As spring approaches, it’s time to begin thinking about getting in shape for the upcoming season. For some, the weather is nice year-round, and riding is no problem all winter. For others, the lake is frozen, and riding seems like an eternity away. Regardless, getting in shape and preparing the right way can make or break your first event, or your first ride back. To ensure your best return, focus on these three things: strength, flexibility and nutrition.
Strength is most important because wakeboarding requires a lot from our shoulders, core and legs. As you gear up for the season, make sure you are focusing on muscle growth and endurance, and be mindful not to incur too much impact, which causes joint injury. Here are a few exercises to get you started with the basics.
Traditional: Planks are one of the best full-body isometric exercises. Begin in a push-up position with either your knees or feet on the ground but with an extended body. Move down to an elbow support. Pull your belly button to your spine and hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
Side: The side plank incorporates more obliques and transverse abdominals. From the traditional plank position, rotate to one arm and rest the top of your hand on your hip. You can stack your feet on top of one another or use both for balance. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
Knee to Elbow: From the traditional plank position, lift the right knee to the right elbow and return to starting position. Repeat on the left.
Push-up: Push-ups are great to train both shoulders and core. Begin in the traditional plank position with your arms fully extended. Lower your chest to the floor and push back up to starting position.
Chair Pose: This is the isometric version of a squat. Begin with your feet together and your arms up, over your head. Slowly move into the traditional squat position, maintaining a broad chest and tight core. Breathe evenly and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and stand back up.
Step Up: This movement is a one-legged isolated squat in which you will lift yourself both up and down using the same leg. Place your foot on top of a box, engage your core and push through your leg to stand on top of the box, then lower down slowly and in control. Be mindful that your knee tracks straight or slightly outward, but never inward.
Wall Ball: This is the full-body, cardio version of squatting. Begin with a medicine ball in both hands held at your chest. Pick a reasonable weight and target on the wall. Start the movement by performing the squat with the ball held at your chest. As you rise to the top of the squat, toss the ball, evenly with both hands, up to the target, and as the ball falls back down, try to catch the ball at the bottom of your next squat.
Steady the back of your shoulders on a bench with your lower body hanging off the edge and feet flat on the floor. Feet are shoulder width apart, knees are together, and you will start the movement with your hips low. Push through your heels and posterior legs to lift your hips up into a bridge-like position.
Medicine Ball Rotations
Begin lying on your back with the medicine ball at your midline, knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift up your chest. Rotate the ball and your chest, and tap to the right and then to the left.
Flexibility is especially important for injury prevention. Flexibility can allow the body to be pushed farther in a safe range without breaking. Flexibility also helps with things like reaching your board for a new grab or tucking in for your first invert. The combination of stretching with muscle activation and foam rolling will help to increase muscle length, decrease fascial restrictions and improve overall flexibility.
Warrior 1: Begin with your right leg in front in a deep lunge with your left foot as flat on the ground as possible. Your hips should face front, and your arms will go over your head, reaching up. Keep your chest lifted and aim to square your hips to the front.
Warrior 2: From the Warrior 1 position, open the arms sideways to turn the chest and hips to the side. This will target more inner thigh stretching and activation of the quads of the front leg.
Reverse Warrior: From the Warrior 2 position, slide the back arm down the back leg and lift the front arm and your chest up and back. This stretches the abdomen as well as the quad and inner thigh of the back leg from different angles than traditional static stretching.
Lunge with Twist
Begin in a push-up position. Bring your right foot in between your hands. Leave the left hand flat on the ground and reach the right arm up toward the sky while twisting, which stretches the left hip flexor.
Nutrition plays a huge role in getting in shape because as we build muscle and improve flexibility, we need the right fuel to aid in muscle quality and recovery. Hydration plays an integral part in the pliability of soft tissue in our bodies. Drinking water is one of the most important parts of improving nutrition. Secondly, aim to eat clean foods. Avoid processed foods and focus on lean protein sources, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Supplementation can also be considered to increase overall health. Fish oil and omegas help with cardiovascular health, glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM help with joint health, and a quality multivitamin can help fill in the gaps from your diet.
TRAIN WITH A PRO
The last thing to consider is to get assistance for these things if necessary. Hire a knowledgeable personal trainer or physical therapist to aid you through old injuries and help construct a program to build strength and flexibility. And also, always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.