The Skimboarder's Workout: Develop Explosive Power For Fast-Paced Activities

By Mike Clausen

As we make our way through the summer months, there is more opportunity to engage in sports or other activities while at home or on vacation. I recently came back, or should I say hobbled back, from Maui. I brought my skimboard (sort of like a little surfboard) with me, though I haven’t used it in at least 10 years. I quickly came to the realization that I’m not 23 anymore. It has taken me well over a week for my leg muscles to feel normal!

Here's where I went wrong: The quick start running and jumping that you must do to properly ride a skimboard into the surf requires your legs to be conditioned and flexible in a different way than you ordinarily train in the gym. Basic leg training that most people do—think squats, leg press, hamstring curl, etc.—does pretty much nothing to get you prepared for any real-world activity. That's because real-life sports demand a combination of speed and sudden, explosive power that no machine can train. I actually do a combination of functional training and basic training when I work my legs, and even that didn’t help me out. After the first couple rides, I could feel my abductors screaming in pain. But, of course, I had to keep going, and I just kept furthering the pain and muscle tears. I was there for about a week and did my stretching at night and in the morning, but even that didn’t help much. The damage had been done. My legs and body were not conditioned to ride that board. I should have known better and been pre-conditioning my legs for this activity.

Luckily, you don't need to suffer as I did—learn from my mistake. Instead of doing my normal leg routine, I should have been adding in more dynamic movement, plyometrics, and flexibility training. This would have given me the speed and power to quickly adapt to the changing demands of the waves and balancing on the board. I also should have gotten myself out of the gym more to prepare my body overall. The same is true of you if you plan to surf or play beach volleyball this summer—or even just join in a game of pick-up frisbee in the park. Here is a workout that could have helped me conquer the skimboard and return feeling like an athlete and not an 80 year-old man. Let it do the same for you.

Exercise Sets/Reps Notes
25-yard Sprints 10 - 20 sets with minimal recovery Run as fast as you can for 25 yards, then take a minimal rest to catch your breath before repeating.
Moving Side Lunges 4 sets of 20 each direction Start out standing, and step to the side with your right leg, coming down into a lunge by pressing your hips side and back in the direction of the lunge. Keep both toes front throughout the movement. (For an added challenge, tap your hands down to the floor on either side of your right foot.) Then, as you come up to standing, bring your left foot in to meet your right. Begin the next lunge in the same direction, continuing for a set of 20 before reversing direction to return to the start for 20. Do this four times.
Jump Squats 4 sets of 15 Start out standing, with your arms up at the sides of your head with elbows bent and with toes pointing forward. Sit into a squat, keeping your weight balanced between your heels and the balls of your feet. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, reverse motion and jump into the air as high as you possibly can. When you land from your jump, go immediately into your next squat.
Jump Scissor Switches 3 sets of 15 with each leg Start out standing, with your arms up at the sides of your head with elbows bent and with toes pointing forward. Step forward with one foot as you drop the back knee toward the floor. Do not push your front knee past your ankle. Lower down through the back thigh until your knee nearly touches the floor. Then, from the bottom of the lunge, jump powerfully into the air and land with your feet reversed. Immediately drop into the next lunge, now with the other foot forward.
BOSU Balance Work 20 of each exercise Do 20 of each of the following exercises. BOSU Squats: Perform a standard squat while standing on the round side of a BOSU. For an added challenge, hold dumbells in each hand at shoulder level as you do this. BOSU Jump Squats (also called tuck jumps): Stand on the round side of a BOSU and sit into a squat as you bring your arms up overhead. From the bottom of your squat, jump up into the air, tucking your knees in your jump. Land on the BOSU, sitting immediately into the next squat. BOSU Side Jumps: Stand next to the BOSU and jump sideways onto it, landing with knees slightly bent and pausing on top before jumping off and then on again.
Long Walking Lunges 3 sets of 20 Do walking lunges with alternating legs, stepping forward with one foot as you drop down with the opposite knee, then stepping the feet together before repeating with the opposite foot forward. But do these taking as long a forward step as you can manage, really reaching on each lunge.
Foam Roller 2 - 3 minutes each area Use a foam roller to roll out your IT bands, quadriceps and hamstrings, going slowly and pausing over any tight areas.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch 5 minutes each side, 2 - 3 times Place the left knee on the floor as close as you can to a wall, placing your right foot in front foot flat on floor with right knee at right angle. Sit up completely straight with your body and chest, not bent at hips. If your knee is too close to the wall to sit up straight, then scoot your knee further from the wall.

About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.