How to Exercise on a Sailboat

sailboat exercise

If you’re an avid gym goer or if you’ve just gotten into health and fitness, but you plan on spending a lot of time sailing on a boat, then it might be time for you to learn how to combine those two activities in the best way possible. You might not believe it at first, but it’s actually possible to get a good workout in on a sailboat. It’s just a matter of knowing what you need to do and also a matter of planning ahead.

Now, some of you might think that sailing on its own is a form of exercise, but the reality is that if you want to maintain a really good physique, you might need to do more than just operate a sailboat. And along with that, the stronger and fitter you are, the easier if will be for you to deal with any obstacles you face on your sailing journey. 

So, without stalling for longer, let’s go on and discuss how you can go about exercising on a sailboat. 


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What Exercises Can You Do On a Sailboat?

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When you’re home, you have a ton of options when it comes to getting your workout in. You can go to the pool or the gym; you can run or train at home – the choice is endless. However, your options become very limited when you’re out on a sailboat. You can’t run or go to a gym, and packing a bunch of heavy equipment is not an option either. So what can you do? 

It’s obvious that the most challenging part of working out on a sailboat is finding a way to do resistance workouts. And we all know that the foundation of most training sessions is resistance because it’s the only way to build and strengthen the muscles. Knowing that you can’t bring in a ton of equipment essentially means that you will have to find other ways to make your workouts challenging. Fortunately, there’s a way to do that. 

Bodyweight Exercises Are Your Best Friend 

One of the best ways to continue building strength and muscle while sailing is to create a stellar bodyweight exercise program. Even though a lot of regular gym goers doubt the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises, the reality is that they can be quite challenging, depending on the way you perform them. If you want to increase the intensity of your training, you can do bodyweight exercises for time – for example, 40 seconds on/20 seconds rest – that way, you will force your muscles to work hard for long periods of time, which will ultimately fatigue them. Another option is to do many reps – challenge yourself to complete the so-called AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workouts – they will force you to up your intensity and are sure to make you sweat hard. If you’re wondering which exercises to include in your sailboat training, our recommendations include: 

  • Squats: the best exercise for building lower body strength and endurance. The squat requires you to engage all of the muscles in your legs plus your glutes, and it’s guaranteed to make you stronger. The other cool thing is that there are plenty of variations – sumo, single leg, heel-tap, etc. This variety, along with the fact that you can increase reps or intensity, means that you will be able to get a good leg workout, even with limited space and no extra weight. 
  • Push-ups: When it comes to the upper body, there aren’t many exercises better and more effective to do than the push-up. Pushups work your arms, chest, back, and abs, ensuring that your entire upper body is engaged and working throughout the exercise. Similar to squats, pushups also have a ton of variations – on your knees, with your palms closer together or wider apart and that again allows you to add variety to your workouts and to challenge different parts of your upper body. 
  • Sit-ups: All of us have done a sit-up at some point in our lives. Be it in school or during a fitness session in a desperate way to get abs for summer. But even though sit-ups are a common and well-known ab exercise, that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective. In fact, on a sailboat, they are one of the easiest exercise options for your core, as you only need to find a place where you can tuck your feet under. 
  • Pilates Class: Most Pilates classes don’t require a reformer and consist of pretty much only bodyweight exercises. You can find many examples of workout routines on YouTube and Instagram, and they’re a great way to get your workout in without overthinking or planning too much. You can choose a 15, 20, or 30-minute class and target different muscle groups – that way, you won’t get bored, and you will have all of the “planning “ already done for you. 

Of Course, You Can Bring Small Weights

Putting a whole squat rack on your boat is not advisable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take some resistance bands or an adjustable weight kettlebell or dumbbell with you. These kinds of small items won’t make your journey any more difficult but will enable you to have more interesting and challenging workouts, thanks to the added resistance. You can also take a suspension trainer with you, as that’s another item that’s lightweight but that also brings in a ton of variety to your training.

In Conclusion


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Contrary to popular belief, traveling on a sailboat doesn’t mean you can’t train properly. Now, it may not be the same as getting in a session at your local gym, but with the right plan in mind, you can achieve some pretty stellar results. Hopefully, our article helped you learn just how you can do that, and now you feel more prepared to have the sailing summer of your life while not losing the fitness that you’ve spent hours working on.

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Editorial Staff

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This article was written by MyBoatLife.com editorial staff.
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