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Physiological characteristics of top level off-road motorcyclists


Objectives: The study aims to analyse the physiological characteristics of top level off-road motocross, enduro, and desert rally motorcyclists to facilitate the design of a specific training program.

Methods: Twenty seven off-road top level riders participated in this study which measured anthropometric data, maximum aerobic power with incremental tests of both arms and legs, isokinetic dynamometry of the knee and elbow, handgrip strength, heart rate, and blood lactate concentrations during competition.

Results: The physical demands of the various races appear to influence the development of distinct musculoskeletal characteristics, as well as aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Motocross riders have more muscle mass, higher isokinetic handgrip strength, and greater aerobic power than enduro and desert rally riders. However, there are no significant anthropometric and physiological differences between desert rally and enduro riders. Desert rally riders tend to be overweight with maximum aerobic power similar to that of healthy individuals. The mechanical characteristics of the motorcycle and the technical and tactical skills of the riders seem to be more important for race success than the metabolic capabilities of the rider.

Conclusions: Desert rally and enduro riders present similar anthropometric and physiological characteristics. Both have a maximum aerobic power similar to that of healthy normal individuals, although desert rally riders tend to be overweight. Motocross riders on the other hand, have more muscle mass, more strength, and greater aerobic power. The differences observed suggest the need for a specific training program to address the requirements of different riders to reduce the possibility of injury.

  • BMI, body mass index
  • EE, elbow extensors
  • EF, elbow flexors
  • KE, knee extensors
  • KF, knee flexors
  • MPT, maximum peak torque
  • Vo2max, maximum aerobic power
  • handgrip
  • isometric
  • maximum aerobic power
  • motorcycling

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