CrossFit is making Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a stronger all-around NASCAR athlete

It wasn't long ago that the thought of a NASCAR driver running up the stairs of the Los Angeles Coliseum for practice would have been considered insane. For Ricky Stenhouse Jr., it's another way to break a sweat.

Just a few years ago, training like this would have been a hard no for Stenhouse. The driver of the #47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing had always done his own training here and there and even had some pit crew practice while he was with Roush Fenway Racing to build camaraderie within the team.

In 2014, he started taking his friends to CrossFit training and immediately fell in love with the competitive aspect. He even met CrossFit legend Rich Froning and the two became friends. Froning sent him some workouts and even hooked him up with Rogue Fitness, who outfitted the CrossFit gym Stenhouse built on his rth Carolina property.

"I liked the intense workouts to the beat of the clock," Stenhouse said. "I learned a lot of movements that I had never incorporated into my training before."

While Ricky Stenhouse was physically able to handle the physical and mental demands of being a rider, he knew there was another level he could take and that's why he turned to the coach and founder of Second 2 ne Fitness, Ryan Von Rueden.

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Von Rueden previously served as Director of Fitness and Lifestyle for Kasey Kahne for nine years. Stenhouse's call came a day after the 2018 Coke 600, NASCAR's longest 400-mile event. Von Rueden said Stenhouse had provided his key stats from the race and heart rate readings were so high it was a surprise that he was able to get out of the car.

"If you look at a top-end marathoner, they don't get that high a number and their averages are much lower," von Rueden said. "He wanted to find a way to do it differently because it doesn't feel good when the heart rate is that high. "The overall concept should simply be in better shape."

How they attacked this was threefold. They started with steady-state cardio for an aerobic base. From there, they did short one-minute intervals to build Stenhouse's anaerobic endurance to increase his work capacity below that heart rate while better buffering the lactic acid. From there, they stretched those intervals to five to ten minutes. Stenhouse's heart rate is now within the average of what both are comfortable with.

Nascar racer Ricky Stenhouse performs a jerk and clean with a barbell at his home gymJared Allen

Von Rueden has also incorporated CrossFit-style workouts into the programming, giving Stenhouse and the Camping World Truck and Xfinity series drivers the ability to compete against each other to gauge where everyone is and to keep the workout fun, while they push each other each season.

Another important component of Von Rueden's programming was data from WHOOP, which he uses as a control and compensation system when he can push or reverse a rider. rmally Cup Series guys like Stenhouse get drained on Monday after completing the previous day's race. Von Rueden will make it an exercise day that includes light running, cycling and bodyweight exercises, cutting a 90-minute session down to 40 and only about 60 percent of the normal workload.

Ricky Stenhouse, who led this year's Daytona with eight laps to go before a multi-car accident knocked him out of contention, has been feeling much better physically since that fateful call to Von Rueden and is looking forward to a playoff push.

"I'm definitely more of an all-around athlete now," Stenhouse said. “I would feel comfortable going in with someone and doing any kind of training. I used to not like running at all, and now it's not a big deal whether we want to run 9 miles or 10 miles. He really instilled in me that running is one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and get a really good workout.

“I've gotten a lot stronger without gaining a lot of weight. Usually when you build muscle you gain weight and that's something you don't really want in racing. You want to keep things on the lighter side. The focus is on heart rate and getting my heart rate down in the race car. We've definitely seen a dramatic drop in this area.”

Nascar driver Ricky Stenhouse performs a barbell exercise at his gymJared Allen

Ricky Stenhouse crossfit workout

Warm up

  • foam roller: 5 minutes.
  • Heart: 5 minutes.
  • Shoulder and hip mobility: 5-10 mins

Train

  • To run: 1 mile
  • RDL: 70% body weight x 10
  • Hang clean: 70% body weight x 10
  • Front Squat: 70% body weight x 10
  • press press: 70% body weight x 10
  • Pulling up: x 10
  • flat bench: 90% body weight x 10
  • Upright Tilt: x 10
  • Toes on the bar: x 10
  • To run: 1 mile

directions: Run 1 mile, then perform 6-8 strength sets with minimal rest, then run the second mile. Change the prescribed weight to suit each individual's ability.

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