints). Work on whatever your weakness is at that time.

If your speed is good, but your endurance is lacking you can ride longer motos. If you need to work on your speed, you can do several shorter motos. When you ride short motos, be sure to limit your rest time to help improve your recovery capacities. Treat it like a workout by planning what you are going to do ahead of time. Always have a definite plan of attack which will give you goals to shoot for. Again, the word "balance" comes to mind when working on all of the different aspects of your riding.

Your overall goal here should be to develop balance in your training program to become a better athlete. In order to become a complete athlete you need to develop good habits and establish balance in both your training and your lifestyle. Set aside time to train, ride, eat properly, rest, play, go to school, work, and spend time with your family.

Set your goals and work hard to achieve them, but also keep them in perspective. It's not the end of the world if you have to miss a workout for a legitimate reason (sickness, work, school, etc.). You can make it up at a later time, but don't make it a habit. Establish your priorities and stick to them. Determine what's important to you and give it everything that you have to achieve it. Work hard when it's time to work. When it's time to rest, then rest. Remember, when you balance your training with your lifestyle in the proper manner, everything will fall into place for you.

Closing Remarks

In Motocross Fitness and previous MXF newsletters and articles, I have written about different types of exercises - some which may appear to be a little strange. Personally, I'm always looking for new, effective ways to train no matter how different they may be. If lifting and carrying a sandbag will help me become a better athlete, I'll do it regardless of what other people think. I also try to pass this advice on to the athletes that I coach on a daily basis, and many of them have been quite successful in their athletic fields.

My point here is - DARE TO BE DIFFERENT - and don't worry what others think. I know my style of training works because I'm living proof of it. Sure, I wasn't a great motocross racer, but I'm was in good enough shape in my 40s to race, be competitive, and have fun without hurting myself. At one time in my life (teenage years), I was at the expert level, but these days (in my 50s now) I continue to work on my strength and conditioning to be in good health and maximize my strength for my age. Although I no longer race, I am still in excellent physical condition as I continue to train and experiment with many training techniques, including weight / fat loss to improve my overall health.

As many of you know, I am also a competitive powerlifter which requires a totally different type of training. With these exercises and training techniques, I have been able to be successful in two different sports. However, more importantly, I also want to improve my overall health - which should also be one of your goals. I have found that by following the advice that I have written about in these articles, that anyone with a little motivation and dedication can be successful.

I've given you the blueprint - Now You Need To Get To Work!