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Physical Fitness

"No pain... no gain"

This section is specially for riders in Expert, Junior and Elite classes and will be updated from time to time. This is just a start. What does "training" mean. For almost all sports the general explanation is the following: Training is a complex planned process with the purpose of improving the sporting results of the athlete.

The most important question one has to ask him/herself is: What happens with my body and what can I improve on my body, stressing myself. Well, physical stress concerns a number of different aspects, which can be trained in different ways and extensions. If you want to improve your speed, you have to do exercises that will help you improve your speed. It is very important to find out what is essential for you personally in order to get the best out of the stress you will take.

The most important aspects that you can train with physical stress are:

  • Reaction
  • Power
  • Stamina
  • Speed

One will find all of these 4 aspects in all sports, however depending on the sport one exercises the accent can be different. A marathon athlete needs mainly stamina, a power lifter need mainly power, lots of it and a discuss thrower needs power and muscle-coordination (coordination of movement). In BMX Reaction and Speed are essential, but to last a very long day at the track, competing in 3 moto's, 1/16, 1/8, ¼, ½ and a final also stamina is needed. Every sport has its special characteristics, so before starting a training program for BMX, you have to find out what is essential for BMX and for you personally. It is therefore equal essential that when you are going to follow a serious training program, you do this under the guidance of an official instructor, in short you need specialists to advice you on the intensity and extension of the required training.

The individual work load is different with each person. It depends on your body structure, your general health, your age and present physical condition.First serious advise that I want to give my readers is to have an official medical check-up before you start with a serious training program. The second serious advise is to start a serious training program under the guidance of a professional trainer.  A medical check-up can be done accurately by passing a general fitness test, that in the case of my country HOLLAND, can be taken at a so-called S.M.A. / Sport Medical Advice center (in about every large city their is such a center, mostly located at a local hospital). The Dutch National Olympic Committee is involved in these S.M.A.'s heavily.

By doing this test, a report on ones physical condition is the result. The S.M.A.'s do have general data available for any kind of sport on what is required to be able to perform at high National or even International level. Concerning BMX it tells you if you have enough stamina, enough power, speed. It tells you when your pH level is too low, your longcapacity is sufficient. Your body fat % is measured and an ECG (Electro-cardiogram) is taken in rest and while doing the actual test on a bicycle-ergociser. It does NOT tell you anything about your reaction or specific technical and tactical skills on a BMX bike, which items are equal important of course. However, at International top level one can not go without the other: you must be a technical BMX racers with a good reaction capacity and a very good general physical condition. Last but not least, the will to win / mentality gives you the advantage of becoming a National or International Champion. In fact all of the items mentioned can be trained more or less.

Anyway, please find a report on a 25 year old top BMX racer, that competes at International level. Test is taken sometime 2000 and hopefully will give you an idea about what I did tell you above. These tests should be done before starting a serious training program. Again after about 12 weeks, if you are very serious again one month before a Continental and/or World Championship to find out what the physical situation is. You need to know the result to help you to adjust your training program in time. Also at the end of a season a test would be very helpful, so at least 4 times a year tests should be performed.


As I told you all, it is essential to have yourself tested to be able to write a training program specially designed for you. All of the above information concerns averages. You can use them alright, but again, it's better to have yourself tested and advised on a personal training program.

Here the result of a test taken in October 1999 by physician Dr. Hoogeveen of the Sport Medical Advice Center in Veldhoven-Holland.

BMX rider involved: Pieter Does
Date of birth: July 30th, 1974
Age (at the time): 25,2
Date of test: October 6th. 1999.
Hours of training during the week: average of 10h.
Motivation for test: training advice BMX, international level

Complaints/injuries: None


Length: 186,5 cm

Weight: 75,0 kg

Skin: 25 mm

Fat%: 10,5 %

Blood pressure: 130/80 mmHG

Blood & urine:

Hemoglobine: 10,2 mmol/l, (norm = 8,5 - 10,7 mmol/l)

Cholestorol: 1,0 mmol/l, (norm = 5,0 mmol/l)

Protein, glucose, blood in urine: Negatif


PF: 636 L/min (norm = 513 till 749 L/min)

FEV1: 5720 ml (norm = 3963 till 5640 ml)

FEV5: 6580 ml (norm = 4804 till 6805 ml)

F1/F5: 87 % (norm = 71 till 94 %)

Eyes were o.k: visus 1,0 both.

Electrocardiogram, SR, int as, WPW, no signs of oxygen shortage and no rhythm interruptions.

General physical examination: heart beat and longs o.k. No additional sounds. Stomach and lever o.k. No abnormal resistance. Good bloodvessels in both legs. Symmetric reflections in knee and arm. Good length of muscles. DF hallux.

