Unique fitness program contributing factor in healthy attitude for teammates Bernstein and Lucas
Thursday, June 07, 2012
by Kelly Wade
In this mind-strengthening maneuver, Lucas wears a pair of Nike strobe sunglasses that cause vision disruption while trainer Jim Leo throws tennis balls for him to catch. Lucas is fresh off of a cardio workout, and his heart rate is near 170 as he practices this move, much the same as it is as he pulls into the water box in his dragster.
Leo with wife Heather and Lucas
Top Fuel driver Brandon Bernstein isn’t exactly drawing a correlation between his final-round performance at the recent Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown and the PitFit Training program that he and teammate Morgan Lucas have been participating in, but the MavTV/Lucas Oil dragster pilot also isn’t denying that every little bit helps when it comes to keeping your focus sharp and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in a world where go-go-go is the name of the game.
Lucas, following the lead of Top Fuel veteran Larry Dixon, has been participating in the PitFit brand of fitness training for some time and encouraged Bernstein to make the commitment to the program designed to target key elements relative to a race car driver: strength, stamina, flexibility, reaction, focus, and environmental tolerance.
“I knew that Larry was doing an excellent job driving and on the starting line, and I was realizing that my metabolism rate wasn’t doing what it used to be,” said Lucas. “I feel like at 6' 3", I kind of have a height disadvantage, and I had to do something to stay as lean as some of these guys I race against who are like 160 pounds.
“I also wanted to get better control of my heart rate and react better on my toes while my heart rate is up. It’s helped a lot, actually, and Jim [Leo, trainer and president of PitFit Training Inc.] has a really, really good program. As long as you can take what you learn and put it into use, I think you can see a lot of gains.”
The physical portion of the workout includes a diverse regimen that spans everything from swimming and yoga to rock climbing and free weights and tons of cardio, with a primary goal very natural to a drag racer: pushing the limit.
Those who follow Lucas (@MorganLucas34) and Bernstein (@BernsteinB) on Twitter may have recently seen Tweets regarding the strenuousness of the workout:
@MorganLucas34: “I feel that this morning’s workout has created new places for me to sweat from. Thanks @PitFitTraining.”
@BernsteinB: “Great workout with @MorganLucas34 @PitFitTraining this morning! Just when I think I’m good, you guys kick my ass. Thanks.”
Admittedly, it’s a challenging program, but it is one that Bernstein doesn’t want to scare anyone away from. He believes that its versatility has widespread appeal.
“The workout routine is geared towards drivers, but it’s also good for crew guys – and anybody can benefit from it,” he said. “It’s boot camp on steroids, so to speak, a workout like no other. High intensity, high cardio, and you aren’t just getting on a treadmill. There are a lot of different stations and tools to utilize to work the core and really get your heart rate going. It’s a lot of fun, and, man, it’s a real workout.”
Famous UFC fighter Chris "Lights Out" Lytle works on the Dynavision D2, the same light-board simulator used by Bernstein, Lucas, and other NHRA drivers to stimulate reaction.
Reaction drills and working with various simulators – such as the Dynavision D2 light board – while experiencing an increased heart rate similar to that experienced on the starting line when adrenaline is high encourage improved hand-eye coordination and are a major part of the workout.
Although they don’t participate in the program while at the racetrack, Bernstein and Lucas attend training two to three times a week at home near Indianapolis – more if their schedules allow.
“Overall, I think that the program is helping with getting healthy, keeping me working out, and just feeling more fit,” said Bernstein. “I’ve only been doing this for about a month and a half, but the drills keep your mind a little bit quicker and more responsive.
“Jim has been working with us so much, and he’s just a guru. It’s been a lot of fun, and he has been doing a lot of great stuff with us.”
Second-generation nitro driver Bernstein is looking for continued achievements on the racetrack in the near future as half of the Morgan Lucas Racing Top Fuel team. His runner-up in Englishtown nearly missed curing a drought that has kept him from the winner’s circle since the national event in Richmond, Va., in 2009.
“It’s been so long since we’ve had a race win, but I’m hoping that we can remedy that shortly,” said Bernstein. “The ultimate goal is to win a championship, but right now, we are just focused on going rounds and keeping consistency in the race car. At some point, we will get that win, and being teammates with Morgan and part of the team that he has instilled here has been great. It’s coming. Hopefully soon.”
Lucas knows that both sides of their pit area are pushing together for success.
“The whole vibe in our pit this year is really cool,” said Lucas. “Nobody wants to settle for second best, and everybody is trying to turn over anything they can – that’s why Brandon and I are both going to PitFit. You don’t want to leave anything on the table, and we know what it feels like to win. We’ve had a taste of it, and we want more.”