Workout Tips from big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton
August 17, 2009
By Jeff Ostrowski
Surf superhero Laird Hamilton is best known for catching waves like the one above, but to prepare for those inevitable hold-downs in huge surf, he logs plenty of time cycling and at the gym.
Hamilton’s recent book, Force of Nature: Mind, Body, Soul, and, Of Course, Surfing, serves up a heaping helping of useful health hints. I’ll never get towed into a 30-footer, but even a kook like me can benefit from Laird’s advice for making the most of weight workouts.
Some of his tips:
Don’t sit around between sets.“You want to get your heart rate up so you’re getting a cardio workout while you’re lifting,” Laird writes. “That means moving from exercise to exercise with as little downtime as possible.”
Alternate muscle groups.Bodybuilders like to work one muscle group to exhaustion, but Laird alternates between upper body and lower body, or works chest on one exercise and back on the next. (Glad I ignored that musclehead’s advice years ago about not switching muscle groups during my workout.)
Use your core.“Machines are great at targeting a specific area, but that’s not the way we use our strength in real life,” he writes. To combine strength training and a core workout, Laird stands on an upside-down Bosu ball for curls and rows. (For us mere mortals, the inverted Bosu ball is treacherous, so work up to it with a right-side-up Bosu ball, balance board or Indo Board.)
Vary your reps.Laird recommends 25 reps on the first set, 15 on the second and five on the third, with more weight on each set. (After 20 years of doing 10-rep sets, I tried this last week and found it freshened my stale workout.)
Change it up.Laird warns against doing the same workout every time you go to the gym (an infraction I’m definitely guilty of). Change the order of your exercises, and mix in new machines and exercises.
Finish with a “cardio chaser.”Laird suggests 15 to 30 minutes of low-intensity running, cycling or swimming to flush the lactic acid created by strength workouts.
Lose the shoes.Laird lifts while barefoot. Shoes cause the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the feet and ankles to atrophy, he argues, so he goes barefoot as often as possible.