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Trainer Talk With....Ronnie Faisst

by Racer X Virtual Trainer

A few years ago I had the oportunity to travel to Evolution Fitness in Murrieta, California,  and watch freestyle legend Ronnie Faisst get put through the paces of a V02 max test. Ronnie started training at Evolution Fitness this summer but was injured a few weeks later at the Summer X games. Normally V02 testing is one of the first things trainer, Charles Dao performs, but due to Ronnie’s injury he had to wait. Since injuring himself, Charles has been rehabbing Ronnie’s shoulder and wrist while strengthening his lower body. Now that Ronnie is healthy and riding again, he is ready to start an intensive training program that Charles will develop based on Ronnie’s V02 max scores. "The V02 max testing allows me to develop a custom training program based on Ronnie’s Physiology, not just my opinion. With this initial V02 test we can track Ronnie’s progress giving both of us the confirmation we need to verify the program I developed is actually working," explains Charles. Once the testing was complete, I had a chance to sit down with Ronnie and chat about training, the gym, and freestyle MX.
Ronnie and trainer Charles Dao go over Ronnie's V02 test results

Virtual Trainer: Thanks for sitting down with me today and chatting a little about your V02 test.
Ronnie Faisst: Yea, sure no problem.

So let’s start from the beginning. What made you want to come to Evolution Fitness and train and get V02 tested?
Well the V02 test gives us a base to start from. I am trying to gain a little weight, so from what I understand from Charles, this will tell him what he needs to know to set up a good program for me and be able to track my progress.

Why are you interested in gaining weight?
I just want to gain weight because I always feel like I’m the skinny kid. You know its weird, for freestyle you don’t want to be bulky because you can’t do tricks but I also don’t want to be so skinny that when I hit the ground I break. I don’t like to be skinny. I want the Bruce Lee look so that when guys look at me they know that, man that guy works out hard. I’m currently about 173 to 176 pounds. I’d like to get to about 180 pounds with low body fat and all cut up. You know, its funny, being a freestyle athlete, you don’t even need to come to the gym and train. You don’t need to be in great shape to be the best guy out there. In MX, it’s very important to be in great shape, but in freestyle, it doesn’t really matter. But the way I look at it, it can’t hurt. I’m looking for longevity in this sport. The better shape you’re in, the faster you recover from injuries. I have always been into martial arts and training, so for me I don’t know any other way.

Being in shape definitely has its advantages. How else does that relate to freestyle?
Well, like I said, your body recovers quicker from injuries and there is also the mental aspect of it. When you're in shape, I think you just have more confidence overall. And freestyle is all about confidence. When I get on my bike, it just gives me confidence. I feel like, yea, I’ve been riding and training everyday so I have the confidence to bust out tricks. In freestyle it all comes down to bike time and how big your balls are to put it on the line. Training helps me out with that.

Ronnie trains as hard as anyone in the business

What about a guy like Travis Pastrana? Does he just have bigger nads than everyone else, or is he really that talented?
He is just on a different level right now. That guy is incredibly talented and extremely crazy. Ands what’s even more amazing is that he doesn’t concentrate on just one thing. He does everything. If he buckled down and decided to do just one thing, man he could be the best ever. I think if he would have ever concentrated on just MX, he could have been great. I mean, look how good he is in MX, he is always right in there, but he never dedicated the time to training and riding. He has talent on every level. It’s funny because when you compare Travis to the rest of the freestyle guys, he’s like this tall, lanky dude who is kind of goofy, but he is so badass. To do a double back flip like he did, that just puts him on a whole other level.

It seems that everyone has the back flip in their bag of tricks and you guys make it look easy. Where does the double back flip rate on the crazy meter among you guys in freestyle?
To me, when he did that, it was pretty much just over. I had seen footage of him doing it in the pit, and other footage of him doing it, but to see him do that at the X games on a ramp over 60 feet to a regular landing, it was just sick. I couldn’t believe he just did that. That just shows you the type of person he is, because there aren’t many guys in the world of freestyle that would sack up and do that. I know all the top riders and they are all like, hell no.

