Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fitness for Sailing

A number of other sailing bloggers seem to have become obsessed with physical fitness in the last couple of days. At Five O'Clock Somewhere Carol Anne has set herself a goal to get into shape and is looking for tips from her sailing coach; Litoralis also has a goal to get in shape and is consulting a personal trainer next week; Scheherezade is weighing in with advice for Litoralis via a comment to his post; and in between posts about his new boat and political rants, Dan at Adrift at Sea tells us that he has purchased a Gold's Gym membership so he can spend six months getting in shape for long distance cruising.

Some of these energetic souls even credit myself with challenging or inspiring them to these bursts of physical self-improvement. Yikes, I'm going to have to be more careful about what I write in this blog.

I'm looking forward to reading whatever these folk care to write in their blogs about their fitness programs and I'm probably going to write a few posts myself over the next couple of weeks on this topic. Not that I'm an expert -- far from it. I know I'd sail better if I were fitter but I've never found the motivation to stick to an exercise program for any length of time. Except for running, of course. But beyond providing a certain basic level of cardio fitness, running isn't a very specific training for sailing.

However, I do have a couple of good books on sailing fitness. I even look at them occasionally. So if any of you exercising blogging sailors are looking for some advice, let me recommend ...

Mental and Physical Fitness for Sailing by Beggs, Derbyshire and Whitmore. As the title implies this covers mental aspects too. But one reason I like this book is that it does provide a range of flexibility, circuit and weight training exercises and classifies which are most appropriate for different types of sailors: windsurfers, hikers, trapezers and keelboat crews.

Sail Fit by Michael Blackburn. (Actually I think there is now an updated version of this book called Sail Fitter.) Blackburn is not only an Olympic Laser sailor but also has a PhD in Sports Physiology. So he knows what he's talking about.

Here are his top seven favorite training sessions.

7. Postural and hiking muscles: crunches and reverse sit-ups.
6. Static endurance: wall sit.
5. Muscle strength: weight training.
4. Endurance: exercise bike and rowing machine.
This is an interesting one. He alternates working out on the bike and the rowing machine for an hour with roughly 20 minutes of cycling followed by 6 minutes of "sheeting" which is sitting on a rowing machine with straight legs pulling the rowing handle with each arm alternately. The idea is that this simulates a real race. The cycling sessions are the beats; and the rowing machine workouts are the reaches. (Might be a good one for burning some calories and losing those 40 lbs litoralis.)
3. Endurance: cycling.
2. Hiking endurance: hiking bench.

So there you have it. What? I didn't tell you what Blackburn's #1 favorite workout session is? Surely you can guess. No? OK. Here it is ..

1. Hiking, sheeting, aerobic, strength (everything): Sailing.
Yeah. 45 minutes to 4 hours sailing in winds greater than 10 knots.



Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, option 1, sailing, isn't a good choice in New England in winter time... good way to get frost bite though. Besides, the Pretty Gee won't be ready until April, so I'm stuck working out on land for the meanwhile.

Tillerman said...

Exactly. I guess that's why we're all trying to think of ways to stay/get fit other than by actually going sailing. Blackburn is an Australian so he has that advantage on us.

Carol Anne said...

I find it immensely amusing that you actually put me first in the list of sailing colleagues who are working on physical fitness. I would never consider myself a fitness fanatiic.

Nevertheless, even if New Mexico isn't Australia, we can go sailing for most of the year. So that's what I'm doing.

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