Neck Training for the Modern IndyCar Driver

Posted by Robert Sherman on May 27, 2018 11:35:52 AM

PitFit 1 (Charlie Kimball)

With the 102nd running of the Indy 500 today, many who tune in may not appreciate the fitness and conditioning of these athletes, particularly of their necks. Since the '90s when Formula 1 racers began coming to race CART in the US, motorsport drivers have become far more focused on their strength and conditioning as a way to improve their performance.

A driver's neck is subjected to forces as high as 5Gs. Sustaining high levels of force on the neck over the course of 2-3 hours requires an incredible amount of neck strength and conditioning. With eight drivers in this year's Indy 500, PitFit Training in Indianapolis is at the leading edge of today's motorsport fitness and conditioning.

The Drive's Jerry Perez recently spent the day with PitFit Training founder and president, Jim Leo. What began in 1993, integrating advanced human performance practices with Penske Racing driver's strength and conditioning programs, has grown into the industry leader in the development and implementation of motorsports-specific human performance training, developing programs for IndyCar drivers like Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Simon Pagenaud, Robert WickensSpencer Pigot, and Josef Newgarden.

 

Neck Training for Motorosports

Leo has always been looking for new ideas and and innovative approaches to training. Discovering the Iron Neck at the 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association Conference, Leo was one of the early adopters of the Iron Neck. Originally sold to NFL and Collegiate football teams to help reduce concussion risk in football players, the invention was not exactly designed for drivers.

"The original Iron Neck was big and a bit rough, but it allowed us to train the neck in a new way," says Leo. Here Zach Veach trains with the original Iron Neck, which was made of aluminum and weighed 13 lbs.

"Every single race represents a grueling war between man and machine," says Leo. "whether it’s challenging road courses where drivers are battered by constant braking and accelerating forces, or high-speed ovals where normal humans would black out due to the sheer speed. Being a racing driver, believe it or not, isn’t an easy task."

Iron Neck has since been a key part of Leo's program and over the past 5 years he has developed a lot of innovative uses and modalities designed specifically for the motorsport athlete. The newly redesigned Iron Neck is under 3 lbs and a much more comfortable fit for today's drivers.

 

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When the 1994 CART season began, Jim Leo had put in place a conditioning program that focused on improving team pit stops and overall wellness. That year, Penske Racing dominated the competition by winning 12 of 16 races, the CART championship, and the Indy 500. 24 years later, perhaps another Indy 500 victory is in order for Leo and PitFit Training.

 

Interested in seeing more of Leo's innovative training exercises with Iron Neck? Check out videos below!

 

Learn More about Iron Neck Training

 

 

 

 

 

Watch Jim Leo walk through an Iron Neck workout with Pippa Mann.

 

Motorsports drivers regularly experience 3-5 Gs of force on their neck thru turns. Building endurance in a driver's neck and core is critical to combating these forces over the course of a long race. @jleofitness prepares his drivers so that they can focus on what's important come race day. #Repost @orthoindy @pitfittraining #driverperformance #formula1 #indycar #ctscc #motorsports #neckstrength #ironneck #endurance #fitness #training ・・・ Not only is @pippamann preparing for the Indy 500, but she's also getting ready for her first ever American sports car race this weekend at @cota_official! So for this #WorkoutWednesday we want to show the importance of neck strengthening, which is not just for performance, but for safety as well! #Indy500 #COTA Thanks for demonstrating Pippa and Jim Leo of @pitfittraining! Go Pippa go!!

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Topics: Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Racing, strength and conditioning, neck strength, neck, Indycar Series, Racing news, performance training, human performance