Some winters I practice on it. Some years more than others. But I discovered a few months ago that I've been doing it all wrong.
Basically I would do lots of sit-ups, with hands on my head, moving between the flat-out legs-connected-to-the deck, body-straight position to sitting up. I was quite proud of how many sit-ups like this that I could do.
Then Doug at Improper Course burst my bubble with his his post last March, Everything I Know About Hiking Benches. Apparently what I should have been doing is maintaining that flat out hiking position, not doing sit-ups.
Makes sense. That's what you do when you are sailing, right? You don't sail a whole beat doing sit-ups. At least not unless the wind is changing from 15 knots to 5 knots very 3 seconds.
Doug on his hiking bench.
He says he doesn't hold the sheet normally.
So, this winter I tried following Doug's recommendation, holding that flat hiking position without using a sheet for support.
Embarrassing! I could barely hold it for 30 seconds. And after 3 repetitions of 30 seconds I was toast!
I guess you need different muscles to hike flat than to do sit-ups. Abs vs hip flexors? Something like that I suspect. I really don't know mussels.
Doug says he had the same issue at first but he found that he could, with lots of practice over many months, build up his muscles until he could hold that position on his hiking bench for 10 minutes without a break. At that point he says he "felt very fast on the water in a breeze."
Duh! I now understand what I have been doing wrong all these years.
It's not that I'm unfit. I'm so dumb that I've been working on the wrong kind of fitness.
And so I was inspired by Doug to get more serious this year about building up my hiking fitness. I have been working out like Doug on the hiking bench and can already see a lot of progress. But there's still a long way to go.
This year I will be fit for hiking.
I will be fast upwind in a breeze.
This year will be different.