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Cross Country Training - Part 2

by Robb Beams


Part 1

The only women to ever earn a full factory ride, Ashley Fiolek (2009 WMA Champion), relies on Robb to keep her fit and healthy
As we mentioned in the last article, unlike the sprint characteristics of motocross and supercross, off road racing brings a completely different set of physical and mental challenges to compete at any level. In a previous article posted here on Virtual Trainer, Understanding Energy Systems as it Relates to Faster Lap Times and Increased Endurance, I outlined the various energy systems and how they contribute to the overall performance of every rider.  If you haven’t had a chance to read that article, please look it up and read it completely to understand what is going on within your body at various effort levels and associated speeds.  Below is a portion of the Energy Systems article due to the relevancy of training protocols associated with aerobic enhancement:

Aerobic Training
Aerobic Training teaches your body to conserve glycogen and burn fatty acids as a primary fuel source.  Benefits to enhancing your aerobic engine: you will engage the fat burning process within the first 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic exercise; expedites the delivery of oxygen to working muscles; increase your stroke volume within the heart; increases the capillary density within the muscles; increases the mass and number of mitochondria and helps release ATP aerobically.  The ironic element of Aerobic Training is that it is the discipline of training that gets pushed aside first, yet has substantial benefits.  Because we are so acclimated to the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality, we have tendency to think that the easy, long workouts are not productive.  If you want to get fast – go long and at measured aerobic enhancement intensity!  The duration of Aerobic Training intervals are usually between 15 minutes and 3 hours.  Due to the continuous nature of Aerobic Training, there isn’t any actual interval count. You will be enhancing your slow twitch fibers with this type of training.   A couple words of caution with this type of training.  First, don’t check out mentally and go too easy.  You need to be at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate to reap the physiological benefits we are looking for during these types of workouts.  Secondly, though the intensity is low, don’t jeopardize your mechanics of whatever type of cross-training you are doing (i.e. pedal mechanics, swim stroke, etc.) to avoid any unnecessary injuries.  

Each of the energy systems provides important physiological benefits to a racers performance program.  When you incorporate the proper workouts into a week of training (based entirely on your race Periodization – Pre Season, Pre competitive, Competitive) you are building a human body that is as capable as any motor that a mechanic can build for you.  It just takes a little bit of research and field testing on behalf of the racer to determine how to put all of the elements together at the right time and at the correct intensity levels for optimum performance.  

With the need for aerobic proficiency being the top priority of every athlete (irregardless of sport or talent level), below are several workouts that will push your aerobic engine.  Please note, if you don’t have your various heart rate training zones established, you will need to complete a Max Heart Rate Assessment to accurately apply the indicated intensity levels.  You can not use the basic 220-your age formula, the margin of error is enormous, especially when it relates to effective training.  

Below are some protocols that you can incorporate into your weekly riding and training (both on and off of the motorcycle).  You will notice that the protocols for the motorcycle are geared around the utilization of a motocross track.  Keep in mind that the goal is to push the energy systems necessary for off road racing, not to make you a better motocross racer.  If you have any questions or need anything clarified, don’t hesitate to email me at

Workout Notes
: This workout will help eliminate any fatiguing at the latter part of your moto.  Your ability to ride smooth and in control throughout the entire moto will be taxed during this workout.  Initially the workloads will seem easy; however, if you are holding yourself accountable throughout all three sets, you will find it to be challenging both mentally and physically.  Please pay close attention to your fluid intake in between sets to help maintain your blood sugar levels.  If your weight is down by more than 1-2% we need to evaluate your fluid intake (calorie profile, electrolyte content, etc.).  Please send the results data for entire workout when you get a moment. Aerobic MX Workout #2
Workout Notes
: This workout will allow you the opportunity to see the benefits of your long/low intensity workouts. With a large aerobic base, the higher intensity laps will not be so crushing to your body simply because you have developed the necessary avenues to provide fresh oxygen and dissipate lactic acid with increase capillary beds in the muscle. Maintaining your glycogen levels will improve your overall results of this workout. Please update the spreadsheet with the times of each interval and send back to me when you get a moment. Aerobic MX Workout #3
Workout Notes: This workout will teach your body how to adjust to various paces without sacrificing your form and wasting energy. One of the most important skills to learn is to speed up when necessary, but also maintain a fast enough speed so that the other racers will begin to focus on themselves verses trying to catch you (because you are "holding" a pace that they can't match). The overall intensity of this workout is moderate, but the quick bursts of speed are there to speed up your minds ability to slightly faster speeds.

Workout notes
: keep a close eye on the indicated intensity levels (look at your heart rate monitor) to eliminate any subjective projection of actual exertion. You will notice that as the duration transpires, your work window gets progressively shorter to help maintain quality and avoid any potential injuries. Don't allow yourself to become dehydrated, drink a little during each recovery window. Stop and stretch whenever needed - be proactive.

Workout Notes
: By the end of this workout you want to feel very powerful and in control. Notice that the "on" interval is not a sprint, simply a controlled push/pull combo. Belly breathing while coming back to the starting point will maximize the amount of oxygen present within the blood and avoid an anaerobic environment. As you pull back, feel for the power being generated in your legs, gluts and your back muscles - the difficult part of these muscles is that they consume a great deal of oxygen, so belly breathing will make the workout more productive and comfortable for you. Don't blow off your rehydration during the rest intervals - important to maintain your blood sugar levels.

Workout Notes
: Keep a close eye on the interval duration for each set to avoid getting too tired early in the workout. The idea is to get progressively stronger with each "on/off" interval - so plan ahead and stay mentally focused. Keep your blood sugar levels topped off with your isotonic drink during your transition intervals. is a premium resource center for motocross, supercross and GNCC riders of all abilities and ages. The website outlines the MotoE Performance Training programs available to racers for 2010 - such as those used with great success by X-Games and 2 time WMA Champion Ashley Fiolek, Mini O's 2009 Champion Ian Trettel, Loretta Lynn National Champion Adam Cianciarulo, and numerous off road racers.

Additional resources available include the MotoE Performance Training Facility in Haines City, Florida, eBooks on various human performance elements and online instructional videos. To discuss your current program or have a new one developed for you; feel free to contact Robb Beams at or 407.701.7586 directly.

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
    Lukas H March 28, 2012 at 2:21 am

    For Row workout #3 on the competitive racer should I increase so that both sets combined adds up to a total of 30 min? ex. Instead of 10min in set #1 I go 15min??

    Or should both sets individually be 30mins?

  2. Gravatar
    AlexC November 07, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    On the Row Workouts using #1 as an example, for competitive racer it says to increase the interval duration to 20 minutes for all three sets, should I increase the work interval from 7 minutes to 17 minutes and keep the rest as 3 minutes or should I double them both 14 minutes and 6 minutes? Thank you

  3. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer November 09, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    AlexC - For workout #1 each set is 10-minutes long. To do 20-minutes, simply do two sets. For 30-minutes, perform 3 sets.

    For workout #2 each set is 15-minutes long so do two sets to get a total of 30-miutes.

    For workout #3, I would do 3 or 4 sets depending on whether you are competitive or elite/professional. In other words do Main Set #1, then the transition, then Main set #2. Repeat that pattern for 3 or 4 sets.

    Hope this helps. Thanks!

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