basically, I get arm pump really really bad. I’m a 15 year old racer on a 125. I really need some other ideas to eliminate my arm pump. Currently I use a 4 Armstrong , cycle before race to warm up, cut sugar out 48 hours before, hydrated, good sleep, great fitness, nose strips to hold nose open for optimal breathing, use cone valves and Traxx shock for bike setup, use all them sprays to prevent it etc. what else can I do? Am I missing something that’s a key?

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  • rs275

    9/30/2019 5:11 AM

    It's not so much the sugar that causes armpump but caffeine and carbonation, so that's one of the reasons why people tell you to eliminate energy drinks and soda as a rider (energy drinks especially because of all of the health risks involved, it's better to eat an orange about 15 minutes prior or drink some emergen-c about 30 minutes prior to riding to get a calm "pick-me-up" so you can stay relaxed and control your breathing rather than get jacked up on an energy drink and have your muscles tense while riding.) The higher your heart rate the harder your entire body is having to compensate and it fatigues wayyyy quicker when on any type of energy drink or pre-workout drink. One of the best exercises to incorporate into your training regimen are arm hangs. The idea is to lengthen and strengthen your forearms without bulking them up during the process. Your body adapts to any movement that it does repetitively over a length of time and it doesn't matter how hard you're squeezing with your knees, you're still having this constant pulling motion especially the faster that you become as a rider which can be simulated with the arm hangs. So jump up and grab a bar, a tree branch, a porch beam or anything similar, keep your arms straight and hang as long as you possibly can. While you're hanging try to stay as relaxed and calm as possible, controlling your thoughts and breathing especially as your forearms begin to hurt. You don't realize it at the time but you're building habits and responses to being in that environment. Once you can't hang any longer, drop down and stretch your forearms out for a minute or 2 (just long holds, don't bounce your stretches) slowly pushing your fingers back towards the top of your arm to stretch the forearms, do some wrist rolls and jump back up. Repeat this 5 times and try to do these 3 times a week (say Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Once you get comfortable doing arm hangs, take a soccer ball and stick it between your knee's without crossing your ankles while you hang. Focus on squeezing and hanging at the same time while still controlling your thoughts and breathing. It also helps to do these at the end of a workout or incorporate them into an interval workout after you're warmed up. So do a full body 15-20 minute warm up, then when you're ready, sprint until your heart rate is elevated and you're breathing heavy and then do your first arm hang. Stretch the forearms and then sprint again to elevate your heart rate and repeat this 5 times.
    Schwinn Airdynes are amazing for building all around muscle endurance, you can practice being in the attack position with your head up and looking ahead while you're sprinting and controlling your breathing. No matter how tired you get stay out of the habit of dropping your elbows and head and rolling your shoulders forward into that kind of slouched, fatigued position. Don't close your eyes and grit your teeth either, anything you do off the bike you'll do on the bike as well, even something as simple as staring down at your phone all day can cause your head to naturally drop down once you stop thinking about it on the bike.
    At the track, you can take a resistance band there and attach the middle of the resistance band to something and incorporate rows into your warm up, row for a good 10 minutes and then do a full upper body stretch (especially forearms) about 30 minutes prior to your race. Practice all of this during a practice day at the track before doing it at a race so you get an idea of how your body responds to it and how long of a rest you need between your warmup and race. It's a balance between allowing your body to relax and recover after a warmup and not completely cooling down before you ride.
    I can't stress enough how much learning how to control your thoughts while being in those uncomfortable positions help reduce arm pump. I once took these "arm pump tablets" when I was about 16 and I remember thinking before the race that there's no way that I can get arm pump now, so it never even crossed my mind and I rode as hard as I could the entire 20 minute plus a lap race without ever pumping up. A few months after the race the product was discontinued because there was nothing in it but some vitamins and minerals. I used to experiment with it during a full body exercise I used to do, once I thought about my arms and shoulders getting tired I would feel nothing but my upper body getting fatigued, but once I switched my focus to my legs getting tired I would feel nothing but my lower body.
    Just about any technique that you are struggling with can be simulated in a gym with some creativity. I used to struggle with keeping my leg up in turns and dropping my inside elbow, so I took a barbell and sat on a leg extension machine with light weight and practiced that repetitive movement over and over (when the left leg comes up, leaning forward, tilting my head to the left while keeping my head center on the barbell, both elbows staying up while I turned the barbell slightly) as well as my breathing during all of this. Once I got on the bike the movements came a lot easier.
    One more tiny tip is to keep your toes pointed slightly inward while riding. A lot of techniques benefit from this but a lot of times your toes tend to naturally point a little outward, and it's way easier to squeeze the bike and keep your lower body locked in place when your toes are pointed inward than out. Even in turns, when your left leg comes up, practice pivoting your right foot inward a tiny bit as if you're walking and deciding to do like a military pivot with your outside foot, it will help drive your knee into your bike and hold you in place so you don't slide back on the seat during the exit and end up having to hold on even tighter with your arms.

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