So, what's the answer? Salerno suggests the following:
Cut out the junk food. You don't see guys like Martin living on burgers and fries. They eat a balanced diet with low fat and high protein. Salerno says that eating small, frequent meals kicks in a body's metabolism and encourages it to lose weight. The trick is to always have the system working on something healthy, so it is always burning calories. The 88 pit crew eats six small meals a day.
Get in shape. Lift weights to build up stamina. But don't get involved in a program aimed at building muscle mass. You want to be muscular, not muscle-bound. "It's far better to lift less weight and do more repetitions," Salerno says. Lift slowly. Lift for five seconds and then release for five seconds. "You need to lift smoothly," he says. "There's no need to throw a lot of weight around, because big muscles are not what you are after."
And to build up stamina, go from exercise to exercise without stopping. "You shouldn't be standing around in the gym," he says. "If it takes you more than 35 minutes to lift weights, you are wasting time."
Combine weights with aerobic workouts. Run or use a treadmill to get your heart rate up for at least 20 minutes each workout.
Drink lots of water. Salerno suggests a half-ounce of water for each pound of body mass. In other words, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water each day.
Drivers should schedule their training to be at their best on race day. For most short-track drivers, that means training early in the week, on a schedule similar to what Salerno uses for the UPS crew.
"One of the [most important] things is to let your body heal before race day," he says. "If you race on Saturday, then go to the gym on Tuesday and Thursday and let your body rest and repair itself on Friday. Your muscles ache after the gym because they have been damaged, but when they repair themselves they become stronger. They need a day to heal and rebuild before you race.
"So take the day off on Friday and drink lots of water-lots and lots of water. You have to hydrate yourself before the race. It isn't something that can be done while you are unloading the car.
"The real key," Salerno says, "is to think of yourself as an athlete and begin to train like an athlete and act like an athlete."
SourcesStrength Training for Performance Driving,By Mark Martin and John S. Comereski. Motorbooks International. Out of print and a bit hard to come by, but worth the effort to find a copy.
Fit for Motorsport, by R.S. Jutley. Haynes Publications. A British book with a bent toward sports car racing, but serves as a good source of information.