Do you think you will ever try a double back flip?
Well, I have my own set of goals. Right now, I have this monkey on my back with this 360. I crashed at X games doing the 360, so I have a mental thing with that right now. I can’t just walk away from that trick. I have to do it again. I can’t say that I will never attempt a double back flip; it’s just that right now it’s not on my mind. I mean, I never thought I would back flip in the first place. The first time I saw it I was like, oh my God he didn’t just do that. But a year later when I saw Metzger flip, I was like, I’m learning that. But for the first full year, I never even thought about trying it. And then a year later, I started learning it and even with 360’s I didn’t want to do that trick, but I eventually learned how to do them both. It took four years of the tricks being out before I tried them on dirt. I did them for a year in the pit and I was still crashing. But the sport is always evolving, so I can’t say that I will never try it, but for right now it’s not on my mind at all.

Charles makes sure Ronnie's abs are tight!

What’s it like the first time you learn a trick like a back flip and land it on dirt?
It’s scary! You’re nervous as hell, because you know that if something goes wrong you’re going to get hurt really bad.

Getting back to training, you said earlier that training doesn’t really play a role in freestyle, but do you think that things like strength and flexibility can help like it does in MX?
Oh, I definitely think it helps. Maybe not as much as in MX, but how can it not help? It takes a lot of strength to do the things we do in freestyle. The thing with freestyle is that it’s a factor, maybe just not the determining factor. I know that I am in better shape then Kenny Bartram, but he can do all the tricks that I can do. It just gives me more confidence when I train and am in good shape.

It sounds to me like you guys should be in Psychological training to try to make yourselves crazier.
Yeah, no doubt. In freestyle it definitely comes down to who is willing to take the biggest risk. Because everything that you need to do to win, is risky. You have to go through this learning process of where that trick that you are going to do, scares you. I don’t care what any professional athlete says that rides freestyle MX. You can’t say that when you are trying to learn a Superman flip or Superman seat grab flip, you’re not scared. You’re lying. I’ve been through it and I’ve watched my friends go through it. Even when they get it, the first two or three months they don’t like doing it. But over time it finally gets to the point where its fun. Really, it’s the guys that are young, and haven’t been hurt real bad yet that are crazy. They are hungry and want to do everything out there. They are where I was 8 years ago. They want to make a living at this and are willing to do whatever it takes.

How many days a week do you train and what types of exercises do you do?
I try to get to the gym 5 days a week. At least two days are with Charles and the rest I’m on my own. We are doing a lot of explosive strength training. I haven’t been training with Charles for very long, but I can tell right from the beginning that he does things a lot differently than other trainers I’ve had. He does a lot of balance training with balls and wobble boards and stuff like that. It’s different from anything I have ever done. The way he incorporates balance into the training is great. I really like it a lot. Everything is about speed, quickness, and powerful movements.

Have you seen any results yet?
Well, what happened was the first month I was in here, we were just kind of getting to know each other, and then I got hurt. So everything up until now has been rehab. I am just now healthy enough to start training again. That is why I did the V02 test today. From that, Charles is going to put a complete package together for me. Up until about three weeks ago, I couldn’t really do anything because I had a fractured wrist and separated shoulder. We have been doing legs for over a month now, so my legs are rock solid and all of the rehab is done.

Check out the balance ball used during squats

I won’t give away what you scored on your V02 test, but Charles said that your score was comparable to an Average Joe.
Yeah, that actually fired me up. I was like, Average Joe? I’m a professional athlete dude, not an Average Joe. Needless to say, we are going to work on cardio after that statement. Even though I don’t need it, I’m going to improve it so I can sleep at night. It's just something that will get in my head. In Freestyle, so much of what you do is in your head. If you are sitting there getting ready to do some crazy trick and you know that you have prepared on and off the bike, it just gives you that much more confidence. Even though its only 90 second runs, you still have to be able to do your big tricks, be strong the entire run and if you make it to the next round you have to be able to come out and do it again. So it’s a lot of mental stuff.

Well, I am getting my V02 test tomorrow. I’ll let you know if this Average Joe beats you or not.
Yeah, thanks a lot. You better not score better than me. I’ll really have to pick up my cardio then.

Well, Ronnie, it was a pleasure meeting you and thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and talk today.
Yeah, sure, no problem Tim. Nice meeting you too.

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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