What Makes Motocross Such Good Exercise?
Some people think that motocross is not much exercise and you just sit on a motorcycle, steer it, and go real fast. Yeah, try it! It’s actually quite strenuous, and the people that do it are known for being fit and tough. Just about anyone that grew up reading the magazines will tell you about the time the top Moto pros went to a university sports center to be evaluated against other athletes for fitness, and the drs basically said “Where did you get these animals!?” They were among the most fit and well-rounded athletes they ever studied, and all they do is race dirt bikes, hmm. What’s up with that?
Over the years I’ve done running, football on a team (as a kid), some weights, cycling, some hiking, and moto, and nothing makes you feel like you got a good workout like moto does. I didn’t think about why until I heard an interview with Jonathan Bailor, who just spent ten years trying to sort out published nonsense about diet and exercise, and then write a book about what he found.
The book he wrote is called “The Smarter Science of Slim,” and to skip to the exercise part, the answer is you should be doing short eccentric exercises, not killing yourself on a cycling machine, massive weight bench, running until you drop, or those new trendy things like Crossfit and HIIT, or whatever goes around next.
What’s Eccentric Exercise?
Eccentric exercise is using muscles backwards from what you think of when lifting a weight. These are also known as “negatives.” Think of a weight bench where you lift a selected amount of weight, then slowly lower it-the lowering is what you want, the negative. Bailor goes into this in detail in his book, so for now let’s just suppose he is right-that you get more benefit from exercise when you work muscles the other way. What kind of sport is like that, one where you work your muscles the other way, or maybe back and forth?
Can’t think of anything…
If you have done moto, you already know how it feels to work muscles back and forth. If you haven’t, picture yourself standing and using both arms and legs at the same time to move your weight, a 230 lb or so motorcycle, and absorb impact, then smash through something so rough that you can barely hang on, then do it as fast as you can. Every muscle gets a heck of a workout, and it’s back and forth, so you get as much eccentric or negative muscle work as just standing or lifting.
So is this really saying that exercise like you get with moto actually has some science behind it? Maybe!
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