Formula 1 & Fitness – Some Real Life Lessons

Ever since I started watching Formula1, I always had this question in my mind- How could they go this fast? In the blink of an eye, they go from zero to more than 300 kilometers an hour. Yes, the machines they drive are an incredible evidence of precision engineering, but the stress the drivers go through is immense. What their bodies endure, during the process, is immensely unique and their whole show is remarkably inspiring to me. They fight really hard. They put everything they have at their disposal. They push their limits. It is an astonishing example of will power, determination, instinct, strength, limitations.

Here is what Ayrton Senna( Three times world champion) had to say about his life: 
“It is not simply about stronger muscle or better tone of your muscle, but it is speaking to your body and to your mind. You only learn this by doing. Once I realized there was something special in there, I only focused. I tried to learn about myself. It is about learning yourself, learning about your limitations, strengths and qualities. And as a whole a smoother person.” 

Impact of Race on Drivers: 

  • It’s not just muscle tone, though. The drivers’ bodies have to adapt to the unique stresses of the track. A driver’s head weighs on average 6kg, this add helmet 1kg more. When they go around a corner, their head weighs 40kg – so they need to build neck and shoulder muscles to handle that.
  • Driver’s bodies are subjected to over 5G forces (5 times normal gravitational pull) at corners.
  • Ability to react with precision at 300km/h is crucial.
  • During a race, a driver’s heart rate can reach 200bpm. Within a few minutes, they can go back to resting heart rate due to their extreme conditioning.
  • Temperatures can hit 50 degrees C inside their fireproofed suits, and drivers can sweat around two liters during a race.

Elite Formula 1 Effectiveness:

  • Cardio: Our heart rate beats on 70 per minute, but for intense training (maximum up to 6 six hours) the driver’s heart rests on only 40 beats per minute (bpm). While at the time of race, it goes up to 200 bpm. They use Swimming, Jogging, Cycling, Extreme Hiking/Climbing and Soccer for endurance building. Many of them partake in triathlon training to enhance their conditioning.
  • Stretch Training: light weights on high repetition for long lean muscle, as bulk muscular composition is counterproductive as it will add on more weights. Focus muscles are neck, shoulders, core, back, hands, and upper arms, under arms. Exercises they do are squat shoulder press, half squat bend-over row, and wide range squat lateral raises.

What we can learn from Formula 1 :

Do What You Like:
Doing a variety of fitness activities that you enjoy. You will feel fresh and motivated throughout the day.

Keep the Heart Happy:
The more amount of effort you will be putting, the more you will be saying goodbyes to your body fat.

Eat Clean Get Lean:
Eating fruits and vegetables, lean meats and good fats along with good amount of water.

Surviving with 200 Beats per Minutes:

  • A mixture of endurance and high intensity interval workouts with varying heart rate zones.
  • Endurance activities include rowing, cycling, running, kayaking, cross-country skiing and swimming.
  • In season, with less training time available, interval training is more commonly used when the training zone is from 120-200 bpm.
  • The Interval Training will also help reduce their body fat percentage to around 7-10%.

Battle with 5G:

  • Light weights, higher reps, focus on lean muscle. Bulking up is counterproductive for race drivers.
  • Neck strength, where manual resistance, elastic bands, as well as specially-designed machines and helmets are used by some teams.
  • Basic exercises like squats, pull-ups, pushups and shoulder presses.
  • The core training incorporates rotation exercises with weights, combined with postural exercises.
  • Stability ball training to stabilize the shoulders, hips, spine and neck.

Instinct Intensified:

  • To improve hand-eye coordination, concentration and reaction time, drivers will often incorporate other fun activities into their physical training regimes.
  • A popular training aid is the batak reaction board, where the aim is to hit as many randomly-lit lights on a specially-designed board within 60 seconds.
  • Catching a tennis ball from a wall.
  • Catching a tennis ball/ medicine ball whilst doing sit-ups or other fitness activity.
  • Badminton and other fast reactive sports.

Are you a sports fanatic or somebody who understands more about sports do write back to us with any topic of your choice and we shall surely put it on our sports mantra. 


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