Comeback Fitness

So lets say your someone who stopped karting regularly 8 years ago and you want to make somewhat of a comeback. General fitness is low, you don’t have the opportunity to pound laps to get race fit.

What do you do?

There must be tonnes of people who have come back after a period of parents not paying/not having enough expendable income.

I’m thinking of maybe running/cycling for cardio and yoga/pilates for core. I don’t want to go back to my euro days of 3 hours a day in the gym.

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My 2c (it’s about the same in CAD and GBP now anyway isn’t it?)

Turn some laps to uncover where your “weak spots” might be. Figure out ways to work on those.
For me flexibility helped a LOT and there’s always time to stretch.
Whatever activity you decide to do, do something that you actually interests you and that you will enjoy.
i.e. don’t do it just because someone said you should.

Not that I’ve ever had a comeback, but I’ve noticed as I have gotten older, I’m naturally less limber than I was in my younger days, so a good upper body warm up each morning on a race weekend and some solid stretching seems to help keep me waaaaay stronger throughout the day and combats the soreness and stiffness each morning.

I had a short P90X phase, so I try to do some of the warm-up routines they have in those workouts, specifically ones targeting shoulders, neck, back and arms. Also, the Ab Ripper X routine is pretty great for core conditioning. And it’s only 15 minutes every other day so it’s easy to get done.

Your neck is probably fine from ripping around on gum ball tires/tracks back in the day, but it might be good to do some off-season neck training. I used to do a ton of neck work in my junior years.

Every year I notice that my first two races leave me pretty sore and exhausted but once I’ve built up that conditioning again I’m fine the rest of the season.

Love the sound of the Ab Ripper X. I wish my neck was still as strong as it was. But over a 20 minute race I definitely start to give up holding it in place. I’ve done a couple of races since (2014, 2015) so I have a reasonable idea of where my issues lie.

Certainly interesting to hear everyone else’s ideas though.

@KartingIsLife, exercise that interests me…I don’t understand.

Preach brother! I did MMA for a while. Maybe downhill mountain biking…
Or moar laps.

Wife does mma, don’t need her to think I am capable of defending myself. Plus my aggression is limited to the warm embrace of bodywork.

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Day One
20 mins on a crosstrainer
10 mins on a rowing machine
10 mins yoga
1 medium size pizza recovery


Don’t forget to hydrate. :beers:


Snapple counts right?


I was also going to mention to don’t forget about nutritional needs. @Trey_Shannon did a podcast about this with us (I think it’s Episode 10 from memory).

@NikG you’re on the right track. Just knowing you need it is half the battle. @tjkoyen made a great point about not being as limber as we get older, so definitely keep the yoga included. The biggest thing in that area for us “older” guys is preventing injury and helping to recover if we do get injured. We’re not unbreakable like some of those kids are, and when we do get hurt, it takes a little longer to heal, so being in better shape can help with both of those. Just ask TJ about his ribs ;). I’m attending a mobility and performance seminar at the end of next month, so perhaps you can find some additional info that relates that to karting shortly thereafter here on

The row machine is one of the best things you can do for conditioning. Just make sure to vary your routine a bit, as opposed to 10 minutes every time. I can provide some sample rowing workouts and ways to track progress if you’re interested. If you’re not interested in being in the gym all the time, things like rock climbing, swimming, mountain biking, and kayaking/paddle boarding are all great workouts, as is James’ favorite MMA training.

And yes @DavinRS has the podcast # right. In Episode 10 we talk a bit about fitness and race day nutrition.

Hope that helps!

Episode 10 here —>

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Day Two
20 mins on a crosstrainer but intervals at a harder level then than day one.
15 mins on the rowing machine.
30 mins yoga that was core focused.
Not eaten yet but planning wings and hydration.

@Trey_Shannon thanks for the advice. I may only be in a gym this week just because I’m in a hotel, and they invariable have gyms. I’ll see how i feel when i get home about joining one. My yoga is from youtube (Yoga with Adrienne).

Two days in and this starting to look like a diary. Maybe i should post my lap time consistency from the last two events i did (2014 with zero training, 2015 with running 5k’s but nothing else) and then this event i plan to do.

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Day Three
30 mins on a crosstrainer, same day two but for longer.
15 mins on the rowing machine.
15 mins yoga.
Buffalo Wild Wings (i like wings)


I’m curious too, to see as you work out more , how fitness level will effect lap times and more importantly, consistantcy…

Weelllll, I worked out while i was away from home. When I got back at the end of the week I basically just did yoga and some karting specific exercises I used to do when I was all Euro. So basically no cardio for the 2 weeks preceeding the race. I got the kart weight and realised I was wonder so gave up on any diet (I ended up needing 5lbs of lead and half a tank of fuel).


I think I did alright for not having driven a kart in almost 2 years and running on those rotax purple tires. Its not entirely clear but there are couple of laps where I overtake a guy from another class who started up the road and a lap lapping people.

2015 (remember doing 5km)

2014 (not sure why the race was so short)


Well for me (age 47) my first day of jumping into a 125cc leopard on softer tires than I am used to was a pretty humbling experience. I’d be ok for around 5 laps and then I’d start falling apart. Head wobbling all over the place, feeling like I was just holding on for dear life with an almost total loss of strength. I’d have to take cool down laps to regroup before I could push again.
To prep for this I did drop from around 206 to 190lbs, which I am sure helped but it wasn’t enough. So, I dropped another 5 lbs and started doing some basic exercises focusing on core (sit ups, push ups, squats, plank.) I also do some light weights, not trying to build muscle but lots of reps. I also throw in 1 mile a day on the treadmill getting progressively faster.
I’m not sure what this will do but I’ll find out on Saturday when I go back out to the track. We shall see how many laps I can do now, I guess.

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Well Saturday came and went and the two weeks of fitness prep paid off. The extra aerobic fitness I got from working in a daily run of 1-2 miles coupled with sit ups etc (1/2 hr or so) really made a difference.
Unlike my first session, I was able to do the full lapping sessions without being overly fatigued. My head wasn’t wobbling all over the place and I wasn’t gasping for breath by lap 5 or 6 like last time. Pretty amazing actually what a difference just a little exercise made.


@Trey_Shannon will be able to give you some better exercises. But I tried to strengthen my head by using one of those rubber resistance bands, wrapping it round my head and just holding my head in position while moving my arm in and our.

I might have in the past done the wrong sort of cardio but i never find running helps, rowing seems to. I was surprised how much yoga helped.

That’s probably because you are likely in better baseline shape than me. I went from zero cardio to some, so any bit helps!

I’ll try the resistance band thing. Best I could come up with was shrugs with dumbells. Kinda gets some neck burn along with the shoulders.

For the neck I always do neck curls like Senna did. Used to have bobblehead halfway through the session when I was young. As soon as I started doing those, I had no issues.

Lay on your back on a flat surface with your head hanging over the edge and your shoulders even with the edge of the surface you’re laying on. Just slowly curl your head up until your chin about touches your chest.

I used to do about 100 reps on my back and then the same thing but laying on my side and bringing my head up so my ear almost touched my shoulder. Another 100 each side. You can always wear your helmet to add some weight.