Trainer Talk with.....Tim Ferry
By Tim Crytser 

Virtual Trainer: Hey Tim. Thanks for taking my call today. I know you are getting ready to leave for the Des Nations tonight so I'll make this as quick and painless as possible.
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Tim reflects on the early part of his career. "When I first came in the theory was to do as much as you could until you couldn't do any more."
photo: Fran Kuhn

Tim Ferry: No problem. I don't leave until later tonight so I have time.

Well, let's start out with a little history on training and your opinion on how things have changed over the years since you turned pro back in 91'. Do you see a big difference in how guys are preparing now compared to then.
Yes, for sure. I have seen a lot of things change since back when I started at the end of 91' and the beginning of 92'. We know so much more about training now than we did then. When I first came in the theory was to do as much as you can until you can't do any more. But over the years we have figured out how to train smarter by knowing which days to train hard and which days to take it easy. Listening to your body is a big key.

Do you train with a full time trainer as many of the pros do or do you do it on your own?
No, I have a trainer that I use who works for Carmichael Training Systems out in Colorado. His name is Dean Golich. I have been with Dean since 03' but he doesn't live near me here in Florida. He trains a number of different athletes not just me. We talk a few times per week and he keeps me going that way. We just use the phone and emails to set up my program and keep things going. He comes to a few of my races but it's more for him just to go. He is actually going to the Motocross Des Nations with me not really for the training side but more just to go to the event. But he helps me a lot away from the track. You know, after the races we will talk about how things went and how I feel. I'm real honest and if I don't feel good I'll tell him and we adjust the training accordingly.

So you don't rely on a trainer to help you out once you get to the races?
No. I know that a lot of the trainers go to the races to help their riders but I don't really use him for that. Some riders need that push at the races especially the younger guys but I am pretty motivated that way. For me there isn't really much a trainer can do for me on race weekends.

Talk to me a little bit about a typical week of training for you?
Well, you know, for me it really varies. It depends on things like how tough the race was the weekend prior or how much travel time is involved. My biggest thing is riding the motorcycle. I ride a ton. I very rarely take too many days off from riding. I get the most out of riding and that is what I enjoy the most. I am usually on the bike at least three if not four days a week in between races.

On the days that you ride, do you do anything else for training like strength training or more cardio?
I do spend some time on bicycles and stuff like that on those days. But I really focus on my riding and getting the most out of that. I feel that the most important part is getting better as a rider and improving my speed on the track; not necessarily how fast I am on a road bike.

Do you do a lot of strength training
Yes, I do quit a bit of strength training during the off-season. The trouble I am seeing right now is that my off-season is so short with races like the Des Nations and sponsor obligations and things like that that it becomes really difficult to balance the two. It is tough to balance your obligations with your sponsors who are paying you and training. I try to get to the gym at least a couple days per week during the off-season. During the season I try to go at least once a week, but I don't go in and kill myself so that I'm sore the next day when I get on the bike.

You mentioned that you use the road bike as a form of cardio training. Do you row as well like so many of the other riders?
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Tim admits that most of his training comes from riding the bike.....must be nice!
photo: Paul Buckley

The gym does have a rowing machine but so far I haven't tried it. But my trainer and I have been talking about using it more this off-season. Dean is coming up with some better ideas and more ways to train and we have been talking about the rower. I have been doing this for so long that it gets a bit monotonous so I am really looking forward to doing something completely different and seeing what the rower can do for me.

Well Concept2 is a huge supporter of the Virtual Trainer website, so I'll have to get you and Dean in touch with Greg Hammond. He is the guy to get you everything you need. You know as far as the rowing machine goes I can't remember the last time I talked to a rider or trainer who wasn't using the rower for training. When it comes to a total body workout that covers everything from long aerobic rides, to recovery rides and go-till-you-puke intervals that thing has you covered.
Yea, that is what I hear and it is such a good low impact deal. Our sport is so gnarly with impact that I don't want to do more high impact training like running. Running is a great workout but I am already pounding myself all weekend that during the week I want to try and do something a little smoother with a little less pounding. 

What do you do for nutrition
? Are you on a strict diet or do you just watch what you eat and let things take care of themselves?
You know, I'm not real strict but since 2003 right before I started working with my trainer I was at my heaviest weight at almost 190 pounds. Now I am down to about 165 to 170 pounds. And that is all attributed to my diet. When I was a kid on my way to the races I would actually eat fast food. That was in the early 90's and I just didn't know any better. Now I have just cleaned things up like I don't eat any fast food or drink sodas. I don't really drink alcohol either except maybe this weekend after we win the Des Nations! Really, I have just cut out a lot of the unnecessary stuff and eat three good meals a day. I don't stress myself out about counting calories and all that stuff.

