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Practice Track Training

by Coach Seiji

For those of you following the Premium Training plans on Virtual Trainer and CANNOT ride, click here to chose a Motocross Repacement Workout to be used in place of riding.
Coach Seiji has a state of the art training facility in Texas with a full-on outdoor track and complete professional supercross track. Who wants to ride?

Training for you, the recreational rider, is actually much more complicated than training for an elite rider: school, career and family take most of your time and energy leaving little left over for training and recovery. Planning and efficiently executing training is a must for 99% of riders striving to remain competitive. The smart rider focuses his time, energy, and effort into the areas that will create the most positive changes to his or her overall motocross racing ability; for most riders this area is usually motocross specific skills and fitness that can only be achieved with actual motocross riding.

Since recreational riders will gain the most by actually riding motocross, plans to allow for as much actual riding is a must. This class of rider tends to only ride on weekends but many of them spend a large amount of time during the week involved in training activities such as going to the gym for strength training. The time spent at the gym, possibly multiple times per week, could be better spent actually riding. Executing an actual ride session is much more complicated than just going to the gym or going cycling but the payoff for getting another practice into the week is realistically much greater than doing any other training activity. It may by nearly impossible for a rider with a career and family to figure out how to add a riding session into the week but every effort should be made to ride as much as energy supplies allow. Something as simple and quick as doing drills after work would pay bigger dividends to most normal riders than another session in the gym or doing more cardiovascular training.

Once at the track the rider must use the valuable on track time as efficiently as possible. Ideally training weeks are organized where the highest energy demands occur early in the week and decrease as the week progresses. Since most riders do not have the luxury of having enough riding days during the week to execute such plans effectively, he or she must divide the energy they have for a single ride day into attacking their personal weaknesses in an order that makes the most sense as far as how the body reacts to expending energy.

The best way to systematically address riding weaknesses (or limiters) is to divide your overall riding ability into specific categories and address the limiter in each. An “average” rider’s categories might look something like this:

Rider Categories - General
1. Riding Specific Fitness
2. Riding Specific Skills
3 Mental Issues

Within these categories you will more than likely have a very specific limiter that you know is holding back your overall motocross performance. The most effective way to use your valuable practice time is to have a training objective that addresses each one of your known limiters and create practice goals. You will then create a plan for the practice session that organizes your efforts in order of decreasing energy demands.

Here is an example of a structured track day for Joe Vet whose self proclaimed limiters in the above categories look like this:

Rider Categories - Specific Limiters
1. Riding Specific Fitness: Every muscle - shoulders to hands - gives out and begins to morph into uncontrollable alien limbs at the 15-minute mark of a race moto.
2. Riding Specific Skills: Starts! Joe Vet gets lackluster starts and continues to lose positions during the first lap; has to play catch up the rest of the moto.
3. Mental Issues: When followed, Joe Vet rides defensively which causes nervousness which leads to the alien limb syndrome in his arms within a lap.

Training time is a valuable commodity for Joe Vet and riding time is even more rare so effective use of the practice time is a must. Joe can make it to the local Wednesday night practice but only has about 2 hours to ride. He wants to train smarter so he creates these goals at the office while he is supposed to be working on a presentation.

Rider Categories - Goals
1. Riding Specific Fitness Goal: Ride two, 17-minute motos at race pace.
2. Riding Specific Skills Goal: Practice starts; work on first lap riding in traffic.
3. Mental Goals: Focus on maintaining loose and relaxed riding under pressure

When Joe Vet gets to the track after work, he realizes that the practices are organized into big bikes and little bikes in 20-minute sessions and it is fairly crowded. While waiting in line to pay up, he creates his specific practice plan to attack the goals he created while at work in the order of decreasing energy demands.

Rider Categories - Execution!
1. Warm-up then ride 2, 17-minute motos at race pace. When fatigue creeps in, focus on
maintaining a loose and relaxed riding style and breathing normally.
2. Do 8 practice starts (he has to use the outside edge of the longest straight to do this) and ride one sprint lap as hard as he can go but using lines that are not part of the main race line to simulate having to pass or defend positions during the first lap of a vet race.
3. Again, work on breathing normally and remaining mentally calm.
Coach Seiji even has a state of the art gym in downtown Austin if you train with him. You know...for those days when it rains!

Joe Vet takes 20-minutes to get unloaded and geared up. His two lap warm-up and first moto eats up the first 20-minute practice session. In between his practice sessions he mentally reiterates his goals for the day. He goes out for his second moto and comes in before the practice session is over. One more rest period while the little bikes are out and then he does his starts and one lap sprints. He gets undressed and loads up within his available two hours!

Trading cross training time for riding time or figuring out the logistics to add more riding time will help every rider immensely. Using the system of categorizing components of riding performance, identifying limiters and creating practice goals eliminates “just riding around” and “wasting” this precious riding time. You will be specifically working on the things that will make the most difference in your overall riding ability. You aren’t getting any younger so get faster by training smarter! Do some thinking and some planning to make the most out of every minute you do get to ride and train. Be smarter, be efficient; GET FASTER!

About the Author: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt, Drew Yenerch, Jason Anderson, and Andrew Short. Learn more at or contact Coach Seiji 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
    Ed April 04, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I am just curious all I have is a small short track which is basically a small supercross track. it is hard for me to get to the track because of finances and school and a family. someone told me i waste my time riding at my track because it only a 1st ans 2nd gear track on a 450 and a second gear track on my 250 two-stroke. I have a tractor and firehoses so i can rip it and have rutts to ride in. it is only 6 lanes with 2 doubles, a table top, an uphill jump, downhill jump, a jump into a corner and a couple of straight stretches. nothing like an outdoor track with high speeds. Did i waste my money building this track and am I wasting my time riding on it? I am 43 years old and I am not getting any younger.

  2. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer April 04, 2012 at 9:59 am

    A waste of time??? I say heck NO! Any riding is better than none! Just try to make your laps as intense as possible and work on drills like cornering. Get your self a start gate from Risk Racing and you can work on two of the most important parts of racing: Turns and starts. Consider yourself lucky you have a track in your backyard to ride on.

  3. Gravatar
    martin April 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    hi, I'm an amateur rider and I've been off the bike for more than a year. I go to the gym everyday to do mostly strength training and almost no cardio, cause I don't like it that much. Since reading these articles I found out how important it is in motocross training and I want to change my workout routine in order to complement my riding. The thing is I'll start riding again in about a month and I want to create a training plan in and off the track that will help me to adapt quicker to the bike.

    A race day for me consist of two 25-minute motos on a 450cc and used to find it difficult to ride at my best after the 10 minute mark, sometimes I felt like I couldn't breathe and other times I felt armpump, so I drop my lap times fast and can't keep the pace. if you can help me I'll appreciate it. Thanks

  4. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer April 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Try adding some cardio to your workouts or follow the 19-week free training plan on the site. You can find it here.

  5. Gravatar
    kane gratton November 23, 2012 at 2:43 am

    my names kane gratton im 16 and i ride a honda crf450 11 i got the bike from new i am thinking on getting a crf450 2013 modle is there any point shall i just spend money on the 2011 modle?? thanks!

  6. Gravatar
    Stefan August 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm


    I just signed up for amateur program.
    The thing is that I work off shore,that means I got no possibility to ride in 3 weeks.

    Do You have some suggestion what the best way of compromising the riding-time while I'm at work??

    Sencerely Stefan

  7. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer August 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Stefan, if you cannot ride, a good substitute are the Motocross Replacement workouts.

  8. Gravatar
    Jarrett August 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

    He's one I'm stumped on ,34yr old married two young boys, a career that is demanding but I make time for a one night a week ride and some 100 riding a couple times 30min moto or so a week. Now here's the trick I've made a couple national back In the day , I feel I'm ready 2 starting training And attemp my local National again . I'm about 6 sec off qualifying pace ... Advise ?

  9. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer August 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Honestly at 6 seconds off the pace, the best advice is to ride more. At very minimum, 2 times per week.

  10. Gravatar
    Jarrett August 15, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Yeah, I'll try to work on that. No rush...just setting a goal for the next 2 yrs . Thanks!

  11. Gravatar
    Matt November 20, 2015 at 1:16 am

    I grew up racing motocross, I know what it takes to ride at the top level at the AM Nationals, but now I'm introducing my 6 year old son to motocross, he loves the sports and told me he wants to make a shot at Loretta's next year. only problem is we live in Michigan, so riding during the winter can be very limited, we plan to take him down south a couple of times to ride, but I feel like that wont be enough to have to ready for next year. I know telling a 6 year old to hit the gym isn't going to be practical, is there any kid friendly exercises I can do with him to help make him stronger on the bike?

  12. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer November 30, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Do NOT try taking him to the gym. I recommend getting him involved in winter sports around your area. Hockey, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, ANYTHING active. And encourage him to ride as much as possible even when it's cold. Invest in some good cold weather gear and go trail ride. Snowmobile riding/racing is also a good option. But DO NOT take him to the gym in hopes of getting stronger on the bike. He is way too young and may end up hating gym work later on when it counts.

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