Fit to Surf


The Surfer’s Guide to Strength and Conditioning by Rocky Snyder

Rocky Snyder FIt to SurfCopyright© 2003 by Rocky Snyder.  All rights reserved.
You must cite the author and source of this content if you wish to use or reprint it in any form.

Creating Your Program

In creating your own conditioning program, start out slowly.  Progress to more intense workouts only as your body gets accustomed to these exercises.

People who have exercised regularly in the past but have not exercised vigorously for several months, or even years, sometimes try to start a new exercise program where the old one left off.  This can be dangerous because their muscles have deconditioned – even though their egos have remained intact.  The chance of injury or extreme muscle soreness is greatly increased.  It's important to start out slowly so the body can adapt to the new stains that exercise places on the body.

If any sharp pain is experienced while performing an exercise, stop immediately.  The exercise may not be the right one for you.  Check the description in this book of the exercise to see if you were performing it correctly.  If it was performed properly, yet you still felt pain, omit that exercise from your conditioning program.

Following are some tips to help you develop an overall conditioning program that combines three cornerstones of physical conditioning:  flexibility training, strength training, and endurance.  All three types of training will then be discussed and illustrated in detail in the chapters that follow.

Flexibility Training

Flexibility is the key to injury prevention.  Strength training and endurance programs have a tendency to tighten the muscles, so it's essential to stretch the body back to a balanced state.

Stretching exercise are used as warm-up for strength and endurance training.  Most gains in flexibility however come when stretches are performed after such training.  Be sure to take time at the end of each workout to properly cool down via stretching.  The flexibility portion of your fitness program should be carried out daily however, even if the other parts of the program are not performed that day.


Strength Training

Strength training consists of relatively short bursts of muscular force anywhere between 1 second and 2 minutes.  This type of training helps build size and strength in the muscles and conditions them to store more energy for immediate use.  One to two days per week of strength training is considered a maintenance routine with little change in strength levels.  Three days or more brings about physiological changes.  Strength training session may bary between 10 minutes to two hours or more depending on the training protocol.  I generally recommend 30 minutes to one hour, three to five days per week, to experience the physiological benefits of this kind of training.  Other items to keep in mind concerning strength training exercises:

  • When performing strength training exercises, start by executing one to two sets of each exercise selected.
  • After exercising for a week, you can increase the sets from two to four per session.
  • With most strength training exercises, perform between 8 and 15 repetitions in a set.
  • If you cannot do an exercise with proper form for 8 repetitions, chances are the weight is too heavy.
  • If you can do an exercise with proper form for more than 15 repetitions, the weight is probably too light.
  • For exercises that do not incorporate the external resistance of weights (such as dumbbells or barbells), you can magnify the intensity by increasing the repetitions.  Among these nonweighted exercises are abdominal and lower back exercises, push-ups, and pull-ups.  Each set can include 10 to 30 repetitions.

It is a good idea to change your list of exercises on a regular basis so that muscles do not get too accustomed to the same movement.  The greater variety you add to a strength workout, the greater the different number of demands you place upon the muscles – with the advantage that it forces them to adapt in a number of ways.  Try changing the list of exercise each week or every other week.  It's OK to repeat some of the same exercises, but be sure to alternate at least two or three of them.


Endurance Training

For endurance training, as with strength training, it's important to alternate among different activities.  Endurance training includes such activities as swimming, running, and various forms of paddling.  By alternating these various cardiovascular exercises, your body is challenged to meet many different types of movement.  This can help reduct the chance of experiencing a plateau in training in whifch your body no longer develops at the desirable rate you've been experiencing.

In designing the endurance (cardiovascular) portion of  your  program, start slowly and progess to higger intensity in a methodical  manner.  Start with 10 to 20 minutes, two or three times per week, and add 5 to 10 minutes per session each week or add an additio0nal day.

Many people gauge the intensity of their cardiovascular routine by their heart rate, using a target heart rate to monitor whether they are exercising at an ideal intensity level.  Generally speaking, when you exercise at 60 percent of your theoretical maximum heart rate or above, desired physiological adaptations occur.  Exercising at 100 percent of your maximum is not recommended.  A range of 65 to 85 percent of the maximum heart rate is a safe range for most people.  Anyone with medical concerns should consult a physician before establishing a desired heart rate for cardiovascular exercise.

To determine a target exercise heart rate, you can use a very simple equation, although the only factor taken into account is your age.  Subtract your age from 220.  The resulting number represents your theoretical maximum heart rate.  Multiply that maximum heart rate by the desired exercise percentage (intensity) that you select (most likely between 65 and 85 percent) to find your target heart rate.  For example, the theoretical maximum heart rate for a 40-year old paddler would result in a target exercise heart rate of 126.  This is the simplest way to determine a target heart rate.

A better equation, the Karvonen Method, takes both a person's resting heart rate and age into consideration in determining the target heart rate.  The best time to take you resting heart rate is in the morning, before getting out of bed.  Count your pulse for 1 minute.  This is your resting heart rate.  The equation is as follows:

Maximum Heart Rate (220-Age) – Resting Heart Rate x Desired Percent + Resting Heart Rate = Target Exercise Heart Rate

For example, a 50-year old woman with a resting heart rate of 63 beats per minute wishes to exercise at an intensity of 75 percent of her maximum heart rate.

220-50 (age) = 170 (maximum heart rate)
170-63 (resting heart rate) = 107
107 x 0.75 (desired percent) = 80
80 + 63(resting heart rate) = 143 (her target heart rate)

Use of a measurement known as the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is a more subjective way to determine your desired intensity level.  Simply put, on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being very easy and 10 being maximal effort), how intensely do you think you are exercising?  To determine your own personal target zone, warm up and then build to a sub maximal yet challenged effort after a few minutes of endurance activity, such as paddling, or running.  Your heart rate at that point will be your target heart rate and will be between 5 to 8 on your REP scale.  Ideally a person should exercise between 5 and 8 on that scale.

Using both the Karvonen formula and the rate of perceived exertion may be a wise course of action.  A combination of both approaches can provide a more accurate estimate of the correct intensity level for your endurance training.


Workout Programs

Chapter 9 provides detailed workout programs that are samples of the ones you can choose for you own fitness routine including exercises for flexibility, strength, and endurance.  One program is a 10-week plan for use at a gym or health club; the other is a 10-week program that encompasses the same conditioning goals but can be carried out at home.