Why Is Fitness So Important for Motorsport?

Sure, motorsport may be mechanically assisted, but fitness training is just as important in motorsport as it is to athletics or ball sports.

It is easy to underestimate the importance of fitness training in motorsport. After all, drivers do spend most of their competition time while seated, only slightly moving their arms and feet to operate a race car. But there is more to being a race car driver than just turning the steering wheel, stepping on pedals, and pushing and pulling the gear shifter.

Let’s have a look at why improving fitness can help race car drivers succeed.

Training for Endurance

We’ll start with endurance racing… because it’s in the name. Races can last for several hours including stints behind the wheel of well over an hour.

When you take into consideration that the conditions inside a race car cockpit can be unforgiving that time behind the wheel can be like running a marathon

Did you know that cabin temperatures in V8 Supercars can be over 20 degrees warmer that the outside air temperature?

These extreme temperatures will have a significant impact if the driver is not physically fit, there is no telling how long he can physically and mentally last to reach the finish line.

An important component of improving the driver’s endurance is through cardiovascular high intensity interval training. Apart from the obvious benefit of improving muscular integrity, endurance training can also enhance the driver’s balance and flexibility, through dedicated recovery sessions, which in turn also help with injury prevention.

Strength training for race car drivers can include dedicated strength sessions and bodyweight  exercises. However, when using weights, It Is Important to focus on building an Incredibly lean muscle. This can be achieved by light weights and high repetitions.

Mobility training is another crucial part of an endurance improvement program. Although it is true that drivers will not gain muscle mass through mobility training, they do get to expand the range of movements and motions their bodies can do while racing.

drivers should most importantly focus on improving the flexibility and strength across their whole body as when they are In the car, their whole body Is exposed to the conditions and forces throughout a lap.

Endurance training can also help drivers cope with the extreme heat inside the cockpit, where they are vulnerable to fluid loss, especially when they are competing in very hot conditions. Proper endurance training teaches them hydration methods and prepares them to keep their bodies safe from extreme heat exposure. Heat acclimatisation sessions are also a great way of making a driver comfortable In performing whilst exposed to high temperatures.

Improving Concentration and Focus

Not many people may realise it, but maintaining high concentration and focus not only takes brain power but physical fitness as well.

As a matter of fact, numerous studies showed that regular and frequent physical conditioning can boost the human brain’s serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels. All of these bodily chemicals can improve one’s focus and attention.

To win in a pressure-filled activity like  racing fora championship, drivers need to be in the zone, a state of mind that allows them to reach extraordinary levels of focus and concentration. The challenges involved are twofold—getting the driver’s mind into the zone and keeping it there for as long as possible.

Fitness training can help race car drivers achieve exactly that. Moreover, physical conditioning allows them to become more attuned to their bodies’ needs.

Armed with a better understanding of how their bodies function, they can have better control, allowing them to relax to prevent their minds from getting overwhelmed by the pressures involved in car racing.

Reducing Fatigue

You may be wondering why it is important to combat fatigue in motorsports. Apart from slowing down muscular movements and reflexes, fatigue can also affect a driver’s information processing and decision-making capabilities—two must-haves for winning races.

drivers who get tired in the middle of a race are prone to limited or lack of anticipation, preventing them from quickly acting when faced with unforeseeable situations like accidents, which is absolutely critical because of the high-speed nature of motorsport.

Tired eyes can lead to collisions, delayed responses can lead to accidents, and loss of concentration can lead to crashes, which are not only expensive but can also cause injury.

Resisting fatigue requires undergoing stamina training, and there are several exercises that can help with that.

Enabling Faster Recovery

Fitness training, coupled with a healthy diet, can help drivers recover quicker from gruelling racing events.

Physical conditioning can equip a driver’s body to endure exhausting training sessions and actual racing events. Drivers who are accustomed to high-intensity workouts are in a better position to recover quickly because they are used to performing rigorous activities.

Fast recovery will not be possible, however, without eating food that helps rebuild the body’s strength. Fitness programs for  drivers typically incorporate dietary recommendations that facilitate the rapid healing of tired or even injured muscles. While at Focus we ensure we Include specific recovery sessions whichInclude sauna's, float tanks and swimming.

Finally, quick recovery is also only possible if the body gets adequate rest enabled by good sleeping habits.

The great thing about fitness training is that apart from making drivers stronger, it also trains them to effectively manage downtime to let their bodies regain their strength, thus enhancing their physical capabilities.

Withstanding G-Forces

It Is not uncommon to see over 2-3G In most race cars. When the body Is exposed to this kind of force consistently for even short periods of time It has a very fatiguing effect on the driver.

Why is it important for race car drivers to be able to withstand G-forces? For one,G-forces can affect a human heart’s ability to pump blood to the brain. If that is compromised, the brain could experience oxygen starvation, which could lead to blackouts.

Thanks to fitness training, however, drivers can develop their core and muscular strength and strengthen their lungs and circulatory systems, thereby preventing the possibility of starving their brains of oxygen.

Here at Focus Driver Performance, we offer customised physical development programs for race car drivers. Send us a message now so we can give you more details.