Success on the race course is a measure of our preparation, and when racing a Laser, physical preparation is a high priority. The Laser class posted their top 5 tips to improve sailing fitness, but if you sail any boat that demands a high level of physical exertion, these tips are for you too.
Tip #1 – Cross Training
The best thing about cross training is that if you do it right, it won’t seem like work. You can combine a couple or a number of different forms of physical activity into a few days or weekly rotation to keep yourself challenged. This can be jogging and tennis or swimming and biking or just about anything that gets your heart pumping. The key is to get your heart pumping. Plus, when you participate in different physical activities you end up exercising different muscle as well as the thinking part of your brain.
Tip #2 – Cardio/Aerobic Work
Speaking of getting your heart pumping, cardio and aerobic work are targeted specifically at heart health. Activities that assist in building heart strength and stamina include running on a treadmill, using a rowing machine or a cross-trainer. The more your heart beats, the more blood it sends to the rest of your body. When blood moves into muscles it gains strength and power and increases stamina.
Tip #3 – Strength Training for Laser Sailing Fitness
We are talking about primarily pumping iron. This means free weights, dumb bells, bar bells and various machines you would find in a gym that forces you to work against resistance. Weight training not only builds strength, it can also give you that hidden extra push while Laser class sailing. Extra power in legs, arms, abs and back resulting from weight training can prove to be your secret weapon out on the water. The important thing to remember with any weight lifting program is to concentrate on proper technique for best results and less chance of injury.
Tip #4 – Nutrition
While you may think the food you eat will not have much effect on your Laser sailing fitness, there is an important connection. What you use to fuel your body comes from the food you consume. Eating junk food filled with empty calories will not help you much on race day. When you eat properly, your body absorbs the nutrients and protein it gathers from a good diet. They get stored for when you need them most and they get sent to the muscles screaming for extra power. A well balanced diet, with some extra carbs, protein and good hydration on race day, will give you the juice you need to win races.
Tip #5 – Rest and Recovery
Like a well-oiled machine that performs at the top of its class, if you look after it, it can perform at its peak for longer. However, in order to keep that machine running smoothly without the possibility of breaking down, you need to maintain it. Your body is the same. Rest and recovery is as important as training. Without rest periods your muscles will cramp and fail you when you need them most. Without break time your mind will also let you down by not performing at its sharpest. The last thing you want to do is get burnt out.
Make sure that you check out this short video with Olympic gold medalist Paul Goodison…
How serious are you with your sailing fitness?
As the saying goes, the best defense is a strong offense. The stronger you become both mentally and physically, the better you will become at coping with the stresses associated with competition sailing. You need to be sharp, prepared and capable in order to win.
If you want to improve your sailing fitness, you need to be disciplined and focused. If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it. So put in the hard yards, and you will see results.