Monday, March 31, 2014

Exercises Every Biker Should Do

One of the major criticisms of motorcycles is that they are much less comfortable than cars or most forms of public transport. The Rambler is not in denial on this one - it can be very painful at times. It requires that the rider have a body strong enough to sustain the sometimes-frustrating pain.

Primarily, it requires a strong core musculature, resilient shoulders, and strong hamstrings. The ideal position for long-distance riding entails not putting much pressure on the wrists and the forearm, since you need to be able to move the handle freely, and tightly locked forearms are not the way to achieve that. Your core should be engaged and should bear the brunt in balancing your body.

Most of the load of your upper body falls on your shoulders, which need to be strong and resistant. You should also keep your legs close to your fuel tank, which becomes harder than you might think after a while. This requires strong hamstrings.

Apart from these particulars, you also need to have a good overall balance and functional strength, since riding a bike for hours on end can get tiring for even the most seasoned riders.

What do you need to do to achieve these physical conditions required for riding motorcycles?

You need to regularly do bodyweight exercises that engage more muscles per rep than your typical gym workouts. The more muscles you engage at once, the more functional strength you gain. The reason for preferring bodyweight exercises is that doing the 'balancing' part of the exercises yourself helps strengthen your connective tissue, which is a hugely important part of gaining functional strength. Gym machines, which make the exercises easier by taking off some of the load, are consequently less effective than bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises also help develop a better balance, and a better overall understanding of your own body.


The beginner's dream exercise for building core muscles, planks are extremely efficient at developing the abs (upper as well as lower) and the lower back. Start with a 10-second plank if you have never done planks before, and slowly progress to about two minutes. If you can do normal planks easily, try one-arm / one-leg planks. If you can do those, try balancing yourself on opposing foot and arm (right foot-left arm, and vice versa).


There's a reason why literally every army recruitment program in the world judges a candidate based on the number of pushups he can do. A pushup is the absolute best exercise for building shoulder (deltoids), triceps, and chest (pectoralis major and minor) muscles. Like with planks, start slow if you haven't done pushups for a long time (or ever, in fact). Start with wall pushups: push yourself off a wall if you can't push yourself off the ground. If you can perform regular pushups easily, progress to feet-elevated / handstand / one-armed (these are really difficult, NOT FOR BEGINNERS) pushups.


If there is one exercise that strengthens the upper and lower halves of the body equally efficiently, it is a barbell squat. But if you don't want to visit a gym (and I am with you on that, I hate gyms), bodyweight / dumbbell squats are still a magnificent exercise for the quads and hamstrings. If you can, progress to squat jumps (jump after the squat part - duh!) or one-legged squats.

Pullups / Chinups

The most Spartan, most manly exercise in the world is, arguably, the pullup. No other exercise works the arms and the back like pullups. And, not that it matters, no other exercise looks as freaking cool! If you can't do regular pullups yet, start by jumping onto the bar and holding on for as long as you can. If you are already a regular pullup-master, try to progress to one-armed pullups (NOT FOR BEGINNERS) or the devil's own workout: the muscle-up.

Two things should always be observed while doing these exercises:

Always do a dynamic warm up. Stretching does not warm up your body; spare it for the cool-down part. Skip a rope, do some on-the-spot running, dance. Get your heart rate up, and don't be scared of breaking a sweat. Don't burn yourself out in the warmup, but don't jump straight into the workout described above.

Maintain proper form while doing these exercises. Properly done, these are four of the most effective and efficient workouts for muscle building, but if you force yourself to finish a workout with incorrect form, all these exercises have the potential to cause serious injuries. Don't exceed your capabilities. If you have any musculoskeletal or cardiac conditions, consult your physician before starting a workout routine.

Find a workout program that works for you. We all are unique snowflakes, and there is no point in trying to jump into Gerard Butler's 300 workout if you can't do 10 pushups straight. Here's a few links that I have personally used / currently use for my own workouts:

Steve Kamb has a veritable treasure trove of workout and diet advice over at Nerd Fitness.

The progression courses for pushups, squats, and pullups over at One Hundred Pushups are worth a look as well.

For those of you who think regular pushups are beneath you, I dare you to try these monster varieties at Art of Manliness. Fair warning: There is one variety that involves going down in a standard pushup action, then pushing yourself off the floor so explosively that you can touch your toes with your fingers in midair, and then return to the standard starting position. Exhausted yet?

Never find yourself in a position where you have cut your road trip short because it is just too uncomfortable. Riding motorcycles is rewarding, but it can also exact a serious toll on your body. Prepare your body for the hardships, and you will be able to enjoy the good times even more!

1 comment:

  1. can you plz write something about how to continue working out?? thats a big problem a lot of people facing right now...