Riding a superbike requires a high level of skill and concentration, as well as plenty of practice and training beforehand. And while riding is mentally demanding, it’s physically demanding too, so bikers need to have a good deal of physical fitness if they want to ride like a pro.
If you race superbikes, or if you have a couple of track days in the pipeline, bear in mind that being physically fit will undoubtedly enhance your overall performance. And we’re not talking about endless hours spent at the gym pumping weights; being physically fit is all about exercising in a way that benefits your riding style, as well as making sure you’re eating enough of the good stuff. Mental fatigue will set in very quickly if the body gets tired and that’s when mistakes are made, so getting your body up to speed should really help to improve your ride.
For professional superbike teams, exercise and diet are two major components of their training regime. BMW riders, for instance, have to endure a fitness camp as part of their pre-season prep.
Obviously, the level of preparation will depend on whether you’re competing in a race or taking part in a one-off track day. For races, stamina should be a key area of focus – you want to be able to maintain a good pace for the full duration of the race, delaying fatigue for as long as possible. Track days, on the other hand, are all about getting fit so that you aren’t knackered and sore after the first few couple of sessions.
No matter what, superbike riding is all about striking the balance between strength and stamina. There’s no use packing on pounds of muscle at the gym and carrying out no aerobic training, as the extra weight could slow you down when you’re on the track. Similarly, spending endless hours running on a treadmill and not lifting one weight will probably result in you slimming down, but you are unlikely to dramatically increase upper body strength.
The recommended balance is carrying out muscle-related exercises for a minimum of two days a week. Added to this should be up to two and a half hours of aerobic activity per week, with the time being dependant on the nature of the activity. Aerobic activity entails getting your heart pumping, possibly by engaging in running and cycling for example. A good way to increase aerobic activity is to partake in sports. You’ll be working your cardiovascular system while the competitive nature of the sport will allow you to keep focused and get that thirst for victory. One down side is that it’s not as easy to quantify how much work you have done when playing a sport as it is when using machines in a gym.
When it comes to strength, weights, weight machines and resistance bands are all good for training and with these it’s easy to closely monitor your progress. However, if you don’t have access to any of these things, sit-ups and push-ups are also good exercises to help you to build core strength. There are a plethora of videos on the internet that detail routines that require nothing more than your own body as resistance that can focus the training on specific areas of the body.
With all this considered, physical fitness isn’t achieved solely through exercise but also through diet. You want to make sure you’re getting the right balance of fruit, veg, carbs, fat and proteins. On the day – be it a race or a track day – avoid sugary or fatty foods, as blood sugar levels drop drastically following the initial sugar-rush and you could spend your afternoon feeling lethargic, which could greatly impact your overall performance. While there’s no particular recommended diet, a consultation with a dietician or nutritionist will help you to work out an individual plan.