Guest post by Ania Todua
Good health and fitness is important for all of us, but perhaps for riders it is even more essential. If you think riding a motorcycle is no big deal and anyone can do it, then you have another think coming. Motorcycle fitness is one of the key elements that determine a successful rider. For lack of it may not just hinder performance or lead to faster fatigue but also increase the rider’s risk factors while on the road. Fatigue and lack of fitness also means that less flexibility, control and maneuvering of the bike. All in all, a below average riding experience really. In order to negate all these bad effects on your riding, you need to go through a definite motorcycle fitness regime that will bring back the balance and power in your favor.
Even if you know all the correct riding techniques, without fitness or flexibility your performance will always be hindered. Fatigue and rigidity of the body leads to slower reflexes and reaction times, and over time these may even lead to psychological issues. Start with hydrating your body a lot since bike riding is a thirsty business, for your body. You don’t need to become a bodybuilder but you do need to hone and strengthen your muscles in order to maneuver the bike better. Motorcycle fitness leads to increased endurance so that you need less effort to control the bike and handle speed effectively. Riding at a stretch can leads to all kinds of aches and pains, and for a body which is not fit enough these could simply increase.
There are many ways you can start building up strength and increase your overall body fitness. You can choose one which best suits your schedule and time.
Improving cardiovascular fitness is very essential to build up the strength and stamina. One needs to exercise at least 3 times a week at 20 minute sessions which will get the heart pumping. If you are new to the regime or haven’t been too regular this is the best way to start. Over a period of time the body will slowly get used to exercise, become fitter which will allow you to increase the duration of each session as well. When you feel your heart beating fast and your breathing heavy but not difficult then you should know that your pace is right. You want to push yourself but not to the point of collapsing. Invest in a heart rate monitor to keep track of your cardio workouts as well as improvements. Best cardio exercises include a mix of endurance with high-intensity swimming, running or cycling, yes it’s really that simple.
Any veteran rider will tell you how important muscle strength is for motorcycle riding. If you want to be an expert then you need to focus on strength building exercises beginning with your core muscles. These include the lower and upper back, shoulders, chest and abdomen. These will be the foundation for your overall body strength. Other than these you need to work on your stomach, inner thighs and forearms which are used constantly while riding. Focusing on these areas will lead to more stamina and decrease the level of fatigue over time. You can begin with 2-3 (30-40 minutes) sessions a week and slowly scale it up. Start with mediocre weights before you step things up. Remember, when it comes to strength training slow and controlled movements hold more sway. Adopt a regime of combination exercises like squats at times, and step-ups with dumbbells at other times and slowly adding leg curls to a stability-ball bridge.
Just like you need a warm up before workouts, you need to do good stretching exercises to make your muscles free and supple after one. It removes the lactic acid that usually builds up during exercise, stretches the muscles and also cools them down. Do these in between your cardio routine so that your body gets more flexible and you have fun in the variety too. This flexibility goes a long way to improve rider performance and meet the G forces from braking, accelerating and turning, head on. You can also start doing Power Yoga which is a great way to make the body supple and flexible while building up strength. It helps one control his/her breathing and therefore leads to a relaxed body for a long time. Complementing your regular workouts with stretching the muscles of your legs and the lower torso will prevent cramps from happening frequently or easily.
A lot of riders use their legs to ride, control and manage their bikes since legs are stronger than the arms. But if one needs to do this well then full-body workouts focusing on making the legs stronger is what should be kept mind. While the muscles work to control and maneuver the bike, the nervous system remains super activated with the proprioceptive sensors so that balance and coordination is maintained at all times. Exercise also helps improve mental focus so that there is excellent brain and motor coordination at all times. Putting on a protective helmet is a must too, so that you are free from the fear and able to focus on the job in hand which is obviously to hit the road. On the other hand, aerobic exercises like cardio improves stamina while anaerobic exercises like strength training and weight lifting adds to one’s endurance.
Exercise lead to overall wellbeing as the heart and lungs become fitter than ever, oxygen and essential nutrients are transferred to various muscles more effectively. As you exercise regularly, you will begin to enjoy better body posture since a fitter body and ease of movement come hand in hand. You will also notice a marked increase in your joint and muscle strength so when you are riding you will find that shifting your weight around and balancing during the rides is super easy now. While riding a motorcycle, the entire body is involved and at times under stress. Other effective workouts involve crunches, push-ups, dips, bench press, bicep curls, triceps extensions, lateral shoulder rises among others. All these things will help you in getting yourself ready for all the challenges that you are going to have during your ride. In addition to this, just do not ignore the need of proper motorcycle gear such as armor jackets for optimum protection, body armors, helmets, riding boots. This is important because no matter how fit have gotten for the day, there’s always a chance for an odd incident to happen.
Very soon you feel see the difference in your body and overall health with a sense of wellbeing pervading your mind. Weight loss for those who have been overweight occurs as well, which too leads to better balance and strength. In fact, there is a kind of freedom, not having to worry about your bodily discomfort or ailments while riding. Your mind is now free to enjoy the ride and take in the sights and sounds better than ever before. All this is only possible when you have undergone a focused motorcycle fitness regimen.