Hopefully spring has awoken you from your winter slumber and you’ve shaken the rust off your muscles and joints. As summer officially approaches, it is time to make sure you are in shape for the inevitable water activities. Anyway can throw a football around the barbeque; if you really want to impress that coed wearing Daisy-Dukes, have her spot for you while you carve it up behind the boat. Whether you rock slalom, wakeboard, or something in between, we have water sport specific exercises to help you perform better and last longer.
Few exercises can be more grueling or strike more fear into the average gym user than lunges. For our purposes, though, they should not be avoided. To perform, begin with your feet together, holding a light weight in each hand. Take a long stride, so that your forward leg forms a 90 degree angle, thigh perpendicular to the ground. Repeat this stride with the other leg. During lunges, keep your torso straight at all times. Use a weight with which you can perform about 20 reps. You want to build endurance as well as strength.
USA Waterski, the national governing body organized water skiing in the US, has some other recommendations for getting your legs in tournament shape. They like jump squats for increasing lower body strength, but also explosiveness. To perform, again find a pair of relatively light dumbbells, and begin with them at your side, feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees as if you were sitting in a chair. Squatting as low as you can while maintaining this form (back straight, butt out, not leaning over your feet), explode upward, jumping off the ground. Brace your landing and slowly flow into the next squat. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
Finally, we’ll put our legs through another endurance test, wall sits. You probably remember these from when you did something wrong during prep sports. Execute a proper wall sit by leaning your back against a wall, and then slide down into a sitting position, so only your back is touching the support and your knees are bent 90 degrees. Hold. Start with 45 seconds, and increase the length of the sit if that is too easy. Your legs will burn and shake, but hold just a little more. This is excellent for fight fatigue on the water, allowing you to ride long enough to get some color.
For more exercises, consider side to side movements, like Ice Skaters, or Side Squats. Avalanche Ski Training, an online manual developed for snow skiing (the knowledge translates to water) by an avid skier and trainer says to avoid leg curls and extensions, as they actually increase risk of injury.
Water is not a stable surface, and as you negotiate the waves and wake, you engage your core to keep you upright. We want to rip our middle to make sure we have the power to handle the bumps and avoid a face (and mouth) full of lake water. Again, we’ll recommend an endurance builder, the plank. Belly down, prop yourself off the ground with your elbows and toes, keeping your body stiff. Hold yourself in this position, focusing on keep your abs tight. Hold for 45 secs, then rotate to your side, resting on one elbow and stacked feet while your body faces the wall. Again, stay as stiff and straight as possible (that’s what she said), as this works your obloquies. After 45 seconds, switch to the other side. Repeat this rotation until 3 reps of each position are complete.
To further work your core and simulate the off-balance nature of water sports, you can perform a variety of lifts while standing on a BOSU ball. A BOSU is basically half of your standard swiss or exercise ball, and working on it requires you to constantly be balancing, and thus engaging your core. Use this stability during a variety of lifts, not just leg exercises, including simple bicep curls, a resistance exercise with little relation to your core. Incorporating this tool into your regime with improve balance and core strength, giving you an edge on the water.
Whether you’re an old school skier, hip wakeboarder, or manly tuber, your arms are constantly being tested. If your legs have incredible endurance, but your upper body is weak, your runs will be cut unnecessarily short due to fatigue. In your pre-season routine, do not neglect your biceps, triceps, chest, back and shoulder muscles. Consider also, this forearm/grip exercise from BodyBuilding.com. To perform, place both forearms on a bench, with your palms up. Hold a barbell with both hands and perform curls with your wrists. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps. Repeat this movement with your palms facing down, “curling” the bar by bending your wrists back. Your grip will be kung-fu strength.
To make sure you have the power to pull yourself out of the water or into the wake for a killer “Fastball,” spend 20 minutes at the end of your workout on a rowing machine. A proper row consists of three movements. First, extend your legs, then your back, and finish with your arms. The rowing machine serves the dual purpose of building start pulling power as well as aerobic endurance. Again, you will perform better and last longer; the coed will be impressed.