Women in the male-dominated sport of stock car racing need every advantage they can get when hustling 3,400-pound machines around a NASCAR track for hundreds of miles.
To get there, they are not only logging hours in the car but also in the workout room. What are the secrets to their success?
Danica Patrick learned the workout lesson early in the open-wheel ranks, where the cars were much lighter but the competition every bit as fierce. Now that she's in NASCAR, Patrick says, keeping her body in top shape is critical to her success. And other female drivers are following in her path.
"I do a lot of strength training," said Patrick, who is 11th in the Nationwide Series standings this season. "I work with a trainer and he sends me programs every four to five weeks -- and provided, of course, that I follow them and stay on the four- to five-week plan that we're on each time because the most important part is performing in the car. So if I ever feel like my lifting program interferes with my strength and my endurance inside of the car, then I don't do it, because that's the only thing I'm weight training for is for the car.
"And, mind you, I feel like weight training is very beneficial for your physique. There's nothing like reshaping your body with weights. But I definitely do. I lift three days a week. I do two days of upper (body) and one day of lower (body exercises).
"The program changes throughout the year. I take a month off at the end of the year to recover so I don't sort of get overused to injuries. So we obviously just start out a little bit slower, sort of more reps and less sets when we start back. But as the year goes on, we drop the reps a little bit and just work on peak strength so what I do in the car is easy."