Fitness and Nutrition 

Gym more features

Juni, one of our Support Crew members asked the following question - “Hi! I am just starting to learn how to sail. What are the best exercises you can recommend that I can do on a daily basis and not have to go to a gym to do them?”

We asked Adrian our team physiologist, and he came up with some simple tips to help you best prepare for time on the water.

Aerobic fitness

Regardless of what you sail the best exercise to cope with the physical nature of the sport is aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness forms the backbone to all sailing performance – the fitter you are, the easier you will find it to cope with the physical demands of sailing. This will enable to you to sail for longer without fatigue setting in.

Physical and mental fatigue are heavily linked – as you fatigue physically, you tire mentally and that will result in more mistakes. On windy days you could be physically working as much as 80% of your maximum heart rate (maxHR) which will be hard work for most people to sustain. By doing some aerobic training you will get used to the demands of sailing.

I would recommend that you look to do 2-3 aerobic sessions a week (depending on your current level of fitness). These can be in any mode of exercise (running, cycling, swimming, cross-trainer or a mix) and normally best to go with what you enjoy the most. Try to keep your HR at about 70%maxHR (use 220-age to calculate maxHR). The length of the session will depend on your fitness level but try to build up to 45 minutes continuous exercise. Alternatively, you could get a similar aerobic workout from doing a class at the gym which will get you working at around the 70%maxHR mark.


For anyone who hikes or trapezes, having a strong core (stomach and back) is important. The stronger you are in the core stability muscles the better and longer you can hold hiking and trapeze positions before you tire. More often of not, it is the weakness of these muscle groups that cause most discomfort when sailing. A simple exercise to improve your core stability is the Plank. To perform the plank:

  • Lie on your front on the floor supported on your forearms.
  • Tuck in lower Abs, squeeze gluts, then lift body so you are supported on forearms & toes only.
  • Head should be relaxed & looking at the floor. Shoulder blades should be pulled back & symmetrical. Spine should be long & flat and in line with Hips & Knees.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and then relax for a couple of minutes. Repeat this exercise 3-4 times. As you get better you will be able to hold the plank position for longer.
  • An alternative to this exercise is the side plank – same principles but this time lie on your side so that elbow and foot are the pivot points. Ensure that you keep your hips up so that you are a straight line from toe to head.