Many things have come and gone throughout my life, but two have remained constant for a very long time. They are:
- My love for everything related to high-performance driving, and
- My love for health and fitness
Motorsport fitness is one of the most underrated and under-discussed topics in racing. But it will always be a huge contributing factor in the world of racing – whether you want it to be or not.
How lucky am I, right? I mean, my two greatest interests are intertwined quite closely into the same niche.
This is a really important topic to me personally, and I want to make sure I cover everything – including:
- My current level of fitness and why you should listen to what I’m about to say
- Why you’ll have an advantage over people who aren’t fit
- The different ways I have personally gotten fit (both gaining muscle and losing weight) and how you can jump right in and do the same thing
So let’s hit it!
Motorsport Fitness #1: My Current Level Of Fitness And Why You Should Listen To What I’m About To Say
Let’s be serious. There are thousands of people on the internet teaching about things they have no experience with. Especially in the fitness niche.
Preaching about fitness is incredibly easy. But in reality it takes months or years to achieve the results that all the magazines and articles say is so easy.
Therefore you probably shouldn’t listen to anyone who hasn’t gone out and done the hard work themselves. I don’t.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are two pictures of me; one of them is from yesterday (November 20, 2015) and one is from this morning (November 21, 2015).
[Update: 1/5/2016. I’m still working really hard on my body. See how consistency pays off?]
[Update: 9/19/2016. I have made some radical changes to my fitness program. I’m weighing in about 6 pounds lighter and have moved away from muscle mass to build endurance muscle. Even though I’m smaller overall, my muscles are much more usable, and can perform 45-60 minutes without fading.
I reached my new goals very quickly by using Shaun T’s Insanity: Asylum workout program. You can reach more about that near the bottom of this article.
A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon in a DR shifter kart (you can watch the footage by clicking here), which put me through 2.5-3 Gs of cornering force. It was very obvious that I needed to make changes to my fitness program if I wanted to hang with the big dogs.
Having this type of endurance muscle has absolutely made me better motorsport athlete. My cardio lasts much longer than a typical shifter kart race, or even a Pirelli World Challenge race. On top of that my recovery time is quick, allowing me to take a short break and then crank it back up to the max.
As you can see in the pictures above I’ve put in a lot of time and effort to be both muscular and lean. And while I like how I look, I think that a real and usable fitness level is very important. So let’s look at my real level of fitness. I’m currently capable of the following:
- 6 minute 22 second 1 mile run [UPDATE 12/19/15. New record! 5 minutes 56 seconds]
- 62 push ups in 1 minute
- 72 sit ups in 1 minute
- 46 BPM resting heart rate
- 30 minutes + of hard HIIT cardio [UPDATE 9/19/16. 60 minutes]
I’m currently going to the gym six days per week and spending somewhere between an hour and an hour and half there each time I go. The pictures above are my current results after the first 4 of 12 weeks following Alex Savva’s Freak Mode workout program, which is available completely free! Click through this link to see what it’s all about.
(We’ll talk more about specific fitness programs further into this post.)
I’ll say it again: looking great is something that everyone would like to achieve (and you CAN do it!), but being a well rounded athlete is the primary goal of motorsport fitness.
As a racecar driver I strive to be:
- Relativity low weight. We strive to shave pounds from our cars. Why not our bodies? The results are congruent.
- Capable of long periods of strenuous work and stress.
- Well nourished. Not only to fuel my body’s recovery process to continue building stronger muscles, but to maximize my brains ability to process complex information quickly and generate the fastest reaction times.
I see a lot of guys who are huge and lift ridiculously heavy weights, but have almost zero cardio endurance.
If your goal is to be Arnold, then I’d encourage you to work toward your goals! But as a racecar driver I believe that being lean and capable of hard work over extended periods of time are a drivers best physiological assets.
But I have a lot more work to do! I’m roughly halfway toward my fitness and aesthetic goals. I’m currently working on a sub six minute mile [UPDATE, 12/19/15. Now working on a sub 5:30 mile], increasing my ability to withstand longer HIIT cardio workouts, and really defining my abs into a legendary six pack! (Hey it might sound vain, but use everything you can as motivation).
