You know that driver fitness is important.
Not all want to be exercise addicts though, even if you had the time.
Balancing getting fit for motorsports with the rest of life can be a real challenge.
Even when you can carve out a window to do some driver fitness training, it can be unclear what workout you should do.
There are endless training plans for sports like running or cycling. Few for racecar driving.
As a racing driver looking to improve their fitness, what should you focus on? What would make the most impact on your driving performance?
Driver Fitness In Perspective
Rather than aiming for the best driver fitness in the paddock, its likely that you are more focused on being as fit as you need to be.
Fit as you need to be means that you want to be able to drive as close as you can to your peak performance for your whole event.
That event could be a 20 min practise session, a test day or a full weekend.
Your goal is to be quickly on the pace and then be able to consistently hold that pace for as long as you need.
Furthermore, if you are competing, you also want to have as much spare mental bandwidth as possible. This will enable you to think about your cars setup and about your race craft.
You know all this but you also have a busy life outside of those precious moments behind the wheel.
How can you at least do something to improve your driver fitness in the time you have?
The importance of physical driver fitness is clear from when I have been talking to the Pro coaches on the Your Data Driven podcast. I therefore wanted to share with you this workout suggestion I have been following that focuses on strength training.
The goal is about developing your ability to drive on the pace, consistently fast. This suggestion can be achieved from the comfort of your own home and with minimal kit.
The routine can also be completed in as little as 20 minutes. One reason it might really work for you.
Driver Fitness Strength Workout
Caveat time: As you know, I am an engineer not a personal trainer. Therefore take what follows in the rest of this article as purely a suggestion. One that aims to give you only inspiration. Seek professional advice before undertaking your own physical training, train within your limits and STOP if it becomes too much.
I have been using a programme inspired by a guy called Alex Scott. The full programme with demo videos is available for free here on the Redbull website.
In case Redbull decide to take down that link for any reason, the 7 exercises Alex suggests are:
|Strengthening Exercise||Workout Repetitions||How Does This Help Racing Driver Fitness?|
|1. Romanian deadlift||4 sets, |
|“The Romanian deadlift helps to minimise energy wasted by the driver when braking. It strengthens legs and glutes, helping drivers to maintain a controlled posture while sitting down.”|
|2. Goblet squat||4 sets,|
|“The goblet squat is a great exercise for building leg and core strength, Both of these are vital for the force drivers need to generate when braking.”|
|3. Dumbbell press-up||4 sets, |
|“Elevating your hands with dumbbells means you can dip your chest lower, making the press-up harder. Dumbbells make you work to keep your balance throughout the movement, stabilising the core and spine for when you’re in the car.”|
|4. Renegade row||4 sets,|
|”This is a great exercise to hit small stabilising muscles in your core, which drivers engage every time they take a corner. The rowing action also strengthens the upper back, helping to keep you strong and injury-free.”|
|5. Half-kneeling shoulder press||4 sets,|
|“This move builds a strong shoulder, important for good posture and upper-body endurance in the car. Only working one side at a time forces the driver to stay steady, keeping you upright and focused through high G force bends.”|
|6. Weighted dead bug||4 sets of 45 secs work||”A fantastic exercise that builds strength and stability through the shoulders, and requires you to really engage the deep core muscles. It also keeps your glutes active, a must after long periods spent in the driver’s seat.”|
|7. Seated Russian twist||4 sets,|
|“This exercise puts you in a similar position to when you’re sat in the car. In addition to building shoulder and grip strength, it really forces drivers to control their rotational core muscles – perfect for keeping your torso stable under force”|
I have also made a couple of tweaks and additions to Alex’s strength programme.
For the Seated Russian twist, I use a medicine ball and sit on a dome balance ball.
You can see them below:
The medicine ball also gives you the opportunity to add …
… a BONUS 8th Steer Strengthening exercise!
I also use the medicine ball to do an arms out steering exercise. I am not aware if this exercise has an official name.
The aim is to strengthen your shoulders and arms in the action of steering.
I hold the ball out at shoulder height and then turn it like I am steering left and right.
To keep with the theme above I do 4 sets of 10 reps of the steering exercise.
I find this is best done in as close to your racing seating position as possible. I also sit on the half-dome balance ball for this.
Try For Yourself
If you give this a go for a few weeks then I hope you are pleasantly surprised. Personally I have found that it really does make a difference to your ability to control the car.
The stronger I am the more I seem too feel through the steering.
I was surprised by this at first. My experience has been that this really can help you steer more precisely and smoothly.
If you find yourself struggling in the car then now you have an option to know precisely what you can do about it.