Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marc Spataro's Moto Pro Training ATV Racer Summer Camp

This articles appeared on ATVriders.com, Training Camp Report special, on December 17, 2008. The articles has photos and videos of the camp and can be found HERE. Below is the text-only version.

Moto Pro Traing's Marc Spataro
Baltimore, MD (12/17/2008) - This summer I had the opportunity to attend Marc Spataro’s Moto Pro Training Summer Camp, which was held near my home in Maryland. Marc has been coaching some of the nation’s top ATV and motorcycle pros and he offered a weekend experience to see exactly what his clients are doing to keep ahead of the competition. Marc informed me that this three day camp would cover all aspects of human movement and the things that he would teach everyone could be directly applied to racing and riding.

I arrived at Marc’s training facility early Friday morning with my photo gear and work out cloths to find a rather diverse group of guys ranging from pro, pro-am, and amateur racers. With the help of William Yokley National Guard/Yokley Racing, one of Marc’s racers, our first activity of the day would be an outdoor obstacle course at the local National Guard facility. A pleasant ride around a beautiful lake dropped us into a wooded valley laden with government warning signs and multiple gates to pass through. After meeting all of the clearance requirements we ventured deeper and further into the woods. Arriving at our final destination, Marc had a tent set up with drinks and snacks and instructed everyone to take a seat in the bleachers for a brief lecture as to why and what we were going to do today. Marc focused on balance, coordination, power, and speed and then it was time for the physical challenges.

This state of the art facility is used by several governmental agencies to train for terrorist attacks as well as basic boot camp for military divisions. The obstacle course contained 15 stations and Marc chose to break the course down into 2 areas of 6 stations to run timed trials through. Three of the challenges were too dangerous to risk someone getting hurt so they were left out of the regimen. These stations would challenge every aspect of human movement especially endurance and strength. Marc let everyone try each station several times in order to let the racers get accustomed to the challenge. After practice Marc grouped the racers into groups of 2 or 3 based on their abilities to perform the task. From here Marc and his assistant Casey would conduct timed trials using stop watches to record everyone’s results.

The first challenge had racers run and leap to grab a 4-inch rope and swing up and over a wooden railing only to let go mid swing land on the ground and take off towards an 8 foot wall. This angled obstacle had to be scaled and either slid down or jumped off. Once your feet hit the ground it was back to a sprinting pace towards a cargo net climbing wall. When the racers jumped up on to the cargo net it swung back and forth as they desperately tried to climb up it faster than one another. This caused several of the guys to taste dirt and try again.

Upon reaching the top there was a furious run down a set of stairs touching down to the ground and taking off in a sprinters pace towards one of the toughest obstacles called the Pyramid. The Pyramid is a torturous obstacle requiring the participants to weave themselves over and under 4”x4” timbers up twenty feet and back down. There was no easy way to do this and several of participants lost there grip and fell to the shredded rubber base below. There were three timed trials that were ran at these six stations.

The second set of obstacles involved a series of balance beams that progressed like stairs until they reached a height of twelve feet. At the end of the balance beam there was a set of monkey bars that contained 3” rungs that went a distance of about 30 feet. Completing the monkey bars after the first course was extremely challenging due to grip fatigue. Most everyone made it through this obstacle to continue on to the rope and wall climb. This station had several 4-inch ropes that were attached to a platform 18 feet in the air on one side and a 50-foot cargo net climbing wall on the other. Participants had their choice as to what they wanted to climb, if they chose the ropes they had to go up them without the assistant of their feet as many times as they could. If they chose the cargo net wall they had to climb all the way up and down one time. These stations were not a timed event but rather for strength and endurance.

After we completed these stations it was on to a speed drill involving a 350 pound tire flip and a 20 pound sledge hammer swing. The goal was to see how many times you could flip the tire or swing and hit the tire in one minute. This could possibly be the longest minute of your life, especially when you have to switch stations directly after completing one. I surprised everyone at this event by having the third highest number of flips and swings coming in behind Mark Notman and Marc Spataro.

Grabbing some drinks and snacks we headed back to Marc’s facility for a catered lunch and the next half of Friday’s events. Of course the lunch was packed full of nutritious goodies such as grilled chicken, salad, home made lasagna, and roasted potatoes. During lunch Marc explained that rest of the day would be part lecture and part participation. The subjects covered were strength training using compound exercises, endurance training utilizing cross training sports and riding, and core training using an invention that Marc developed called the Core Bar (www.corebar.net). At the end of the day we were all pretty exhausted and Marc concluded with a question and answer format. That evening everyone met up at a local restaurant and hung out preparing for the next days activities.

