Red Bull Motorsports
Daniel Ricciardo’s ultimate F1 fitness guide
We find out how Red Bull Racing’s Aussie star gets his body and mind firing on all cylinders.
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F1 drivers do so many different exercises in the gym... but it’s basically a lot of strength stuff, a lot of power stuff and a lot of long endurance sessions. Cycling’s great for endurance. I’ll vary how long I ride for, but two and a half hours is a good, solid endurance ride.
My general fitness varies at different times of the season. Now, in pre-season, it’s probably the most intense we’ll train and our programs are more complex. You want to build up a good platform that supports you for the next few months when you don’t have time to put in those big sessions. Then as the year goes on and as the travel gets more intense, it’s just maintenance and shorter sessions to keep the body firing and switched on – basically quality over quantity. But pre-season is cool, because it’s intense and I like to get a sweat on when I train.
You want to be switched on when you get in the car. It’s not about wearing yourself out, it’s just about making sure that you’re mentally ready and your fast-twitch muscle fibres are all firing. That way, you get in the car feeling loose and basically like you've just hopped out of it.
The calf muscle takes a bashing during braking
I vary my pre-race warm-ups quite a bit. I’ll do some boxing drills, or some catching with an Aussie rules footie ball. Or sometimes I’ll work on my peripheral vision. You face a wall and get someone standing behind you to throw a tennis ball at it and you’ve got to catch it with one hand. Then a bit of skipping helps get the heart rate up and get your legs and calves warm, because the calf muscle does take a bashing during braking.
In the summer break, we have a bit of time off – and we need it. We’ll split it 50/50 during the break: 50% you have off and then before the next race, you build it back up. You get a good 10-day block of training, and that then sees you through for a little bit.
There’s a lot to learn from mixed martial artists
You can always learn something from other professional athletes. I love UFC [the Ultimate Fighting Championship], so I’ll try and take some techniques or warm-up things from them. Those guys are complete athletes, so there’s a lot to learn from a mixed martial artist.
I’m passionate about nutrition and find it really fascinating – but I do have a sweet tooth. It’s not as though I can’t control it, but sure, I would like to eat more ice cream or chocolate and you have to hold back. Instead of picking at a chocolate bar, you’ve got to try and create something new and exciting. At the races it’s OK because we’ve got chefs, so we can eat very well. They cook us pretty much whatever we need or want, which is great. I eat well at home too, and I love veggies and salads – but the biggest battle is sweets.
People try and bring too much science into a sport that doesn’t need it
I’ve never done any work with a sports psychologist… it’s just stuff that me and my trainer have developed and learnt over the years. I think people try and over-complicate a situation and bring too much science into a sport that doesn’t need it. We just cover all the bases. If you know you’ve eaten well, trained well, you’re in a good place mentally, you’re healthy, you’ve got self-belief and you know you’re going to go out there and perform as best as you can, that’s all the psychology you need.
My favourite workout in the gym is boxing. You feel like you’ve had a good workout and you also feel like you get better all the time, because you start at such a low level. Boxing’s an exercise where I can happily push my limits. I’ll be tired, but if my trainer says, ‘Do you want to do two more rounds?’ I can find the energy, because it’s fun.
If my trainer says, ‘Do you want to do two more rounds?’ I can find the energy
To anyone who's just getting into training, my advice is that you’ve got to keep it fresh. You have to do things that you actually enjoy doing, not just running on a treadmill, which is boring. Training can be fun and it’s important to enjoy it, especially for us, because it’s such a big part of our lives. We’re always finding new things to do and keeping it fresh and exciting.