Finding The Time To Work Out Is Challenging For Drivers


Stories Of People Who Make A Living In Motorsports

Guest Columnist

Marc Arnone is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, who works with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

On the Road: Arnone calls Charlotte, N.C., home but is rarely there, as he accompanies Stewart on the road.

Athletes in professional sports train throughout the year to maintain a competitive edge.

Tony Stewart is especially passionate about racing. Coupled with his interests outside the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, establishing an effective training routine that produces results, maintains motivation to improve and sustains an enjoyable lifestyle presents a unique challenge.

It has been almost one year since I started training with Tony Stewart. The first issue that we had to address was finding the time and place to workout. Previous to my hiring, Tony’s only structured workout routine came as he prepared for the double duty of the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600. I quickly learned that developing a routine was not an easy task.

First, there is no off-season, as Tony races during the winter months in events such as the Rumble in Fort Wayne (Ind.) and the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla. The schedule during the season extends beyond race weekend, due to sponsor-obligated appearances, commercial shoots, the occasional dirt race, running his race teams and testing for the Cup teams. We must adjust our workout schedule week to week to make sure we are making the most of the time available.

Many drivers have trainers, but only spend a few hours a week with them. To establish and maintain an effective training routine with Tony’s demanding year-round schedule, I now travel with him everywhere he goes. Effective training also includes effective nutrition, so my role also includes cooking some of his meals. We were put into a situation of becoming both trainer and client, along with friend and roommate.

As a trainer, my goal is to determine which exercises most benefit the client. I have trained athletes in other sports that require building up their bodies to make them bigger, faster, stronger.

Our goal is to build Tony up to a high fitness level that will allow him to not worry about body fatigue and stay focused in the car. The workout routine is designed to help strengthen the body so that in the event of an accident, the injury potential will be decreased. The program started with the basics of performing the common lifts and doing cardio. We focus on the core area (which consists of the abs and lower back), the neck and shoulders. The emphasis is to build up muscle stamina and develop strength. Once Tony gained a good fitness foundation, we moved into more intense workouts that would keep his heart rate elevated for an extended period of time.

Workouts incorporate super setting (performing two or more exercises in a row with no rest), combination lifts (an exercise that primarily targets two or more body parts) and some cross training (going back and forth between weights and cardio machines).

Nutrition is another aspect of the healthy lifestyle. This has been one of the harder elements of our program, due to the demands of Tony’s schedule. It’s a team effort, between my making sure there is good food at home, Gooch, the bus driver, stocking the bus each race weekend, and the crew preparing healthy meals at the hauler. The ultimate goal is to have three meals and two snacks throughout the day. This helps to keep the body’s metabolism boosted and provide enough energy throughout the day.

As our first year of training comes to an end, we have a good understanding of what we both need to do to accomplish his fitness goals. During the first four months, Tony lost 20-plus pounds and decreased his body fat percentage. Other goals are still to be achieved.

When race day comes and Tony is climbing the fence after a victory, it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.

(Original Print Date: August 8, 2007)