The Foundation for Power?…STRENGTH!
Strength is very simple: it’s the amount of force that someone can produce. Newton’s second law of motion teaches us that force is created when you accelerate a mass (mass x acceleration = force). When your body creates enough force it allows you to accelerate your body’s mass fast!
Your body cannot produce force if it has no force to produce. Force production is the foundation of all movement. I will use surfing for example because I appreciate the sport and the skill that it takes. To be able to perform a skilled maneuver such as the cutback, or an air maneuver (see videos below) one must generate incredible force and acceleration to perform these with POWER and EXPLOSIVENESS. If we train our muscles to be strong enough to produce a certain maximum force in a given athletic situation, that means we can accelerate our bodies or an external object similar in mass faster and with more power.
(Professional Surfer Kelly Slater- Top, Professional Surfer Gabriel Medina- Bottom)
For those of you who are more experienced with weight training, you’re probably thinking “many of those qualities are affected by different training stimuli,” and you’re definitely right. Explosive Strength (power) and Reactive Strength (plyometrics) are used to fine-tune your neuromuscular abilities by focusing the Maximum Strength that you have just built.
Explosive Strength focuses on increasing the Rate of Force Development (RFD), or how fast your muscles are able to produce force. This type of strength is especially important for power lifting, Olympic lifting, shot put, weight throw, baseball pitchers, javelin, and discus, as these sports are expressions of maximal explosiveness. If you can create the same maximal force that you have developed through your Maximal Strength phase faster, this will translate into performance. This is expressed through high-load speed strength (moving heavier loads, like a snatch) and low-load speed strength (moving your body weight, or lighter loads such as in discus).
Reactive Strength qualities are beneficial to athletes who are dynamic in their sport. This applies to most team sports and individual sports, including hockey, rugby, football, baseball, golf, tennis, squash, etc. Reactive Strength is the muscle’s ability to apply force quickly, after completing a Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC). The SSC is the transition from, yep… you guessed it: being stretched, to being shortened. If you’re a soccer player running one direction and the ball zips by to your left, you want to get there as quickly as possible. Instead of stopping, turning left, and starting to run, we simply crossover and push off with our right foot, propelling our body to the left. We don’t do a full squat and jump to the left. We plant and push off, wasting no time at all. And if your SSC is faster and produces greater force than the defender, I think we can figure out who gets to the ball first.
References Hales, M (2011) Evaluating Common Weight Training Concepts Associated With Developing Muscular Strength: Truths or Myths? Strength and Conditioning Journal; February; 33 (1); pp. 91- 95.
Hori, N; Newton, R; Nosaka, K; Stone, M (2005). Weightlifting Exercises Enhance Athletic Performance That Requires High-Load Speed Strength. Strength and Conditioning Journal; August; 24 (4); pp. 50 – 55.
Want to paddle harder, turn quicker, rip harder, and last longer in the water? WELL LISTEN UP!
Surfing is of course FUN! And yes it’s a great workout. But your time in the water and your technique isn’t enough if you want to become GREAT at what you’re trying to accomplish. You don’t realize there is a big piece of the puzzle that will help you reach your full athletic potential.
Do not rely on just surfing as your workout. In addition to making you a better surfer, a solid Strength and Conditioning program will allow you to recover much faster from your battles with the water. You will be less prone to injury and will have more stamina to stay in the water longer and actually having fun instead of struggling to breathe out there.
Let’s Get One Thing Straight
A lot of people think lifting weights is about gaining weight, getting bigger, losing flexibility, and looking like a bodybuilder. Actually it’s the total opposite, lifting weights will actually help you lose body fat, get leaner, gain flexibility, get stronger, and help with overall mental toughness, and of course look like an athlete. Strength & Conditioning training is about training like an athlete, it’s about performing exercises that will transfer over to your sport, which in this case is Surfing. Balancing on a physioball, crunches, and resistant band exercises just wont get the job done. Don’t get me wrong, there is always a time and place for this type of training but usually its when you’re trying to rehab from an injury. Weight Training and the right kind of Speed and Conditioning program will help you enhance your performance.
What Do You Need To Become A Better Surfer?
- 1. Explosive Power and Overall Strength
- 2. Muscle Endurance
- 3. Core Strength
- 4. Nutrition!!!!!
Explosive Power & Strength
You can gain these attributes by performing Plyometrics, Olympic Lifts, and just overall Resistance Training.
Note: Lifting weights and performing the right exercises will help you gain balance, coordination, and flexibility.
You can gain muscle endurance by Circuit Training, or as simple as cutting your rest period down between exercises and sets.
Crunches and Sit-ups are HORRIBLE when trying to gain core strength. You must perform specific core exercises such as Planks, Side Planks, Bird Dogs, Etc.
This could probably be the most important aspect of your training plan. If you do not eat right, all the training you’re doing is for nothing.
Use a Jet Ski for example, if those Jet Ski’s aren’t filled with plenty of fuel there is no way they are able to battle through those water’s to come save our asses. Same goes for our bodies, if we are constantly trying to perform on an empty tank or cheap gas we will not be able to perform to full potential and eventually shut down.
Remember: “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”
CREATE YOUR LEGACY