Lewis Hamilton's tips from the cockpit...
“I’m the most competitive person I know,” says Lewis Hamilton, as he trains on the waterfront near his Monaco flat. “I’ve been like that since day one — even when I was riding tricycles at nursery.”
His exercise regime is taken from CrossFit, a strength and conditioning programme founded in the US, which is rapidly gaining a worldwide following: there are around 70 UK CrossFit gyms.
“It’s a mix of cardio, weightlifting and gymnastics,” says Philly Brennan, trainer at Reebok CrossFit Thames. “It’s a very intense, very short but very complete workout. And you get addicted very quickly.”
It’s not just for F1 drivers. Here’s how Hamilton’s exercises can give you a fit, fast and functional body.
1 | PRESS UPS (Above)
“Focus on the midline of your body — shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be in one line,” says Philly Brennan. “Your chest should touch the ground and your arms should lock out. You want a full range of motion.”
2 | SLEDGEHAMMER
Nothing is quite as cathartic as smashing an enormous tyre with a sledgehammer. It’s also a very effective workout. “You want to use the full arc of the swing to get the power in,” says Brennan. “Your stance is very important, so choose your front leg and stick to it. Think of it like an air-guitar stance. Then drive downwards — it’s a full-body movement. There’s no accuracy involved — you just want to smash the tyre. Just rep it out.”
3 | SIT-UPS
“My spine takes a great deal of compression, so I work on a lot of core stability,” says Lewis Hamilton. To execute a sit-up correctly, make sure you have full range of movement. “Lots of people think they’re doing sit-ups, but they’re doing a static hold, more like a crunch,” says Brennan. “I get my clients to touch any point behind their head, and then power up and touch their shoes.”
4 | SPRINTS
“No one ever really gets taught how to run, and it’s something we correct as soon as people start training with us,” says Brennan. “Primarily, you need to keep your spine upright — I see lots of people hunched over, and it’s bad for you. With proper technique, you’ll speed up very quickly.”
5 | SHOULDER PRESSES
The shoulder press is a superb way to develop explosive power and muscle mass. “I’m bulking up at the minute,” says Hamilton. “I’m just over 70kg and I’m aiming for about 73kg.” Form is key for this exercise. “Your feet must be underneath your hips,” explains Brennan. “Use your abs to engage your ribcage. Think of yourself like the Eiffel Tower. Press fast to get past the ‘sticky point’ where you can’t lift the bar. Your elbows need to be in front of the bar — if they’re behind it, it won’t go straight up.”
6 | KETTLEBELL SWINGS
“The main thing here is the hip drive,” says Brennan. “Your heels should stay on the ground and your hips should drive the bell up. Your hips are the driving force — think of your arms as more like a rope. You’ll feel it in your glutes, hamstrings and abs.”
7 | TYRE FLIPS
“This is basically a dead lift,” says Brennan. “Your stance should be wider than a standing stance, and you want to use your heels throughout. Drive into the tyre as opposed to up. You want your back to be upright. When you’ve lifted it to the hips, drive your right leg into the tyre, knee first. Then it’ll be high enough for you to get underneath and push. Never lose your body’s alignment.” The tyre flip makes for an exhausting but satisfying workout. “I’m lifting over my body weight,” says Hamilton. “But I’ve got to be careful — I can’t get too big, or I won’t fit in the car.”