Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sailing Fitness with Bow Down Training

Developing Functional Hiking Skills
By Chris Herrera

After reading that title you might be saying… what is functional hiking? In terms of fitness, functional hiking is the ability to hike for power and strength, while effectively working the rails and shifting.

When most athletes train their hiking skills they work on leg extensions, lunges, squats, and some plyometric exercises. All of these are good and will help develop leg strength and power translating into stronger legs. But the question still remains, will that help your hiking while sailing?

This question is not an easy one. This is actually a fundamental neurological question of “neuro-motor carry over” and “holistc vs. sequencing training”.  This post is aimed to give you the best exercises to improve your hiking (see videos below). By applying this information, you will be able to self-adjust and progress your workouts helping you grow as an all around sailing athlete.

Neuro-motor carry over is a long phrase meaning: Are your weight training workouts on land carrying over to improved performance on the water?

The central nervous system sends signals to the motor system (muscles) telling the muscle to lift more, faster, longer or whatever the training consists of. The term “carry-over” then comes with the body’s ability to recall these same neuro-motor pathways while sailing, producing a stronger sailing athlete, or in this scenario a better hiking athlete.

Holistic vs. sequencing training is a debate between what is better for carry over, training the exact movement (holistic) or breaking down the movement and training each individual part with the intention of improving the ending movement (sequencing).

Studies show that it is not 100% one way or the other, but a careful balance of holistic and sequencing training develops a better ultimate outcome. It also depends on how complicated the movement might be. An example would be teaching a sailor how to stay in a straight leg hike for the laser vs. teaching a novice 49er crew to tack. The more components and details involved in the movement, the better it is to work on individual parts and combine them in the end. The more basic the movement (hiking static hold), the better it is to train that whole movement at once.

So you are probably asking how does that help me with my training? The answer is that it is tremendously important to how you set up your training program, the exercises you do and how you develop your muscles and motor patterns.

Functional hiking is the ability to maintain your hiking position while being able to complete other important tasks such as:
• Seeing your competitors
• Reading wind and current
• Controlling the tiller and main sheet

If all you can do is hike out and it hurts so bad that you can’t focus on anything else, then you are not a functional hiker.

These two exercises below are good holistic hiking exercises to develop functional hiking.

Video Demonstration #2 - Watch this additional hiking exercise demonstration that focuses on core strengthening.

1 comment:

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