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    Beating Arm Pump

    Anyone who has ridden a dirt bike knows what arm pump is. At some point during the ride your hands and forearms pump and throb, and your strength to hold onto the bar is gone. Arm pump affects everyone differently, but more than likely if you ride, you will get it at some point. So what do you do? Well, if you don't care too much about stopping to regain your strength it's often not a bad solution, but for those long, steep, loose, windy, rocky just won't work. You have to hold on till you get to the top sometimes, or just go back down. Most of us love to push the limits of body and bike, every time climbing a steeper hill, rougher trail, riding for a longer period without rest, getting better at jumps, technical skills etc. etc. One way to do this of course is to ride more often, but even if we are able to ride as much as we would like(yea right), some amount of cross training and strength training is critical. Since my legs usually hold out longer than my arms, I have been looking for ways to improve my grip and arm strength. Arm strength and endurance has been especially important to me lately considering my still recovering broken left arm. Needless to say, holding on to a set of violently wrenching bars of a wildly snarling dirt bike has become more of an issue! I work constantly to try to regain my strength in that arm with gripping exercises, curls, presses etc. I have come across two different exercises that I like for getting a quick effective pump that have seemed to help.

    The first is called "Negative Resistance Training". Negative resistance training works because it allows a more intense work out than normal methods. When you do curls, you work the positive level of biceps, forearms, and hands. After you have exhausted the positive level of strength you can work them more by doing the negative exercise, but now they are being partially assisted by some upper back muscles. Because you can handle more weight with negative training the exercises become more brutal allowing for shorter sessions and imitating the muscle groups that are used while riding more closely.

    OK, so here is what I do. First, I warm up with some light bench press, push ups or whatever does the job. Then, I take a barbell and put enough weight to be able to do 6 or 7 strict curls, then I cheat a bit to pump out a few more reps. Now, without resting at all, I go to the chin up bar, gripping it with my palms facing me. I have a box or chair or something set up to assist in getting my chin up to the bar, then I SLOWLY lower myself down, taking at least 5 or 6 seconds to get to the bottom. This is the negative exercise, and you will feel the burn! Keep this up until you can no longer control the downward motion. If you get to the point where you can do 12 to 15 reps you are doing pretty good. I found this method by reading of other racers etc. so I know it works for more than just myself. Try it and you will know very quickly why it works so well!

    The second method is probably not known by many, and I can't say for sure if it will work for everyone, but it has been very helpful to me in getting my left arm a boost. It's called the Dyna-flex Gyroscopic Exerciser. This little ball is capable of producing 38lbs of torque at 10,000 rpm. It feels like it's trying to jump out of your hand and it begins to take a lot just to hold on to it after just a short while. It doesn't take batteries, is easy to use once you get the hang of it and I can really tell a difference when I ride. You can alter the muscles that are targeted by the way you hold it and the way you spin it.

    We found the Dyna-Flex at a local sporting goods store. Although it's targeted at tennis, golf etc. it is a great device for any sport that requires a strong grip for extended periods. If you are set on having one shaped like a hand grip to give you a more familiar feeling to riding a bike etc. then check out these xtreme gyros made by the same company. I have not tried these yet, but they look pretty cool!

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