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
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
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