By Tim Crytser
Trainer Talk with.......Ryan Hughs
The veteran ex-KTM pilot, Ryan Hughes, had a forgettable outdoor campaign in '04 when his season ended early with a broken arm in practice at Millville. Ryan has long been a fan favorite with his 'leave it all on the track' riding style and tell it like it is attitude off the track. Ryno has always been one of the hardest charging, hardest training guys in the sport, so I decided to sit down with 'el-Ryno' and see just exactly what he does to get into shape for the worlds toughest sport.
Virtual Trainer: How old are you?
Cool you're an old guy like me.
[laughs] Yeah. I guess so.
How is your arm healing?
Good, went riding yesterday for the first time in eight weeks. And I'm on my way to go riding right now.
What Type of break did you have in your arm?
I broke my radius bone.
You didn't break the navicular?
No, that's already been broken.
Have you been training since your injury?
Not so much because the season was over. I thought that after having a season like that and such a long drawn out season and you know it was such a bummer season, I figured I would give my body and mind a break. I took about a month off and now I'm starting to get going again. You know it's kind of funny but I have been doing some backyard training. Lifting and digging, and you know it sounds funny, but that is almost harder than training. You know you use so many different muscles and stuff. But as far as formal training goes, no I have not since my injury.
How do feel your conditioning was this year before getting hurt?
I think I am one of the fittest guys on the track always. Every year, every moto, every race. Lack of conditioning never crosses my mind.
Do you rely on supplemental training to get on top shape for the outdoors, or do you rely more on just riding everyday?
Yes, I do. Do you mean cycling and running and stuff like that?
Yes, cycling, running, lifting weights, anything that you do to get in shape besides riding.
I lift a little bit of weights during the off season, but not too much during the season, because my body type builds muscle real quick and I don't want to get too heavy because my natural weight is around 180 to 185 and that's a little bit heavy for a 125, so I really have to slim down. I do a lot of cycling, riding, and stretching. I do a lot of cardio conditioning during the season. I lift weights and a lot of coordination balance stuff on swiss balls. I do a lot of bicycling and riding but minimal weights during the season. As far as how I ride my bicycle (interval style or at a constant pace) that depends on the workout. Sometimes I go for long, real easy rides, sometimes short with high intensity intervals, and sometimes it's in between. The way I ride is really dictated by what is coming up race wise and how I feel that week.
Do you have a personal trainer?
Um, yeah, I guess you could say my trainer is Floyd Landus. He rides on the U.S. Postal team and does the Tour De France and stuff like that. He is on the team with Lance Armstrong and is one of the guys that helped him win this year. He helps me train. He is the guy that I trained with at the beginning of the year cycling all the time and I listen to him. Other than that, I have been racing for 21 years and have been training for 15 of those years and I kind of know my body. I know what works and what doesn't work for me. I know how to read my body.
What is the one training tip that you discovered from a trainer that you would pass on to the weekend warrior?
Consistency! You know you have to be consistent. Its like a diet, you can't try to loose weight and be good for two days and the next five days you eat like crap. You have to be very consistent with what you are eating and very consistent with your training. And if you start doing that you will start to see the rewards and if you are sporadic you're probably not going to see the rewards, in fact you are probably going to go backwards. I think that is the biggest thing people miss is being consistent with it every day. It's like I said, I do this every day every day. That's the thing with eating. A lot of people can get away with it but I look at it this way. You wouldn't go to the gas station and put 78 octane fuel in your bike. It would run like crap. The same is true with your body, if you put 78 octane food in your system you are going to run like crap. You might get away with it for a while, but its going to catch up with you down the road.
How often do you train during the week?
Um, during the week I train pretty much everyday. You know, but depending on the day, the feeling, the time of year, or what ever it is at that time dictates the intensity of the workout and how long or short the workout is. Even though you train everyday, doesn't mean you train hard everyday. I go off of by how I feel and what is coming up in the near future.
How often do you ride during the week?
In the off season as you get older you have to be a little bit more cautious on how much you train and ride. So I kind of cut back a little and listen to my body a lot more because you don't have the energy or the youth in you that you once had. You have to slow down a little bit and rest a lot more. It's hard to get into that mind frame because all you want to do is go, go, go, go, but you have to listen to your body because it gets old and beat up. After training so hard for so long I think it takes a toll on your body. I don't care what anybody says, training this hard for this long takes a toll. I ride as often as I can, but I'm careful not to over do it. Rest is very important.
