Joe Stankowski

Sure, all board sports require quick reaction time. And you’ll need to get the hang of good balance before you can hang ten. But you’ll also need power and a good deal of stamina if you want to be a standout in the water. To get those, there are certain exercises you’ll need to do beforehand.

Whether you ride the surf on a long board or prefer to ride the waves behind a high-powered ski boat, just master this workout, and you’ll be chairman of the boards.

Exercise 1: Shoulder Carry

The training tool:

A heavy bag (aka punching bag) from the gym -- or a bag of mulch, sand or any other large object you can shoulder and walk/run with.

The move:

Find an open space (like a parking lot or driveway). Squat down, hoist the heavy bag (or bag of mulch, sand, etc.) onto one shoulder and simply walk forward 20 to 30 yards. Then, set the bag down, turn around, hoist it back up onto the opposite shoulder and return to your starting point. That’s one full rep. Go for six to 10 reps, resting just 30 seconds between reps. Add speed or weight when possible.

But why?

With traditional gym exercises, you typically lift, pump or press weights evenly on both sides of your body. (For example, when you do bicep curls, you lift a 25-pound dumbbell with your right arm while lifting another 25-pound dumbbell with your left arm). But when you’re board-sporting, waves don’t necessarily hit you evenly: At any given moment, you might have to deploy only the muscles on one side of your body to keep your balance on a surfboard. Doing this asymmetrically loaded exercise will help your core develop the ability to handle just about any wave the ocean throws at you while also increasing your stamina. Plus, this is a total body exercise -- meaning, you need less time to train than if you worked each muscle or muscle group individually.

Exercise 2: The Slosh-pipe Hold

The training tool:

For about $20, you can build your own top-notch training tool. Go to your local hardware store and pick up a 10-foot length of 4-inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe. Also get an end cap and a threaded cleanout. (If you don’t know much about plumbing materials, just ask.) You’ll also need a small can of PVC adhesive to hold it all together.

The move:

By filling the pipe about one-third to half full with water (thanks to the threaded cleanout fitting, you can adjust the amount at will), you’ll have a total weight of roughly 40 to 50 pounds. Not a big deal when held vertically. The real trick is keeping it level when cradling it horizontally, across the front of your chest, with both arms while standing. As soon as you think you’ve mastered the simple standing-hold described above, try breaking into your board/ski stance and see what you’re made of. Build up to 12 to 15 reps up to a minute each (with a minute between attempts), and there ain’t a wave going to break you down.

But why?

With all that water flying back and forth over a 10-foot track of pipe, you won’t have time to wonder, “Are those my obliques or my rectus abdominis working?” The answer is you’re going to have to hang on with everything you’ve got from the ground up. The very nature of the pipe exercise (water sloshing back and forth unpredictably) means no two workouts will be the same -- forcing your body to adapt to the erratic forces of water nature. So when that rogue wave comes along, you’ll be able to react quickly and have the muscle power to do so.

Exercise 3: Renegade Row

The training tool:

You’ll need one dumbbell, a little bit of floor space and a whole lot of muscle.

The move:

If you’re familiar with the yoga-style “plank,” it’s like that (only much more manly with the addition of the row). With the dumbbell on the floor, get in the top position of a push-up with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width foot stance. Now grab the dumbbell with one hand and pull your elbow toward the ceiling, bringing the weight next to the bottom of your rib cage -- all while resisting the gravitationally motivated urge to twist, bend or contort your body toward the floor. Do two to three sets (per side), with eight to 12 reps. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

But why?

This routine challenges core strength and stability at a much higher intensity than any sit-up or crunch ever could. Core strength and stability, as you now know, are essential to maintaining balance on the boards and the planks!

Joe Stankowski is a former power lifter/strongman competitor. "Mighty" Joe Stankowski co-authored The Power of Champions, created the weight loss support group This Workout Doesn’t Suck and is the caffeine-inspired blogger behind


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Health - Winning Water-sport Workouts