How To Stay In Riding Shape Over The Holidays

How To -



If you’re anything like me, along with cheer and lots of family time, the holidays bring on carbs, calories from too much animal fat, and ungodly amounts of sugar. We will drink, be merry, pass out on the couch and put on a couple of pounds – at least. More importantly, the holidays mark the real transition into winter. It’s a time of relative inactivity and for those in the colder climes, less opportunity for riding a motorcycle. So how do you stay in riding shape?

Let’s face it, riding can be painful: wrist pain, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, ankle pain, butt pain, etc. If you don’t make it to the gym, you don’t know how effective cross training can be in straightening out that crumpled sandwich-wrapper of a body into a nice 8.5 x 11 sheet of white printer paper ready for the next ride.

Learning new exercises and activities can be exhilarating. They will activate new muscle groups, force you to think and live outside your comfort zone, and introduce you to new people and a new ideas.

Here are  exercises and activities that will help you be more confident, both on and off your bike.

Exercises: Head to the gym or just make some room in your garage! While you are there, try these fun and simple exercises:

1. Suspended ring push-ups: Helps strengthen your shoulder, chest and core stabilizer muscles. Great for feeling strong and powerful maneuvering the bike at speed on twisty roads.

2. Decline sit-up with ball toss: A super intense core workout. Helps with maintaining good posture during long rides and preventing back pain.

3. Forward lunge with kettlebells: Strengthens your quads, glutes and core stabilizers. Great for feeling comfortable balancing on your bike while moving or with your feet on the ground and at a standstill.

4. Inverted row with rings (or bar): The opposite of ring push-ups, but same emphasis on stabilizing muscles, building grip-strength and strengthening the back.

Moto-stig demonstrating the suspended ring push-up

Activities: While gym exercises can be the easiest to get started on, don’t underestimate how valuable these activities can be to the physical and mental demands of motorcycling:

1. Rock Climbing: Forces you to think while engaged in strenuous physical activity. It activates the problem solving part of your brain under stress and sharpens your analytical mind. It also delivers a killer upper body and arm workout at the same time.

2. Cycling: Very akin to riding a motorcycle, except you are now the engine as well as the operator. Cycling forces you to use similar road survival techniques to the ones that you use on your motorcycle, all while strengthening your legs and improving your cardiovascular fitness and health.

3. Learn a Martial Art: Pick a martial art that appeals to you philosophically and find a local gym or master that teaches it. Martial arts will not only teach you skills for self-defense, but also improve your reflexes and instincts under duress. Many martial arts styles also practice techniques for falling and tumbling which are useful for if and when you do have a crash.

Moto-stig demonstrating correct skinny-jean-kicking form.

4. Do Yoga: Learning and practicing yoga is one of the healthiest and most satisfying ways to feel more comfortable on your bike. It will limber you up, strengthen your core muscle groups and challenge you with some of the most intense tie-you-in-knots poses you’ll ever do. It also helps you develop strategies for calming your mind; very useful for when that type-A, bluetoothed and clean-shaven real estate agent decides his appointment in Malibu is more important than your safety as he nearly runs you over changing lanes. Just breathe…

Strike a warrior pose right before every ride.

5. Meditate and visualize: I like to visualize proper riding techniques in my moments of down-time; my favorite times and spaces are when I’m in the shower and right before I fall asleep in bed. Visualization is a well-known technique for helping improve athletic ability and skill.

6. Ride.

What are some other complimentary activities or exercises that you’d recommend for motorcyclists?

Related Links:
Whatever you do stay off the couch:
 5 Videos That Get Me Off The Couch And On My Bike
More tips for staying comfortable on your bike: How To Stay Comfortable On Long Motorcycle Rides

  • Rowan

    Any PT thread on the internet is ambushed with ‘that’s crap, do this’. But check out Don Stevenson, he does a lot of functional fitness training articles for the Oz Army, and has helped a shitload of young wannabes make the grade. If you guys are into function fitness rather than the beach muscles bicep bullshit, look him up.

  • Brian

    planks of all types !!!
    some will say Crossfit works, I haven’t done it, but can’t dispute it, but it is a viable option worth mentioning. I personally have more recently become a runner, as I find it a great way to actively train my mind for long rides when I am doing my long runs. Great time to practice exercises where you are paying attention to your surroundings and picking out things to not only pass the miles and time, but in keeping actively engaged.

  • Blixa

    Squats, sit-ups, push-ups and running. Not as exciting or involved as what was suggested, but I can do most in my living room and it seems to help with stuff like standing on the pegs and endurance. Btw love the pics!

    • Stuki

      And deadlifts. Getting strong at deadlifts, makes a bike feel much lighter when time comes to manhandle it, as in backing out of slightly declined parking spots etc. A strong posterior chain is also key to keep from having to lean stiff armed on the bars on sport and track bikes. And, hard, strong and well vasculated glutes beat gelshorts 100-1 when it comes to extending the comfort range of a less than 100% ideal MC seat.

