In a past issue of the Ultra 4 newsletter we talked a little bit about the reasons behind WHY we as racers need to get up off of our butt and to get motivated to get in shape. Yes, it will help us drive faster, yes, it will help to keep fatigue at bay longer and yes, and it will allow us to accomplish our goals as racers. But most importantly, aside from all of our racing goals, getting in shape will allow us to live longer, and to lead more productive lives that will ultimately allow us to race longer. So look at it this way. By just taking a couple of dedicated minutes a day we can race well into our golden years of our lives. Something, I truly hope to be doing later on in life with all of you.
How do we get there? I want to focus on three areas of our body to start us on our journey: Our Core Strength, Our Upper Body Strength and Our Cardiovascular Strength.
Our Core Strength: Simply defined as the balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back. Why are these muscles important? These are the very muscles that allow us to control our body and the hits we take on that huge whoop, or monstrous rock ledge drop off. If these muscles are not strong and we are a pile of jelly, our body will flop around accordingly instead of being strong and being able to support our head to make those decisions at speed.
Our Upper Body Strength: Specifically our shoulder muscles and neck muscles. We as Ultra 4 drivers drive over probably the toughest terrain above any other type of race car driver. If we lose contact with that steering wheel for one second things could get interesting quick. Being able to maintain contact with the steering wheel and react without fatigue in our shoulders is paramount for our discipline of driving. Our neck muscles are probably even more paramount. I know many of us have been slammed around hard enough in the vehicle that our head with that 4lb helmet has gone flopping around. Having a strong neck and being able to balance the head without pain is very important. Do we need necks the size of football players? Possibly yes for safety.
Our Cardiovascular Strength: Cardiovascular Strength refers to the ability of your heart, lungs and organs to consume, transport and utilize oxygen. The faster we can transport oxygen more efficiently the more efficient our bodies will perform. Do we need to become marathon runners? I don’t necessarily think so but I do believe it would help our performance tenfold. Running to our VO2 max (look it up) will allow us to become more efficient, will allow our hearts to become more pliable and not tough, and ultimately will allow those stressful situations like doing 100mph to become not so stressful because our body can process it and not shut down.
In the next newsletter I’ll discuss specific exercises that I have been doing to increase my strength across these three platforms and how to maximize the strength at each level. See you out there racing!