Saturday started bright an early at 8 a.m. with a 4.5 hike in one of Maryland’s most beautiful state parks Oregon Ridge. While 4.5 miles might not seem like a very long hike to some, there were extreme elevation changes and the guys had to carry balls full of water in back packs ranging from 25 pounds to 45 pounds. The movement of water inside the balls created inertia, which challenged everyone’s strength, balance, stability, and endurance. To make matters even more challenging Marc decided to make this a timed event shooting to break his best time for this hike. Hot and humid conditions added one more element to this challenge but regardless the group finished just shy of 3 minutes of the record completing it in 53 minutes.

Back to Marc’s training center the group prepared for more lecture and physical activities enjoying another nutritious catered lunch. The day’s subjects covered balance and stability, myofascial release a form of massage helping with recovery, and reaction time drills. Another question and answer session rapped things up and everyone went out to Marc’s for a cookout and swim party.

Early Sunday morning Marc had everyone come out to his farm and apply the reaction time drills to improving starts. The majority of participants brought their own quads or used someone else’s in order to participate. After several trials, I was very evident that the drills worked because everyone improved their time coming off of the line. Marc expressed the importance of practicing starts all the time and concluded by thanking everyone and saying good-bye.

If you are serious about racing and really want to improve yourself I highly suggest seeking out Marc’s services or participating in one of his camps. They are not only highly informative but also really fun and challenging. Moto Pro Training’s next camp will be held on February 6-8, 2009, check out www.motoprotraining.com for more information.

Racing and Riding with Pain

Unfortunately injuries and pain are common occurrences within the sport of ATV racing and riding. Dealing with these issues can be challenging especially when deciding whether you should keep on racing or let your body heal and rest. Many of the professional riders have no choice but to get back out there and race in order to maintain or improve their current point standings. But there comes a time when you have to consider whether or not you are doing further damage that may affect you for the rest of your life.

In order to make the right decision I suggest that you use a medical professional to diagnose what type of injury and pain you are dealing with. Make sure you thoroughly understand your injury by asking as many questions as possible. Write down questions that come to mind before entering the doctor’s office, sometimes hearing all of that medical jargon can be overwhelming and it is easy to forget important questions. Do not be afraid to get a second opinion, especially if you feel as if your questions were answered vaguely and you still do not fully understand the injury or its outcome. No physician will ever tell you it is ok to race with an injury but at least you can understand the severity of that particular injury and decide whether you are willing to take the risk of worsening the condition. 

Some injuries may require physical therapy, make sure you chose a physical therapist that is familiar with our sport and has worked with athletes before. Using a professional who understands the physical demands our bodies go through while racing will ensure the therapy given will prepare your body for future races. I am fortunate to have a physical therapist, Dr. Morgan Johnson, on staff at my facility and he has also competed in several mountain bikes races and is an avid motorcyclist. His knowledge and understanding of ATV racing has helped many of the Moto Pro Training Racers over come injuries and continue to compete with out missing any races. Together Morgan and I assess a rider’s condition and develop a pro-active formula that will speed up the recovery process and strengthen the injured area.

Just recently MPT ‘s Bill Balance had a severe rib cage injury, one that would have kept most racers out of the game, ending their racing season. Utilizing techniques to help reduce inflammation, relax musculature, increase blood flow, reduce pain, and provide support to the affected area, Bill was not only capable of racing but securing his 9th GNCC Championship. To Bill’s credit it also takes a great deal of mental strength to over come an injury like this one, but this type of mental strength is exactly why he has continued to dominate cross country racing for so many years. 

If you are suffering from a new injury or a reoccurring one here are several suggestions to help with the recovery process. As stated previously see a medical professional and get a grasp on the problem. If possible rest and recover the injured area until conditions subside. Be pro active to help speed up the recovery. Reduce inflammation by using ice/heat packs. Soak sore and painful muscles in Epsom salt baths. Visit a massage therapist who is familiar with athletes and injuries. Massage will help to eliminate muscle tension, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation. Use prescribed medications or over the counter pain relievers to help control pain aiding in relaxation for recovery. Provide your body with good quality nutrients in order to supply the building blocks necessary for rebuilding and repairing the injured area. High quality proteins and water are the two most important nutrients to promote healing within the body. Visualize healing within your body. Your brain is the strongest organ in the body, use it to assist with self-healing, a technique that has been practiced for 1000s of years. My Mom has survived three bouts with cancer, each time she was given a certain time frame for life, through her beliefs in self healing and traditional medical practices she is alive and well today. 

