Sailing fitness: 10 Exercises for Sailors

What is your level of sailing fitness in this very moment? Are you planning to go sailing in the next couple of days? If yes, then you need to be in great shape to have an easier time while sailing.

Here are 10 exercises for sailors you can start with immediately:

  1. Planks
  2. T-Stances
  3. Burpees
  4. Pushups
  5. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  6. Dumbbell triceps kickback
  7. Resistant band pull apart
  8. Superman flutter
  9. Squat to overhead raise
  10. Lunges

Why is sailing fitness even a topic of discussion?

sailing fitness

Sailing is considered to be a docile sport that requires BOTH, power and endurance. Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned sailor, you need to exercise to get your body in good shape before you go sailing.

The most important physical aspect associated with sailing includes:

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Agility
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination
  • Cardiovascular Endurance

Strength training and Sailing Fitness ratio

Strength training is incredibly important to not only Sailing safely with others, but keeping yourself out of harms way. If ever thrown overboard or experience a boat tip, a sailor will 100% be asked to call upon their strength to navigate towards safety.

laser sailing

Capsized boats are heavy

The same can be said about balance as it relates to strength in choppy waters along with having agility levels to remain nimble, flexible so as not to pull a muscle, coordinated to make split second moves, and of course, cardiovascular tolerance – to keep the ticker beating.

It all relates back to strength training and sailing fitness

Sailing exercises not only focus on strengthening your arms but your entire body. In this article, we will discuss 10 important but easy to perform exercises for sailors.

1. Planks

Beginning with the Plank workout, it’s important to note that core strengthening and training exercises are crucial for sailing. This specific core workout provides sailors with a means to keep their abdomen tight when lifting heavy boat objects, for example.

plank hold

Core workouts also protect the lower back while on the boat.

In addition to lower back targeting, a plank workout also helps your:

  1. Pelvis
  2. Abdomen
  3. Hips (therefore leading to better stability)
  4. Balance
  5. Endurance

Planks are simple on the surface of the workout initially, but quickly become a very effective core workout and strengthening exercises as you increase in reps of time spent.

Conveniently, planks are a workout that can be performed in the comfort of your home.

Remember, this type of fitness helps to boost your cardiovascular tolerance, balance, and stability. It can be made harder or easier, depending on the level of performance and training you’re accustomed to.

How to perform the plank workout:

To perform planks, all you need to do is support your lower body on your forearms with your legs behind you. Keep your back straight and low, then hold on to this position for as long as possible.

2. T-stances

T-stances are simple but very effective fitness core exercises that can be performed at home or office. Speaking to the areas of sailing fitness it improves, you have:

  1. Stability
  2. Balance
  3. Endurance

How to perform T Stances

  1. To perform T stances stand with your feet together.
  2. Gently shift your weight onto one foot then lift the other leg behind you while leaning forward for a T-shape.
  3. Gently bend the supporting leg without allowing your knee to go over the toes.
  4. Put your arms out for stability.
  5. Hold on to that pose for about 10 seconds then repeat the same process on the other leg.
  6. While performing T stances, always keep your hips parallel to the floor.
  7. Don’t rotate them to one side.

Remember to keep track of reps and your performance during these training exercises so you have something to measure against for improvement. You can’t improve what you don’t measure!

3. Burpees

Burpees get a bad rap sometimes because of how brutal they can be but when performed correctly at a decent heart rate level, they’re great for sailing fitness

This is arguably the best and also the most difficult cardio workout for sailors.

Why do burpees for sailing fitness?

Burpees are a full-body workout that works on your cardiovascular system and muscles. Burpees are a calisthenics training, meaning they use your body for resistance. They help to build your muscles strength and boost your endurance both on your lower and upper body.

How do you perform burpees?

  1. To perform Burpees, start in a squat with your knees, stand with your feet shoulder with apart.
  2. Gently drop your hands to the floor until they are flat. Jump your legs straight back out to land in a push-up.
  3. Keep your body straight from head to heels then do one pushup.
  4. Perform a frog kick by jumping your feet back to starting position.
  5. Stand then reach your arms overhead.
  6. Jump quickly into the air then land back to where you started.
  7. As soon as you land get into the starting position then repeat the same process 10 times.

Pro Tip: Don’t let your back sag during the downward half and try to prevent your but from sticking too far out into the air. If you want to turbocharge your burpee workout, see how many reps of burpees you can do in 7 minutes – known as an AMRAP.

4. Pushups

Pushups works on the chest muscles, shoulder muscles, abdominals, and triceps. It is a very simple exercise that you can perform at home.


