Everyone, and we mean everyone, suffers from arm pump at some point. Whether a weekend warrior, or a top professional rider, arm pump is something everyone has to deal with; although a conditioned pro isn’t going to pump up as soon as the weekend warrior that only rides once or twice a month.
Arm pump is linked to two major factors: cardiovascular fitness and riding technique. If you can improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, and follow basic good riding techniques, problems with arm pump will begin to fade.
We’ve covered the topic of arm pump in Tuesday Tip a few times over the years, so this time we filtered all the good advice down to ten quick tips…
1. Ride, ride, ride!
As Jeff Emig told us, “the more you ride…the better you’ll be.”
As we already said, improving your cardiovascular fitness through training is the best thing you can do to alleviate your problems with arm pump. As Ricky Carmichael has said repeatedly, he credits much of his success to his rigorous training program.
3. Look ahead
Have you ever noticed how one little surprise on the track can send your heart racing, with arm pump quickly to follow? Look ahead to avoid those surprises.
4. Stay balanced
During a Toyota clinic in the pits at A1 last weekend, we overheard Jeff Emig giving some great advice: position your body weight so that the bike pushes you, rather than pulling you. With that in mind, one of the best tips a buddy of ours taught us, is to practice shifting your weight forward during acceleration, and shifting your weight back during braking. The main idea is to minimize the demands on your hands and teach you to keep your weight balanced. We do this several times in the pits before jumping on the track, and it has done wonders for minimizing arm pump.
5. It’s all in the legs
Squeeze and maneuver the bike with your legs; you’ve heard it a thousand times, but make sure you’re really doing it!
Relax your grip, your arms, and your hands, and take a deep breath when you can. Really think about this as you ride. During straightaways or while in the air over jumps, remember to relax!
7. Keep your equipment in check
You don’t want your equipment to make you work harder than you need to, so be sure your suspension is properly setup. Bar position, lever position, grip compound should also be fine-tuned and individualized. You may find that you can stay more relaxed with your bars more forward, back, etc.
8. Get your blood flowing
Warm up before you go out for your first moto. A quick jog through the pits or some other exercises to get your blood flowing will encourage circulation through the arms. Once out for your first practice moto, start slow and gradually pick up the pace.
9. Stay hydrated
Forgetting to breath while riding—as silly as it may sound—is among the most common causes of arm pump in beginner-level riders. Paying attention to your breathing will also help you relax.
These may not be magic cures to your arm pump problems, but the reality is there aren’t any snake-oil cures for the dreaded pump. However, we are confident these ten simple tips will help keep your forearms from turning into bricks, and keep you on the track longer, and riding safer.