10 Questions with...Aldon Baker
by Aldon Baker
Back when Aldon Baker was still training Ricky Carmichael, we gave Racer X online readers an all-access pass to the top trainer in our sport, by giving them a chance to ask him any question they wanted regarding MX fitness and training. Aldon is a busy guy training MX/SX Champion Ricky Carmichael as well as Ben Townly and the Hayden Brothers in MotoGP. We tracked Aldon down at his home in Florida to ask him your 10 questions.
|Brothers in Arms - Ricky Carmichael and Aldon Baker|
1. I cycle to cross train for motocross and relieve stress. I was wondering how much time Ricky spends in each zone at different times of the year; like what his cycling workouts entail. I know most of the training in the off-season is spent in the aerobic zones to build a base, but how much time does RC spend on the road bike a week doing this? When the outdoor season approaches how much time is dedicated to the upper zones?
Travis Barber, Wilmington, NC.
I can't give out too much information with the exact amount of time RC puts into each area but, I do say that you can only base a program off how much time you can allocate to training. From this amount of time I gather the amount of hours per year then break it up into each zone and split it into months, weeks, and days. Finally, fine tune the peaking periods liked to the racing calendar. I do take in the amount of time RC spends on a motorcycle and a bicycle and all other aerobic activity but base the zones from the information I gather from the racing on the motorcycle and specific testing done throughout the year.
2. In you're RXVT interview; you noted that testing "power output to heart rate" is a more effective test than VO2. How do you test this? Do you use special machines, put athletes on a ergometer and check average watts at various hear rates, calculate work performed in a squat and count reps over time... ?
We use CycleOps power equipment indoor and outdoor, check out their web site www.saris.com and we also use Polar Heart Rate Monitors. Also, see question # 1. [Ed. Note - Check out this website! I went there for the first time today and found some great information on training, power output, and heart rate monitoring.]
3. How successful do you think another rider (any other top guy) would be in keeping RC's training schedule for a season? Do you think anyone else could or would do it?
Scott McCollough, Sparks Racing
NO!! That is why he is the GOAT! Greatest Of All Time!
4. Not many readers will know Aldon as" the terminator" but I have a 1995 S. African mountain biking program of the national series which calls him just that. The trend in MX seems to be to look towards ex-cyclists as trainers. Do you think that other pro riders are looking at your success with Ricky and your background and thinking they need an ex-cyclist as a trainer or do you think your success with Ricky comes from your program and being an accomplished cyclist is inconsequential?
Hi Carl! Good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well, I have fond memories of our association with South African mountain biking. I was a personal trainer before I was a professional cyclist and I believe the combination helps. Although, we use cycling a lot as a form of training because it's not hard on the joints and areas that a lot of MX riders have had previous injuries with. I think it is key as a trainer to be able to find the weak areas in the rider and correct those, because each rider has strengths and weaknesses. I have 5 athletes and each program is different. Go Well Carl. Cheers!
5. I often hear of top racers, including Carmichael, not taking pain medication. I was wondering why they do not take pain medication and if this included over the counter medicines such as Tylenol and Advil.
I believe when all possible to let your body heal itself with natural remedies. Medication may be good short term but, cost you long term in other areas.
6. Will you ever publish a book about the work ethic of Ricky Carmichael on his weekly training and eating for what it takes to be a champion?
Do you plan to offer any fitness camps or training videos or books ever?
Scott McCollough, Sparks Racing
I am not completely ruling out a book or training camps. My devotion and time is to my athletes for now.
7. Since you said you weren't too big on VO2max testing, would it be safe to say your thoughts on Anaerobic Threshold testing would be more positive and why? And given the fact the series is so long, what races if not all and how would you get Ricky to "peak" for them?
Yes, Anaerobic Threshold testing would be more positive because, it gives a value that is directly linked to the athlete's present fitness, and it gives the athlete an individual reading linked to his max. With regard to peaking, we try to hold 3 long peaks in a year which is tough because of RC's schedule. But, overall it seems to work well with RC and cover the majority of the seasons.
8. I'm 50 years old in good health and ride at the track about twice a month. I have a desk job that makes me push paper all day. When I ride, I can only go about one lap before my hands start to pump up. What can I do to help to minimize this? I here about arm pump all the time but I don't even get to arm pump because my hands give up first.
Mark Edwards, Industrial Security Specialist, Seal Beach, CA
Every individual is different, I have not had experience with hands giving up. But, the more you ride the more you will adapt. Twice a month is not a lot of riding. Maybe slow the pace down until your hand starts to adapt!
9. I'm about to get out of a cast for a fractured fibula. The break is just above my ankle - no displacement so I guess I'm lucky - no pins, plates or screws. What type of exercise/therapy would you recommend to strengthen this area prior to getting back on the motorcycle?
George S., Pittsburgh, PA
Hopefully you still had it immobilized for the normal 6 weeks, had it re x-rayed by a doctor and was given the green light. Then find a good rehab to get your motion and stability back. Go to rehab 3 times a week until it is strong.
10. I have been reading your tips, thank you, but I would like a program for us 40+ hour working folks out here. Something on the lines of a 30 min to one hour workout. Currently, I workout with weights M-W-F for 30-45 min. doing a FULL BODY workout w/ NO resting using dumbbells. I feel I have gained the most benefit from this workout and I have been at this since 1979. I realize everybody's body type is different. I have tried other workouts, but this is working right now. Am I on the right track or is there something better out there for me?
You are on the right track for the amount of hours you can put it. On the non gym days if you could put in some type of cardio 30- 40 minutes-Utilize one of the three running, cycling, or swimming. You can also search the site. I think there are some workouts by Coach Seiji that are specifically set up for your age group.
Aldon is such a great guy, he decided to answer one additional question as well!
11. I am currently finishing off my last year of health/science studies before I go on to university here in England to study sports science full time. I was wondering what it was that got you into training athletes and if you have any advice for someone as myself who hopes to eventually train sport athletes too? In particular training motocross guys as I still race myself at local events.
Gavin Moore, UK
I am also from South Africa and train Motocross riders here and achieved very good results from my riders from the 2006 season. I would like to make the next step forward soon by coming to America and applying my trade with riders. What would the steps be for me to do so?
John Wakefield, Sports Management Certificate (SMC) ETA
Gavin: I think you need to be qualified. Your sports studies will surely help but, you also need practical experience. For that, I would recommend helping young riders, developing from there into amateur, and then on to Pro. Finding a rider to trust in your methods is key because it develops from that.
John: see answer from Gavin above. If you have not had much experience or built up a name from results it is tough to break into Pro Athlete training especially at the high level in America. Having achieved good results from your riders in 2006, I would suggest marketing one of your best riders results to an American team to get that break through. We have had many good South African riders over here. They all have good work ethic and hopefully we can keep the flow coming. I wish you all the best having known how hard it is coming from another country.
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.