How to perform the pushup

  1. To do this workout, begin in a plank position with your palms directly under your shoulders.
  2. Keep your back flat then lower your body by bending your elbows until the chest almost touches the floor.
  3. Push your body back to the starting point immediately.
  4. Repeat this process 10-15 times.

When it comes to sailing fitness, pushups are a very important strength training that helps to keep you fit and flexible.

5. Dumbbell shoulder press

This simple exercise targets the muscles in your arms and shoulders. It also helps to strengthen your chest and core muscles which plays a crucial role when sailing

How to perform the shoulder press:

  1. To perform this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pick your dumbbells and raise them to your shoulder height.
  3. Hold them there for a few seconds then continue raising them until your arms are fully extended.
  4. Pause in this position for a few seconds, then gently bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
  5. Perform three sets, each containing 8-10 repetitions.

If you want to push the envelope of sailing fitness here, you can also try to perform an AMRAP.

6. Dumbbell triceps kickback

This training is important for sailors as it helps to strengthen the shoulder muscles.

How to perform the Dumbbell triceps kickback:

  1. To perform this exercise grab your two dumbbells and hold one on each hand.
  2. Gently bend your upper body to about a 45-degree angle, then bend your elbow so that the two form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Straighten your arms to engage your triceps.
  4. You can do both arms together or one arm at a time.
  5. If you are an amateur, begin you 2 sets of 8 repetitions then progress to three sets as you get stronger and increase your sailing fitness performance.

7. Resistant band pull apart

Resistance bands are fantastic for sailing fitness as they increase in ‘weight’ or tension against the muscles being used as you move farther away from center.

This is the opposite of what free-weights would do, for example. This crucial training works on your arms, shoulder, and back.

How to perform resistance bands pull apart:

  1. To perform this exercise, stand with your arms extended out in front of you at your height chest.
  2. Hold the resistance band tightly on both hands. Ensure that the band is parallel to the ground.
  3. Gently pull the band outwards by moving your arms outwards.
  4. Initiate the move from the mid going outwards.
  5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your spine in a straight position, then gently return to the starting position.
  6. Perform 3 sets each with 15 repetitions for optimal sailing fitness gains.

8. Superman flutter

Superman flutter is an easy-to-perform workout specific to sailing fitness as it that helps to boost your core strength. It also works on your lower back and oblique and helps to boost your flexibility and stability.

How to perform the Superman Flutter:

  1. To perform this exercise, lie flat with your arm extended in front of you.
  2. Lift your arms, legs, and head off the floor, with your palms facing downwards.
  3. Bring your opposite arm and leg higher than quickly switch to the opposite leg and arm.
  4. This move should look like you are swimming, with your leg and arms moving simultaneously.

Sailors definitely benefit from these training exercises as it also targets heart rate while incorporating body weight against gravity.

9. Squat to overhead raise

If you are new to straight training you should start by raising your arms overhead without any weight. Once you gain strength, you can add light dumbbells and increase strength as you build stamina. This exercise works on crucial muscles, including leg muscles, glutes, core, shoulders, back, muscles, and triceps.

How to do the Squat to overhead raise:

  1. To perform this exercise stand upright with your feet slighter wider than your hips and your arms lying straight.
  2. Gently lower your hips into a squat.
  3. Pull up slowly to come into a standing position, then raise your arms overhead before returning to the starting position.
  4. Perform at least 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

10. Lunges

Lunges are a crucial workout that mainly works your lower body, including your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.

How to perform lunges properly:

  1. To perform this simple exercise, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Step forward with your left foot then lower your hips towards the floor until your left leg is at a 90-degree angle and your right knee is parallel to the ground.
  3. Ensure that your front knee does not go beyond the toes.
  4. Keep your upper body upright by lengthening your spin then hold on to this position for about 10 seconds.
  5. Step your left foot back to meet your right leg then repeat the same movement with your right leg.
  6. Repeat this procedure 10-12 times.

Bringing sailing fitness together

Sailors without a doubt need strength, flexibility, and endurance.

The 10 exercises listed above are highly recommended for sailors who want to perform well. They are simple and can be performed in the comfort of your home. This means no equipment needed and easy to incorporate into a routine.

They specifically work on crucial muscles of your body including:

exercises for sailors
  1. Back
  2. Shoulders
  3. Arms
  4. Hamstrings
  5. Calves
  6. Glutes
  7. Heart

All seven of these areas boost a sailor’s strength, endurance, flexibility and may allow for a more enjoyable sailing experience! The World Sailing Charters crew performs these workouts routinely and highly recommend them!

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