Wakeboarding is an extremely physically demanding sport. It requires us to flow through our movements, be strong in our legs, solid with our core and very spatially aware. This requires a lot of training both on and off the water. We have broken it down into three important categories:
Proper warm up drills before heading out on the water
Strength training for wakeboarding
Active recovery work in between training
Too often people show up late and hop on the boat without warming up. Others may be squeezed for time or trying to fit a set into a busy programme, so they avoid warming up under the impression that wakeboarding is the most important part of training. However, a warm up actually serves two major functions – to enhance performance and to prevent injury. Warming up, has both a physical and a mental purpose. Whenever we ride we take about half an hour before and do a full warm up. The goal is to increase circulation, stretch out muscles and prepare your body to work. During our Crossed Feet Sports Camps we do a rigorous warm up before each set.
A simple warm up that can be done in less than 10 minutes:
3 rounds of:
15 air squats
10 walk outs
5 push ups
Strength Training for Wakeboarding
The thing that makes wakeboarding unique as a sport is all of the forces that we deal with while on the board. We have to constantly adapt ourselves to the pull of the rope and the resistance of the board. The combination of different forces makes wakeboarding a very core-centric sport. There is nothing that can truly replicate the forces of wakeboarding, but there are a few exercises that we have identified which can help prepare your body. Be sure to click on the hyperlinked words to see some videos with technique work or some variations.
Med Ball Throws – these can be done straight, or with added rotation, both help to develop core, hip strength and coordination.
Pull Ups – these can be scaled by using an elastic band, or by doing ring rows. Pull ups work the shoulders, back and core and provide a high level of stimulation for the grip (hands and forearms).
Box Jumps – explosiveness for take offs and learning how to be soft on landings.
Plank work – rotating from side plank to side plank plus reverse. Reverse plank is great to activate the glutes and hamstring, opening chest muscles and stretch tight muscle around your shoulders.
Balance work – lunges onto a bosu ball – great for knee stability, hips and core, or even some coordination drills on an Indo Board.
Skipping Rope – this is a great drill for coordination and cardio.
Stability ball leg curl – great for strengthening hamstrings and glutes and working on hip stability.
Deadlift - strengthening your body in flexion is a saver when it comes to stabilise big landings and keeping the knees protected.
Push Ups – wakeboarding by nature is a sport that involves a lot of pulling action, balance this out with some pushing work off the water.
Twist with rubber band - excellent to teach you how to be strong and mobile in twisting, giving you that extra control needed in late spins with blind landing!
These exercises can be combined in many ways, here are a couple of combos to get you started:
For those who wish to add extra weight to the deadlifts each round, and make the box jumps a little higher each round.
8 Box jumps
3 minutes rest in between rounds
Emphasis on quality of the landings on the box going up, and coming down is paramount. This workout gives you the chance to practice the component of a jump under fatigue from the deadlifts, so you can have that extra edge through your wakeboard set. A long rest is recommended to maintain QUALITY.
Coach’s cue: try to make the least amount of sound possible with the jumps! If you manage it, you will step up your body control a notch!
12 Air squats directly into 60 m sprint
Walk back and start again.
Pop is all about leg explosiveness!
Workout preparation: 3 sets of 16 lunges onto the Bosu Ball
10 - 8 – 6 – 4 – 2 repetitions of:
Lunge Clock (1 rep is the full clock i.e. 6 moves)
Cash out: 3 minutes skipping
It goes without saying that it is extremely important to include a good warm up before all of the above workouts.
It is very important to actively help your body to recover. I’m sorry but this might mean taking a day off riding once in a while. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything! The purpose of a recovery day is to recuperate from your training both physically and mentally.
After riding there are also other ways to help recover. Active recovery centres on completing a workout at low intensity, just high enough to get the blood flowing which helps to decrease any residual muscle fatigue. There are a number of ways to do this:
Cool down after riding – stretch out, shake off a bit.
Self-Myofascial Release – foam rolling, using lacrosse balls etc.
Going for a gentle walk
Doing some gentle yoga – try Yin yoga
Mobility exercises - Try animal movements like bear crawl in a slow manner!
If you are doing a wakeboard camp, I recommend doing one wakesurf set to help your muscles relax a bit!
It is so easy to get overexcited with wakeboarding and forget to do warm ups, off the water training and certainly any active recovery! Unfortunately, I learnt the hard way, by tearing my ACL. I decided to do a full-on wakeboard camp with two half hour sets a day in February. I was a complete newbie and had not even seen a wakeboard for months. I fell on a small jump during my last set and completely tore my ACL. Unfortunately, this can easily occur, but by ensuring that you warm up, do some wakeboard specific training and get in some active recovery, you can definitely work towards preventing injuries!