You may still not be inclined to believe it, but face it, Formula 1 drivers have to be incredibly fit. Not only do they have to spend two to three hours sitting in a car repeatedly going around a track, which puts a serious mental burden on them, but they also have to withstand high g-forces when going through turns and brake hard at high speeds.
Formula 1 drivers also need to ensure that they keep their body weight as light as possible to make the overall weight of the car as light as possible. This is not an easy task, considering that they also need to build muscle to increase their strength. We’ve already looked at the various workouts that Formula 1 drivers do, such as Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo’s circuit training, as well as workouts to help him improve his reaction times.
Current world champion Max Verstappen also recently showed off a home workout, although we wouldn’t recommend you copy him exactly as his form was far from perfect. Not one to be discouraged, the Red Bull star has now posted another workout to his Instagram feed, although its actual benefits aren’t entirely clear.
In his Instagram post, Max shows himself running on a treadmill wearing a mask to limit the amount of air he is able to breathe. Many think this is called oxygen restriction training – or hypoxia training – however, it refers to restricting the actual amount of oxygen you are able to breathe and is meant to mimic the conditions encountered at high altitude.
What Max Verstappen does is better known as respiratory muscle training (RMT), whereby you limit the total amount of airflow entering your lungs. It is essential to remember how these two training methods are different. While there’s obviously oxygen in the air we breathe, and by limiting the amount of air you can breathe via RMT, you’re reducing the amount of oxygen you can get into your body, which is not the same as training at alitude.
Like Bodybuilding.com explains, when you train at altitude – hypoxia training – the total amount of oxygen in each sip of air is much less, which is why the air is thinner. When you train at altitude and reduce the total number of oxygen units taken in by the body, your body “responds by increasing myoglobin/hemoglobin content and capillary density, and therefore increasing oxygen transport. oxygen to the muscles”.
One study found evidence to suggest that RMT (wearing a mask during exercise) does indeed improve your respiratory function, however, the same study also found that “these improvements in respiratory muscle function are not transferable to VO2max or endurance exercise capacity as assessed at age 85. % VO2max in competitive athletes. Essentially, actual high-intensity performance is unaffected.
So, does that mean Max Verstappen is performing unnecessary training again? Potentially, yes. However, another study that looked at the effect of inspiratory muscle training on handball players (a completely different sport, we agree) found an “improved aerobic physical performance in handball athletes “.
He continues, “These results could be applied to sports training as a strategy to minimize the effects of respiratory fatigue in athletes, promoting greater training time and improved overall performance.”
Essentially, by putting more strain on his respiratory system, Max might discover that his body is better able to cope with the physical demands of a Formula 1 race. In other words: he is better able to control his breathing and will stay so calmer under pressure.
It wasn’t just a restrictive workout that Max revealed in his Instagram post, as the third slide shows him performing some rather brutal crunches. The ab machine is a regular at most gyms and can help you improve the strength of your abdominal muscles. However, some focus only on the upper part, while others target the lower part better. However, most ab machines ignore one crucial aspect, according to Fitness19.com; stabilization.
“A lot of machines will help with mobilization, but they can’t help your deep muscles stabilize the core.”
We’ll admit, though, that the ab machine Max uses is likely to be a lot tougher than what you’ll find at your gym, just by looking at the grimace on his face. With this workout, Max seems to be fighting incredibly high resistance in order to push his body forward, and so will likely engage his entire core to help him do it. His legs are also firmly locked in position, meaning all the work is placed on his core to get the machine moving.
Whether you want to emulate Max’s latest workouts is up to you. There still isn’t a huge amount of evidence to support oxygen restriction training, and if anything, it could cause more harm than good if you don’t have the same level of fitness than a professional athlete.
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