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Warm up and Stretch

by Racer X Virtual Trainer

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Jump to the Stretching Routines ----> Training Day Stretches Non-Training Day Stretches

Virtual Trainer Client, Logan Martin uses the Concept2 Rower to Warm-up before the St. Louis SX
Why Stretch and Warm-up?
When training for motocross, we perform aerobic activity (such as running) to increase our cardio performance and we weight train to build strength and maintain our muscular endurance. Those are the two most important aspects of a riders training program, right? Actually, I believe there are four equally important components to any riders program; cardio conditioning, muscular endurance training, flexibility, and training of the mind. The two most neglected elements are conditioning of the mind and a good flexibility program. We will cover the mind issue in a later article and for now focus on the keys to developing and maintaining a successful warm-up and flexibility routine.

The lack of a good warm-up and flexibility routine is regrettable, considering the fact that these two elements are an integral key to your motocross success. Imagine that; something as simple as warming-up and stretching being a key ingredient to your success on the track. A proper warm-up will help keep your workouts injury free by preparing the muscles to do battle and there are many benefits that come along with being more flexible.

  • Greater flexibility will enable you to have a greater range of motion and improved posture while on the bike.
  • It will also help you attain an increased level of physical and mental relaxation before, during and after a race.
  • Increasing your flexibility will reduce muscle tension and soreness and also reduce lower back pain.
  • Most importantly, studies have suggested that increased flexibility can help reduce the risk of serious injury.

Believe it or not, all of these factors can be achieved simply by becoming more flexible, and learning how to warm-up before a workout or ride. See what I mean about being a key to you motocross success!

The Basics
Ever wonder why some people are extremely flexible and others are tight as a drum. Is it a God-given ability to be extremely flexible? The answer is yes and no. Some people are just naturally more flexible. Flexibility is primarily due to one’s genetics, gender, age, level of physical activity and previous injuries. For the average rider who is not very flexible, the main reason may be that they simply never work on this area of their fitness. As with cardio and strength training, flexibility will improve with regular training. The good thing about flexibility is that we all have what it takes to improve.

Every workout should start with a warm-up and some stretching (dynamic stretching NOT static). Stretching is not warming up! It is, however a very important part of warming up. Warming up is quite simply raising your core body temperature. A proper warm-up should be split into three separate phases:

  1. General Warm-up
  2. Dynamic Stretching
  3. Sport Specific Activity

The first phase, general warm-up, can be achieved by doing some light aerobic activity. This can be as simple as walking on a tread mill or going for a light run. Stretching cold muscles can do more damage than good, so be sure and give your body time to warm-up before going on to phase two. Phase two, stretching, should consist of dynamic stretches and very little if any static stretches. Static stretching is simply stretching a muscle and holding it. Dynamic stretching consists of controlled arm and leg movements that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. When dynamic stretching, do not bounce or force your joints past their normal range of motion. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg-raises, arm-swings, or torso twists. Phase three of your warm-up should consist of performing a “watered-down” version of the movements that you will be performing during your workout. An example would be light shadow boxing and easy kicks if doing a kickbox workout. Your general warm-up should be at least 5 minutes followed by 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and 3 to 5 minutes of sport specific activity on days that you are working out. On your off days, you can eliminate the sport specific activity and spent 20 to 30 minutes on static stretching.

Stick and Ball Sports Warm up .... so Why Not MX?
A proper warm-up followed by dynamic stretching should also be done before riding and especially before a race.  If you ever go to an Outdoor National or Supercross race, you may notice that most of the top riders have stationary bikes or rowing machines in their haulers. A stationary bike is a great way to warm-up at the track whether you are practicing or riding. Don’t rely on the first couple of laps of practice to get warmed-up. You should be stretched and ready to go by the time you hit the track. If you don't have a stationary bike to take to the track, there are several other ways to achieve a warm up. Walk around, run in place, jump rope, do some light squats, arm rotations, push-ups, or sit-ups can all be done to elevate your body temperature before stretching. You always see football, baseball, and basketball players warming-up and stretching before a game, so why should motocross be any different.

After your workout it is also very important to cool down. Stretching is not the only activity involved in a proper cool down. It is only part of the process. Your cool down should consist of the following three phases:

  1. Sport Specific Activity
  2. Dynamic Stretching
  3. Static Stretching

These phases are similar to the warm-up, only in reverse order. The purpose of the sport specific activity and dynamic stretches are to lower your heart rate and body temperature. A proper cool-down can reduce cramping, tightening, and soreness in fatigued muscles by aiding in the removal of lactic acid. Lactic acid is responsible for that wonderful burning sensation you get when you push your muscles past their limits.

If you aren't serious about flexibility training yet, then I’m sure you aren't serious about any of your training. If you need motivation, think of it like this. No matter how much I preach about the importance of warming-up and stretching, some guys just aren't going to do it. If you are serious about your race results, by adding a flexibility routine to your training schedule you will be one step ahead of your competitors.

Here are some tips to help you get started on your flexibility training:

  • Put a note on your shower door or mirror as a reminder to stretch each and every morning.
  • If you like to hit the snooze button while still in bed, use this time to wake up by doing some full body stretches. Point your toes and reach your arms up over your head for a great midsection stretch.
  • Once you’re out of bed, the shower is a perfect place to continue your stretches. The warm water is more than adequate to raise your body temperature to make your muscles more elastic and receptive to stretching. If your shower isn't big enough, stretch after you get out.
  • Continue your stretch routine once you get out of the shower. Place your leg on the sink and stretch your hamstrings as you dry off. Be creative and stretch your back and arms while using the towel as an aid.

So remember, if you are not very flexible, it is most likely due to a lack of good flexibility routine. If you are one of those people who have always complained about not being very flexible, be honest with yourself and ask if you have been serious about stretching. Flexibility comes and goes with time and injuries just make matters worse. The less you work on it, the less flexible you will become. Luckily, the more you work on flexibility, the more your muscles will respond and give you the flexibility you need for that extra edge on the track.

Following is a simple yet effective warm-up and flexibility routine. The first routine should be used on days that you workout and the second for the off days. When performing any stretch, you should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Start each stretch gently and slowly exhale as you increase the range of the stretch.
  • Hold each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Stretch just to the point of discomfort, not pain.
  • Do not bounce or hold your breath.
  • Avoid awkward positions that may cause discomfort in the knees or other joints.

Training Day Warm-up and Stretches

Off Day Stretches

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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