After you have felt some relief seek out a qualified fitness professional to develop a program to strengthen and develop your body. A well-conditioned body will recover from injuries much quicker than an out of shape one. This year I had one of the largest hurdles to over come in my life. I had been dealing with severe lower back pain that eventually caused me to lose feeling in my left leg all the way down to my toes. I took the time to see three different physicians, all of them familiar with athletes and the importance of being physically active. My diagnosis was that I had a large bone growth off of my L5 vertebrae that was putting pressure on my nerves and causing severe swelling and inflammation. The only choice I had was surgery! This was very scary for me for many reasons, first and foremost this was my spine and the second is that my whole life revolves around being physically active. So with great hesitation I choose the doctor I felt most comfortable with and under went the knife. I was told I would be looking at a 12-week recovery period, but because I was already in great shape my recovery was much quicker. I had my surgery on May 7, 2008 and by the time summer break was over I raced my first post surgery race at Snowshoe. While I feel that I am still not 100% physically, I am very happy just to be out there on my quad challenging myself both mentally and physically. 

 Ultimately do your best to stay injury free, ride smart, wear protective gear, and try and to not take any extreme risks on your ATV. As always if there is any way I can help contact me at www.motoprotraining.com


Preventing Injuries While Racing and Riding Motorcylcles and ATVs

The other day I was asked by one of my racers if there was anything he could do in order to prevent injuries from occurring during racing. After some thought and a little research into some of my strength and conditioning journals I came up with the following information that I feel is essential to anyone who participates in atv racing or riding.

While it is not possible to prevent all injuries that occur during exercise and racing/riding, research has shown that injury can be reduced as much as 25% if precautions are taken. Proper conditioning for your sport is essential for injury prevention. Sport specific conditioning programs focus on strengthening the muscles and joints that perform complex and repetitive movements during that specific activity. As stated in my previous article it is important that the program be specific to the individual performing it. I recommend a personal physical assessment be performed by a fitness professional to reassure that the proper exercises chosen are strengthening the weakness found during the assessment. Once you know your current level of fitness, as well as your weaknesses, you can develop a more functional training routine.

Warm ups play a very important part of injury prevention. Warm muscles and joints are less susceptible to injuries. Warm ups should include movements that compliment the athletic activity to be performed. Active stretches as well as static stretches should also be included in the warm up. Incorporate light cardiovascular exercises to elevate body temperature and prepare the heart and lungs for the activities to be performed. 

The athlete should avoid engaging in the sport when experiencing fatigue or pain. Performing under these conditions is a set up for a careless injury. Pain is an indicator that there is a problem. There are times when you have to recognize the signs that the body is sending and decide not to engage in the activity, which may enforce the injury further. Joint pain, tenderness at a specific point, reduced range of motion, swelling, comparative weakness, and numbness and tingling are all signs that should make the athlete aware that there is a problem. If experiencing any of these symptoms I recommend seeing a medical professional for further evaluation. 

Fatigue can reduce reaction time, which could possibly create an error in performance resulting in a serious injury. Rest is one of the most important parts to any athletes program. Studies have shown that athletes with high consecutive days of training, experience more injuries. While many athletes think the more they train, the better they will perform, this is a misconception. Rest can make you stronger, prevent injuries, reduce fatigue, and decrease poor judgment. Again listen to your body, if you feel tired or weak take a day or two off and reduce activity and get some sleep. 

Nutrition has a dramatic effect on the body and how it recovers from sports, training, and injuries. Supplying the body with nutrients and hydration helps the recovery rate from training and injury by assuring that the proper building blocks are there to help. A wellhydrated body also performs better reducing the chances of injury. Individualized nutrition programs are the foundation to any successful athletic program. Invest in one of these programs and you will see just how quickly your physique and performance change. 

