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Arm Pump Solved: Part 3

by Dr. Patrick Cohn

At times, giving 110% has hurt Mike Alessi

In part two, I discussed one of the major mental breakdowns that cause motocross racers to get arm pump on the track. One mental breakdown is trying too hard in a race. I stated that racers try too hard because of the pressure they feel to succeed – to do well for their parents, impress sponsors, and win friends. Practice results do not matter because you don’t have to win practice, but in races it counts and this cause racers to try too hard in races, eventually leading the physical feelings of arm pump.

In my new CD program, "Arm Pump Solved: Mental Strategies for Motocross Racers," I teach you six mental strategies that eliminate arm pump. In today’s article, I would like to share with you some of these strategies.

Most of my students can grasp the mental game concepts I discuss with ease. The hard part is the ability to apply the mental strategies to your race in a systematic or meaningful way. The main idea is to have a mindset – at the start gate - that helps you to have tension-free and confident race, without feeling pressure or trying too hard to go fast.

Your attitude off the track before a moto sets the attitude you take onto the track. If you are tense or worried about an upcoming race – this will cause you to be tense on the start line, and you know what happens then! Thus, it’s very important to take the right mindset to the track – so you can have a mindset for success on the track. One of the ways I help you do this is to give you specific strategies to use during your pre-race preparation, specifically your mental preparation. And yes, you should not neglect your mental preparation before a race as it is just as important as your bike prep.

Mental Tool #1: Let Go of Self-Defeating Expectations
The attitudes that cause arm pump can start way before the race begins. Why? The pressure you put on yourself to win or impress sponsors begins before you gas it on the start line. The pressures I am talking about are expectations or demands you place on yourself about results, such as "I need my practice to pay off with a good race" or "I need to run a perfect moto to beat the other fast guys today."

You need to become aware of the expectations you place on yourself by noticing the statements you have when thinking about the upcoming race. "I need, must have, or should win" are examples of demands you place on your performance before a race that can lead to trying too hard on the track. Pressure and expectation about your race results causes anxiety and tension, which leads to tension and trying too hard on the track, which I discussed in part 2 of this series.

One mental check you need to make is to identify when you place demands on your performance (called expectations in my book), which make you feel more pressure to succeed. Below are a few examples of expectations that cause unnecessary pressure:

  • I need to win the race today to impress my sponsors
  • I need to be perfect on every corner
  • I must race my best to satisfy my parents
  • Everyone expects me to win

The first step is to become aware or identify your own expectations that limit your performance and place undue pressure on yourself including the expectations you feel from others. The second step is to discard these expectations and replace with thoughts or a mindset that focuses only on your racing performance and what you need to do to race your best in the present moment.

Keep in mind that most of the pressure you feel comes from dwelling on results of the race before it even happens! This means you must focus on the process of racing, one section at a time, instead of worrying too much about results and your expectations. Good luck in your next race and please contact me if I can help you develop a mindset for racing success! Contact Dr. Cohn.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Iain Grae January 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

    and what if you get arm pump even during practice?

  2. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer January 20, 2011 at 6:35 am

    If you get arm pump during practice, read this article and see if it helps.

  3. Gravatar
    Janice French April 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    How to I get hold of the arm pump solved CD program

  4. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer April 18, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Sorry, should have provided a link in the article.

  5. Gravatar
    Logan287 February 09, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Is there ways strengthen your forearms during the off season to help against arm pump?

  6. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer February 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Over all training is the best way to combat arm pump. If you train properly you will not need to train your forearms individually. See this article on more.

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