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Motorcycle Fitness: Debunking Common Misconceptions Part 1

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Let me start by detailing my experience first. I am a fully qualified trainer/therapist and experienced business owner of over 20 years in the Rehabilitation and Exercise genre. I've worked in elite sports and with the general public as well as done my own extensive time in sports and exercise, at I'd like to think a fairly decent standard, I mean you don't get to black belt standard very easy right? I've also mentored many young up and coming therapists and trainers as well as delivered training courses and hosting practitioners from all over the world.

Man lifting a motorcycle

What I'm about to tell you is not my personal take on this subject, it is the absolute essence of what the science can prove, along with some empirical evidence. So if you don't agree with what I'm presenting then are you basically disagreeing with the clever sports and exercise sicientists which have known since the 1950s how our bodies deal with exercise stress along with the nervous systems adaptions to specific demands?

I feel sure I could easily enlighten even the best professional riders along with anyone wanting to "get fit" to ride a motorcycle.

So firstly let me start by addressing that old cliche, in that if you do an exercise that is similar to motorcycle riding it will help you improve your motorcycle riding.


Here's a great example, have you ever seen fitness guru's touting that a certain press up bar that you balance on and try to do pressups with (just because it looks like motorcycle handle bars) must mean theoretically it will somehow improve your motorcycle strength?

push up bar
Push Up Bar for motorcycling or cycling

Yes, whilst it looks fun! I'm afraid the evidence says that UNLESS the EXERCISE you're practicing is EXACTLY like the activity you want to improve then you will not be able to transfer anything of real significant importance to said activity in the realms of STRENGTH and FITNESS other than some residuel benefits but at a higher cost in terms of transfer and muscle improvement. And it will also not improve your core control on a motorcycle! It's often termed SPORTS SPECIFIC TRAINING

In other words you won't get very good transfer over to a motorcycle whilst you are doing an exrcise balancing on a bar like the one in the picture. Aside from the fact that anyone who thinks that strength and balance being combined is a good thing is being totally MISLEAD and not educated to the proven facts.

As this is not a technical post I won't be citing all the studies but i'll lead you to one meta analysis of around 100 papers on sports and exercise science which was done for us by some very clever British Sports Scientists who lead the world in this field confirming what I'm saying. So just go and research Fisher, Price & Steel

What's the fix?

If you partake in basic Resistance Training i.e. Weight Training and improve the strength and

size of your muscles then this will help you with your particuar discipline what ever that may be (Motorcycling in this case) as long as you practice that discipline enough.

In other words ride a motorcycle/cycle alot, and ride through different terrains at different speeds etc and you will improve, more so if you have a good resistance based exercise program.

And remember if you want to race around a track on a sports bike you will not benefit much from doing off roading. Doing off roading will not greatly improve your street riding, stands to reason right? they are completely different disciplines. Just because they are on two wheels doesn't mean you can transfer much skill, and actually you could be causing a Negative skill Transfer, which you definately do not want.

Do you get that?

I know your brain is thinking "but if I do this I should benefit with that right"? well that's because we've all been conditioned by too much social media and by too many 'influencers' who will basically sell their souls to deliver any content if it helps their career. I even know people personally who wrote for big fitness magazines (including myself) who's articles had their name to it but they never actually wrote the piece, or it was changed considerably till it was never recognised in its original format anymore. Happens all the time.

Here's a caveat and please pay attention to what I'm saying here, it's very important.

"Everything works but not everything is as Efficient and Effective"

Yes you will get some benefit

You get benefit from cleaning floors, laying bricks or carrying bags of coal, but it's definately not the best or most efficient way and it will certainly break you down over time.

There are far more effective ways to improve your strength and fitness on a motorcycle or bicycle which take up less time and doesn't damage your life force half as much.

If you would like me to go into more detail (and it does get technical believe me) into how to increase strength the most effective and efficient way according to the science and more strength and conditioning experts than I could ever name then please comment and ask.

I'll show you the best way to improve according to the science and my own 50 years experience with exercise and rehab.

If I get enough interest from people I'll do a more technical piece including exactly what you should or should not be doing to improve your fitness to ride a motorcycle with more confidence.

You'll be happier and riding better than ever, BUT you will have to work for it ;)

By Neil Southwick

Bionic Bikers

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