Strengthen Your Moto Muscle – Core Training Exercises
by Katie Jodscheidt, NASM-CPT
|Katie demonstrates the "Floor Prone Cobra"
The core, the starting point of movement, the center of the body, an essential group of muscles often overlooked when training, until now. Made up of the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen and hip joint, the core is responsible for strength, posture and stabilization. With the high physical demand placed on the body during training and races, a strong core off the track will ensure better performance on the track.
The rapid movement of the torso, hips, arms and shoulders going through the whoops and other sections of a race track puts an incredible amount of stress on your spine and without being able to engage a strong core, you run the risk of serious injury. Developing and strengthening the core will help support proper spinal alignment, which ultimately lowers your chances of fatigue, low back pain or injury. According to the American Chiropractic Association, at least 80% of people suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives. Rather than looking for a quick fix to block the pain, get to the root problem, a weak core that is lacking strength and development. Don’t wait for a problem to develop, get ahead of it by implementing some essential core exercises. Adding a few core exercises to your training regimen will help you conquer the whoops so they don’t conquer you.
Core Training Exercises (2-3 Times/Week)
Choose two exercises from each category – Stabilization, Strength and Power. Perform each exercise:
* Beginners: 2-3 sets for 30-seconds w/15-second rest
* Advanced: 3-4 sets of 45-seconds w/15-second rest
- Stability Ball
- Medicine Ball (5-10% of body weight)
- Weight Bench
Check out the video as each exercise is demonstrated.
Stabilization Core Exercises
Stability Ball Bridge
- Lie with your head and shoulders on a stability ball, keeping your knees over your ankles, feet flat on the floor and hands on your hips.
- Slowly lower your pelvis down towards the ground bending at the knees and hold for 1-2 seconds.
- Then slowly lift your pelvis up towards the ceiling until your hips, knees and shoulder are in line.
Two Leg Floor Bridge
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Keep your toes pointed forward and arms directly out to your side, palms down.
- Slowly lift your pelvis off the floor aligning your hips, knees and shoulders while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Then slowly bring your pelvis back to the floor.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor with arms at your side.
- Alternate the following: lift one foot off the floor in a controlled motion as you are drawing your knee to the center of your body. Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering your leg to the starting position.
- Lie down facing the floor with your feet together and forearms on the ground.
- While resting solely on your forearms and toes, lift your body off the ground making sure to keep your body in line and parallel to the floor. Be sure to engage your core and not arch your back.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds, rest and repeat.
Floor Prone Cobra
- Lie face down on the floor, arms out at your side, palms down.
- While engaging your gluteal muscles (your butt) and pinching your shoulder blades together, lift your chest off the floor while externally rotating your arms, keeping thumbs pointed upward.
- Be sure to keep your chin tucked as you lift your chest off the ground and slowly lower it back to the ground.
Stability Ball Cobra
- Lie face down with your chest and midsection resting on the stability ball, arms down over the front of the ball, fingers touching the floor.
- While engaging your gluteal muscles and pinching your shoulder blades together, lift your chest off the stability ball while externally rotating your arms, keeping thumbs pointed upward.
- Be sure to keep your chin tucked as you lift and return your chest to the stability ball.
Strength Core Exercises
Stability Ball Crunch
- Lie on your back on a stability ball with the ball resting under your low back. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
- While placing your hands behind your head, extend backwards, allowing your back to curve over the ball.
- Keeping your chin tucked at all times, slowly crunch forward lifting your shoulder blades off the stability ball.
- Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top before lowering your body back to starting position with your back extended and ball under the curve of your back.
- Lie on a flat bench on your back; lift your legs straight up, making a 90-degree angle with your body.
- For support, hold onto the bench just below where you rest your head.
- While contracting your abdominal muscles and keeping your legs straight, elevate your hips off the bench, pointing your toes to the ceiling.
- Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning your hips back to the bench.
- Lie face down with your torso on the bench, legs off the bench, bending the knees at a 90 degree angle in line with your hips.
- Wrap your arms around the side of the bench, securing your torso to the bench while executing the extension.
- With your feet off the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly extend your legs out and up, raising your hips off the end of the bench.
- Slowly and controlled, lower your legs, bend your knees and return to the starting position.
- Lie on a flat bench on your back while lifting your feet up in the air and bending your knees at a 90-degree angle.
- For support, hold on to the bench just below where you rest your head.
- In a slow and controlled manner, lift your hips off the bench while bringing your knees up towards your chest.
- Then slowly lower your hips back to the bench.
Power Core Exercises (Fast & Controlled)
With all “Power Core Exercises,” perform the exercises as fast as possible in a controlled motion.
Medicine Ball Slams
- Stand straight up and hold a medicine ball directly over your head, arms fully extended.
- In a fast yet controlled motion, slam the medicine ball towards the ground as your arms continue to follow through.
- While some people catch the medicine ball on the bounce and continue the exercise, others pick the medicine ball up and return to the starting position, repeating the motion from start to finish.
Side Medicine Ball Throw
- Stand facing a wall with your feet shoulder width apart and slight bend at the knees.
- Slightly twisting your torso, hold the medicine ball with both hands on one side of your hip keeping your arms straight.
- Quickly toss the ball against the wall, catching it on the bounce and smoothly scooping it back to the start position (torso slightly twisted, medicine ball at hip), repeating the motion for a given amount of repetitions before repeating the exercise on the other side.
Medicine Ball Pullover Throw
- Facing a wall, lie on your back with a stability ball resting under your low back. Keep your feet on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees.
- While holding a medicine ball, extend your arms straight back behind your head.
- In a quick controlled motion, crunch forward and throw the medicine ball hard and fast against the wall, allowing your arms to completely follow through before watching the ball on the bounce and repeating the complete motion.
Medicine Ball Rotation Chest Pass
- Stand upright, feet shoulder width apart holding medicine ball in a chest pass position.
- Using your abdominals, quickly rotate your hips 90 degrees while pivoting on your back leg and throwing the medicine ball forcefully with the rear arm in a full extension against the wall.
- Catch the ball off the wall as quickly as possible and repeat the 90-degree rotation chest pass for the time specified above.
Other Core Exercises:
- Russian Twist with Medicine Ball
- Straight Leg Windshield Wiper
- Flutter Kicks
- Jack Knife Crunches
- Front Plank Knee to Elbow
When the core is weak and underdeveloped, a rider is compromising his or her posture during a race, which increases the chance of injury and creates more work for the rest of the body. Not being able to rely on your core muscles for posture, stability and strength puts more strain on your body, which results in early fatigue and a decline in performance. Adding core exercises to your training regimen 2-3 times a week will allow you to strengthen your Moto Muscle – strong core for improved performance.
About the Author: Katie Jodscheidt is the founder of Innerzyme and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a health and fitness enthusiast with a passion for helping athletes achieve their performance goals and improve their overall health through proper food intake, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Innerzyme currently sponsors over 350 motocross riders ranging from age 4 to 56 as well as Team BWR Brian White Racing. Visit www.innerzyme.com for more information.
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.