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Since coming together at their training base in Newport, Rhode Island, earlier this spring, the PUMA Ocean Racing team has undertaken a vigorous fitness training regimen to prepare for their 37,000 mile sail around the world over nine-months in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009.
We got up at 6am on a weekday morning and spent a few hours with the team at their training gym in Middletown, RI. There, the team is led by Michael Cecchi, owner and trainer at Bridge to Fitness, the training facility, and Bert Reid, owner of Olympic Physical Therapy, who put together the research on sailing fitness and injury-prevention.
Bert Reid, Owner – Olympic Physical Therapy:
About how they thought up the workouts
“The most important thing was for us to learn about their movements on-board. We went to the boat to see everyone’s tasks and the variety of positions they find themselves in. Everything we put together is about simulating sailing.”
About the exercises themselves
“A lot of what we put together are core exercises while simulating the environment that they will be sailing in at the same time. We were simulating every task and every position short of throwing buckets of ice and water on them like they are sailing in the Southern Ocean among the icebergs.”
Examples of simulation
- “We built a small ramp to simulate a heeling boat, so they would lift while at a 15 degree angle.”
- “We make them put on tiger-paws – soft, half-cut spheres that wrap around their shoes to throw them off-balance.”
- “Many of the exercises need to be done in the crouched position. Sailors need to stay low a lot of the time whether they are below deck or above deck. Keeping your body weight low, maximizes your balance.”
- “We bought rope to match the boat ropes and attached it to a lot of our workout equipment so they were pulling ropes and not metal bars.”
About the goals of the exercises.
“The goal was not only to prepare them for the race but to minimize the chance for potential injuries. We found through our research that the biggest injuries to sailors were to the wrists and that was something we specificall focused on.”
Michael Cecchi, Owner/Trainer – Bridge to Fitness:
On working with the team
“It’s great for the community to have a team like this and to have PUMA here in Newport. They are a great, enthusiastic group of guys.”
About the team
“You can see these guys gelling as a team. They came together in the spring with a wide variety of personalities but you can just see that they are going to work very well together simply by the way they train.”
About the workouts and the physical difficulty of the Volvo race
“I grew up watching sailing in the Newport area and what these guys do, especially in ocean racing, is incredible and eye-opening. I challenge any NBA/NFL guy to do what these guys do in terms of training and on-board.”
About the movements
“We really wanted to work on overall core strength. What we did was take a look at each guys task on the boat. We wanted to simulate this with weights, ropes and movements in the gym. When the boat is heeling, your weight is on the high side and then you have the shift your balance. When we have them going things like lunges, we are using multiple places of motion, to strengthen the uppers, lowers and core.”
“The movements in the exercises are meant to be random so you aren’t returning to the same place everytime. On a boat, you are constantly moving around.”
“In once exercise, we simply filled up a canvas bag with 100 lbs of weight and the guys have to pick it up and put it down in a different spot for a sequence. It’s like pulling ropes or pulling sails.”
POD 1 – Upper Body Functional Training; Wrist and Forearm
- Crossover Pulley: 1 arm rope pull, opposite arm holding bowrail.
a. Can use ramp, can use tiger paws
b. Crouch position; can be done in seated position as well.
c. Use random pattern pulls; variable time vs. sets and reps: 1 – 3 minutes sets?
- Seated rows; random pattern and time/sets. Variable weights and speeds.
- Crouch position: Power Ball, arms overhead matrix
a. Stride stance; bilateral stance
- Crouch and pull; use towel handle or rope;
a. Use ramp; use random pattern; can use tiger paws
- 4-way rope pull matrix; “north-east-south-west” directions
a. Sagittal, frontal then rotational pull cycles.
b. Crouch position, seated position
c. Can use ramp and tiger paws
- Ground Matrix; push-up position sagittal, frontal, transverse
- Rope pull-ups
- Rope pull wrist/forearm curls
POD 2 – Lower Body
- Cross Over pulley
Body Weight Squats/ Arms hold laterally (DB Opp Hand) use:
- Crouch Matrix w/ Pull Tubing/Cable
Facing all 4 Directions use:
– pelvic floor
Dumbells (DB), Ropes pulling “fore & aft”
- Squat Matrix (Stay in Squat pos. – move ball to Matrix), use:
– mediball/coreball overhead
(A set) 20 sec each Saggital/Frontal/Transverse
(B set) 5-10x (6moves/cycle)
- Squat/lunge reach medi-ball Matrix, use:
– mediball follows foot
- Split squat press on ramp, use:
– Random Mediball Overhead
- Resisted cable-Squats w/belt, use:
4 way ramp w/ arm reach Matrix