Earlier this year, Ryan Nyquist took first place at the BMX Park on the Maryland Dew Tour. His victory in itself wasn't terribly surprising, considering that the pro, famed for his innovative handlebar spins and groovy riding style, all but earns frequent flier points for his regular trips to the podium of major BMX competitions. What is remarkable, though, is that he's been doing it now for 18 years. Which means that, at the ripe age of 34 Nyquist typically competes against athletes who are 10 or more years his junior.
After suffering a major ACL tear in 2006, Nyquist recognized that the years and scars were starting to add up, and so he began to invest more time in his off-bike training. This interest in overall fitness has helped burnish his reputation as one of professional sports' most balanced and disciplined athletes (not to mention one of the most downright humble we've ever met, too). And given his silver medal at the 2013 X Games Barcelona and his recent victory on the Dew Tour, it looks like he chose the right path. (He competes in the San Francisco Dew Tour October 11–13, which viewers can watch live on NBC on October 12 and 13 at 4 pm ET.) Victory, however, never comes cheap, and Nyquist says his success is founded on a combination of intense training matched with serious willpower. He recently gave 'Men's Journal' a look into his training regimen and suggested six key ways the rest of us can boost our overall fitness.
Increase your anaerobic output.
Like many other X Games-era sports, an average run in a BMX tournament may last less than a minute. That may not sound like long, but linking aerial trick to aerial trick is as anaerobically taxing as sprinting up a steep hill. So that's precisely how Nyquist trains for his events.
"It takes about 45 seconds to get to the top of a hill near my house, which is usually the length of one BMX run," Nyquist says. "So I sprint up, walk down – which takes another minute – then immediately sprint up again. I do that five or six times." If you are preparing for a high-intensity event, set your training time to mimic the duration and intensity of your competition output. Nyquist also trains aerobically to maintain a base level of fitness, but the point is that he focuses on developing the energy system that he will be using in his competitive event.
Credit: Francois Mori / AP