Finally I got the time to write this post about physical training for windsurfing. Is the third part of a series dedicated to the body and lifestyle. If you didn’t read the previous posts, I do recommend you to do it:

As I said in the previous ones, this blog is not about fitness, but this is a fundamental of any sport, including Windsurf. So far I have explained (or at least tried) the basis of evolutionary philosophy and the principles to follow for having a healthy diet, today I will focus on training. Obviously this won’t be aimed at professionals or people who want to train to compete.

The evolutive approach, again…

What I’ll write here is what I personally apply to stay fit and to enjoy the sport as much as I can. Also, as in the matter of food, in training I follow an evolutionary approach, with a training based on functional movements. This means that, just as when we talked about food, we looked at what “historically” the human being has eaten. When we talk about training, we should also look at the movements for which our body is more prepared, because it has been doing it for thousands of years.

Much of what you will find here is based on the following bibliography:

Developing a functional body

Functional BodyDefining this is the key to understanding what we want. When it comes to training you have to have goals, without them we will never know if we are getting results or not. Goals can be infinite, from being stronger, gaining muscle, losing weight, gaining weight, etc.
As this is a windsurfing blog I will assume that what we want is to be fit enough for windsurfing. One of the main mistakes made when deciding to get in shape is to follow the wrong model.

I mean, many people go to the gym hoping to become as big as bodybuilders or go running to get the endurance of a marathon runner, etc. Those people are athletes, and most athletes have a specialized body for their discipline, but that is not what a “normal” person who simply wants to get in shape should pursue.

Our first objective should be to develop a functional body. This means that we must achieve a body capable of performing a wide range of activities. These, obviously, require a minimum level of proficiency in different skills. Marcos Vazquez in Desencadenado (Unleashed) defines them as follows:

  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular  strenght
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular power
  • Speed
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Precision

Crossfit?

After reading this, many of you will be thinking about Crossfit, and you’re not very misguided. One of the premises of Crossfit is functional and non-specialized training. Either way is not the only way to get a functional body and we must be careful, because without good instruction Crossfit can be very harmful.

So, how do you get a functional body? Well, working the functions instead of the muscles. The upper-body works with pushing or pulling movements and in two directions, horizontal and vertical. The lower-body works with extensions (quadriceps contraction) or retractions (hamstring contraction). Therefore the key is to find a training program based on functions and multi-articular movements.

The joint by joint approach

One of the things that caught my attention in the book Advances in Functional Training by Michael Boyle is the joint by joint approach. It comes to say something like that the body is a group of joints with a certain function, either mobility or stability.

Additionally, the way these joints work causes them to alternate as follows:

  • Ankle = Sagittal mobility
  • Knee = Stability
  • Hip = Multi-planar mobility
  • Lumbar spine = Stability
  • Thoracic Spine = Mobility
  • Scapula = Stability
  • Gleno-humeral = Mobility

Doyle further explains that most injuries are linked with a failure in the specific functionality of the anterior or posterior joint. In other words, if we lose mobility in the ankle the knees will suffer, if we lose mobility in the hip, we will suffer in the lumbar zone.

If we talk specifically about Windsurfing, it is very important to be clear about these concepts. Working the mobility of ankles and hip is key to avoid injures, in the same way as having strong and stable knees.

Klaas Voget Cut BackIf we analyze the practice of windsurfing, we will see that most of our body works in an isometric way. This means that we adopt a more or less fixed position and the work we do is to counteract the forces that try to make us lose that position. However, when we get into waves, it’s very easy to see the functionality of the different joints and check that the previous table makes sense. In this picture of Klaas Voget, we can see how the ankles and the hip manage the mobility, while the knees and upper back stabilize.

The functional exercises

When we start looking for routines and exercises, the possibilities are almost endless. It happens as with diets, there is even a diet of the moon!! …. unbelivable. The key is, make it simple and with common sense!! If we combine the above concepts, we should base our preparation on exercises that respect the natural functionality of the body and that work mainly one joint characteristic. Here is a guide of the type of exercises that we should have in our training. Each exercise has its variants to make it more or less demanding according to your level.

Isometric strength and stability

  • Plank
  • Lateral plank
  • Leg rising
  • Abs wheel

Explosive strength

  • Clean
  • Snatch
  • Jumping squats

Knee dominant

  • Double-leg squat
  • Single-leg squat

Hip dominant

  • Deadlift
  • Single leg Romanian Deadlift
  • Hip trust

Horizontal pushing

  • Pushups
  • Bench press

Vertical pushing

  • Vertical press
  • Dips

Horizontal pulling

  • Rowing

Vertical pulling

  • Pull ups
  • Chin ups

No other exercises are needed to have a functional body. These cover all ranges of motion and additionally have the advantage that they demand a lot of energy and burn many calories.

Exercise program design

Although the expressed so far can be relatively simple, when we enter into programming aspects of a training, the thing can become a bit complicated. As this post is focused on basic levels, I think the correct thing to do is to avoid going into more detail, and not confusing with concepts such as periodization, intensity or exercise volume.

I suggest you to look for an already designed program or a good coach and strictly follow it/him. Always with critical thinking and keeping in mind the concepts discussed in the post.

One of the main advantages a person who has not followed a functional training plan previously will have, is that will see improvements with almost any program, if it does so in an orderly and structured way.

For those with a little more experience in training and gyms, the program Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is a very good starting point, also the program Barra Libre by Marcos Vazquez has a similar base but in spanish. Obviously there are many more programs and I encourage you to search, evaluate and try. If you want to comment me here in the post or by email, I will gladly give you my opinion on any training program.

What is very important, is to look at the programs with an open mind. To evaluate if you are really focused on building a functional body, and if you work and empower the skills mentioned above. If you have deficiencies in some aspects we can always complement it with other exercises. For example by adding sprint sessions, HIIT or mobility to the strength programs.

Physical training for windsurfing

IPull upsn closing, I’ll leave you some specific tips to integrate into the training routines. Of all the above mentioned skills, for windsurfing we must train a little more muscular endurance and balance. As we said, the isometric resistance is what allow our muscles to perform a tension without any movement. A good way to train this is to make stops in the middle of the range of movement. For example, when doing a pull up, after reaching the top, we slowly go down and when the arm is 90 degrees with the forearm we make a 5 seconds stop.

A great exercise, which can also be applied with the same principle is the rowing with a TRX as in the image. If you don’t have yet a TRX at home you’re missing the best training accessory for windsurfing ever made. To make it easy for you here you have the 6 elements you need for your home gym. Get ready for the next season. With less than 150 Eur you’ll have everything you need!!

The balance is trained generating instabilities, to do this we must increase the single leg exercises (squat, deadlift). Plyometric boxes are also a good choice. The aim should be to improve the coordination and strength of all stabilizing muscles involved in a certain movement.

And of course, windsurfing is a great training for windsurfing, it contains all the necessary movements :-)

Until next time and good winds !!!

Physical training for Windsurfing
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