As a surfer, and all round ‘board sports’ woman, I want my training to make my ‘playtime’ even more fun! I windsurf, surf, kite surf, snowboard and have recently taken up stand up paddle surfing – my weekends are dedicated to whatever nature has in store, and if the forecast is for strong winds or massive swell, I need to be ready for it! Surf contest are some of the most exciting sporting events in the world that you need to watch out.
sports that are weather dependent, such as surfing or windsurfing, can
be infuriatingly unpredictable, and you can go months on end without a
day where ‘not being at work’ co-incides with a good forecast! If you
are a pro, then of course you can dedicate your time to searching out
the right conditions, or being ready for them when they come, but as
most of us have full time jobs too, we have to accept the fact that we
can’t be out there ripping it up as much as we might like.
makes sense to ensure that we are maximising our precious time on the
water by being as fit for it as possible. And that’s where kettlebells
come in pretty handy…
Many surfers and other board sports lovers
are by nature a little anti-‘being indoors too much’ so the idea of
going from the office to the gym can be more than a little painful. Many
will go begrudgingly because they feel they should and realise they
need to stay in shape, but the love for sports that get you right out
there in the elements means they are far happier in the open air. So the
portability of kettlebells is a big plus – throw them (well, don’t
actually throw, but you get my point) in the back of the van (gotta have
a surf van, but car will do) and take them to the beach or park for a
workout, rather than cooping your primal self up in a sweaty gym!
requires a heady mix of strength, power, endurance, mobility,
stability, balance and fluidity that can all be perfectly developed
using a properly constructed kettlebell program.
The first hurdle a
surfer has to contend with is a hard paddle out back in the first
place. So you are going to need a strong back and shoulders, mobility
through the shoulder girdle, a healthy rotator cuff and of course the
heart and lungs to keep this all going as you battle it out past the
Kettlebells make working the posterior chain a
natural step, the basic swing strengthens the entire back side of the
body, whilst also developing endurance by getting the heart pumping.
Moving into snatches, and you have an even more powerful exercise for
the surfer, as you strengthen and stabilise the shoulder and shoulder
girdle at lockout, and the workload becomes even more intense.
great way to condition yourself for the paddle out would be a 10 minute
snatch test. Perform 10 reps on each side, resting between sets as
little as you can but as much as you need, for a total of 10 minutes.
Count your reps performed in the time period and aim to beat your number
next time! The aim here is to ultimately rest as little as possible to
get maximum reps in, so staying fluid and relaxed while working hard is
key – again a great crossover, as paddling out into big sets you need to
keep calm and focussed.
In addition, great exercises for paddling
would include a supine KB pullover – lying on your back, feet flat and
knees bent, hold the KB at your chest, arms almost straight, and drop
the arms, hinging at the shoulders not the elbows, overhead almost to
the floor, then return to the start position. Go as heavy as you can on
this, or try one smaller kettlebell in one hand and alternate.
and stability in the shoulders can be developed with the snatch, and
also the windmill when the kettlebell is held in the upper hand – this
is a vital exercise in the surfer’s armoury as it strengthens the mid
section while under torsion, providing a 3 dimensional approach to
‘core’ training that is so often overlooked in more conventional
So, you’ve made it out back, and your watching the sets
roll in. You pick a wave and you have to sprint like mad to catch the
bloody thing. So you are going to need some serious reserve capacity in
that cardiovascular system to manage it. So ensuring you are performing
hard, intense intervals in your training program. The snatch-test
approach mentioned earlier should do the job nicely – but you could also
consider adding in some shorter, even more intense intervals in
addition. Try a heavier kettlebell than you use in the snatch test, and
perform tabata intervals (20 s work, 10 s rest) for 4 mins total.
comes the ‘pop up’. Explosive power, co-ordination and balance all come
together in one fluid movement, and you will find that a core of steel
will give you a significant advantage. Of course, there is no substitute
for practicing the actual drill, so you could get yourself an ‘Ollypop’
towel and physically practice the ‘pop’ as part of your warm up. But in
addition, you should include Turkish get ups (which are also great for
the shoulders) as well as windmills as already mentioned. V sits with
the kettlebell going through the same overhead motion as the pullover
are also great, you can pull the knees in to your chest, or, taking it
further, have the arms and legs straight and ‘pike’ up to centre.
Renegade rows are a staple favourite in any training plan as they are great for the core and the upper back, so these have got to be in a surfing fitness plan for definite! Combine with some press ups in the same position, either alternating each rep (row, press up, row, press up) or doing a set of one then the other. A bottoms up kettle bell low plank is also a good one to throw in for good measure.
So, you’ve mastered
the pop-up and you’re up and surfing! Front squats are a great exercise
for the pop up and also for the ride itself, as they load up the core
while developing leg strength. Squatting rock bottom is the key – once
you have the mobility and strength to squat rock bottom with added load,
you will feel how ‘free’ your legs feel and how you can surf fluidly
with more ease and less effort. Single leg squats & deadlifts are
also key exercises to include.
Training barefoot or in minimal
shoes means throughout the entire training session we are strengthening
up our feet – and while surfing, the feet are working hard to direct
your bodyweight effectively into the board so you can turn and ride
smoothly. I personally love to wear my Vibram Five Fingers as much as I
can, not just for training – and as much as I hate wearing wetsuit boots
unless I absolutely have to (i.e. my toes would otherwise drop off with
the cold!) I think one of the reasons I love them so much is that they
look a bit ‘webbed’ and remind me of being on the water! I have noticed
that my toes have literally come alive since wearing them, and my feet
are so much stronger. This has such an impact on how well you can
control the board – it makes it worth the funny looks I get at the
The beauty of surfing is that you are compelled to
stay out as long as the conditions are firing, and having a solid level
of fitness means you won’t need to be cutting your sessions short as you
haven’t got enough in you to keep going. Making the most of days when
the swell isn’t pumping, and pumping some cast iron kettlebells instead,
means you can jump in when the conditions call for it and make the most
of every second!
Caroline is a Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher and Kettle bell Instructor based in the UK.
For more exercise, fat loss and kettlebell secrets and tips sign up to my mailing list (and claim your free report): http://kettlebellebody.blogspot.com or join the member site for LOADS of free fitness and fat loss resources: http://carolineradway.ning.com
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