I’m sharing all this with you because I want you to trust me when I speak about fitness. Hopefully after reading this brief overview of my fitness life the following sections will be a bit more credible.
Motorsport Fitness #2: Why You’ll Have An Advantage Over People Who Aren’t Fit
I first experienced how closely fitness and high-performance driving are tied together in the film industry. For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a professional stunt driver for film, television, and live entertainment.
(If you have any interest in learning what it takes to break into that industry, follow through this link to a previous post that will give you links to a guest post and a videocast that featured me on separate sites.)
But here’s what I learned.
Marketing yourself will be far easier if you can present yourself as a fit, healthy, and capable individual.
The Natural Advantage
Let’s talk about the natural leveraging that occurs when you’re fit.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, first impressions are everything. Imagine for a moment that two new drivers are being introduced to a contact who could be very useful in the future. Both drivers are excellent behind the wheel and have equal talent.
One of the drivers is obviously out of shape and hasn’t done anything to stay fit. The other driver is lean, fit, and obviously takes pride in his athleticism. Below are two pictures of real and successful racing drivers.
Now OBVIOUSLY you wouldn’t be randomly lifting up your shirt and showing off your abs while networking.
But I think it’s still plain to see which driver is taking his career more seriously. Like motorsports, fitness is not a one-day-a-week hobby. It’s an intense and challenging lifestyle that takes years to master.
In this example, without knowing any other information about the drivers than their physical appearance, the fit driver has an unparalleled advantage.
He has a unique and favorable advantage that has nothing to do with his racing skills: credibility from his dedication to being the best athlete possible.
Incidentally the left picture is Stewart/HAAS team owner and driver Tony Stewart. The right picture is NASCAR legend Mark Martin, who was FIFTY-THREE YEARS OLD when this photo was taken!
Can we give some serious love to Mark? That is absolutely incredible. If you want to read about Mark’s fitness story, click through this link to see his feature on Bodybuilding.com. There’s a huge amount of valuable information here.
The Advantage of Focus, Longevity, and Recovery
The human body requires certain nutrients to operate at full capacity. And it’s no secret that fast foods and sugary foods don’t provide many benefits to health. They’re solely manufactured to taste irresistible.
Unfortunately when you pair these foods with a sedentary lifestyle the body becomes mentally lethargic. Without adequate nutrition your mind doesn’t have the ability to process information and make quick decisions.
This means that you’ll be living your life in a perpetual lack of focus.
Another advantage of living the fitness lifestyle is the longevity factor. At fifty-three years old Mark Martin is far beyond the age range of a typical successful athlete.
But by staying healthy, constantly providing his body with proper nutrition, and forcing his body to continue rebuilding itself through training, Mark Martin has crushed dozens and dozens of racers half his age.
This means that by dedicating yourself to the fitness lifestyle you’ll be able to do what you love longer than everybody else.
What could be better than that?
The ability to recover after strenuous work or an injury is also an advantage. By training the body to constantly rebuild itself after intense workouts (and intaking the food it needs to get the job done), you can expect quick recovery times that will get you back to what you love.
After thirty seasons of professional racecar driving Mark Martin never missed a race due to injury. If you’re not impressed by that then watch the video below – a compilation of his crashes throughout the years. Some of them are insane.
Now tell me his recovery ability isn’t impressive.
Never missing a race to injury in thirty years is an incredible statistic that only the healthiest drivers can claim. But it is only because he spent decades living a lifestyle that allowed his body to remain healthy and recover quickly from unforeseen incidents.
This simply means that a life of fitness and nutrition will help provide a natural resiliency that will help get you get back to whatever you love – no matter what happens to you.
Motorsport Fitness #3: The Different Ways I Have Personally Gotten Fit (Both Gaining Muscle And Losing Weight)
There are generally two types of fitness objectives: gaining muscle and losing weight.
