If you want to be able to go out and make a splash hitting the wakes this spring, you have to be willing to put in the effort to stick to a training program over the winter. There are a lot of things you can do over the winter to improve your wakeboarding abilities for the next season. Before embarking on an exercise program, be sure that the program you undertake will help you achieve your goals. If you know what you hope to accomplish, you can tailor your exercises to maximize your results.
One goal of your training for wakeboarding should be endurance. If you want to be able to learn new tricks you have to have the stamina to keep trying them over and over. General endurance can be achieved though many different types of aerobic exercises. Aerobic classes, jogging, in-line skating or riding a stationary bike can all help you build up endurance. This type of exercise should be done three times every week in order to improve your fitness level. Varying the type of exercise actually helps you to concentrate on pushing yourself, and ensures that you don’t get into an exercise rut. Improvement can be achieved only by exerting more effort during every workout. Once you are in shape you will be able to ride longer and you will not be as sore after riding.
Weightlifting can also help improve your wakeboarding abilities. Wakeboarding may not seem like a sport that requires great strength, but it is extremely important to be strong as well as in generally good shape. The muscles you need to concentrate on are the biceps, upper and lower back, abdominals, shoulders, quadriceps, and hamstrings. The best approach is to do a good full-body workout. Strong forearms, biceps, and back are all needed to help you pull out rough landings, keep your hold on the rope, and use upper body strength to edge. Strong abdominals and lower back enable spinning and flipping, as they are the center of gravity of your body. Strong quadriceps and hamstrings are required for stable landings as they absorb the shock. Strong muscles also help to prevent injury to joints and tendons. Enroll in a class or consult a trainer at a local gym to find out the best new exercises. A good weight machine usually comes with a description of the ways to use it. Weight lifting should be done on the days that alternate your aerobic endurance building activities.
Exercise programs like Pilates, that concentrate on strengthening your core muscles can also be beneficial. Rather than trying to build larger muscles, Pilates concentrates on making them stronger and limber, giving you the strength to pull your body around for flips. Pilates helps to develop your balance, which is very important to wakeboarding, as well as your strength. It also concentrates on stretching all of your muscles fully. Stretching is key to wakeboarding in two ways. It keeps your muscles limber over the winter so you are less likely to get injured when you start riding again. It also helps increase your flexibility and coordination. You need to be flexible and coordinated to have the body control you need to flip and grab inverts and pull yourself into different positions in the air. To increase flexibility, you should stretch far enough to feel a little tightness, and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Stretching all the muscles in your body will help you use them all to improve your riding.
Working out on a large (13-16 foot) trampoline will actually enable you to simulate tricks that you would like to be able to perform behind a boat. It also allows you to practice the tricks repeatedly, to memorize the proper technique. Use a trampoline to practice grabs, spins, flips, and landing techniques. Here are some tips for using a trampoline to simulate wakeboarding:
- Don’t try to do anything you’re not ready for. As with any sport, stay within your limits. Trampolines can be very dangerous.
- Make sure you bounce straight up in the air. Have a spotter with you at all times. If you don’t bounce straight up, you can end up flying off of the trampoline, which is a common way to get injured.
- Tie an old towrope to a nearby tree or post and hold it as if you are being towed. The handle will help you simulate wakeboarding better, and you can practice holds and switching hands.
- To give yourself a board surface and keep your feet in the wakeboarding position, get an old skateboard and some old shoes, remove the wheels of the skateboard and duct tape the shoes to the skateboard deck. This will simulate the feel of being on a board, and also allow you to practice board grabs.
Over the winter, watch wakeboarding videos to help you remember the rhythm of the sport, and help you to visualize how to perform the new tricks you want to learn. Have fun and stay in shape doing other similar sports, such as snowboarding or skateboarding. Staying active helps keep your muscles and coordination developing.
Make sure your equipment is all ready for spring. The board and bindings are important, but so are your vest, wetsuit, towrope, and other accessories. Don’t miss out on an early warm day because your equipment has not been checked out before the season starts. If you stay in shape and get your equipment prepared you’ll be ready to hit that first wake in style.
Reprinted from www.thelakechannel.com