Neuville reveals fitness secrets

Thierry Neuville starts Vodafone Rally de Portugal (17 - 20 May) at the peak of fitness for the rigours of four days’ flat-out driving on bumpy gravel roads.

Nothing new about that as in-car comforts come a distant second to performance. Preparing his body to survive the bumps and jumps of a WRC round is equally as important as the work his Hyundai Shell Mobis team puts into building his i20 World Rally Car.

“Rally driving takes a lot out of your body. That’s why it’s really important to be in top shape. If I’m haring down a dirt track at 140kph, cutting the bends perfectly and making jumps that are dozens of metres long, I must keep control at all times.

“Focus, alertness and responsiveness are extremely important. I need lightning-fast reactions, because every tenth of a second can make the difference,” explained the Belgian.

Neuville gave an insight into his favourite workouts that he uses to keep his body fine-tuned.

Endurance
Jump on and off a tyre, while stretching the arms using elastic strap resistance. Two sets of 20 reps. Trains endurance, arm and leg co-ordination and precision as Neuville can’t look down at the pedals when driving.

Thierry Neuville enjoys a wide range of training programmes

Resistance
Controlled movement of a weighted steering wheel, while sitting in a racing seat. Four times 20 reps. Neuville strengthens his back muscles through the resistance of the cable weights. He trains grip and arm strength during steering movements.

Core
Planking on a car tyre and controlled rolling from left to right. Four times 20 reps. Training abs gives balance and builds strength through the whole body. While driving, much of the force Neuville puts out goes through his shoulders.

Responsiveness
Catch tennis balls while holding a weight and looking straight ahead. Four times 30sec. Neuville does this workout while balancing on an exercise ball for an extra challenge. It trains reaction speed, practises picking up details in his peripheral vision and hones his shoulder muscles.

Speed
Rotate a special device – the power loop – while balancing on a car tyre. At home, he uses two small weights. Two times 90sec. Neuville trains the speed of his arms and balance with this device. Resistance can also be built in.

Vision
Neuville uses a trainer with lights he must tap when they come on. It can be set to flash at different speeds and colours. Three times 50 correct touches. This trains responsiveness and peripheral vision as he looks straight ahead, as well as training hand-eye co-ordination.

Head to WRC+ to watch All Live from Vodafone Rally de Portugal, including every stage broadcast live, breaking service park news and expert studio analysis.

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