Functional Training for Race Car Drivers

Race car drivers inevitably develop muscular imbalances. To discover them and learn how to fix them, follow this training circuit from driver and STACK Expert Dion von Moltke.

For any athlete, having correct form and posture is important, not only for athletic performance, but also for injury prevention. I recently went to the Indiana University Health Sports Performance Center and worked with one of their professionals alongside Jim Leo from PitFit Training to help find my muscular imbalances and learn how to fix them.

Driving race cars can wreak havoc on a driver's posture, especially in the hips and back. In endurance racing, where there are multiple drivers for one car, drivers must make compromises for the team and for one another. One of those involves the seat. In most race cars, drivers spend about two hours sitting in a chemical foam-based chair that hardens and forms to the shape of the driver's back. In endurance racing, this perfectly formed seat is not an option. When you're experiencing up to 3 G's of force (G-force) for hours at a time, your body takes a big hit. Between races, drivers need to focus on dynamic stretching, functional movement fixes to help their posture, and as much core work as possible in every movement.

Using the core muscle groups inside the car for long stints is important for fighting fatigue. G-force puts a huge amount of strain on the neck, and turning the steering wheel is comparable to gripping 10-pound weights in each hand for hours. While turning, if you can engage your core muscles and take some of the load off  your smaller muscles, such as the deltoids, you will be able to fight off fatigue even longer.

Here are seven functional movement exercises you can perform to learn hat you need to work on and determine your risk of injury. Watch the video at the bottom of this article to see how to do each movement.

Equipment needed

  • Shoulder-width stick or bar
  • Mini-hurdle

Overhead Squat

  • In a standing position, hold a stick or bar the width of your shoulders above your head with your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Lift the stick as high as you can, then perform a squat, getting as low to the ground as you can before coming back up.
  • Hold the stick or bar above your head the whole time.

Inline Lunge

  • Starting from behind the hurdle, hold the bar on your shoulders behind your head.
  • With your feet together and your toes all the way up against the board, step over the hurdle with your left foot, tap your heel against the ground on the other side, then bring it back.
  • Repeat with the right leg, 3x per leg.

Inline Lunge Variation

  • With the hurdle once again laid flat, stand with your right toe at the end closest to you and your left heel about two feet in front of it.
  • Take the bar with both hands and hold it against your back, with your right hand at your neck and your left hand at your lower back.
  • The stick should be touching your head, shoulders and tailbone.
  • Drop your right knee down to the board, then come all the way back up.

Shoulder Mobility Test

  • Wrap your fingers around your thumbs.
  • Reach your arms out to the side, then reach your left arm over your head and your right arm down behind your back
  • Try to touch your hands together.
  • Repeat with your right arm above your head.

Active Straight Leg Raise

  • Lie down flat on your back with your knees on top of the board (with the hurdle laid flat).
  • Keep your feet together and your hands at your side.
  • Keep your left leg on the ground and raise your right leg in the air as far as it can go without bending your knee.
  • Repeat with your left leg.

Trunk Stability Push-Up

  • Lie on your stomach with your hands at your forehead.
  • Point your elbows up to the ceiling and attempt a Push-Up.

Rotary Stability Test

  • Get on your hands and knees with the board (hurdle laid flat) in between.
  • Put your toes, knees and thumbs against the board.
  • Extend your right arm and right leg out as far as you can, bring your elbow and knee together, then back out again.
  • Repeat with your right arm and left leg, then your left arm and left leg.

To learn more about fitness for race car drivers, follow me on my social media sites. And please feel free to ask me any questions you might have!


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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock