“Nick is one of the most dedicated athletes I have ever worked with,” says trainer Brandon Hinton. In an increasing scientific world of sports training, Hinton has carved something of a niche in FMX.
Training FMX athletes is unique compared to that of more ‘traditional sports’ largely due to the vast amount of muscle groups used and the inconsistent movements when riding a dirt bike. With a sport such as running, there are generally more repetitive muscle movement patterns which a trainer can systematically break down and predict the duration and frequency of loads placed on the different muscle groups, as well as have access to years of data and scientific studies on their sport to fall back on.
“With FMX, the situation is constantly changing and athletes need to have a highly efficient usage of fast-twitch muscle fibres to be able to throw their 100+ kilogram machines around, yet still remain flexible enough to manoeuvre their bodies around the bike to get the biggest amount of extension on each trick,” Hinton explains.
“While the athlete’s muscles are under this force, their heart rate needs to be as low and controlled as possible to ensure that enough oxygen is being transported through the body fast enough to allow muscles to contract and function… at the same time the rider needs to remain mentally composed and focused on the execution of each trick.”
Hinton started his career racing Off-Road and Enduro in South Africa, before heading to the USA to race under motocross legend Ty Davis on Zip Ty Racing. From there an opportunity opened up to become a trainer at South Africans Johnny Louch and Grant Langston’s Rockwell Training Facility.
“After working at the Rockwell Training Facility as a Sport Specific Personal Trainer under the guidance of Johnny Louch – and working with many of the best names in the motocross industry – I decided to bring my newly gained knowledge and experience back to South Africa to tackle the challenge of opening my own sport-specific personal training business, while furthering my education as a Sport Science student,” Hinton says.
Two months after his return to SA, Nick De Wit contacted Hinton outlining his Red Bull X-Fighters goals. “We started on the program in early January,” says Hinton, explaining how they picked up numerous muscle imbalances that were effecting many of his tricks.
This required a lot of attention toward correcting his form and posture over the first three months of training. “Once corrected, our focus became more specific to Nick's sport through focusing on explosive strength and flexibility that he required to execute his tricks as effortlessly as possible. Our final stage of preparation then focused on the simulation of Nick's 60 second run, ensuring that he is able to maintain his intensity through the entire run without experiencing any arm-pump or fatigue.”
Hinton and De Wit tailored a highly detailed training programme to all aspects of his physical and mental preparation was covered:
Monday: +/- 1 hour Cycle (Intervals)
Tuesday: AM lower-body focused strength session, PM yoga
Wednesday: AM Core session, PM FMX session.
Thursday: AM upper-body focused strength session, PM yoga
Friday: +/- 2 hour cycle (Intervals)
Saturday: AM yoga, PM FMX session
Sunday: Active-recovery day
According to Hinton, one of the major challenges in the sport of FMX is over coming fear. “The challenge for these athletes and my job as the trainer is reassuring confidence in the athletes skills. This is most commonly done through a series of imagery techniques that help the athlete to focus on the positive aspect that they have control of as apposed to the fear of what they don't (such as crashing).”
“With Nick's first child due just a few days after the Red Bull X-Fighters event, this proved as a particular challenge, due the natural human instinct in avoiding a dangerous situation. However, It was Nick's professional attitude combined with years of experience that led him to putting on the show of a lifetime in front of his home crowd and made all those long hours of training worth it in the end.”