The 49th Transpacific Race is this week and we have been fortunate enough to work with a few sailors over the last year in preparation! For those that don’t know, Transpac is a race starting at Rainbow Harbor right here in Long Beach and finishing In Diamond Head Hawaii. Check out the Website for more info! http://2017.transpacyc.com
Co-Skipper Lisa Meier first began training with us June of 2016, with the goal of competing in this race with The Medicine Man Team. Which begged the question, what does it take to become a better sailor? Over the last year we have narrowed down the training focus to these 5 things. Mastering the transverse plane, posterior strength, interval training, balance/agility, and mental training .
Transverse Plane (Core)
This section could also be labeled core strength. While core strength in general is important, it was also important to create (and resist) rotation. The transvers plane is any movement of the body in which we rotate, and we rotate through our thoracic spine. If you cannot rotate properly through your thoracic spine, you will not be able to create/resist power. We focused on Russian twists, Paloff Presses, and every variation in between. Keep the abdominals strong and the thoracic spine mobile.
The entire backside of your body needs to be strong. From pulling lines to hoisting sails, you need to be able to lift heavy, sometimes awkward weight with as much efficiency as possible. We spent a lot of hours mastering deadlifts and squats to protect the lower back and promote better movement patterns. Along with lots of different pulling variations to increase upper back strength. All in all a strong backside keeps your low back safe and makes pulling lines a breeze.
High Intensity Interval Training
For those of you that do the grinding on the boat, you already know what HIIT is, working really damn hard, and having a short time to recover. The goal here is to be able to recover quickly so you can go just as hard as the next bout. The more efficient you are with your recovery the better you will feel when its time to go again. We focused on ratios of 2:1 and 1:2. The 2:1 ratios were smaller time intervals, think :20 work :10 of recovery. Where as the 1:2 ratios we worked longer, think :30 work 1:00 rest.
Balance and agility were used more for supplemental work, active recovery, or finishers on our higher volume days. Being able to react and control your body during movements of the boat will keep you safe during choppy seas or technical maneuvers. There can be a lot happening on the boat at one time so you need to be able to react. A lot of Bosu ball, balance pad, and single leg exercises.
Being phsiclly fit is important, but you also need to have the mental toughness to stay sharp on the long trips, for the Transpac Race in particular. 4 hour shifts, seven plus days can take a toll on your psyche. Making quick reactive decisions while running on little to no sleep is difficult. This means training on those days where you don't think you can. You might not always be running at 100% of capacity, but you still need to show up and grind it out. We focused on exercises where Lisa had to process, and then react to information in a fatigued state. Saving the complicated compound exercises (turkish getups) for the end of the workout proved to be a good challenge. The mental aspect of our training was for the last few days of the race when you are beyond tired. The more you can train in this fatigued state the more comfortable you will be once you reach it during a race. You need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
It’s difficult to replicate training in the gym to actual sailing. Throughout the year we also blended all of our focuses together. We would set up circuits with high intensity cardio first, go straight to a balance exercise, and then do some rotational work to finish out. Because sailing is so dynamic, we tried to mix and match training stimulus to get the body ready for anything that might happen on the boat.
Another area we worked was taking compound movements, and making them as awkward as possible. One example being a ball slam with a ball filled with sand, heavy to lift and difficult to pick up. On the boat there won’t always be the space or time to get into a perfect position. So we trained outside the normal confines of perfect form on lifts (using lighter weight) and added in other variables such as balance or uneven weights. Learning to master basic movement patterns is important, especially when lifting heavy weights. But you also need to be able to move weights in a less then ideal position as safe as you can. Taking the time to recognize how to get the most out of each movement and protect your body will keep you at the helm!
Be sure to cheer on the teams this week as they take off for Hawaii!!