Formula 1 fitness requires full-body workout routines that allow drivers to maintain stamina, strength, and endurance during these 90- to 120-minute races. If you want to know how pro drivers get prepped for race day, check out the Formula 1 fitness tips below that can take your workouts to the next level.
How Fit Do Formula 1 Drivers Need to Be?
Many people do not realize how much physical strength is required of Formula 1 drivers. During a two-hour race, an average Formula 1 driver’s heart rate will fluctuate between 160 and 200 bpm, compared to the 60 bpm of an average, healthy person at rest. The sustained heat of the cockpit and the physical forces that add additional weight to drivers’ necks also require bodies to maintain peak physical fitness.
Key Muscle Groups for Formula 1 Fitness
Below, we’ve broken down how each muscle group plays a part during a Formula 1 race:
- Neck and Trapezius Muscles: The muscles that cover the neck and sides of the neck need to be strong to handle the physical stress of braking and accelerating, as well as sudden bumps and jerks.
- Biceps and Forearms: Though power-assisted steering tech has reduced the amount of force needed to handle the steering wheel, these muscles still need to be trained to maintain stable control of the vehicle.
- Abdominals: Strong core muscles are vital to maintaining a Formula 1 driver’s overall stability and bodily strength during a race.
- Shoulders and Upper Back: Because Formula 1 cars require drivers to sit in unideal positions for extended periods of time, shoulder and upper back exercises help maintain good posture and avoid unwanted hunching.
- Lower Back, Glutes, Hamstrings, and Quadriceps: These muscles can become tense in the vehicle and are necessary for fast and effective accelerating and braking.
Top Formula 1 Fitness Exercises to Try
Formula 1 fitness often requires drivers to complete two full workouts per day, with randomized routines that keep drivers agile in both body and mind.
Squat motions promote the strength of your quads, hamstrings, abdominals, calves, lower back, and buttocks. One common squat, the goblet squat, is great for incorporating multiple muscle groups into one exercise: hold one dumbbell to your chest while keeping your feet spread slightly beyond your shoulders. While keeping your heels to the ground, squat down slowly and balance your weight in the center of your feet. Squat until your thoughts reach a 90 degree angle with the floor.
Along with squats, deadlifts are the next step in developing a Formula 1 driver’s balance, bodily control, and flexibility. Romanian deadlifts are a simple deadlift exercise that require minimal machinery: Just stand up tall and hold your dumbbells or a barbell in front of your thighs, bend at the waist while pushing your hips back and lowering the weight, then straighten up while squeezing your glute muscles tight.
With so many forms to choose from, planks are an accessible and varied exercise to try out. To start with a basic forearm plank, focus on your core muscles as you hold your body above the floor, keeping your forearms resting and your palms face down. Hold this position for up to one minute.
Other Formula 1 Fitness Tips and Training Routines
Aside from these basic exercise moves, there are specific forms of bodily training that ensure that your Formula 1 fitness routine keeps your whole body in shape.
These training exercises keep drivers’ brains and bodies agile, which is an important part of both maintaining vehicle control and developing strong hand-eye coordination.
Racers experience greatly increased heart rates during a race, making cardio a vital part of supporting the heart of a pro racer. Running, swimming, jumping jacks, and jumping rope are all basic cardio exercises that Formula 1 racers integrate into their routines.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This type of training focuses on increasing endurance and stamina, both of which Formula 1 drivers need to stay physically aware while racing. Sprinting for 30 seconds with 90 second rests five to ten times in a row is the most basic way to incorporate this training into your routine.