Improving Your Hiking Technique and Developing a Personal Sailing Fitness Program, the two most important muscle groups in sailing are your quadriceps and abdominals. When hiking, quads are used in mostly static movements, while abdominals are used for both static and non-static movements. The non-static movements, that involve your core, help you adjust for all of the tiny movements you make with your upper body as you sail through waves (e.g. torquing). Developing your core in this way is extremely important, particularly in small and light dinghies, like the Optimist or Byte CII, which stall quickly if you are not able to work them through every wave upwind.
Here is a great workout for developing this type of functionality in your hiking:
Find a comfortable spot, and lay on your back. Next, perform exercises 1-4 with no rest (1-4 are all one set with no rest). Rest for one minute. Incorporate additional sets as needed.
1. Russian Twists – 15 each side (30 total)
2. Leg lifts – 15
3. Full Sit-ups (NOT CRUNCHES) – 15
4. Reverse Sit-ups – 15
5. Rest 1 min.
6. Repeat as needed
How many reps and sets you do is easy to adjust. I always recommend starting at 15 reps and three sets if this is your first time. Using this will get you 75 reps in one set, and 225 for the workout. As you get stronger, you should start by adding reps, and then start adding sets. To give you an example, I reached my strong-point as a hiker when I was doing ten sets of 35 reps each. This is 1,750 reps in a workout.
This workout is effective in hitting all areas of your core, just like you do when you are hiking. You can integrate it as a piece of your workout routine, or simply use it as a standalone workout. If you struggle getting through it initially, don’t get discouraged. Lower the reps, then the sets, and you will see improvements in your core strength immediately. Then, move them up from there. Get ready to go fast in breeze!
See you on the water,