AUTUMN. Pick a new sport to keep your movement patterns and strength optimised through the off-season. Swimming and cross-country skiing have good correlation to the arm activity required onboard, but they’re very linear; maybe judo is worth looking at! Use your competition body to spend November lifting 3 sets of 4-6 reps, lifting slow and heavy to engage core and joint stabilisers and to recruit muscles most efficiently, developing optimal technique in all movement patterns. Make sure you take 60-90 seconds rest between sets so that you’re getting a strength response. Practice regular yoga to unwind the unbalanced tension you’ve built up across your shoulders.
WINTER. In January work out in a circuit format, still concentrating on technique, with high repetitions and very little rest between sets to build a base of muscular endurance. In late January and early February, keep a weekly circuit session but also spend two weekly sessions of three sets of 8-12 reps, resting a full minute between sets, moving slowly to make sure you don’t underuse crucial small joint stabiliser muscles. Speed up the movements in Late February and early March, and replace the weekly circuit session with a medicine ball power session to prepare the trunk muscles for the coming season. Late March should have 2 weekly power sessions and a weekly muscle mass session in the gym.
SPRING. Sailing time will necessarily reduce the amount of time you can spend in the gym. To get the most out of the time available, one session should be devoted to a strength format, 3 sets of 4-6 reps again, focussing on exercises with good carryover to sailing demands, like cable and medicine ball chops, lifting on unstable surfaces to work on your inherent capacity to stabilise your body, and rowing-type pull exercises with one or two hands to prepare the back thoroughly for the season ahead. Spend time getting a thorough warm-up with yoga-type stretches and/or ‘contract/relax’ stretching of individual muscles, stretching for 3 breaths, contracting the muscle for 2, and then stretching again for 3, until you see no further stretch developing.
SUMMER. High speed and powerful movements in all directions will keep you ready for the unpredictability of onboard demands. The strength work in the spring will have prepared you for performing the same key cable and medicine ball exercise patterns, at high speed. Try coupling medicine ball training with jumps and steps in all directions, and add boxing and kicking drills for some variety. As training and sailing load increase, make sure you’re taking a decent amount of time for dynamic warm- up stretches. Lunge out forwards, backwards and sideways while rotating the trunk to either side to get a functional warm-up, stepping onto unstable objects as well to simulate the demands of an unsteady deck.
LATE SUMMER. Towards the end of the season, maintain strength in the gym with workouts of 3 sets of 6-8 reps, resting 30-60 seconds between. Choose exercises, or just modify the key exercises you’ve been using through the season, so that your core strength and balance are suitably challenged. Any exercise modified simply by standing on one leg, or combining exercises with any of the simple balance equipment available today, will demand more of your core and joint stability and make you resistant to injury as the season draws to a close. Some yoga postures will help to ensure static stability in the joints too, and will start to restore flexibility.