Let's talk about how you, as such an old man, are so successful at motocross (laughs). I sometimes think people or journalist like to focus on a guys age because they aren't smart enough to talk about anything else. 33 is not old in any sport in my opinion. Look at Dara Torres in the Olympics this year. She is 41 and was just as strong now as she was when she was 18. Lance Armstrong, Mike LaRocco, John Dowd.....the list of "older" athletes goes on. What do you think it is about motocross that seems to prevent more guys like yourself to move into their 30's and still be competitive
Not to take anything away from racers back when, but I think a lot of it has to do with eliminating old influences that have been a part of the sport since the 70's. Like smarter training and moving away from the idea that you have to train as hard as you can all the time and the notion that you are done by the time you are 25. I think we are weeding out those people and influences and bringing in people who are more educated on fitness. I think we are learning how to train smarter not harder which is what the Carmichael Training System is all about.

Do you think that training will become more and more important to the longevity of your career the older you get
Oh for sure, I definitely think so. I think that something Ricky Carmichael did was train a ton and by doing this he showed that you can lower your risk by not getting as tired when you race and when you do crash your body is able to take it. He was definitely the first of this generation of riders to really train hard and smart. He was so strong that when the bike got out shape he was able to save just about anything.

How important of a role do feel the trainer has in the overall success of a rider. For instance, I have often speculated
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Adapting to new riding techniques like the Bubba Scrub has helped Ferry maintain his speed throughout his career.
photo: Simon Cudby

that if Aldon Baker, who now trains James Stewart would have been training James instead of Ricky a few years ago, RC would not of had two undefeated seasons as he did and certainly would have won less races.
Yea, for sure. No doubt, Aldon is a great trainer. He transformed Ricky into a great rider and has done the same for James this year. He has made James a really consistent rider. That says a lot about him and says a lot about James to be open minded enough to hire Aldon. It's hard for a rider who makes all the money and gets all the hype to actually listen to other people around him. I admire James for being able to listen to Aldon.

And I think James and RC, and this meant with no disrespect to you or any of the other riders past or present, but I think those two have a skill set that is just a notch above anyone who has ever ridden a bike. And with Aldon training them, I think he has been the decisive factor in their domination.
Yes, it definitely has and I think that once they got Aldon, like myself once I found the right trainer and I went through a lot of them, they got a mental edge. And I think this sport is a lot about the mental aspect. I think that once James started working with Aldon he got it into his mind that he couldn't be beat. And darn if he didn't do just that this year in the outdoors. Plus the older you get you start to make better decisions on the track. I know that with myself, I know what effort and what output I can do for an entire moto. And that is something that as you get older you get better at doing. And James and Ricky used that to their advantages too. James has two more years of experience than he did when he raced Ricky. Ricky crashed a lot when he was younger and then got better as he got older. James has done the same thing. You get smarter as you get older and you learn how to pick your battles.

What do you think will be the key to your success as you progress through your 30's and beyond?
Well, for me I don't think my training needs to change any. I feel that my training is solid. My second motos in the outdoors were all solid. I think what I will have to do is adapt to the new styles that come along with each new era. I'm kind of like the third generation era out there being in my mid-thirties. It stepped up when Jeremy came in and then stepped up again when Ricky came in and then again when James came in. I will have to adapt my riding style to meet the times. Whether it's scrubbing, staying low or even bike setup.

You have had a long career for sure. How do you feel now as an athlete compared to when you are younger and do you wish you would have known then what you know now regarding training?
Well, hind sight is always twenty-twenty but if I would have had the right training like I have now I certainly think I would have had more race wins through my career and a chance to possibly race for titles. It's a shame that I didn't have it but that is just how it went for me. I don't regret anything I did, but everything happens for a reason.

You know that is something that has always puzzled me about motocross. You have all the teams spending millions of dollars on riders and bikes and rigs, but no one spends a dime on making sure their riders have the best trainers. That is until what Coy Gibbs at JGR has done this year. What is your take on the team training concept in motocross?
You know when you mention James and Ricky the thing about those guys is that they have had heavy factory sport since when they were on 80's. Their full time job has always been racing. With that said I think that they certainly had the most talent to get them that opportunity but at the same time they had the most advantages with their own tracks to ride on and their own facilities and all the bikes they needed to get ready for races. And those things that were started when they were on 80's have turned into what you see today with undefeated seasons. There are only a small number of guys that get that kind of support from early on and its tough to compete with that. But you are right as far as the factories are concerned. They do not offer much guidance to riders when it comes to training. But I think you are going to see more of that put into place and offering the right guidance to riders instead of leaving it up to the riders and parents to figure it out. If that happens with the next generation of riders I just can't imagine what that is going to do.

To me it is so black and white what a trainer can do for a rider that I scratch my head all the time when I see these factory teams operating without a training staff for their riders. Not only trainers but coaches. Can you imagine if professional football didn't have trainers and coaches? Or any other professional sport for that matter. I am just surprised that JGR is the only team offering training services to their riders.
Well I certainly think it would be different if each team only had one rider. If you look back in the 80's Jeff Spencer was the team trainer for Honda. But I think that money, ego, family and so much involvement from other people that it's not just about the rider. I think the riders get along for the most part fairly well and in a way are able to separate the competition from the friendships but it's the entourages and all these other people that now, when you have two guys on a team, it's almost like they are against each other and not on the same team. The one thing that I think will help JGR is that they are not getting riders like James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Ricky Carmichael. They are getting guys that are still in a way coming up and need that guidance. And they really aren't given the option to do it any other way. I think that will be a huge advantage for those guys because they are given a track to practice on, a trainer and all they have to do is show up and race.

Well I certainly think that what JGR will be the model for how professional teams are run in the future. Until these kids start treating their riding careers as a job, more and more of them are going to fail before their time.
Yea, that's what the bottom line is too. A lot of these athletes are only 16 year old kids when they first get their license and a lot of them never finish school. In most other professional sports you have to be 18 and finish high school or go on to college to play professionally. So these kids are definitely in need of guidance. I think that you should have to be 18 years old to turn pro and that would give these young kids a chance to mature and become their own person and know more of what they are getting in to.

What is the one piece of training advice that you have picked up over your career that you would pass on to the weekend warrior?
The best advice I would give to the weekend warrior is to ride their bike as often as possible. Start out slow and work their endurance up. Work on 15 minute motos and just ride. If you can't do that then bicycle, run, lift weights or what ever they can but the key to riding and reducing the risk of injury is to ride.
That's good advice for sure. How many years do you think you will continue to compete?
I am going to ride until my body won't let me anymore. I am going to do it as long as I am competitive. I feel that I have my best years racing in front of me. With training the right way and being smart about it I don't see any reason why I don't have 5 more years in me. Plus I love to ride. Even after I retire I will get up and ride every day.
One final topic and I'll let you go, and that is on the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) in motocross. I think this is a bigger issue than anyone realizes and until the AMA takes their head out of the sand I think we, as a sport, are just asking for trouble. Do you feel that PED's are a problem or will become a problem in the future?
I'm not sure if it is problem yet, but I think at some point it is going to be. If you look at any other sport it's a problem. I don't know if we are necessarily at that point but that should be our next step in testing. They do it in most other sports and I think they should do it in ours. I think that for motocross to step up to the next level the AMA needs to spend the money and start doing some real testing. Not just the pee test that they do now for recreational drugs. They don't even watch you pee in the cup so there are a hundred ways around the test. But like I said I don't think it is a problem now but I do feel there are people using them; but sometimes I feel that it's not even the guys that are winning.

That's even more of a reason for the AMA to test. To protect riders like you who are doing things the right way. If the guys that are beating you now are doing it on blood, sweat, and tears then so be it. But if a new rider comes along who is suddenly faster that you due to PED's... man I don't know about you but that would really piss me off.
Yea, your right. I think for me I have been lucky to get some really good advice from my current trainer and Doctors along the way who have educated me about the dangers of Performance Drugs. I would rather settle for second or third than risk my health by using drugs. I have to live in this body the rest of my life and I don't want to do anything to damage it. Exercise is good for your body and performance enhancing drugs are not. Lucky for me I have always been involved with people who were more interested in my health than championships and money. I'm all for the AMA drug testing and if someone needs my name on a petition than I'll sign it to make it happen.

Well, with that I will let you go. Thanks again for taking the time to talk training and good luck in England. I have no doubt that you, James and Ryan will again be the champions.
Yea, sure your welcome and I hope we can. That's the plan for sure!

That's it for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at 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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