Find out how to practice like a F1 driver, whose health routines are in contrast to the rest seen in sports activities


Max Verstappen rides a motorbike on the observe earlier than the Italian Grand Prix.Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Pictures

  • F1 drivers have a coaching routine in contrast to the rest in sports activities.

  • They need to discover the right stability between stamina, energy, and sustaining the proper weight.

  • Insider spoke with F1 drivers and a coach about what it takes to be a driver on the pinnacle of the game.

Coaching as a Components One driver is all about putting the right stability between competing forces. Drivers should be sturdy, however in addition they should be mild. They should keep outstanding endurance, however in addition they have to have lightning-quick reflexes, palms and ft.

To raised perceive what it takes to seek out the right combination to compete on the sport’s highest degree, Insider spoke with two present F1 drivers and a longtime coach concerning the bodily calls for required of driving in components racing’s most prestigious stage.

The preseason is used to get stronger

Preparation for an F1 season begins in the course of the three-month break between the tip of 1 season and the beginning of the subsequent. Whereas most drivers will take a trip for a much-needed psychological break, it would not depart a lot time to arrange for the subsequent season.

The low season is the time when drivers will do loads of energy coaching to construct the muscle mass crucial to regulate a 1,800-pound (800 kg) automotive going 200+ mph. Patrick Harding, a coach who has labored with drivers, Olympic athletes, and boxers, has been Alex Albon’s coach for 4 years, since his time with Pink Bull and now driving for Williams. Harding estimates the pair spend almost two months getting ready for a season.

“We’ll do in all probability a six-, eight-week block of coaching earlier than the season begins,” he advised Insider. “And a minimum of three or 4 weeks of that’s devoted to attempting to placed on some muscle mass. So we do an enormous quantity of hypertrophy work, and we’ll intention to place two or three kilos a minimum of of muscle mass on Alex earlier than this season.”

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo echoed this but in addition famous that drivers nonetheless want cardiovascular work, which suggests loads of coaching.

“Within the preseason, the place you might be actually attempting to construct your self up, we’ll practice, I suppose, six days every week,” Ricciardo advised Insider. “It is form of a session within the morning, session within the night, and that’ll be a mix of cardio coaching, energy coaching. I might say we want good all-around health…. You do not should be a triathlete or a bodybuilder, however you want simply good all-around energy and conditioning.”

In the course of the season, the main focus is about restoration and sustaining energy

The time coaching in the course of the low season is so important as a result of as soon as the season begins, the bodily focus turns extra towards restoration, with so little time between most races.

“By race one, [Albon will] in all probability be the heaviest he will probably be all yr, after which that weight slowly dissipates throughout race weekends,” Harding mentioned. “So we attempt to construct somewhat little bit of a buffer initially of the season in order that his weight would not truly go too low.”

Drivers lose loads of weight over the course of a race week. In accordance with seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, he can lose six or seven kilos (3 kg) throughout apply and qualifying and as much as 10 kilos (4.5 kg) in a race.

After race days, Ricciardo will relaxation and get well on Mondays, possibly do some mild biking on Tuesday, somewhat little bit of core and neck energy on Wednesday, after which Thursday, it’s again to the observe.

“By the season, it is extra restoration,” Ricciardo mentioned. “When you form of get into the routine of racing, we’re within the automotive then three days every week, and that retains us truly in superb situation and, particularly, race situation.”

In an interview with GQ, Hamilton outlined his restoration routine, displaying an emphasis on the significance of self-care.

“Restoration has been an actual focus for me up to now couple of years,” the 37-year-old Mercedes icon advised GQ. “Now, I all the time make sure that the day after a race is an entire time off – I make sure that it is a day to myself for self-care. I do cryotherapy, I would do some pool work, and I make sure that I get physio or acupuncture that day or only a steam room.”


After all, every race is somewhat completely different. Whereas biking is a key exercise seemingly shared by all drivers between races, generally drivers are pressured to change their routines. In preparation for the acute situations in Singapore, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took a motorbike into the steam room.

George Russell did not use a steam room. As an alternative, he did his bike work in what gave the impression to be a rain go well with.


The all-important neck and butt muscle mass

A very powerful muscle group for an F1 driver to maintain sturdy is likely to be his neck muscle mass. That is as a result of G-forces exerted on the physique — as excessive as six instances the pressure of gravity — throughout turns, braking, and accelerating of their rockets on wheels.

Josh St. Clair of GQ described the neck-strengthening workouts Ricciardo makes use of.

“Ricciardo favors a neck harness and resistance band for constructing each energy and endurance. For energy, coach Michael Italiano has Ricciardo step again with the band taut across the again of his head. Ricciardo then strikes his head backward and forward for 4 units of 30 repetitions. For endurance, the band pulls Ricciardo’s head in a single course as he tries to maintain his neck steady. This endurance maintain imitates the g-forces in cornering.”

Esteban Ocon

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon demonstrates his neck-strengthening routine.GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Throughout an interview with Tom Kollmar and Michel Milewski for the German journal Sport Bild, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen defined how painful it may be if a driver would not strengthen his neck earlier than the season.

After spending seven years in F1, Magnussen misplaced his seat at Haas following the 2020 season. He spent the 2021 season racing within the North American IMSA collection and was set to take action once more this yr earlier than getting a name on the eve of the F1 season to interchange Russian driver Nikita Mazepin.

It had been about 18 months since Magnussen had adequately educated for driving an F1 automotive. Particularly, he missed out on getting ready his neck to resist the acute G-forces.