My interest in fitness began in 2012. I was headed into my mid 20s and tired of having a scrawny body type. But at the time I had zero interest in going to a gym and tossing weights around. I simply didn’t want to become a gym rat.
Shaun T’s Insanity (Gaining Muscle)
So I began searching for workouts that could be done at home without any equipment. I quickly discovered Shaun T and his program Insanity. I knew I wanted something that would challenge me both physically and mentally, and this claimed to be both.
I’ve always been a very informed consumer, so I did at least a weeks worth of research before pulling the trigger. And I am so glad I went through this program. I put on a huge amount of muscle during the 60 day video series.
But like I said earlier a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are my Insanity before and after pictures.
Since going through Insanity (two times through) I’ve done a lot of other workouts. But this original one was by far the toughest, especially mentally.
If you’re looking for a moderate workout then Insanity is something you should stay away from. I threw up during the first workout almost died during every single session after that. I breathed so hard I thought I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen.
But the results were incredible! Not only did I put on a huge amount of muscle and looked great, but I had become capable of pushing through strenuous exertion for over an hour.
And you know what else was awesome? I ate SO much food during the program – 3500 calories every single day.
Keep in mind that all the meals were planned and the food was clean and healthy to give my body the energy it needed to continuously rebuild itself. But it was an entirely separate struggle just trying to consume that much food every day.
Gaining muscle was not about eating like a bird. And I loved that.
If you fall into the following categories then Insanity would be a great workout choice.
- You have zero interest in going to the gym or buying workout equipment
- You have the mental fortitude to push through the hardest work you’ll ever experience
- You’re underweight (like I was) and want to put on muscle
- You don’t have any back problems or joint issues (The intensity is too high and would probably amplify those conditions)
- You want to look great and achieve an incredible level of usable fitness
Dr. Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut To Shred (Losing Fat)
I have tried many workout programs between 2012 and the present (nearing the end of 2015). It’s not uncommon to cycle back and forth between gaining muscle and losing fat. But there are a couple things you should keep in mind:
- During a muscle gaining program you will gain muscle (obviously) and you will gain some amount of fat. The goal is to minimize the amount of fat gained during this process by eating the right amounts of clean food.
- During a fat loss program (to make all the muscles stand out more, also called cutting or shredding) it’s tricky to gain muscle. The goal here is to use stored body fat for energy and retain the muscle you put on before starting the fat loss program.
Pay attention now, this next section is really important.
Shortcut To Shred (which is totally free, by the way) is the absolute best fat loss program I’ve ever done. And instead of pushing hard for 12 weeks straight like a lot of popular programs, this is only six weeks long.
And you know what? It’s so good that it doesn’t need to be any longer.
Here are the basics of Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut To Shred:
- You’ll be at the gym pumping iron six days per week, hitting each muscle group once every three days. You’ll be in an out of the gym in about an hour.
- Instead of dedicating certain days to cardio you’ll be doing active rests (which accelerates fat loss). This means that instead of resting between sets you’ll be using that time to do high intensity interval training in one minute cycles.
- Some days you’ll be in the 2-5 rep range, some days its over 20 reps.
- The nutrition that goes along with this program is very specific – strategically dropping carbohydrates and calories as the weeks progress. During the last two weeks you’ll be hungry. But just maintain your self control, because hunger is your body telling you that it’s started using your own body fat as fuel – and this is exactly what you want.
And let me tell you something.
These six weeks absolutely flew by. The interval training was very similar to the Insanity workout, but in much smaller doses.
Not only is Shortcut To Shred far less mentally demanding, it absolutely works. During the six weeks I lost nine pounds of fat without decreasing the weights I was lifting. In some cases I could even lift heavier weights!
And, once again, here are my before and after pictures. The before picture was the result of a muscle gain (when I was able to lift most of my record weights) and the after picture is the last day of Shortcut To Shred.
What a difference, right?!
I would strongly recommended Shortcut To Shred if you fall into the following categories:
- You like getting out of the house and going to the gym
- You don’t mind other gym members staring at you wondering why you’re doing HIIT during your lifting rests (Don’t worry, they’re all most likely spinning their wheels going nowhere)
- You have a decent amount of muscle that you want to show off by lowing your body fat percentage
- You can push through the mega burn of maxing out several 20+ rep sets
- You have the self control to STICK TO THE NUTRITION SECTION OF THE PLAN!
