Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What I Learned from the 2006 Laser Masters Worlds Grandmaster Champion

I've had a hiking bench for years. Built it in the late 1980s from the instructions in Dick Tillman's book.

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.



8022c64a-9e3c-11e3-9c99-000bcdcb2996 said...

I built one of tillmans years ago.....this fall I built one of dougs. I do sets to add to 10 minutes hiking. It takes a while. My wife thinks I am nuts but in florida it worked wonders. No sheet.

Tillerman said...

Interesting 8022c64a-9e3c-11e3-9c99-000bcdcb2996. I think the only benefit of Doug's bench over Dick's is that it is impossible to do the slouch style of hiking on Doug's. But if you have the discipline you can certainly do the current straight body, legs locked on the deck, style of hiking on Dick's bench. After all the only critical thing is that the dimensions and relative positions of the seat and the hiking strap are exactly the same as a real Laser. Or am I still missing the point?

First step is to get the total sets to add up to 10 minutes. Next step is to be able to do 10 minutes without a break. I'll worry about the step after that later!

Doug / Pam said...

Do team!!

Tillerman said...

And my local Laser sailing buddy has just reported on Facebook that he's going to spend an HOUR on his hiking bench tonight!!! 60 MINUTES!!!

Why is everyone in this class so competitive?

Tillerman said...

Update on progress. Finally got up to the level of doing 10 minutes today, although it took me 55 minutes in total with all the breaks between sets. Now I need to start working on building up the time I can do in each set until I can do 10 minutes with no break. (My buddy claimed he did 13 minutes of actual hiking in one hour so I'm not THAT far behind him!)

Doug / Pam said...

10 minutes with breaks is very good.
Next, try sitting in for your breaks.

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