Ride Strong with Darin Shapiro

Words Darin Shapiro Photo Bryan Soderlind

Riding with power, intense edging, going big off the wake — they all require strength and a higher level of fitness than regular riding. Taking your riding to the next level, beyond the second wake, puts far more stress on your body than wake-to-wake riding. To ride at that next level, you need to take your body to the next level too. Charging the wake requires complete commitment and confidence, and the more prepared you are, the better. If you aspire to this style of riding, you need to pay close attention to your strength and fitness levels. Here are some things that have helped me stay fit while pushing a powerful style of riding.

My Philosophy From day one of my riding career, I always followed the philosophy of learn it small, take it big. This process involves learning the trick properly and being able to do it with control. From there, I work on taking it big by starting wide and charging it. Bigger riding requires more strength, because the dynamics get more and more intense. Greater rope tension, landing from higher up, bigger kicks off the wake — it all requires that extra bit of strength. There are many different types of training to help increase your physical performance. If you're like me, the least exciting one is going to the gym.

Five Days a Week I keep my workout schedule fairly loose, but I'm active a minimum of five days a week, regardless of how much I ride. For wake-to-wake riders, 10 sets a week isn't a ton of riding. If you're charging big tricks every set, then five or six sessions a week is enough to take it out of you. So in addition to riding, I do a whole bunch of activities on a weekly basis. It's important to work on strength, cardio and flexibility when preparing for big riding. A healthy diet is very important too.

Strive for Strength Powerful riding requires strength, but you don't have to look like a muscle man. My favorite exercises include pull-ups, push-ups and core training. Pull-ups are an essential part of wakeboarding strength training, and they go hand in hand with the core and push-up exercises. I think its really important for people to understand that when doing these exercises, you really have to push yourself through them to see any benefit from your hard work. Keep changing your goals and targets to push yourself harder every time you exercise. Riding with power is all about commitment, so make sure you apply that same thought process to your preparation.

Go Beyond the Treadmill For my cardio, I mountain bike more than anything else. Often, I bike as much as five times a week. In addition, whenever the waves breaking I'll head to the beach for the day to surf. It's always fun to also throw in some wakesurfing for good measure when I can. As with the strength exercises, you have to push yourself to get the benefit from these activities. A consistent effort to do this will see your fitness levels increase at a faster rate, and you'll receive much more benefit from the exercise.

Eat Right You might not want to hear it, but a healthy diet is a big part of making physical gains. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that drinking all night and charging it the next morning is not a good idea. I always try to keep my diet as natural and as fresh as I can. I avoid all junk food and sugary drinks. In addition to my healthy eating habits, I take nutritional supplements. I have always used Shaklee nutritional products. It's simple: If you eat well and keep things healthy, you'll feel much better and be able to train and ride at a higher level.

I'm 35! I've been charging it hard on my wakeboard since 1991, and I rode on the Pro Tour longer than anyone in history. Sure, I've been injured, but through these principles, I have bounced back every time. Eight doctors have told I would never ride again, and yet I'm still here charging it. I have always pushed myself to be a better athlete, and fitness and diet have played a major role in my success. So try to follow some of these principles. Hopefully, you will still be riding with power at 35 and beyond.