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Stamina is a big thing for competitive athletes. But with a sport like cycling and BMX, is it really necessary? In short, Yes. Cardio is important and you should spend some time training it as a BMX rider. But not in a conventional way. and what I mean by that is that you don't need to spend hours on the treadmill to improve your cardio. Instead, you can tweak your session to last longer during BMX runs.
As a competitive rider, I promise that you do not want to get gassed (out of breath) 15 seconds into your contest run. It is crucial to be at 110% for all 45 seconds of your run. Professional athletes rely on their ability to perform for long durations as a way to keep them at the top level. With BMX joining the olympics, the athletic mindset will separate the "athletes" from the instagram riders.
A lot of sports require explosive power. Think about doing on trick. That is an explosive motion that lasts a fraction of a second. But now combine 20-30 of these explosive motions over the duration of 45 seconds. Sounds exhausting right? Only the best can keep this up for the whole run.
When the word "cardio" comes up, chances are we imagine the dreaded treadmill. Yuck. In my opinions this is not even close to riding a bike and the motion of training on one deteriorates our bodies more than we can imagine. It's also ineffective. In a 1.5 hour long session at my favorite skatepark, I was able to shred off 550 calories and travel an average distance of3.4 miles. An hour long walk for most people will only burn 220-300 calories. Doesn't it make more sense to train cardio on the bike instead of on a walking machine?
long story short, Cardio is crucial. However, let's find a fun and functional way to train it as a BMX rider.
The best way to improve cardio as a BMX rider is to focus on timed runs. This is setting a 45-1:00 timer on your phone and riding and throwing tricks until the end of the timer. This will wear you out but it will drastically improve the way you ride.
Looking at the picture above the Peaks (circled in red) represent each 30-second run I did. By the end of the run, my heart rate was heading through the roof as my body broke down. I took a small break in between to rest and recover. Very similar to HIIT training.
The dips happen right after my run. When I rest and recover for a minute. Allowing my HR to slow down and prepare for the next run.
The screenshots above are from a session where I focused on sectioned runs and cardio improvement. But a lot of "instagram riders" don't ride like this. And what I mean by that is that they spend more time chilling and less time riding. Maybe film a few clips and BS with the homies. There is nothing wrong with this except the fact that its not progressive to our cardio. Check out the image below from a chill session.
You'll notice two things. 1. My Heart Rate peaked 150 only 1 time. Meaning that only a small portion of my session was at 75% of my HR. This doesn't promote growth, and really was an unproductive session. 2. The valleys got a lot lower and lasted a lot longer. The time in-between runs were inconsistent and much of the time was spent in "rest" mode.
You can become a better rider by changing the way you "session". Make a point to spend time timing runs and keeping that heart rate up. You'll drastically improve the stamina on bike and become a much better rider because of it.
While I do not train cardio at the gym, I have made it a point to session in a way that improves my cardio and riding at the same time. Sectioning out timed runs really helps you improve as a rider since you are riding until you feel like you are going to tip over. I bought the Whoop Strap to track my HRV and learn to function on 4 hours of sleep. However, it has become a great tool to analyze sessions and become a better BMX rider in the process. If you want one, you can use my "friend" link and get $30 off https://join.whoop.com/#/850B5A. I'm very happy with it, although it is WAY more than you need if you aren't a serious rider.