Driver fitness and training

I am interested in reading what other drivers do over the winter to stay/get in shape for the upcoming season. I am fortunate to have access to Pitfit, the facility a lot of the Indycar guys use. I plan on working with them after the new year. Please chime in with your program.

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Great question…

I haven’t really had a program since 2010/2011 for various reasons…

One thing I remember reading from Alan Dove a few years ago that I thought was insightful… Along the lines of make sure you pick something/anything you will enjoy and stick with. No matter what that is, if you stick with it you’ll likely be ahead of the game vs trying to force yourself to do some sort of optimal routine.

Like anything, there’s a balance in between those two extremes somewhere.

I’ll see if I can find some notes from 2010/2011. I remember buying a few different books, trolling motoX forums and coming up with a routine. I also took up MMA which helped too.

@Tj_Hollingsworth have you identified anything in particular that you feel you personally need to focus on?

Paging: @Trey_Shannon :smiley:

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Hehe, I was thinking that @Trey_Shannon would be a perfect person to answer this too.

Normally year round, I work with my trainer at the gym doing core work, cardio and some light weights all year, and then basically just try not to eat like a fatty all of the time. I just have him provide a program for me that mixes up exercises like walkouts, planks, kettle bells and etc

I do need to start running more. I was slow as hell during my last half-marathon. Like old person passing me slow :P.

Trey would be the man for this question.

Essentially core work and upper body was what I focused on most of the time. High-energy core work was enough cardio for me that I didn’t do any other cardio really.

Now I just drink beer and eat pizza and linger on karting forums in the winter. As Mr. Dove’s theory goes, I’ve found that to be enjoyable so I’ve been able to stick with it for a while.


James hit the nail on the head with the question “have you identified anything in particular that you feel you personally need to focus on?” In general, it’s important to develop a well rounded fitness profile, but if there are certain muscle groups that you consider to be sub-par, that would be a great place to start.

I had @tjkoyen focus on core work and developing the muscle structure in his back to help him return from injury. Those muscles are key in protecting the posterior of the rib cage, which takes a beating in the kart, as I’m sure TJ can attest.

In general though, the most used muscle groups in the kart are the neck, shoulders, core, and hands/forearms. The last one especially, as karts vibrate more than most race cars due to the lack of suspension, and steering loads tend to be higher depending on the type of kart you’re racing.

Personally, I try to build a little strength in the off season, and focus on cardio/endurance about a month or so before my season starts. If I have an endurance event, I’ll switch that focus a little sooner, but still build strength in the off season. Strength training entails higher weight, lower rep type workouts. When it comes to endurance, simply switch that to lower weight, higher rep type workouts. In terms of cardio, rowing on a Concept2 row machine, or rocking a Concept2 ski ergometer are about as good as it gets. Running is great, but it’s important to develop endurance and cardio-respiratory adaptations in the upper body. Rock climbing is great for this as well. Climbing is also one of the best things you can do to work the fingers, hands, and forearms. If you have access to an indoor rock wall facility, hit that up. As @KartingIsLife mentioned, MMA training is great for this too.

Just remember, the most important thing to do is set baselines and track your progress. Make sure you’re getting stronger, improving endurance, and getting your body capable of working at a higher heart rate.

Hope this helps! If you’re planning on working out at PitFit, you’ll be in good hands. Jim, Alex, and the rest of his guys are top flight!


This book was my bible when I raced in Europe (i’ve let it slip to the tune of 30lbs since).

One thing I learnt from Terry Cruz (not personally, just in an interview) is if you join a gym go even if you have intention of working out, have a coffee, read a magazine, enjoy the hot tub. Its making a habit that is important and if you make a habit of going to the gym you will likely spend more time working out.


That’s one of the books I got too, thanks for reminding me. It just went out of print at the time and I got it for a steal, then it came back into print of course

I also found this useful.

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Oh, this too

I have a specific issue that most closely fits in this topic. First, I haven’t raced in a few years but am putting together an effort for 2017. I have raced motocross and roadraced motorcycles prior to karting. The past few times I’ve had my kart on the track I have noticed both hands start to ache progressively worse and worse while driving. I have good grip strength, rock and ice climbing regularly. I thought my gloves may be too tight so I went up a size but still no relief. One thought I had was my steering wheel is pretty worn, the suede is matted and slick. I wondered if I was having to overgrip the wheel but I am not sure. Anybody else experience this?

Thanks in advance

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Welcome @racer474 It could be what’s sometimes called “Death Grip” which is pretty common. This article by @DavinRS should help for that part of it:

Also, many people add hockey stick tape to their wheels to get a better grip, you could try that too.

Let us know how things progress.

It sounds like you’re just holding the wheel too tightly, which is a common mistake. Most people white knuckle it initially and as they become more comfortable they slacken up their grip. It could also come down to your driving posture. Sometimes if your posture is off, you’ll find yourself struggling to stay comfortable in the seat, and holding onto the wheel tighter to keep you in place.

Also I will +1 James’ suggestion of hockey tape. I used handlebar tape for cycling which was a little softer and cushier for me for a while.

Just out of curiosity, what gloves and what kind of kart?


Thanks TJ and James, I will take a look at that article. I will try to experiment with consciously looening my grip when I can get back to the track in the spring. I drive a CRG Kart and have Alpinestars gloves but I don’t remember the model, they do have a pretty sticky palm though.

Great feedback on this thread.
@Trey_Shannon - Any chance you could curate your post here into a brief article that can be referenced regularly?

Unfortunatley I don’t have any idea how to do that. perhaps one of the guys who responded to my post could.
For what its work the article referenced DavinRS is fantastic.

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@racer474 - If you have larger hands, consider tennis racquet grip. It’s a bit thicker. I prefer Gamma Gel Grip -

@phastafrican - That’s a great idea. Davin and James, look for something from me next week (maybe the week after that) that we can post on the main site.


I’m always going to approve of this! :wink: Looking forward to it, Trey!

You the man! Thanks! :brap: :brap:
I’ll include it in the weekly update.

Definitely going to try taping my wheel. Thanks for all the feedback

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Try using a mouth piece when you’re racing. I used to have such a death grip on my wheel that it was painful to try and open my hand to release the wheel. I use a ShockDoctor Gravity2. I couldn’t tell you the science behind why it works, but it did for me.

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Not only that, it reduces your chance of a concussion in the case of an accident. That’s the biggest reason why they require it in most contact sports. It isn’t about the teeth, but reducing the forces going to your brain. The more non vital/artifical/not brain squishy stuff you can have, the better

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