WSBB Blog: Conjugate Training for NASCAR Pit Crews
The sport of NASCAR is a sport that is based entirely around speed. For years, teams have worked on building the best engine, building the best chassis, and assembling the most skilled crew to keep the car on the track to win races. When it comes to speed, most people immediately think about the cars, but the speed of a pit crew can make or break a driver when it matters most.
The NASCAR pit crew consists of a jackman responsible for jacking the car up so the tires can be changed, two tire carriers, two tire changers, a gasman, and a catch can man responsible for handling the gas cans and excess fuel. These roles rely heavily on strength, speed, precision, and mental acuity. Knowing this, it can be concluded that strength training, specifically conjugate strength training can be extremely beneficial to the NASCAR pit crew member.
Max Effort Lower
Considering the strength demand placed on each member of the pit crew, maximal effort training is an extremely useful tool. By increasing limit strength we not only increase the overall strength of the pit crew, but we increase their work capacity, durability, and recovery rate. Training the body to expect and respond to max effort training on a consistent basis will begin to make the typical pit crew tasks easier and easier as the training progresses.
Goodmornings, deadlifts, and squats would be utilized in a similar rotation used by our powerlifters. However, rep and set schemes would be adjusted. Instead of working up to weekly single rep maxes, we would include weeks of three or five rep top set maxes. To increase strength endurance and cardiovascular stamina the belt squat would be utilized for walks and high rep squatting.
Max Effort Upper
Max effort upper for a NASCAR pit crew would focus less on the actual bench press, and more on developing maximum upper body strength. What this means is overhead presses and power clean and presses will be used in addition to different bench press movements. Over the course of a month main exercise selection would be something like overhead press for a top set of three, followed by close grip bench for a top set single week two, an incline pin press for a heavy single week three, and a top set of five reps paused on the flat bench for week four.
Accessory work would focus on building up the upper back, shoulders, and arms to be able to quickly maneuver a tire or carjack during a pit stop. An example of max effort upper accessory work would be barbell rows for four sets of eight, followed by pull ups for five AMRAP sets, hammer curls for four sets of ten, ending with lateral raises for three sets of fifteen.
Dynamic Effort Lower
Dynamic effort lower would be used to focus on further building strength endurance, cardiovascular stamina, and muscle. Using three week waves, the set and rep schemes followed would be 5 x 5, 10 x 2, and 6 x 2. The suggested percentages used would be 75% for the 5 x 5, 80% for the 10 x 2, and 85% for the 6 x 2.
Bands and chains can be utilized, but are not absolutely necessary. Accessory work would be simple, eight singles for speed pulls, followed by a few AMRAP sets on the inverse curl, ending the training day with kettlebell swings and ab work.
Dynamic Effort Upper
Dynamic effort upper would be used to focus on upper body hypertrophy and volume. The set and rep structure would be 5 x 5, using a three week wave of 5 x 5 increasing the barbell weight used by 10-15lbs per week. Once a three week wave is completed on the flat bench, the next three week wave will be done with standing overhead press being the exercise of choice.
Once that three week wave ends, the next wave would be done on the bench again. Accessories would be similar to max effort upper, focusing on building the upper back, shoulders, and arms to increase upper body strength as much as possible.
This is just a brief overview of how easily a conjugate style program can be applied to an unconventional sport. No matter what sport you participate in, somewhere down the line your success will depend on the strength and speed of yourself or someone else. Don’t cheat yourself out of victory lane with a slow and lazy pit crew, get training, get stronger, and get faster.
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