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Staying Fit to Recover Fast

Pata Yamaha_061616

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK rider Alex Lowes knows what it takes to stay in shape and at the top of his game when racing on the world stage. His fitness and determination are the foundation of the Briton’s ability to recover quickly from injury when the need arises. Working out daily with his UK-based trainer Kirk Gibbons, Lowes has a tight-knit band of training partners from a variety of sport – Boxing, MX, Superbikes and Speedway to name a few – providing him with a multi-discipline programme.

Alex, the ‘off-season’ in the Superbike World Championship is fairly short compared to most, especially with the added pressures of testing, but getting a good base for your fitness is important at this time of year. What is a typical training schedule like for you throughout the winter?

“Yes I have my own trainer, a guy called Kirk. Honestly for me, he is the best, and knows what I need and more importantly when I need to be in my best shape. I don’t worry too much about my fitness I just make sure every day when I turn up to training I work 100% as hard as I can, this makes sure I’m ready come the start of the season. I do agree the off season is when I train my hardest, because we can train uninterrupted by the races or PR commitments. I train five days a week, every morning at 7am in the gym, then in the afternoons I try to ride as much as I can whether it be motocross, trials or with the pit bikes. I don’t train with Kirk at the weekend so I use that time as my rest days during the winter.”

How do you adapt your training schedule once the race calendar kicks in? Is there any element you need to focus more on?

“My training schedule during the season is always changing. I train whenever I am at home, even if it’s at weekends, because once the racing has begun I don’t get to spend too much time at home, so it’s important for me to maintain my fitness whenever I can. If I need to work on something because I have picked up an injury or I’m struggling in a certain area I just explain it all to Kirk and he will tell me which specific exercises I need to do. Like I said before, I leave it up to him. He understands what I need to keep me in the best shape and it works really well.”

A successful programme is as much about balance as it is pushing yourself to the limit. What do you do to relax and maintain your focus without burning out?

“This is very true. I have more experience now so I have learned when to just bring my training back a little bit. It’s a fine balance but if you have worked hard pre-season then it’s just about maintaining that during the year, which stops you from burning out. It’s important to arrive at each race fresh in body and mind. I play golf with my brother a lot which definitely helps me relax, also during the four hours around the course we chat about stuff and this helps us both let off steam and keep our focus on the bigger picture. We are lucky we have each other, talking to someone that understands your situation 100% definitely helps to relax and allows you to focus on the important things. I have very good people all around me, from my family and also my girlfriend Corinne – she helps me out so much, even more than she thinks, spending time with her helps me switch off from motorbikes.”

You recently attempted to race at Donington Park, for your home UK race, just a week after shoulder surgery. While you ultimately may not have been able to compete in the 23-lap races, you did set the fourth fastest time in Friday practice and complete testing with the team just a few days later. How does your level of fitness allow you to come back from injury so quickly and how do you maintain your levels during recovery?

“If you have a good base level of fitness and you are strong it’s easier for your body to cope with injuries. Unfortunately I couldn’t race at Donington as it wasn’t possible for me to race to a level that I wanted so the hardest decision was to not ride but to come back when I can do both me and the team justice with the right results.”

What does your typical rehabilitation involve?

“I have had two injuries this season, breaking the top of my humorous and dislocating my shoulder in November, and the collarbone just a few weeks ago. It’s unfortunately part of our sport. I have been lucky with both injuries and I would say the biggest thing about the rehab is being positive. It’s always difficult when you can’t do what you want to do but I made sure I listened to the experts, and then when ready, worked as hard as I could day and night to get fit again. That also includes eating properly, sleeping more, specific exercises for each injury and dealing with a little bit of pain. In the end it is all worth it though as I certainly am one of the lucky ones that get to live my dream!”

How do you prepare for racing at the different temperatures and conditions across the global calendar?

“Alongside my normal schedule, I do some small things like train in hotter conditions – a little bit of sauna work – but ultimately it’s more about how you prepare at the events with hydration and eating correctly.”

What would say is your biggest strength?

“I would say my biggest strength is my speed and determination to succeed.”

What do you need to work the most at?

“I’m my biggest critic so I would say lots of things! Mostly winning races!”

How are you preparing for the upcoming race at Misano?

“I am trying to get back to some sort of normal training since my shoulder surgery and the recovery is coming on well so I expect to be in a good position for the next race.”