The last and absolute most important thing you can do to prevent injury is wear appropriate protective gear and equipment. Helmets, gloves, goggles, boots, pants, and jerseys are all common items worn by racers and riders. Every time I go to the races I am so surprised by the amount of riders who do not wear elbow and knee-pads, kidney belts, chest protectors, mouth guards, and the all new Leat-Brace (neck protector). I have heard numerous excuses as to why a racer has chosen not to wear such sound equipment and my response is a little discomfort is better than a crushed knee or elbow. Now that is really discomforting! Do yourself a favor if you are one of those who does not use any of the listed items, purchase some and get use to wearing them, they absolutely will prevent injury!

Keeping yourself safe not only is good for you but good for our sport. The number of atv and motorcycle injuries increases each year because of the numerous people who do not take the proper precautions to protect themselves while riding. These injuries get recorded and have a direct impact on all of us, such as the limited amount of land to ride on, the high cost of medical and atv/motorcycle insurance, as well as the general publics opinions on the safety of our sport. Help to keep our sports future a bright one, practice the information provided and ride safe so that you can ride another day. 

Coach Marc Spataro can help you improve your results on and off the track visit him at www.motoprotraining.com

Fitness Programs and Their Benefits to the Sport of ATVing

Every form of ATV racing has seen a steady increase of participants in the last five years. Manufactures are producing race ready quads that can be purchased, modified minimally, and taken to the race-track. This has allowed for greater competition and has opened the door for opportunities such as sponsorships and national and international recognition. These high stake offerings have allowed the ATV athlete to become more aware of the importance of staying in shape in order to be highly competitive.

ATV racing and riding is a physical sport and hobby requiring strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination. Like other sports, training can be an important tool to improve ones abilities out on the track or trail. With increased strength, endurance, and flexibility, maneuvering an ATV becomes more enjoyable and safer. Whether you are a professional racer, recreational racer, or weekend warrior, a proper physical fitness program can enhance your riding potential and provide countless hours of fun. 

Exercise is a science with many philosophies and disciplines, so choosing the correct way to train for a specific sport can be difficult. My goal is to educate and help racers and riders through articles like this one, so that the right programs can be chosen and practiced with good direction from fitness professionals. 

Traditional exercises over the last 25 years have focused on training specific body parts and typically perform exercises in a single plane of motion, which is an unnatural form of movement for the human body. Single plane exercises can lead to imbalances in the body reinforcing poor motor skills and injuries. Single plane exercises are good for increasing strength and causing muscular hypertrophy but do not enhance human movement or performance. An example of a single plane movement would be a standing bicep curl. 

Functional training is a method of training where the workouts compliment the movements and tasks being performed while participating in the sport. Functional training provides improved muscular balance and joint stability, helping to improve performance and eliminate the number of injuries sustained while participating in that sport. All functional movements involve acceleration, deceleration, and stabilization. This method of training allows the exercises being performed to utilize all three anatomical planes of motion: frontal, sagittal, and transverse. An example of a functional movement would be a lateral step press. 

Atving is a full body activity requiring all aspects of human movement to be functioning at the same time. Training for a sport like this requires multiple movement exercises involving all of the bodies systems including: cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, and nervous systems. Program design should include movements that simulate movements while riding an ATV. Examples of these would be wait shifting from side to side, pushing and pulling while moving up and down, and pushing and pulling while moving side to side. Effective programs will incorporate multiple exercises, performed in circuit style fashion, varying the speed and tempo, which in return will help to develop all of the bodies systems. 

Programs should be integrated, having a variety of exercises challenging balance, reaction time, flexibility, strength, and power. Integration methods serve as a beneficial tool by keeping the workouts from becoming repetitive and boring, allowing the athlete new challenges each workout. 

Progression is the next important component of a successful program. Progressive training ensures there is a steady increase in strength and energetic output from one workout to the next. This method will guarantee positive results as long as the athlete is consistent with his or her training. 

Structured programs should be periodized. Periodization is a technique used to cycle workouts throughout the year based on the athlete’s schedule. This method not only helps the athlete to peak for optimal results, but also factors in time for rest and recovery. 

The final and most important part of any fitness program is that it has to be individualized. Each and every one of us is different, and participating in a sport and hobby such as atving can lead to injuries. This is why it is very important to work with a qualified, experienced, and well-educated fitness professional. The fitness professional should also have knowledge of the sport and hobby, hopefully participating in it as well. There are all levels of education in the physical fitness profession. There are certifications that only take a few weeks to obtain and there are college degrees and certifications that take several years to achieve. Your best bet is to choose a professional with the latter. Degrees in exercise and physiology, kinesiology, physical therapy, and certified strength and conditioning coaches are good examples of education to consider when choosing a fitness professional to work with. Continued education is also an important factor as well, exercise is a science that keeps evolving as more is learned about the human body. In my 24 years of working out I have witnessed the evolution of training and can tell you from first hand experience that what is excepted as current philosophies today could very well change tomorrow due to new findings. 