      Also, on a sport bike; the riding posture is not at all dissimilar from the starting position of a deadlift, just with handlebars in the hands instead of a bar. Which should provide good carryover to the bike from strength gained in the gym.

      Core rotation excercises lke Russian twists should also be beneficial, as should side bends etc.

      I have never trained any bike rider, so all this is just educated guessing. The deadlift recommendation I have seen validated by a good number of touring riders, who to a person agree a strong dead make them more confident maneuvering their big, loaded rigs around stops.

      tI would be awesome if RA could get hold of a strength and conditioning coach with demonstrated success in training top riders, in highly athletic riding disciplines like road racing and MotoCross. I did once speak to a coach with experience training F1 drivers, and was surprised at the shape those guys ‘who just sit around letting an engine do the work’ are in, and how scientific their approach to conditioning has gotten.

      • Aakash

        Great advice!

      • Scott Jones

        Great advice for sure. One exercise I like a lot is the front squat. It uses the wrists and forearms to stabilize the weight during the rep. Helps keep my wrists from getting sore as quickly s they used too.

  • Reid

    This post made me think of Kamen Rider…again.

  • Dave Day

    Yoga, yoga, yoga!

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Yes. Go to gym. Lift things up and put them down.

  • HoldenL

    Please find an excuse to run Moto-stig photos every month. It’ll be a highlight.

    • Aakash

      Haha, will do.

      • imprezive

        You need a smoke visor though. The clear visor kills some of the illusion.

        • Honyock Undersquare

          Mirrored visor – extra points if the photographer doesn’t show up in the picture.

          • Aakash

            Noted as well. Mirrored visor is on the must-buy list.

        • Aakash


  • Mary

    I second #3. Learning throws and tumbling in Karate has made me instinctively tuck in my head when I fall. And while this may have helped me through a recent crash, it has helped me more when I last…..fell down the stairs.

  • DrRideOrDie

    Do Yoga is amazing advice. When I first started riding I could barely look over a shoulder to check behind for traffic. Now I can get full rotation on my neck with a still having a bone spur in there and can pretty much turn almost all the way around while riding. Start with a beginner vinyasa (flow) practice and be wary of overly aggressive instructors. It takes time and a gentle attitude to successfully build up strength and flexibility in yoga without injuring oneself.

  • roma258

    Mountain biking and yoga has been my thing for the last couple of years. Fun, challenging, great for getting your fitness and mtb gets you outside even in the winter. This year I got a dual sport to hopefully ride year round. Riding trails in the woods seems to make about a 15 degree difference between you working more and the fact that the trees block most of the wind.

  • deckard

    Buy a drum set and learn how to play drums. All the coordination you gain will directly transfer to your motorcycle riding.

    Go scuba diving. Good divers can control the depth and direction with minimal body movements. Just like smooth and fast riders on motorcycles.

    • Stuki

      Awesome! In addition to pissing off the neighbors with loud pipes, buy a drum set……. :)

  • Aaron Snocker

    Olympic lifting should suffice. Proper mobilization and technique will keep you limber and with enough core strength to keep back pain at bay during long stints in the saddle.

  • Craig Wixon

    These ads are unacceptable, HFL/RideApart. I get that you need to finance your blog, but…

  • Mark D

    Anytime somebody recommends kettlebells, an angel get’s super strong core and forearm muscles.

  • Renato Valenzuela

    if you get a killer upper body and arm workout from rock climbing, then you’re doing it wrong. climbing actually benefits your core and leg muscles.

    • Aakash

      “Upper body” includes your core muscles. The severity of the leg workout depends on your body-type and type of climbing you are doing (bouldering, sport, lead or trad).

      Bouldering targets slightly different muscle groups than sport or lead climbing because of the nature of the moves.

      I’ve been climbing for about 4-5 years now and for my body type and the kind of climbing I do (bouldering), I build my core, forearms, back muscles and calves.

  • Kyle Toy

    Moto-Stig needs to watch that supporting knee while he’s kicking! That looks like a tear waiting to happen.

  • Mohd Shahruzy

    trying to keep fit does help me on the motorcycle, last month i was in the rocket position on my moped for a good hour didnt feel back pain at all which surprised me alot. i do pushups,squats, wrestlers bridge,

  • devillock

    Lift heavy. Bench, Deadlift, Squat, Press, Row, Pullup with weight, Dips with weight, Power Cleans, Thrusters. Interval Sprints. Swim.

  • Piglet2010

    Or you could not exercise and buy a cruiser with forward controls instead.

  • Kr Tong
  • Mykola

    There are three major exercises: Bench Press, Deadlift, And Squat. Everything else is ancillary.

  • Geert Willem van der Horst


  • Andrew

    What gear is Moto-Stig rockin? I really like that jacket.