Upper-Body Strength Key for NASCAR Drivers

FRIDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- A resistance-training program that focuses on building upper body strength can improve success for stock car drivers, such as those on the NASCAR circuit, a new study suggests.

Researchers conducted interviews with 40 stock car drivers in 27 states and asked them about physical demands, injures and other issues regarding their profession. The drivers, most of whom were regionally or nationally ranked, also were asked about their physical-training regimens.

The study appears in the May issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance and heat tolerance were the main factors noted by the drivers as important for coping with the demands of racing, said William Ebben, of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and the Stock Car Research Center in Lakewood, Wis., and colleagues.

The drivers did resistance (strength or weight) training three days a week, with the majority of that time focused on building upper-body strength. The drivers spent another three days a week on cardiovascular-endurance training.

Cardiovascular endurance relates to how well the heart, lungs and vascular system perform during grueling physical activity.

The more time a driver spent on resistance training, the higher their track points standings, according to the study. It also found that drivers' ratings of their own physical fitness was associated with their track points ratings, according to a journal news release.

"Our results can assist professionals in the development of strength and conditioning programs for performance enhancement and injury prevention that are specific to the needs of this population of athletes," the researchers wrote.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, news release, April 23, 2012