Jonny Walker is one of the leading Hard Enduro riders on the planet, having won some of the sport's classic races: the Red Bull Hare Scramble, Red Bull Romaniacs and the fearsome Hell's Gate, to name a few. And you don't win those kind of races unless your fitness is 100 per cent on point.
So, if you’re an aspiring enduro rider yourself and want to get as race fit as Jonny, what moves do you need to start adding to your fitness routine? RedBull.com asked the British rider to reveal his five tips for training like a Hard Enduro hero.
1. Work on your stamina
Hard Enduros aren’t called that for nothing, and if you’re planning to be spending six hours a day riding offroad, training for 20 minutes on a rowing machine before meeting the lads down the pub isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to get yourself some stamina…
“You’ve got to train for endurance – that’s the number one thing,” says Jonny. “As long as you’ve got stamina, whether it’s with motorbike riding, running or cycling – if you’ve got big lungs, you’re sorted.
“So instead of riding your bicycle for half an hour, ride for four hours. Or go running until you’re knackered, don’t just do a two-mile run. That’s what I used to do when I was training back at home. I used to go cycling for 12-15 miles at a really hard pace and that was it. But that was pointless because all my races were at least four hours long. So now I go cycling for hours and hours.”
2. Get yourself some TRX straps
Jonny may be built like the proverbial brick toilet block, but when RedBull.com asks him how much time he spends in the weights room, his answer is surprising…
“I hardly do any weights” he says. “All I do is bench press and shoulder press, and I hardly even do those.”
What he does do, however, is use a TRX setup – a system of suspended straps that allows him to train using his own bodyweight as resistance.
“I do TRX every day – I do a lot of that for arms,” he says. “And TRX really works your core, which is great because everything’s centred around your core when you’re on the bike. I’ve got a routine where one day’s back, one day’s chest, one day’s legs – and that’s all on TRX. There’s so much you can do on those things.”
3. Don’t do arm exercises with weights
A rookie enduro rider might think they need to work on their arm strength to wrestle the bike into going where they want it. But don’t go reaching for those barbells just yet…
“Don’t ever lift any weights with your arms!” insists Jonny. “That just gives you arm pump. The reason you get arm pump is because you’ve got all these muscles in your arm and it’s hard for the blood to get to them if the muscles are big. But if you’ve got little noodle arms and you keep them relaxed, you’ll be alright!”
4. Do squats
Imagine the scenario: you’re halfway up a mountain in remotest Romania and you’ve just dropped your bike for the 15th time that day. That’s the moment when time spent doing squats in the gym to strengthen your legs and back will really pay off – and it’s one of the few weights-based exercises that Jonny incorporates into his workout.
“Squats for your lower back are really important,” he says. "You need a lot of back strength in Hard Enduro, because you’re bent over all the time on the bike."
5. Get out and ride
While improving his training has been key to Jonny’s surge in form this year, there’s still no replacement for one of the key exercises for enduro riders – riding enduro!
“You get the strength you need from doing whatever you do,” reckons Jonny. “From riding so much, you build the muscles you need to build, and there’s no point building up muscles that you’re not going to use, is there? One of my dad’s mates said to me once, ‘You should start running up a hill backwards, because you’ll build muscles in your legs that you didn’t even know you had.’ But you don’t know you have them because you don’t ever need to use them!”
So do like Jonny does, and get on your bike...