Physical fitness is a part of motorcycle riding that is often overlooked. After all, who cares about how much you can bench when your bike is pushing out that sweet, sweet horsepower?
But any skilled rider will tell you that physical fitness is an essential part of higher-level riding. Riders who are in shape recover faster from a long ride and are able to handle more powerful bikes with more precision. Physical fitness is especially important for those who do more physically demanding activities, such as sport or adventure riding.
Don’t worry, though—we’ve got four simple exercises that will help get your riding body in shape. From your shoulders to your hamstrings, these exercises target the most important areas for riders. Just a few sets a day can provide substantial gains in your handling performance if you stick with it.
Flexibility, particularly in your legs and lower body, is key for all kinds of riding techniques, such as getting a proper knee down in track corners. To improve flexibility, try targeting your glutes, hamstrings and quads with lunges.
Here’s how to do a lunge the right way:
- Begin by standing up straight with your feet apart.
- Using your right leg, take a big step forward. Your heel should hit the floor first and as it does, start moving your weight forward.
- Keeping your back as straight as possible, lower your body until your right leg is at a right angle. (You’re looking for the “marriage proposal” pose.)
- Bring your left knee down close to the floor (It’s OK if you’re not flexible enough to do this yet, but try to go as low as you can).
- Push from your right heel to gradually shift your weight back to standing position.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
Pull-ups are one of the best strength exercises for your upper body. Just a few reps of properly executed pull-ups can blast your arms and shoulders like nothing else, which will help give you the arm endurance for a long track day or trail ride.
To master the form of a pull-up, follow these steps:
- Using a shoulder-width grip with your palms face down, grab the pull up bar.
- Pull your legs up off the floor while keeping your arms straight and hang from the bar.
- Pulling from your elbows, lift your body’s weight up to the bar. Don’t stop until your chin clears the bar.
- Lower yourself back down until you’re in the position from step two.
3. Air Squats
Squats are great for improving both flexibility and lower-body strength, which will help you maintain smooth control of your bike. They’ll also help you improve your balance. Many people use weights and a squat rack for this exercise, but a simple air squat is a great place to start.
Proper form is even more important with squats than other exercises, so make sure you have it down:
- From a standing position, put your arms straight out in front of you.
- Lower your hips and bend your knees as if you’re about to sit down in a chair.
- Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Your arms should stay straight out and you should be looking straight ahead.
- Exhale and hold the pose for a second. Then, push your body back to standing using the middle of your feet.
Bicycling for motorcyclists? You bet! Cycling is an incredible way to build the cardiovascular endurance that you need to keep from getting winded during a long ride or while you’re on a dirt trail.
Mountain biking is a particularly popular exercise for pro-level motorcycle riders. It offers adventurous thrills, plus a high-intensity workout that’s easier on your joints than high-impact sports like running. Invest in a mountain bike and start spending some time on the trails, then watch your leg strength and cardiovascular endurance skyrocket when you’re back on your motorbike.
Finally, remember that no workout will protect and improve your fitness the way a good diet will. A diet that’s low in sugar and saturated fat but rich in fruits, vegetables and lean protein will protect your precious gains and give you the energy to ride at peak potential.
Being prepared to ride requires gearing up. That can mean a safety must-have like your helmet, a key communication device, like the Cardo PACKTALK BOLD, or the equipment you’re carrying around every day on your own body. By getting your body in shape, you’ll help equip yourself for a safer and more enjoyable ride.