Participating in trackdays is a specific activity like any other sport. There are certain muscle groups, motions, and biomechanics that are emphasized. To become a better rider, you need to train accordingly. There are many different types of motorcycles, and levels of fitness and skill. However, for the sake of simplicity, I am going to group them into three general categories: new to the track, advanced trackday rider, and racer.
Track Day Novice
Generally, the focus for this group is improving overall fitness. Specific to motorcycling, there are three key areas to address.
Most people have flexibility issues, usually from muscle imbalances, sedentary lifestyle, or just a lack of regular flexibility activity. Addressing flexibility will alleviate muscle soreness, joint pain, and stiffness. It also allows you to ride for longer periods of time, add smoothness to your riding, and makes you more comfortable on the bike.
Proper body mechanics and posture
Improving flexibility allows you to practice proper body mechanics and posture both on and off the bike. Slumping over, excessive protraction at the shoulder, and improper arm mechanics can all lead to chronic joint issues. Proper alignment of your body also allows you to ride more with less effort and better control.
Muscular strength and endurance
Muscular strength and endurance work together to reduce fatigue and the effort required to perform an activity. Increasing strength also helps with safety and confidence, while increasing muscular endurance helps you last the entire session.
Advanced Trackday Rider
The greater forces and subsequent effort required on the track means that this group has less emphasis on overall fitness, and more focus on sport-specific exercises.
Flexibility is crucial for getting into proper body position without wasting energy straining against inflexible muscles. Not having to strain will make transitioning around the bike feel much more natural and flowing, which translates into increased smoothness.
Muscular strength and endurance, and cardio
Due to the increased effort required at an advanced pace, improving muscular strength and endurance becomes even more vital. Being able to last seven twenty-minute sessions with minimal fatigue will dramatically reduce your chances of crashing.
Proper body mechanics and posture
Along with making sure your body is in alignment throughout the day, the focus for the advanced trackday rider is proper body position. There are numerous articles and videos, as well as free instruction provided by the trackday organizers that delve into the topic in great detail that I will link at the end of the article. I’d also strongly recommend checking out the pictures from the professional photographers at the track to see if your body position is correct.
The areas of emphasis for the racer is similar to the advanced trackday rider, but with a much more specific and focused approach, and with a higher degree of application. Muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, posture, and cardio are all high priorities. Body composition also becomes important as every excess pound of body fat makes the bike that much slower and the effort that much greater. Nutrition and hydration strategies are crucial to maintaining energy and focus throughout a race weekend.
Keeping your braking markers consistent, hitting every apex, getting the best drive out of the corners, and adjusting your lines as needed is difficult enough without also dealing with fatigue and stiffness. Fatigue and poor flexibility lead to mistakes, sloppiness, and inconsistency. Being in top physical shape for the track can help you lower your lap times, keep your lap times consistent, and reduces your risk of injury to your body and your bike.