A thousand mile journey always starts with a small step in the right direction. Physical training is hard work, takes time, effort and usually is something we prefer to put off. Like most things that are beneficial to us it takes discipline and effort. The great thing about health, eating right and fitness is if you do it right it becomes a "habit" like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Your body asks for it, to eat right and to do a training session.


My advice, start by doing something small, be realistic and work to a principle of small incremental steps and let healthy habits become part of daily routines.


Pro surfer Leonor Fragoso Madagascar Training Camp Photo Rita Durães
Pro surfer Leonor Fragoso Madagascar Training Camp Photo Rita Durães

Moving gently often and regularly is much better than going crazy and being so stiff or worse, injured to continue training the following day. Do not listen to the fitness industry hype of "no pain no gain" and all the supplements that sell you the idea of a quick fix.  


The answer to your physical health and fitness has been there since man started throwing rocks. Eat right, rest well, be consistent, move often until it starts to feel uncomfortable. Yes that is right it is no more complicated than that.


So where should you start?

"The major emphasis of this period is establishing a base level of conditioning to increase the athletes tolerance for more intense training.  Conditioning activities begin at relatively low intensities and high volumes: long slow distance running or swimming; low intensity plyometrics, and high repetition resistance training with light to moderate resistances." Periodization: Essentials of Strength Training & Conditioning, Human Kinetics & NSCA


You need to ask yourself, "What am I training for?  What is my motivation?"


I can give you six strong motivating factors;

  1. decrease your chances of dying from a horrendous debiltitating disease
  2. reduce stress, anxiety, depression and increase self confidence
  3. spend more active time on this planet with your kids and loved ones
  4. have the strength, the physical confidence and endurance to help yourself and others if the shit ever hits the fan!
  5. develop a wider social network
  6. be the best version of you

General health, fitness, well being, life longevity, sport specific training or to look better in a bikini. Your motivation can be specific or all of these things. What is important is that it helps you take that step or continue your steps in the right direction.


The principle of base level fitness.

Strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility and agility. Fuelling the body with essential nutrition.  Creating a base level of general fitness is a great starting point for all levels. With a good base level you can participate in most activities and then advance your training to sport specific movement.


So what does a base level fitness training look like?

Variety of movements, force of movement, repetition of movements and length of time for each movement.  The important thing to remember is variety.


If you just do static bicep curls everyday all day you will get bigger biceps but does that mean having bigger biceps will help you pick a heavy shopping bag up from the floor?  No, your body needs multiple groups of muscles to work together by stretching and contracting to enable functional action.  

Sprints; one of the best ways to develop speed Photo Rita Durães
Sprints; one of the best ways to develop speed Photo Rita Durães

We need a good base physicality so our body works easily and gracefully during action through time and space.  How we achieve this is through a variety of exercises that stresses our body in different ways so it will adapt and grow. 

A typical base level fitness training week could look like this, depending on your local resources and personal preferences. I recommend joining teams, fitness classes and groups. This gives you the added benefit of a positive social element, surrounding yourself with other people who share a similar ambition.


Participate in a variety of activity; from walking the dog to tennis, basketball, water polo... whatever, sports are a great way to get your body moving without being mentally numbing.

Pro surfers Leonor Fragoso & Valeria Peconi  Photo Rita Durães
Pro surfers Leonor Fragoso & Valeria Peconi Photo Rita Durães

Monday Power & Strength training

Important for muscular growth, hormonal development, bone and joint strength. Short bursts of movement with resistance. Traditionally the dead lift, the squat, the olympic lift and the bench press in the repetition range of about 2/4 movements with at least five minute rest periods between each set of movements. If you are a gym novice, it is very important to take advice on the right technique. Start with low resistance or lighter weights at 60/80% of your 1 rep max. This will help you to get the technique right to give the body time to adapt. Once you can move the weight after 4 repetitions then its time to add a little more weight.


Tuesday: Power & Speed Day

Box jumps, running stairs three at a time, resistance bands, plyometrics, kettle bell swings, burpees, sprints, medicine balls. Short bursts of intensive actions. There are numerous exercises to do.  Work to how your body feels, push it only as far as you feel you reach an adaptation phase and not an exhaustion phase.  Try to keep each activity going for 30/60 seconds with a 30 second interval rest period for a training session total length of mimum 20/40 minutes.


Wednesday: Sports day

Football, boxing, basket ball, Jui Jitsu, tennis whatever it is, go enjoy, socialise and move.

Justin West hitting the bag Photo Colin Byrne
Justin West hitting the bag Photo Colin Byrne

Thursday: Cardiovascular

I prefer to do my cardio in 20 minutes sessions with intensive bursts trying to maintain my heart rate in the range where I am training my heart and lungs. Running & swimming. Swimming; One length fast two lengths slow. Running find a route where there are some intervals of hills or steps.


Try to maintain your heart rate in the cardio range for a minimum of 20 minutes (with no interval rest periods).


Friday: Circuit day

All over resistance training in a repetition range of about 10/15 with no or maximum 30 second rest intervals.


Saturday: Core & Flexibility Day

Join a pilates studio, yoga class or a gymnastics group. Flexibility & core training is additional to the important post training stretch after each exercise day and is highly recommended.


Where to find the time to do all this?

When you start to move you will sleep better and destress more effectively. There is no need to stay up late in front of the TV, go to bed earlier and get up earlier, every body will be able to find that extra hour in a day.  Once you take that step in the right direction, your body adapts to the new rhythm.  You will surprise yourself on how easy you find the time and choose to eat more healthily.


For more information on how I can help you with surf specific training camps, online training advice plans and Skype/WhatsApp motivational talks click on this link.  


Justin West founder JWC

Surf video coaching | Surf trips | Physical Training