The added benefits of a individualized, well structured, physical fitness program can be extremely rewarding no matter what level rider you may be. These benefits will not only play an important part of your chosen sport but will also improve other aspects of your life.  

How to Eliminate Arm Pump

Arm pump is the topic that racers address me with the most. There have been many explanations as to why we get it, how to prevent it, supplements have been made to try and combat it, and physicians have gone as far as to perform surgeries in order to correct it. As a strength and conditioning coach I would like to address ways to improve your training so that you condition and prepare yourself not to get it.

There are 15 muscles in your forearm and 40 in your hand and wrist that are responsible for holding on to the grips, shifting the clutch, applying throttle, and working the front brake. This does not include all of the tendons and ligaments that make up the very complex system that primarily controls our machines. Strengthening your forearms and hands should be a major component in your training program.

As always there is no substitute for riding and racing when conditioning yourself for the race season. When practicing try and chose really rough sections and concentrate on riding them for as long as you can at a race pace. The longer you can last riding the rough stuff the better you will condition yourself. After you have fatigued or have experienced arm pump take a break and stretch your hands and forearms. After your arms have relaxed go back out and ride until you reach fatigue or arm pump again and repeat your stretches. Using stop watches and practicing with riders of equal or better ability will help you keep your pace and assure you are conditioning your hands and forearms to the fullest. Try and ride like this as often as possible and you will soon find yourself over coming this common issue.

Finding the time to ride can be a difficult task, especially if you work, have a family, and attend to life’s everyday chores. Fitting in an effective workout is the next best thing for conditioning. While all aspects of training should be addressed in your program, I am going to suggest several exercises and techniques that will help to combat arm pump. Pulling exercises such as pull ups, rows from various angles, and arm curls work the targeted muscles most effectively. These exercises should be performed in a compound manner working multiple joints during each rep. Exercise examples would be a squat and row using a cable or rubber band system or an underhand dead lift into a bicep curl using dumb bells or a bar bell. Pull-ups are considered a compound movement and should be a primary exercise in any program. Large Grip or “fat grip” handles have been used with power lifters for many years. Large handles and over sized bar bells develop grip strength quicker than normal sized equipment. Within a few reps using these over sized grips you will soon discover the onset of arm pump and grip fatigue. After each set it is important to perform your stretches to help aide blood flow, flexibility, and range of motion. Super sets, drop sets, and circuit style sets are another way to keep constant force on these muscles. Design your workouts using these variations as well changing the tempo of your reps periodically.

A great way to cross train and develop amazing hand, forearm, and core strength is climbing. Both in door and out door rock climbing, cargo net walls, and climbing ropes, are very beneficial and challenging. The constant tension put on the body helps to develop muscle endurance and stability. My Winter Camp (Dec 08) will have a special event held at the nation’s second largest climbing facility, Earth Treks, to introduce racers to this highly rewarding sport.

Rest and recovery are as important as training, especially if you are a racer with a physically demanding job such as a construction worker, mechanic, land scaper, or laborer. Massaging the forearms and hands should be a major part of your program. There are many different ways you can achieve this. A massage therapist would obviously be the best choice, but you can also use hand held devices such as electronic and manual massagers. Much like stretching massage will increase and improve circulation, relax tight muscle fibers, loosen and stretch fascia, and help reduce any occurring inflammation that may exist. Be sure to practice deep, slow, and controlled breaths when receiving massage to further your relaxation.

Poor hydration can play a major role when experiencing arm pump. Hydrated muscles are ones that will perform at their best. Muscle cells function properly when they are at their “fullest” giving stronger contractions and having longer lasting endurance. Hydrating the body should be a part of everyday life not something that is achieved in three days or less before the race. There is no substitute for water, drink as much as you can throughout the day, everyday!

Preparing yourself properly is the best way to over come and defeat arm pump. Try my suggestions and you will soon discover that you efforts will reward you with a pain free ride. For further techniques contact me at www.motoprotraining.com!