Last week we focused on recruiting the finite muscles around your feet, ankles, knees, inner thighs and hips to promote quicker reaction times and improve your stability and balance. This week, I’ll be walking you through exercises to improve your leg strength, endurance and power. Remember when you were first learning to stand up paddle? You may have felt like your legs were like jello and your feet and arches may have burned a little too while you were death-gripping the deck and trying to put it all together. That too shall pass as you develop and strengthen the muscles of your legs and simply spend more time on the water!
Training Note: It’s your choice if you wear shoes or not, or if you train on an unstable surface such as the beach (which is more challenging). I try to train barefoot so that I can mimic the feel of the board. If working with weights, be careful not to drop them on your feet! Everyone’s training needs and experience will vary, so the number of sets/reps you perform is up to you. Typically, if you are just starting out, try 1-3 sets with 10-12 reps each, making sure you are always in perfect form.
This Week: Strength Exercises
Your glutes (larger butt muscles) and quads (front thigh muscles) are the very large muscles of the legs and offer tremendous power as you shift your body and change position on your board. If you want to kick some butt on the water…do lunges! Lots! Again, I like to challenge myself when I’m at the beach, so I go shoes off. If you do train at the beach and are used to wearing shoes, you will really notice all the muscles in your feet working hard to stabilize you as you enter the exercise and as you push off. You can do these lunges with the same leg or alternate legs.
Exercise: Simple Lunges
Equipment: weights (optional)
Progression Variables: Weights at side or on top of shoulders
Click on the photo for a larger view.
Keeping a nice and tall posture, from a standing position, move your left leg forward without stepping out too far, only going as low so you can manage control and balance, keeping your knee cap tracking on that 2nd toe for proper alignment. Try to get to a 90 degree bend, keeping your supporting leg behind you off the sand or floor.Drive through the front supporting leg back up to the start position. Switch legs or do the same side in place…or head down the beach! Keep in mind, as you push back to that start, your knee must maintain its proper alignment. Keep it up and stay tuned for next week’s Strength and Balance exercises for SUPer strong legs!