Ask any professional athlete how they spend the off-season, and they’ll answer with: strength training. For motorcycle riders, it’s no different. The seated and crouching position on a performance motorcycle like a Ducati or MV Agusta can really strain your back, neck, shoulder, leg and arm muscles. Anyone who has ridden for any amount of time will tell you that regular stretches, exercise and strength training for motorcycle riders are important to stay limber and alert for safe and enjoyable motorcycle riding on the street or track.
If you live in a cooler climate and will be storing your motorcycle for the winter, think about keeping up on or even improving your physical fitness during the cold season. Not only will you feel better in general and suffer from fewer aches and pains, but you will also be in prime shape when the snow melts, the sun comes out and you get your performance motorcycle back on the road again.
Our Design Corse team is as passionate about riding as you are, so we want to help you get the most out of your motorcycle during the warm months! You’ll feel better on your short runs and be in great shape for your long motorcycle trips if you focus on strength training that targets the muscles sports bike users count on. We’ve put together a list of useful exercises all motorcycle users can do in the off-season, so read through and consider adding this workout for sports bike riders to your routine.
If you are only going to do one exercise, do lunges. In a short time, you'll see a strength improvement in your quads, glutes and hamstrings, the three muscle groups of your upper legs. These are the muscles you count on when you’re riding through a curve to maintain stability on your sportbike. Lunges will also improve your range of motion, which you will be grateful for when you’ve been riding for hours or are frequently getting on and off your motorcycle. Lunges also help with your balance in general, which is a big plus for motorcycle riders.
Consider doing three to five sets of 10-20 reps per set — start with 10 and work up to 20 as you gain strength, especially if you’re a beginner. Alternate your legs each lunge to ensure muscle symmetry. Go slowly at first until you have a feel for the exercise and increase your speed as you feel more comfortable.
Few riders get off their motorcycle after a long ride or a day at the track and don’t feel back stiffness or pain. Doctors say back pain is the ailment of the 20th century. Too many of us don’t do enough back workouts to strengthen these muscles. Motorcycle riders especially can benefit from strengthening their back muscles, including spinal erector lumbar and thoracic groups. As a bonus, back squats also work your legs and hips, so this combination exercise is an important one to add to your exercise plan for the winter months.
As with lunges, you’ll want to do three to five sets of 10 reps, give or take. It can be tempting to start with a heavy weight, but we suggest starting off light and perfecting your technique before adding more weight. Always squat to your full range of motion with the bar squarely on your shoulders and avoid rounding your back.
Also known as “Mason twists,” oblique twists give a great workout to your obliques as well as your abs. There are many other great ab workouts out there, but Mason twists help you kill two birds with one stone. You will see an increase in core strength, which is a huge benefit to motorcycle riders. Oblique twists also help increase your rotational strength and agility, which comes into play when you’re cornering hard. You will be sore at first after starting this exercise, which is why it’s a great addition to your winter routine!
Start by sitting on the ground with your legs out, slightly bent, and your heels around six inches off the ground. Lean your torso back slightly — maximum 45 degrees. Clasp your hands together and rotate your torso to touch the ground first on one side, then on the other. Three sets of 20-30 reps will be tough at first, but eventually you will be able to do that with ease, at which point you can grasp a small weight to push yourself to the
Strong shoulders are a big bonus for motorcycle riders, especially sportbike riders. You know that tight, cramping feeling you get across your shoulders and neck after a long ride? That is due to a lack of strength in your shoulder muscles. Pushups are simple to do anywhere since you don’t need any equipment. There are different variations that target different groups of muscles, including wide-stance and feet-raised pushups, but even standard pushups with your hands at shoulder width will help improve your strength and comfort for long motorcycle rides.
Your weight, age and fitness level will dictate how many push-ups you can do. Start the first day by seeing how many reps you can do in one go. Aim to do three to four sets of 75% of that number — for example, if you can do 20 reps, aim for 15. You will quickly see that you can do your sets without trouble, at which point you should increase the number of reps you do. Keep your hands close to work your shoulders or wider to focus on your chest.
A quick reminder: It is important to stretch before and after your exercise session! You wouldn’t fire up your sportbike and hit the road full throttle without giving it a warm-up period, just as you always do a cool-down lap after a hard race. Your body is the same. Your muscles need to be warmed up and cooled down to avoid injury and cramping. For every muscle you work, find a suitable stretch that gently works the muscle before and after your reps.
No two sportbike riders have the same fitness level or exercise needs. These can be used as exercises for long-distance motorcycle riding and are also a good start for anyone looking to improve their strength and comfort level, improved control and flexibility for fast street and track riding. Try out these exercises over the winter and create a routine that works for you and gives you the results you want.
When the warm weather finally comes and you can get your motorcycle out again, remember to keep up with your exercises! You can always upgrade your sportbike with parts and accessories from Design Corse, but upgrading your body takes exercise and strength training, so get started today.
Thanks to Design Corse. Re-printed from Progress February 2018
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