If you are a water sports kind of person, then on a beautiful day there’s really nowhere in the world that you’d rather be than out on the lake feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin. Recreational water activities can include all kinds of things, from water skiing and tubing to windsurfing or boogie boarding. Though all of these activities score a 10 in the fun department, they also require a certain level of fitness in order for you to enjoy them safely and get in a great workout while you are pursuing them as well.
Many people think of building leg and forearm strength when training for water sports, and certainly these fitness activities do play a part. However, the most important area of your body that you should exercise regularly to prepare for water sports activity is your core group of muscles. By core, we mean your lower torso and abdominal area, including iliopsoaz and oblique muscles, as well as your glutes and even your lower back. It’s easy to get in the gym and grab a machine to build your upper and lower body, but there are considerably fewer options for working your core muscles, so you need to get creative in developing a routine that will truly fatigue your core and thereby strengthen it so you ski with confidence and fluid balance.
A devotee of various fitness classes, I have found that the routines in a popular 30-minute core workout class offer some of the most essential and effective moves for building a great core. Give these a try for a few weeks before your next day on the water, and you’ll be surprised at how much better control you’ll have as you break the waves.
• Hovers. Once you attend a class where these are practiced, you’ll soon find out that there’s a collective groan whenever an instructor announces hovers. That’s because they work. To correctly perform a hover, you should lie with your belly flat on the ground and your elbows supporting your upper body weight while your forearms are also flat against the ground. For beginners, lift your torso up off the ground but leave your knees in contact with the floor.
This move alone is challenging enough, and this may be as far as you can get initially. Don’t worry though; your aim should be to keep increasing the length of time that you can hold the position. As your strength grows, you’ll soon be able to raise your knees off the ground and hold your hover with only your forearms and toes (or the ball of your feet) in contact with the floor. Be sure that you don’t lift your bum into the air, because then you shift the work more toward your chest and shoulder muscles. Instead, perform this move in front of a mirror and make sure that your body is in a straight line from legs to back to shoulders. Even your neck should be in perfect alignment. Concentrating on this form will ensure that you are activating your core to the fullest extent.
There are advanced moves for hovers once you master the basic form. You can try rocking up and back on the balls of your feet, or raising one leg off the ground for a few seconds and then the other. Later on you’ll find that you can also move one arm out from under you at a time for a core workout that will make your abs scream. For more information on hovers, you can also search the internet using the word “plank” which is a similar exercise, and you’ll find variations you can work in to keep things fresh.
Start in a standing position with your feet underneath your hips. Now move your right leg back until your knee kisses the floor and you are lunging on your left leg. Your upper left leg should be nearly parallel with the ground. Using your quad muscles in your left leg, push up out of the lunge and lean forward, extending your right arm and left leg. You are now in superman position. For balance, there simply isn’t an exercise that beats this one. Your lateral glutes will cry for mercy. In the beginning, you may need to rest between lunges, but ultimately you’ll be able to move directly from Superman position back down into lunge and repeat through a series of repetitions.
In addition to these cool moves, you can add recognizable maneuvers such as bicycle curls, bridges, and sit-ups and back extensions on a stability ball. Finally, simple deep squats, when done correctly, will keep your core tight and engaged while you work on building those leg and gluteus muscles. These types of core activities are only enhanced by high intensity interval training.
No matter what level of fitness you are starting from, there’s no question that working your core to fatigue regularly will benefit you not just in water sports, but in everyday activities. Stability and strength in your center body mass will increase your energy and make even simple stair climbing easier. Build in a core workout 2 – 3 times a week, and you’ll be slicing through those waves with power and grace in no time.
Danielle Kunkle is an adventure sports enthusiast. She blogs regularly about fitness and exercise as well as Medicare-related topics for her insurance agency, which helps seniors learn and understand their healthcare insurance options.