Sample Fitness Training Programs for Sailors

These fitness training programs for sailors are sport-specific (well, most of them are - a couple are for general fitness). When planning your fitness training, remember: make it fun, keep it balanced and varied, and make sure you track your progress.



What the Experts Say

Michael Blackburn - Sail Fitter (now Sailing Fitness & Training)

Having a repertoire of sessions that you are happy to do ensures quality and variety in your training and encourages you to stick to your training program

John Bertrand to Dick Tillman - The Complete Book of Laser Sailing

I could see the direct relationship of fitness converted into boatspeed.

Always push yourself slightly above your limit...just keep working on it until you feel like you'll drop dead.



Videos for Fitness Training for Sailors

Unfortunately I can't find any full fitness sessions specifically for sailors in video form online, but let me know if you know of something.

This is a video of a good, basic circuit for people getting back into some fitness training

These two videos demonstrate some hiking simulation exercises:

We will have other sailing-specific exercises shown in our fitness section.



Books with Sample Fitness Training Programs for Sailors

Michael Blackburn - Sail Fitter, page 35

Michael Blackburn's excellent book, Sail Fitter, has his top 7 exercise routines for sailors, and also a great list of exercises in the index too. His top 7 are (see the book for details of the sessions):

  1. Sailing
  2. Simulator (Hiking Bench and land boat training)
  3. Endurance: Cycling Sessions (he suggests 3 different types of training on bikes)
  4. Endurance: Exercise Bike and Rowing Machine
  5. Muscle Strength: Weight Training
  6. Hiking and Sheeting Endurance: Wall Sit and Body Pull Up
  7. Postural and Hiking Muscle Workout

Alan Beggs, John Derbyshire and John Whitmore - Mental and Physical Fitness for Sailing, page 78

Lots of training exercises, and they are displayed so that you can easily develop your own fitness training program


Ben Tan - Complete Introduction to Laser Racing, page 190

Includes a sample resistance training programme for the beginner


Dick Tillman - Complete Book of Laser Sailing, page 137



Websites and online articles with sample fitness training programs for sailors

Basic Foundation Fitness

This is an excellent 4-week program to build up a basic level of fitness before starting a more sailing specific programme:

4 week Foundation, Stability and Strength Programme


Beginner's Bodyweight Circuit

The first video in the Videos for fitness training for sailors section is a good base or foundation workout.

We've put together a sheet for you to use for this routine here


Ron Rosenberg's Hiking Notes

This is a good workout routine to develop fitness for a hiking boat.

I can't seem to put in a direct link, but if you click here, and then click on the skills tab then the Hiking exercises link then you'll find it.

We've put together a sheet for you to use for this routine here.


US Sailing Fitness Routine

A good 40 minute routine with full-body exercises.

US Sailing full-body exercise routine


Windcheck Off-Season Workout

A 30- to 45-minute off-season workout.

We've put together a sheet for you to use for this routine here.


Tamug Sailing Team

Some good workout routines from the Tamug Sailing Team can be found under the Exercises link on this page. It is a word document


FAST Sailing

A programme suggested by FAST Sailing Foundation

We've put together a sheet for you to use for this routine here.


Mick Miller's Sailing Exercise programme, sourced via Sailing Shack. There is a stretching routine here


Need a quick-fix routine? Look no further...



What We Learned...

The importance of fitness training for sailors varies depending on goals and ambitions, the type of boat sailed, and how demanding the key event is likely to be. One thing is clear, though: that being fit and healthy feels good and is generally beneficial in terms of sailing performance.

In terms of fitness training programs for sailors, the general key take homes seem to be:

  • Do activities that you enjoy doing
  • try to incorporate plenty of sailing-specific exercises, but make sure you...
  • ...have balance...
  • ...and variety in your program
  • plan your routine and keep records of your progress

2 thoughts on “Sample Fitness Training Programs for Sailors

  1. What about Annapolis Sailing Fitness?
    They have been doing sailing fitness longer than anyone and also have a professional DVD on sailing fitness starring Anna Tunnicliffe,Terry Hutchinson and many others.

    • You’re dead right, Alice. I have come across Annapolis Sailing Fitness many times when researching this area, and they look like they really know their stuff.

      But I only tend to put up stuff on the site that I’ve used myself and can recommend, or that a someone I know has used and can recommend. As I’ve never seen the DVD I can’t recommend it myself – hopefully someday I’ll get my hands on a copy and then I can review it.

      Also, all the sample programs I’ve listed here can be found for free online. I mention the Michael Blackburn ones from his book because I have a copy, but I don’t give the details because they aren’t free online. People will have to buy the book to get access to the specifics (which is only right and fair as Michael Blackburn spent the time putting a brilliant book together).

      If you know of any free sample workouts by Annapolis Sailing Fitness then I’d love to hear about them and share them.

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