Gym training tips for watersports

Superb Supersets – Feel epic ! Push your performance in your watersport – Strength supersets , core training progressions and conditioning options

From recreational participant to international competitor, these supersets are applicable and will lead to gains for anyone. You can alter the load, sets and reps accordingly.

Most of these strength or power exercises are great to use with a low number or reps, plenty of rest, and several sets e.g., up to 5 or so. Depending on lots of aspects of your session or training week or stage of the season these variables should be played around with to keep you fresh or push for some fatigue.

Injury reduction also happens through getting stronger; as well as getting more robust. Specific mobility and flexibility for you should be included in a program alongside these exercises for the qualities needed in your sport or hobby.

A superset is two exercises paired together, so usually without rest after the first. There could be many reasons for pairing these up.

*Disclaimer!  I’ve also selected a variety of exercises across all the sports for you to incorporate in your own program of workouts.
There may be other more preferable supersets in a program for you & your sport your /your teams needs!
These may not be the best exercises for you right now!
You may need a regression or progression!
You get the idea… Things need to be personalised

Goblet KB / Front rack BB Split squat 3-5 5-8 ES 0 80% 1RM
Pull up 3-5 5 2-3mins BW ++

A split squat targets each leg individually; aiming to avoid developing imbalances in the sport where our stance is set with a front and back foot.
The pull up (as a base of strength) is evidenced to increase paddle speed (a base from which to apply and develop more paddling power in the sport).

KB snatch Build up to 5 10 ES 30s Build up kg KB
DB bench press 3-5 5-8 2-3mins 70-80% 1RM

Spending a lot of time in a relatively static pulling position can take its toll and is demanding from a performance point of view. The KB snatch is a unique exercise and combines powerful hip extension with a near horizontal pull from shoulder and lock out at the top. This is explosive and dynamic, like many wind sports manoeuvres. This will aid keeping hips and shoulders not just healthy but mobile and ready for action.
With all the upper body pulling, a double DB bench press is ideal being in the ‘horizontal’ direction in the sport, and aiding optimal shoulder movement and increased range vs a Barbell.
KB snatch blog piece
KB snatch demo

S.L.S. Paddleboard racing (kneeling /2A strokes) SETS REPS REST LOAD
Supine pull over (plate or KB) 3-5 8-10 0 80-90% at total reps
KB swing 3-5 15 1-2mins Build up kg KB

The core strength and endurance of strength needed in paddleboard racing (be it prone or kneeling) is very high indeed. Both of these exercises work all of the trunk musculature hard and in different ways. These will not only aid injury reduction but contribute to a greater base of strength and power from the trunk region, from which to generate power to the arms and transmit it through the body to the board.
Lying on your back bring from the floor to vertically/over-head. Keep lower back contact with the floor and breathe deep and wide.
The KB swing here is the 2 arm – horizontal finish height. Aiming to accelerate the KB with the power being transferred through the bottom 2/3 is key. The top 3rd it floats up and down.
KB swings – best way to start and stop

Turkish get up 5 2-3ES 2mins Build up KB kg
Step up jump 5 4-6 ES 2-3mins BW or light bar

The Turkish getup works the whole body in strength, stability, range of motion and in most planes. The internal rotation element of the shoulder pushing the floor down to begin are often under-recognised and are super-beneficial for swimmers and paddlers shoulders health as well as performance; complimenting optimal technique from catch to power development with the high elbow.
The step up jump here is for transfer into the dive, and as a contrast to the lunge element of the getup, potentiating this stability and muscle firing for jumps.
KB Turkish get-up sequencing demos vid

KB Clean and press 3 3-5ES 0 Build up kg
SA KB swings 3-5 10ES 2-3mins Build up kg

SUP involves a certain stance and dynamic posture. The Clean & Press really ‘cleans up’ the shoulder in its optimal movement with the nice natural arc and can be beneficial for injury reduction as the accumulated paddling motion in SUP racing is harsh. Also, with a great core/trunk demand to hold a strong neutral posture this adds robustness as a base of support from which to then work the SUP paddle stroke.

Single arm Kettlebell swings are chosen here to emphasise the feeling in each side of the body, aiming to avoid imbalances. The explosive power and timing of the swing compliments well to the SUP stroke and while is in different direction of motion, aids the paddle stroke due to the power going through the posterior chain (inc. glutes, hamstrings and back which all need to be used effectively in SUP).