NOTE: Let me explicitly clear about this. If you’re one of those people who starts up a great workout program and never misses a day at the gym BUT you toss the nutrition to the side and eat whatever you want. . .don’t waste your time.
Getting fit is 20% physical work and 80% proper eating. This includes the correct caloric intake and correct macronutrient ratios every single day during your program.
Anyone can go lift weight at the gym. It’s the dedication to fueling your body with the right foods that will produce extraordinary results, separate you from everyone else, and get you those sweet six pack abs.
Don’t let terms like caloric intake and macronutrient scare you! Everything you need to know is right inside Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut To Shred – and it’s completely free!
Other Programs I’ve Done
I’ve been through several other workout programs since I started making fitness a part of my life, including:
- Shaun T’s T25. This is an awesome high intensity interval training workout if you want to lose weight or have a super busy schedule. Each workout is just 25 minutes per day and the difficulty level ranges from beginner to intermediate.
- Shaun T’s Insanity: Max 30. This is a hyper condensed version of the original Insanity workout. If you’re hard pressed for time and want a mega burn in the shortest workout possible. . .this is it. Max 30 is an intermediate to advanced workout, though not quite as challenging as the full version of Insanity.
- Arnold’s Blueprint To Mass. If you want to put on a ton of muscle, this is a ridiculously hardcore lifting program that might be up your alley. The biggest catch is that you’ll be in the gym for at least two hours on many days. Personally, I just don’t have time for this anymore.
- Alex Savva’s Freak Mode. This is the workout I’m currently going through (and mentioned while showing you my current pictures). It’s very versatile and allows you to either gain muscle or shred, depending on how you eat. There’s a great balance of heavy lifting and cardio that creates a well-rounded workout that I’ve become a huge fan of.
- Shaun T’s Insanity: Asylum (see pictures of results above). This program is all about reaching your absolute maximum potential. This sports performance workout is unlike anything else available over the counter. You will sweat, gasp, wheeze, curse, hurt, fail, persist, and become a truly formidable athlete.The Asylum is not for beginners or people who have low cardio endurance. This is most certainly a top end, advanced training program that will get you fit with usable endurance muscle, give you remarkable cardio stamina, and rapid recovery times.This is, by far, the single best workout program I’ve ever completely in my quest for the ultimate motorsport fitness level. If you have aspirations to become a full time racing driver, The Asylum is an absolute necessity. It can be done at the gym (that’s the way I do it) or right in your home.But like any other fitness program, you have to eat the right way too. NO GUESSING. Guess is the same as hoping. And if you want to be amazing, there’s only one way to go. Calculate all your macronutrients so you know what’s going into your body.Happily, The Asylum comes with a complete nutrition guide that simplifies everything you need to know to be get fit, ripped, and stand out from everyone else.
But there’s something you really need to understand about fitness programs.
The program that consistently gets you working out is better than the program you’re apathetic about.
Allow me to leave you with some final thoughts about fitness.
- Anyone can lift weights and complete a hard workout session. But it’s consistency that produces actual results. This means you shouldn’t skip any workouts in your program. Make them a priority.
- It also means you’re going to eat clean for the duration of the program. Because eating clean for two days and then slamming cheeseburgers all week will get you nowhere.
- NUTRITION. NUTRITION. NUTRITION. I know I touched on this earlier, but it’s important enough for me to say it again. Getting fit is 20% physical work and 80% proper eating. Any good workout program will have it’s own guide that teaches you how to eat for maximum results. If it doesn’t, I’d keep looking. Every workout I’ve mentioned in this post has it’s own nutrition program. If you don’t understand what you need to eat and why. . .you’re wasting your time.
OK, whew! That was definitely one of my longer posts and I truly appreciate you sticking it out to the end. You can tell that I’m very passionate about motorsport fitness, and for good reason.