By Rachel Bennung, and Sailorcise
See Part I: The Core here
Part III: The Arms here
In Part One, The Core, we learned last that strength in certain muscles in our bodies are more important then others. We determined that strength in our core, legs, and arm muscles are essential to maximizing our performance on the water. In Part One we talked about the core and how it is the base of sailing stronger. Without a strong core your body will move inefficiently and can eventually lead to injury. In Part Two we will be talking about the importance of strength in your legs and different exercises to help you in this area.
Your legs are a very large muscle group in your body and essential for mobility. Some of the major muscles in the legs are the hamstrings (back of the thigh), adductors (inner thigh), quadriceps (front of the thigh), and the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus). Having strong legs is an important part of being a top athlete. A problem we see sometimes is people training their arms, but completely forgetting their legs. Power comes from your legs so its important to strength train them for the best performance. Leg exercises also increase core stability and therefore this increases strength and stability throughout your body.
So now that you know the benefits of leg strength, why is it important in sailing? When you are out hiking your legs are essential for your success to keep the boat flat. With strong legs you will have the endurance to keep hiking on long windy days. Your legs are also needed for your mobility on the boat. With strong legs you will have the speed to move quickly when needed. Ever auto-tacked before? Well with strong legs your will be able to react to that more quickly and get to the other side of the boat better then someone who doesn’t have strength in their legs.
Now that we know why leg strength is so important to sailing, lets get strong legs! There is many different leg exercises out there. I have picked four that I think are the best for strengthening your legs for sailing.
- Wall Sits – With these you will feel the burn in your legs! This is a great exercise to give your legs the endurance to sail longer. To do this exercise stand with your back against the wall and with your feet in front of you hip distance apart. Slide your back down until your at a 90 degree angle. Hold for 30 seconds to start then work yourself up to 1 minute.
- Squat Jumps – These are a great exercise to not only work your legs, but total body. This exercise will really get your heart pumping. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down as you are doing a normal squat, then engage your core and jump into the air. Land back in squat position and repeat. Start with doing this exercise for 30 seconds then work up to doing for 1 minute.
- Weighted Lunges – Lunges are a great workout for your legs. Adding weights is a great way to add some resistance to help strengthen your legs even more. For these grab weights that you feel comfortable with and you won’t compromise your form. 8-10 pound weights are a great starting point. Stand with dumbbells at your sides. Step with your right foot forward and lower your body into a lunge. Step back and repeat with the left side. Continue to alternate sides. Begin with doing this exercise for 30 seconds and working up to 1 minute.
- Single Leg Squats – Squats are a great leg exercise and there are many different variations. Single leg squats will not only strengthen your legs, but engage your core improving your balance. Stand with your arms extended in front of you. Standing one one leg with your other leg extended straight out in front of you squat down. Try to squat down as far as possible without compromising your form. Repeat move, start with 30 second and work up to 1 minute. (Note: If you find these to difficult start with regular squats and work your way up to single leg squats.)
(You can easily make these exercises into a leg workout. Do 3 sets of each exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute with a 15-30 second break between each set.)
-Check out the video of these exercises below
Strong legs are another key component of sailing longer and stronger. With them you will be able to move more quickly and efficiently while sailing and not fatigue quickly on those long windy days. These exercises will give you a start to having strength in your legs to help you sail longer and stronger. Now you know that a strong core is the base of your overall fitness and your legs will give you the power and endurance you need to maximize your performance on the water. In part three our final of the series we will learn about strengthening your arms for better performance on the water.
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