Bench pull 5 4-6 1-2mins 80% 1RM
BB High pulls 5 4-6 1-2mins 130-150% of BB Clean 1RM

Along with deadlift, squats, presses, a bench pull is a rower’s staple.
Barbell high pulls roughly match the rowing stroke Force-velocity profile or can be loaded up much greater, so more intensely (with these small number of reps x sets compared to the number of strokes in a race) aiming to facilitate increasing one’s power output per stroke.
Enough said!  (I wouldn’t normally super-set these, they are just two great and often overlooked exercises).

Push up plus into Side planks 3 8 0 BW plus
Lateral lunge 3 8ES 1min 30-60% 1RM

Being pulled along behind a boat is no mean feat on the shoulder and upper body dealing with high forces. The push up plus protracts the scapular beyond the normal top of the push giving a much-needed reciprocal movement range, stretch and strengthen in this region.

Lateral lunges are often overlooked or underused. They are brilliant for the knee joints as use hip abductors and adductors, useful whether skiing or boarding. With many variations and options for loading, as well as into medial hamstring stretch and strengthen, also slide pads are a great integration. Developing the structures and ability to produce and transfer force in the plane of movement wakeboarding is useful given the high forces experienced and required for manoeuvres!
Lateral lunge progression to Cossack squat short demo

Sailing SETS time tempo LOAD
Modified dead bug 1 1min 2,2 BW +iso
Loaded ITYW 1 1min 2,2,2,2 BW+0.5 to 2kg

Why? While there are many other excellent exercise choices for sailors, the anterior trunk demand means ensuring this region is strong and doesn’t fall out of balance with any weakness one side, the modified dead bug (pushing opposite hand to knee via a ball or foam roller) massively increases the contractile tension developing not just greater ab strength for performance but psoas and deep tissues needed for happy hips and lower backs. The loaded ITYW is also great for swimmers and paddlers – and just generally a fantastic antidote to daily life working at a computer or driving for example. In prone (lying on front on the floor/mat) working extensors to make the shapes with the arms while holding very light weights to build up strength to aid performance in the boat holding the bracing and pulling actions.

So…. these types of exercises are useful for all of these water sports in some way … the key is understanding what you’re trying to achieve, and so the intent you give to an exercise, and what kind of sets, reps, rest, loading pattern used. There are many more exercises of course for a full spectrum of athletic training to incorporate into a progressive program. Whatever stage of your season , if you’re not training these exercises at the moment or recently, you will absolutely feel and notice the benefits of a 3-6 week block of training these supersets even if just once /week. Even better if twice a week 2-3 days apart. There are progressions and regressions (technically harder or easier) for all of these. Also there are considerations on which version of these exercise depending on how intense you’re pushing on loading (kg) Shout if you’d like a video explainer for any of these! Would you like me to dive deeper into any of these and/or a template full workout?  Happy to do a blog post on one with the most demand if so!

Recommended for all sports, and all of us! Trunk & core training: Plank progressions

8-point plank      Build up the time holding this static pose – feel the deep abdominals

3-point plank      Build up the 1 held limb (around the circuit of 4) from 5-10s

2-point plank     Build the holds from 5s up to 20s each side Instructional demo Videos

Side planks
Side planks adding rotation    Building these up from 30s per side to 1m per side. Repeat until you can hold one of these for 1 mins – recreational /any plank to 2 mins (all of these) if you’re a national competitor.

Excellent Conditioning options!

These can be used specifically depending on your sport, or as cross training for aerobic and anaerobic fitness as a general support.

On the Ski erg , or Rower
A) Power 20s max,  1’40” light,  x10
B) Long intervals 3min ‘on’ at 85% of max speed or intensity, with 3min rest x 4

Pool Swimming
A) 100m as (25m on, 25 light) on 2’ turnarounds X 8
B) 8 x 100m at 85 % (replicating pace of a single 400m max test/race) with equal rest.

If you have a specific race distance, you’re training for let me know if you’d like any advice on how to progress a 4-6 week training block of a weekly conditioning session. Happy to help – let me know how you’re getting on!

If your centre / club / coach would like to book me for a Kettlebell seminar (practical & theory) for August or September drop me a note here with any details and some good times to give you a call you back. This could be Bristol, Barnstaple, Bournemouth, Newquay, Plymouth, and Falmouth.

All the best for now,