McLaren Formula 1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo Shares His Functional Six-Move Workout

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Picture yourself battling 5G forces in an 850kg car while overtaking another driver on a corner at 190mph. Now imagine doing it over and over for 90 minutes – over the course of which you'll lose around 5% of your body weight in sweat due to the searing 50°C heat from the engine – not just once, but 23 times over a nine-month period. Suffice to say Formula One is one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports on the planet.

How do you go about training for such uniquely brutal conditions? To build a race-ready physique that goes the distance, 32-year-old McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo – best known as The Honey Badger – deploys a tactical mix of strength movements, bodyweight exercises and functional moves during the pre-season, demonstrated in the video above.

The first exercise in Ricciardo's arsenal is ubiquitous: push-ups. "Very basic, very easy," he says. "Bit of a, I don't want to say full-body exercise, but you certainly get your chest, your arms, your back and your core." On paper, it's a devilishly simple move, but there are a few common errors and pointers to watch out for. On the 'upwards' push, it's really important to exhale, says Ricciardo. "Michael, my trainer, always encourages me to keep my elbows in," he adds. "I tend to wing them out a bit."

Next up? Plank hip dip. "A big part of motor racing and the strength that we need is core and stability," Ricciardo says. "We normally incorporate this one into more of a HIIT session," supersetting the move with a second abs exercise in a 30-seconds on, 30-seconds off format. "When we go through high-speed corners, we hit like four or five Gs," says Ricciardo. "All that force goes through our neck and our core". Having strong obliques, he says, provides the strength and endurance needed to keep fatigue at bay during a race.

It won't surprise you that Ricciardo isn't quite done with core work just yet. Tackling a few sets of side plank rotations, he shares an unusual tactic to ensure your form is locked in. "My trainer thinks I'm nuts because I do weird stuff when we train... If there's a few more reps to go and you're feeling good," he says, "just punch yourself in the abs. Make sure you're rock solid in there."

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If you've ever seen a snap of Ricciardo limbering up before a race, you'll be familiar with his next move: a deep, dynamic squat stretch. "My flexibility was really bad, especially through my adductors," he says. "It would affect me when trying to do squats. So I just made a real conscious decision and effort – and thanks to Michael – to get into a routine of doing morning dynamic stretching."

Leg muscles suitably loosened, he progresses onto a driver-specific move that involves sitting on a stability ball, with heels on a balance trainer (or Bosu ball) while manoeuvring a weight plate from left to right. "When we sit in a race car, we're not upright at all," says Ricciardo. "It's not like a road car, we're nearly laying down and your feet are up. We try and replicate it with the Bosu." Once you've assumed the position, lock your core and turn the weight plate slowly from left to right "like a weighted steering wheel".

The final move? Pull-ups. "They're really good for lats and I guess bigger muscle groups, but I really like it for grip strength," Ricciardo says, grasping the pull-up bar with an underhand grip. "With pull-ups, it's quite easy to cheat them," he says, so make sure you move through the full range of motion "until you're pretty much hanging" at the end of every rep. "Also, your core has to be [switched] on," he adds. "If you start rocking and swinging, it's a reminder to lock in your core."

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