Many people underestimate how fit Formula 1 drivers have to be. To drive an F1 car at high speed for two hours non-stop requires a very high level of muscular endurance and core strength.
For F1 drivers the key area to work on is the core, from the waist up to the neck. A strong core helps to prevent injury during crashes. A strong neck is vital to withstand the G-force pressures when cornering at high speed, and accelerating and braking quickly.
There are three core exercises that several British F1 drivers have used in the past to give them a competitive edge on the track. These exercises are performed in addition to low impact endurance training. The low impact endurance training is to prepare the body for 120 minutes of torturous driving. For this, drivers generally either run, row or cycle. The runners cover about 10 miles per day. Cycling places less stress one the joints, and cyclists may cycle over 30 miles per day. Many drivers prefer the exercise in the seated rowing position.
The F1 Core Strength Workout
1. Swiss Ball Press Ups
This is one of the best core strength exercises. Having your feet balanced on a Swiss ball while do press ups ensure that you engage all supporting muscles. It is the equivalent of doing free weight bench presses instead of using a Smith machine.
2. Swiss-ball balancing
Sounds simple enough. Sit on a Swiss ball, and then lift one foot up. You engage hip and lower back muscles to remain seated. Pushing your forehead against a partners palm also builds neck muscles, and teaches your body to keep muscles engaged without over tensing.
3. Over-arm pull ups.
The classic back and forearm strength builder. The main purpose of this is to build a strong grip. Two hours gripping a F1 steering wheel quickly starts to burn without proper preparation.
The F1 Endurance Workout
As mentioned above F1 training requires a lot of emphasis on endurance. A typical F1 race lasts almost as long as a marathon and requires more concentration too. As we tire we make more mistakes, this is why being extremely fit is a vital component in F1 today.
Because of this most F1 drivers perform a wide range of cardio workouts, although each will have his own preferences. However really any of the follow exercises can be done to improve endurance:
Rowing is excellent for F1 drivers as it involves training in a seated position and also works the arms and shoulders which take a lot of the strain when driving.
The F1 Strength Workout
Strength is obviously very important also. For F1 overall athletic strength is the key, so workouts involves the big compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows, pull ups and shoulder press.
Intensity is Vital
Although a race lasts about 120 minutes training with intensity is essential. When training at high intensity the body develops faster and learns to adjust quicker to the requirements of intense training. Basically it becomes better prepared for the very intense moments in a race. F1 drivers ofter do interval training where they train at levels that are uncomfortable but highly effective. It is impossible to train for a long period like this, but in 30 minutes of a high intensity interval routine as much progress can be made as in a 4 hour workout at a gentle pace.