Do you feel that the older you get the tougher it is to stay in top shape?
Um, nope I think it is pretty easy, I have learned a lot of things the past two years about how when you are in really top shape you don't really have to train that hard to stay there, you know? There is a fine line between going over the top and not doing enough and it's very easy to go over the top and feel like you are out of shape but actually you are just over training. You know, you just kind of back it down a bit and do more maintenance training.
Do you have different training phases through out the year? (i.e. pre season, in season and post season)
Yes, I definitely do. The post season is completely different than when I am starting to gear up for the season and even different during the season.
Do you train differently for the outdoors than you do supercross?
Yes, I did when I raced supercross. The length of training that you do is different. The outdoors are more physically demanding, and in supercross you may work more on your sprints and more on your reactions. You can do more of that at the gym with the coordination and balance things. Outdoors is more of a long drawn out race in the heat and humidity, so yes, you definitely train different for the two.
How is your training different now then when you were a privateer?
(laughs) Um, well I have never really been a privateer. This might actually be the first year.
Ok, fair enough, how is your training different now than it was back in the early days?
Well my training is a lot smarter now. Before, I would just hammer everyday, run, ride, lift weights, cycle everyday. You know, you hear about what these people do and don't do and people like to talk about how hard they train just to get people to talk about them. Once you get a little bit older and smarten up, you realize that there is no way someone could train like that.
What were some of the misconceptions regarding training you had coming up as a rookie that you do differently now that you are a seasoned Factory rider?
Well, you know for me I came up in the era of figuring everything out for you self. Now a days you have a riding coach, you have a trainer you have a psychologist, you have a manager, you basically have everything. So it's much easier. When I was coming up, I taught myself how to ride supercross, I taught myself how to train. I taught myself how to speak to sponsors. I taught myself how to manage my money. Now everything is more catered. All you really have to worry about is riding your motorcycle. You wake up in the morning and there is a program right in front of you. For me, on the way home from the races I had to jot down things that I needed to work on and where I thought I needed to get stronger.
Do you consider your training to be as good as it can be?
No. Nobodies training is as good as it can be. There is always something that you are missing. There is always something you can do better. There is nothing always perfect. There are times when you are spot on at certain times but through the year you are not going to feel 100% at one time or another. I think timing is important. You hit and miss for a while. I think the person that has it down the best is Carmichael. He has been lucky in a sense to find somebody he can connect with and they are both on the same wavelength. They understand each other. That certainly is a big part of a team when a trainer and a rider are together. I have talk to RC's trainer Eldon before and I was quit impressed with how tight they really have it down. They have it down to the nitty gritty. And for what he has done it just shows and proves that it has worked out.
How do you keep your program going when you are on the road?
Well, when I am on the road there is always my bicycle. I have a motor home so I have a bicycle and stationary bike in there. I do my training inside there or take my bicycle outside and train on the road. I also always have my motorcycle around so I go out and ride whenever I can. So it's pretty easy to get a workout in. So I don't miss any days even when I am on the road.
Do you stretch and warm-up before workouts and riding?
Yes, I stretch usually every night. I warm up and stuff in the morning after I get out of bed. So I'm usually warmed up before I go on training days. At the races definitely, I stretch in the morning, before practice, after practice, before the first moto, after the first moto. I warm up on my stationary bike before practice, my first moto and use my stationary bike to cool down after the motos. I do a lot of stuff like that to keep my body ready to go. I noticed that when I do a hard moto and I come in and sit down right afterwards I get up and I'm like my God, my back, my legs, everything is tight. Cooling down on the bike definitely helps.
When you get tired during a race, what normally gives out first (heart, lungs, or general fatigue?)
Um, probably just general fatigue. Strength wise I never feel bad. I never ever had that problem. You know, yeah, I guess just general fatigue. Like when it's hot, I'm like oh ghesh. You know I've been to the half way point in a moto and thought oh man, only half way? But that is where the training kicks in and you just have to be strong enough to over come that. That's were training comes in to find those points of where you are starting to hurt and push it in training to that point to get to the next level. If you only get to the point where you are hurting and stop, well then that is as far as you are ever going to get. You have to push your body to get to that next level. Not every day or every week, but maybe once or twice a month.
At Hi Point, I noticed you riding a stationary bike after your motos; can you tell me more about why you were doing that?
I do that because it's like a sprinter or even a guy in the Tour de France, or whatever. You just don't see those guys get done with a race and sit on a stool like 98% of the motocrossers do. You have lactic acid build up, you got all your stuff on, and you need to cool down. You are a high performance machine out there. You are an elite athlete you can't just stop the engine. That's why you see the cyclist after a six hour ride and they go back down the hill and ride for a little bit more. It's a cool down. It makes your body recover. After my motos, I come in and ride my bicycle; I get my drinks and food as quick as I can. All that stuff that you put in your system before the second moto is still sitting on your stomach the next moto when you go to the line. So, I try to get that stuff in as quick as I can, I ride my bicycle until I stop sweating, and then I go and I stretch and relax.
That's pretty impressive. So without ever having a personal trainer to guide you, you learned all that on your own?
Yeah, you know pretty much reading and watching and stuff like that is how I learned. When you want something bad enough, you will find that information out. You'll find it through videos and books, you'll find it through talking, and you'll find it through listening. If you don't want it bad enough you're never going to learn about it. Like me, I don't give a crap about the space shuttle so I don't know anything about it. But ask me about training and fitness and stuff like that I know a lot about it.
How much faster do you think Ricky is b/c of his training?
Well, he is definitely fast, but I think it's a whole combination of things like being strong, being mentally strong, being confident, and being comfortable. Confidence is the biggest thing, that's bigger than training, any day. If I had to choose between being the most confident person and out of shape versus being the fittest person and not confident, I would pick the first one any day. I would always take the most confident, out of shape guy. I mean if you have the heart and you are pushing yourself, that's 90% of the battle right there. At the pro level it is all about confidence in yourself. As an example, I don't think Bubba is all that fit. I really don't, not at all. But his confidence is so high and he is so confident in himself and his riding that it pays off. With Ricky, I don't think he is the most technical rider, and he will tell you that himself, but he is so confident in himself and his riding that it pays off.
Do you think that fitness and training plays a more important role for the guys that aren't named RC or Bubba? In other words, guys that don't have talent oozing out their ears.
Certainly, you can't get to the top unless you are in great shape. When I said that I would rather be confident and not fit, well that will leave me at top 3 or top 5. But you have to be confident and fit, like Ricky is to have an undefeated season and to be like Bubba too. No matter what, you have to be in great shape to be at the top.
Could you have been faster earlier on in your career if you would have been in better shape?
Nope. I have never, not been in shape. I have been the fast guy on the track my whole career. I have always been in the best shape I can possibly be in.
What type of diet are you on?
Yeah, I have been on strict diets and things like that before. The last couple of years I feel like I have been on a starvation diet. I feel like I need to always loose weight, you know. The last few years I have been on a two stroke and I feel like my weight has been a problem. Yeah, I need to get on a four stroke. But I eat a sensible diet and make sure I get enough protein and carbohydrates. I stay away from fast food stuff. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to eat correctly.
What is your favorite music to listen to while training?
Well, I guess Hip-hop.
Do you enjoy the training process? (Or do you secretly hate it?)
Yes, that is what drives me to keep going. I love to train.
Do you train alone or with a partner?
Alone and with a partner it depends on the day.
One thing you like most about training?
I guess the hurt. I like to see how far I can push myself. I like to see what my body and mind can handle. How hard I can go and how much pain I can handle, that is a lot of fun to me.
One thing you like least about training?
[long pause] I guess it would have to be when I take a break. Getting back into it after long break is tough.
Personal secrets that you use to keep motivated?
Goals and the drive to succeed are my secret. The drive to be better than any one else on the track and knowing that you only have one chance to do it. Probably my biggest thing is proving people wrong.
Favorite excuse for not working out?
Who me [laughs]? I never have any excuses. That is my problem, I can never stop.
Thanks, Ryan, I really appreciate your time. Enjoy riding today!
Hey, no problem Tim, any time.
That's it for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and remember, VT can always be found on the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.
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