Results of maximum test on ergometer:

  • Maximum capacity was 381 Watt, or 5,1 Watt/kg of body weight.
  • Maximum oxygen uptake was 4556 ml/min or 60,7 ml/min/kg.
  • Oxygen intake at breakpoint was 3600 ml/min.
  • Maximum heart rate was 194 beats per minute ( = 100% of the average sporter).
  • Result of maximum capacity is 132 % (32 % above average).
  • Result of maximum oxygen uptake is 133% (33 % above average).

TRAINING ADVICE for this specific rider:

During this test, the "turn over" point for this rider was 176 beats per minute. Meaning, with a heart rate of over 176 this rider starts to produce lactic acid. This figure is essential (and different per person) to write a personal training program and varies from person to person.

Recovery training: this is a training to recover from a long and exhausting race event or very hard training. Depending on how well the person is trained this recovery training must take 30 minutes at least till maximum 2 hours. In this case the heart rate must NOT exceed 133 beats per minute.

Extensive endurance training. This is a relative long training to improve ones stamina. Will take at least 45 minutes till maximum 6 hours ( BMX 45 till 60 minutes, runners much longer). The heart rate must stay between 128 and 150 beats per minute in Pieter's case.

Intensive endurance training. This is a heavy training in order to improve the maximum aerobe capacity. Has to last from 15 till 50 minutes depending on ones physical fitness. The heart rate must be between 148 and 174 beats per minute.

Extensive repetition training (interval). 3 till 6 reps each exercise taking 4 - 10 minutes with an high intensity around the breaking point (in Pieter's case 176 beats per minute). The relief period between reps must be about half the time of the exercise time (a 4 minute ride at around 170 beats per minute will take at least a 2 minute relief period in between reps). The heart beat must stay between 165 and 180 beats per minute.

Intensive repetition training (interval). 5 till 15 reps. Each exercise taking 20 seconds till a maximum of 2 minutes with a very high intensity. Purpose is to improve the anaerobe and sprint capacity. The relief period between reps should 2 till 3 times the exercise time (a 40 second sprint demands at least a 120 seconds rest period). The heart beat must be between 172 and 188 beats per minute right after the exercise.

General remarks:

Again, this is a program specially written for this rider tested. Your program could be different! Specially the last two training advises, extensive and intensive repetition training (interval) are essential for BMX. Endurance and power training (weights in gym) as preparation before starting the above training program. A running and cycling ITP will follow next.

Heartbeats as guideline.

In general: the following heart rates are in order if you want to train a certain aspect of your body. These values are general and go for young people around 20 / 25 year old. Rest pulse for a normal untrained person should be around 70/75 beats per minutes. Trained persons do have heart beats around 50 / 60 per minute.Top road bicycle riders even have heart beats around 35/40 per minute.

The quicker a high heart beat slows down after an action, the better the general condition of that person is (example: top heart beat=200, within 1 or 2 minutes down till around 120 beats per minute means, very good condition / physical fitness). Heart beats from 70 - 120: if you want to loose weight, don't go over approx. 120 beats per minute.

  • Heart beats from 120-140: within this range, you will train your general condition.
  • Heart beats from 140-160: you are working on your stamina and conditioning your body.
  • Heart beats from 160&up: your training for absolute top results and a top physical condition.

Riders of about 30 years and older (up and till 40 y.o.), all beats rates about 5 beats per minute down. Again these numbers concern average heart beats and for girls/women beats are about 5 per minute higher. Measuring heart beats is specially important when doing interval training. Later on more on this subject.


Reaction and coordination come together. When you react on something a direct action is required. Most important is do I move as lose and efficient as possible. Think about how to take over a rider in a U-turn (cutting-back). Roller-skating is a very good sport to exercise coordination, beside riding your back on a very technical track or special designed jumping section. Exercising on roller-skates is good because it is different from BMX and all muscles are needed as well as balance will be exercised.


When we talk about power, we talk about muscles, nerve system and heart muscle system. The above mentioned tells you already, that you have to be very careful and that you have to determine the right quantity of stress with an on your body adjusted power oriented training program. Meaning, after a physical test (as mentioned earlier) and always with the help of an expert (medic and personal trainer). We make a difference in maximum power and stamina/endurance in power. Maximum power is what you personally can handle with maximum weights. Stamina/endurance in power is what you can handle with sub-maximum weights (a lot of repetitions). Power is speed, but big muscles are also limiting movement, coordination and such. Working with maximum weights makes muscles thicker and shorter, meaning less flexibility. My advice is to work towards sub-maximum weights, which weights can be increased after a maximum test shows improvement. Sub-maximum weights, 15 till 20 reps per set and a lot of stretching before and after this kind of training. Later on you will find a example of such a training program.


The best way to exercise and improve ones stamina is running and bicycling (road). Main purpose is training ones muscle system and heart muscle system. To get a good result one has to follow a serious progressive training program with at least 2 till 3 training sessions per week, each time with a minimum of about 40 till 45 minutes.


Two different training forms on speed, 1st. basic speed and 2nd. the ability to be able sprint the last 20/30 meters before the finish line. Very important.

All of the above as a short introduction / explanation on training. This section will be updated from time to time.