“I did that yr with out cockpit coaching,” Magnussen mentioned. “The stress within the automotive is so nice that the physique solely will get used to the forces whereas driving. Once I discovered every week earlier than the opening race in Bahrain that I might race, I needed to instantly begin with health periods … After the primary two races, I used to be hardly capable of maintain my head up.”

This video reveals a few of the neck coaching F1 drivers should undergo.


Beneath the neck, muscle mass is extra necessary within the decrease components of the physique.

Ricciardo’s coach, Michael Italiano, additional defined a few of the low season workouts he places the motive force by means of for Males’s Well being. Whereas there may be an emphasis on the shoulders and forearms (for steering the automotive), there’s a heavy emphasis on the core and the posterior chain (again, glutes, and hamstrings).

Hamilton says he should modify his physique to be lean as an alternative of cumbersome, and the weights he does are designed to maintain the middle of his mass as little as potential.

“You must have actually good core stability,” Hamilton advised Graham Norton in 2019. “You possibly can’t be massive and ponderous. If I used to be super-muscly [in my shoulders], my weight can be too excessive [vertically]. So, I do numerous squats for my butt.”

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton climbs from his automotive.Clive Mason – Components 1/Components 1 by way of Getty Pictures

Cardio work is required for a stunning purpose

The G-forces skilled by drivers, particularly in corners and whereas braking and accelerating, do not simply affect the muscle mass within the neck and the muscle mass used to regulate the automotive. Additionally they have a major affect on respiratory.

In a current look behind the scenes, AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly defined how a lot the G-forces affect a driver’s means to breathe. It’s much like a swimmer who spends a big portion of their race with their face underwater.

“Respiration is clearly crucial,” Gasly mentioned. “We spend, for instance, 70% of the lap not respiratory, in apnea. So that is what makes it actually difficult and actually bodily for us as a result of we clearly have the G-forces, however we can also’t breathe within the automotive as a result of the G-forces are so excessive if you brake, if you undergo a nook, if you speed up. You possibly can’t breathe as a result of you have got too many forces in your physique [pointing to his chest].”

Gasly and teammate Yuki Tsunoda use endurance workouts and cardio work, similar to working on a treadmill, to coach the guts and lungs to be extra environment friendly in the course of the moments they will breathe throughout a race.

Pierre Gasly on a treadmill


Making weight is a battle aiming at a really particular goal

The load of the F1 driver is a continuing battle between opposing forces, whereas attempting to intention for the right quantity.

Whereas drivers have to be sturdy, the groups additionally need the automobiles to be as mild as potential. Nevertheless, there’s a restrict to how mild they’re allowed to be.

F1 lately modified the minimal weight for drivers to 80 kg (176 kilos), together with what they put on. The gear and gear on the motive force throughout a race weigh roughly seven kilos (15 kilos). Which means the motive force’s precise minimal weight is 73 kilos (161 kilos).

Alex Albon

Alex Albon practices in his Williams automotive.Sportinfoto/DeFodi Pictures by way of Getty Pictures

Carrying additional weight slows the automotive down, so groups need their drivers as mild as potential. Which means the drivers are pushed to land at or under the 161-pound minimal (in the event that they go below, ballasts are added to the cockpit to achieve the minimal).

A single kilogram can imply an enormous distinction in races the place groups continuously look to shave tenths-of-a-second off instances.

“Ten kilos of gasoline within the automotive prices three-tenths of a second each circuit, per lap,” Hamilton advised Norton. “So if I am one kilo chubby, I can lose as much as two seconds within the race distance. So my weight is essential.”

With that comes precision. Harding defined that Albon’s in-season weight constantly hovers between 72.5 and 73.5 kilos (160-162 kilos), relying totally on his hydration degree.

“Most of my issues are when his weight drops under that 72.5 as a result of then I do know we’re dropping muscle mass,” Harding mentioned. “He is dropping muscle glycogen. He is in all probability not fueled sufficient, and he is possibly not hydrated sufficient.”

Alex Albon

Alex Albon.Paul Cross ATPImages/Getty Pictures

Throughout races, drivers can burn as many as 1,000 energy per hour. So, typically, within the thick of the season, drivers are extra involved with protecting the burden on, even for a taller driver like Albon.

“Our largest subject [during the season], imagine it or not, is protecting weight on Alex,” Harding advised Insider.

Whereas the drivers have to have energy, in addition they should be lean to suit into the tiny cockpits. That is particularly powerful for taller drivers like Albon, who’s 6-foot-2.

“These automobiles are constructed to be as compact as potential. The automobiles are designed not for 6-foot-2 athletes,” Albon advised Insider. “They’re designed for 5-foot-7, 5-foot-8 ideally. [Those drivers] match significantly better within the automotive proper now. [Taller drivers are] form of arched over. Your knees are touching the highest of the automotive. Your palms are in the way in which of your ft.

“So, it is all difficult. You get put ready that is, to be trustworthy, very uncomfortable.”

Curiously, the one sport the place the coaching is likely to be most similar to F1 is boxing, the place the opponents must have the right combination of endurance and explosiveness in addition to energy and sustaining a selected weight. It’s a sport the place Harding additionally trains athletes.

“Boxing is one other sport the place they should exist throughout the actually broad spectrum of bodily efficiency to achieve success,” Harding mentioned. “F1 is up there when it comes to that degree of health that’s required to achieve success.”

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