Keeping paddle fit is tough. It’s hard to simulate paddling without, well, paddling. A Power Stroke bungee gets pretty close though, and – slotted into the exercise regimes of Ben Skinner and Oli Adams – gets a beefcake nod from the pros.
How does it work?
‘Resistance bands’ have been around for years and play a major role in many general fitness programmes, the beauty of them is that 1) You can set your own agenda and push yourself as hard as you want, and 2) You can use them pretty much anywhere.
The Power Stroke bungee targets all the major muscle groups used in upper body surf movements and in paddling: triceps, deltoids and lats. It improves muscle strength and endurance, and also develops mobility and range of movement. Having attached your bungee to something secure, there are three main exercise movements that you can have a crack at:
Multi Directional Paddle
Let your elbows come out and ‘push down’ as you move over the stroke, imagine your powering toward a bombie-set (but keep your movements steady!). This works the whole spectrum of paddling muscles and is the closest you’ll get to paddling-out in your living room. Start off with 1 minute sets, and build up duration and intensity as you improve and become fitter.
Single Armed Paddle
Still moving forward and back, alternate your arm movements: try to imagine you’re a cross-country skier (but cooler). Again, this is great for general mobility; for strengthening your shoulder and back muscles, and also for co-ordinating your arm movements when paddling.
Keeping your arms moving together, this is a great way to warm up and get into a rhythm. Keep your head down and move your arms through the full range of movement: from right out in front of you all the way through to behind your back. This exercise keeps your shoulder blades mobile, and helps to develop your back muscles.
You can also adjust the level of resistance with the Power Stroke by adding or removing bungee cords: you can have between 1 and 3 (depending on whether your girlfriend’s watching or not).
There are many more exercises and tips to keep you surf fit in Lee’s book The Complete Guide to Surf Fitness, published by Carve publishers Orca Publications.