Leg Exercises for Sailors

I've put together this list of leg exercises for sailors to help you put together your own fitness program. However, please remember that I am NOT a fitness instructor, and nor am I a doctor. You should always consult a doctor before embarking on a new fitness regime, and you practise these exercises at your own risk.

Most sailors think of two sets of muscles as the most important - the legs and the stomach. As I've said elsewhere, I'm a fan of bodyweight and free weight exercises - I tend to avoid machines that isolate individual muscles, and I've therefore included these types of leg exercises for sailors here. If you prefer gym machines then your gym instructor will be able to help you with the best exercises for you.

If you're looking to work on your leg fitness for sailing you should also check out the sections on running, cycling and hiking benches


Here's some good information on how to squat correctly, and here's a video on how to perform a basic squat:

Squat Variations

Chair Squat

A good variation for beginners as it helps encourage good technique

Clock Squats

Very good for building core stability as well as leg strength

Split Squats

Like the Chair Squat, this variation is good for beginners as it is a little easier to perform

Stability Squat

Overhead Squat

Good all body version

Prisoner Squat

Another version that builds all-round strength

Jump Squat

Explosive, and a good strength builder - a few of these can be a killer on the legs

Dumbbell Squat

Squat Push Press

A great all-round strength builder

Need more squat variations? Here's 35 ways to squat:


How to perform a basic Lunge:

Lunge Variations

Overhead Lunge

Lunge with Rotation

This variation is good for sailors because it helps with flexibility in a way that is not dissimilar to the way we flex when hiking

Walking Lunge

A popular version, with the added benefit of being kind of comic to look at

Side Lunge

A useful variation as it works some different muscles

Back Lunge

Great for mixing the move up a little

Woodchop Lunge

I really like this (and the hammer curl version below) as it works a lot of muscles in a way that is useful for sailors

Lunge with Hammer Bicep Curl

This is great as the hammer bicep curl mirrors the muscle movement used for pulling in the mainsheet

Lunge with Lateral Raise
Great for building chest muscles

Other Leg Exercises for Sailors

Prone Flutter Kick

A great exercise for sailors as it strengthens the back and the legs

Hiking Leg Extensions

See Michael Blackburn's book, Sailing Fitness and Training for a description of this exercise

Wall Sit

Donkey Kick

Step ups

Calf Raises

Exercise variation - Single Leg Dumbbell Calf Raises


Take the Running Bug 30 Day Thigh Challenge

Take the Cycling Bug 30-Day Squat Challenge

The Men's Fitness 30-Day Squat Challenge

How about a weekend challenge: The Step-Up Scorcher

Articles and Links

10 ways to improve your leg strength

A good leg workout to do after a short run

Here's what Men's Fitness think are the 30 Best Leg Exercises of All Time

Here's 100Races' page on sailing fitness

Want even more leg exercises? Really? Ok, here's some for the upper leg, and here's some for the lower leg

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