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From the Racetrack to the Gym: Training like an F1 Champion!

Posted on 21 March 2018

From the Racetrack to the Gym: Training like an F1 Champion!

Ahh the Melbourne Grand Prix…

It’s that time of the year when the racing flags come out and the ear plugs go in. From the 22nd to the 25th of March, F1 fanatics will flood to the Albert Park circuit to watch a colossal spectacle of cutting edge automotive engineering and equally daring and skillful drivers.

While F1 fans are freshly boiling with excitement, the drivers that will take part in the first circuit of this F1 racing calendar have been training for months! And not just mentally but physically as well. You wouldn’t really think just how physically and mentally capable these drivers have to be. In 2014, new regulations on F1 car engineering were put forth, forcing all teams to switch to a 1.6L turbocharged V6 engine with hybrid technologies. These new complicated drive trains develop as much as 1000hp, propelling the vehicles to 100 km/h in under 2.5 seconds with the capacity to develop 5Gs of force when turning and braking. F1 complete has stated that the 5Gs produced when breaking and cornering feel the same as having an extra 25kg on your neck (that’s pretty much the equivalent to having three and a half bowling balls strapped to your helmet while turning)!

Simply put, drivers need serious muscular strength and endurance to reach that finish line.

The likes of McLaren Applied Technologies and Williams F1 development have even released F1 specific training programs to prepare drivers for this fierce event. These programs incorporate intense cardiovascular work as well as some killer mobility, core and F1 specific strength movements. This is a workout protocol created with elements of both driver training programs.

So, if you’re aspiring for a career in F1, then take note:

High Intensity Interval Training

Athletes are required to sprint on a bicycle for 30 seconds followed by 90 seconds of recovery pedaling. This 30:90 second interval is repeated up to 10 times or more, depending on the needs of the athlete and their racing timeline.

(HIIT is a recently popularized training technique that helps to train both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. It has also been proven to burn more calories than a traditional session of cardiovascular exercise of the same duration.)

Here’s Max Verstappen (World #6) Hitting the exercise bike in preparation for the Melbourne GP:

Enjoying the view 😎 #keeppushing

A post shared by Max Verstappen (@maxverstappen1) on

Strength Exercises:

  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  • Goblet Squat: 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (Not even F1 skips leg day)
  • Close Grip Chin Ups: 3 sets of 8-15 repetitions
  • Dumbbell Push-Up:  3 sets of 10-30 repetitions
  • Supine Pull-Up: 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions
  • Swiss Ball Neck Squeezes: 10-20 reps in all 4 directions (These are to resist those bowling balls strapped to your head)

Mobility Drills

  • Mountain Climbers with Rotation: 2 sets of 8 Repetitions on each side
  • Open and Close Gate: 2 sets of 8 Repetitions on each side

Core Exercises

  • Swiss ball Pikes: 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions
  • Kneeling Diagonal Plate Raises 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions on each side
  • V-sit and steer (with handheld weight plate): 3 sets of 30 seconds with 30 second rests.
  • Side Plank: 2 sets of 45 seconds on each side

Here’s our very own Daniel Ricciardo performing Kneeling Diagonal Plate Raises:

Been getting after it all week. No different Sunday morning. Only the beginning

A post shared by Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) on


When it comes to diet, there is no “one size fits all” approach. However, almost all serious F1 racers and their teams focus on a balanced diet that generally includes:

  • a moderate amount of lean protein (found in grilled salmon for example) to recover from grueling workouts
  • low GI carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes for sustained energy during practice and competition
  • a healthy dose of vegetables and fruit for vitamins,fiber and minerals (particularly sodium and potassium for water regulation).
  • Hydration is also a key component within the F1 nutrition strategy, as drivers can lose up to 4L of water via sweat when training and racing. Drivers must therefore keep water and electrolyte intake high.

(photo taken from muscle&fitness.com)

The goal with F1 drivers is to keep their strength and muscle tone up while keeping their weight down, which is no easy feat. Nutrition plans are tailored to each racer as they require a little more muscle gain or a little more weight loss throughout their preparation – this equilibrium is paramount.

Like their F1 cars, drivers must also be well oiled machines – physiologically tuned for success and calibrated for endurance, strength and dexterity.

So, when you’re watching the Melbourne Grand Prix this weekend, remember just how much preparation goes in and how many bowling balls these guys are lugging around with them on track.



Jules Rosenstein is a Bachelor of Science with a major in physiology from the University of Melbourne. His personal ambition is to improve himself and others holistically through motivation, discipline and education.

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