Get Fit for Sailing | Tips from Sailing Olympian Nikki Barnes

Get Fit for Sailing | Tips from Sailing Olympian Nikki Barnes

Sailing is an amazing sport that requires a unique mix of strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. Strength is needed to keep control of the boat during high speeds and challenging weather conditions. Endurance is critical to sailing hours a day, days on end during a sailing regatta. Finally, mental fortitude is to be able to position your boat properly in relation to the wind and other boats and chart a course to beat the competition. Ready to take your sailing skills to the next level? Keep on reading for great tips on how to boost your strength, endurance, and mental resilience from Sailing Olympian Nikki Barnes. 


How to Hone Your Mental Resilience

Taking care of your mind is crucial to your overall wellness and ability to compete in the challenging sport of sailing. Here are a few habits Sailing Olympian Nikki Barnes uses to keep her anxiety at bay and find a spot of calm during her busy day.

💙Coffee/Tea Time: Put aside one hour of your day to unplug from all your devices. Enjoy a nice warm beverage and take this time to center yourself and focus your attention on a set of goals for yourself. It is recommended to map out what you want to focus on the night before.

💙Journaling: When worry thoughts abound, it can be helpful to write them down. Rather than letting them swirl around in your head, put them on the page. Then you can tackle them one by one. 

💙Meditation: Try to make 10 minutes of meditation part of your regular daily routine. Whether sitting up in a comfortable chair or laying down on a yoga mat, take this important time for yourself to recharge your mind.

💙Use Blue Light Blocker Glasses: Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to keeping stress levels down. If you plan on using technology close to bedtime it’s best to use blue light-blocking glasses. Otherwise falling asleep may be harder than you would like.

Exercise Tips for Strength & Endurance (Pregnant Friendly)

  • Elevated Pushups: Puts less pressure on your core while still giving you the same workout as regular push-ups.
  •  Squats: Remember to breathe and check your heart rate while you do these.
  • Stationary Bear Crawl: Get ready to sweat! Put the opposite hand and opposite foot forward. It’s not about speed, but all about control!
  • Shoulder Taps: Keep your hips steady as you shift your weight from tapping on your shoulders with your hands.

Exercise Tips for Strength & Endurance (Train Like an Olympic Athlete)

Set a goal or intention for your workout, to boost your motivation. Nikki often makes her intention to finish the workout.

Start Off With These Great Warm-Up Exercises

  • Do 90-90 hips 5 times on each side
  • Do Thread & needle (warming up your shoulders/upper back) slowly- 3 times per side
  • Do Cat-Cow Stretches (warming up your back) 5 times 
  • Do Side-to-Side Leg Stretches (loosening up your legs)
  • Do Front, Middle, and Back Hamstrings Stretching, stretch each section 5 times (Front, Middle, Back) 

Moving Into the Full Body Workout, Begin With Pushups

  • Nikki’s pushups have 3 levels: fun, funner, and funnest. Do 10 of each (or of your choosing) for 3 rounds.
  • Next it’s time for wall sits! Hold for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Do 10 sets.
  • Time to get your abs burning with this killer 5 min routine: (5 mins, 5 exercises, working out for 45 seconds with resting for 15 seconds in between) Rowers, plank, bicycle, left side oblique, and right side oblique.
  • To finish this workout: Do 10 Jackknife sit-ups.

    To see this workout in action, check out this video on Nikki’s Barnes YouTube Channel.

    Core Strengthening Exercises

    Keeping your core strong is crucial to doing anything active. It creates a stable platform for you while lifting, whether on land or in the boat. The way to achieve a strong core is through a good routine and consistency.

    Here’s Nikki’s Favorite Core Workout

    Pyramid Abs:

    🌶 50 Crunches

    🌶 40 Russian Twists per side

    🌶 30 Rowers

    🌶 20 Bicycle Crunches

    🌶 10 Jackknife sit-ups (or substitute with a 1-minute plank)

    To see this workout in action visit Nikki’s Instagram Post

    Last Words of Advice for Getting in Sailing Shape:

    Before starting a workout routine, make sure you set clear intentions and goals for yourself. For the best results, try making your goals SMART.

    🌟 Specific





    By using the SMART goals, you will be able to maximize your time and be less likely to overwhelm yourself. When working out try to keep your thoughts in the present moment as much as possible. Working out can be a form of meditation too. Try to be kind to yourself, ask your body how it is feeling, and encourage yourself to face your fears and strive to do your best. It’s not always easy to keep your mind in the now but remember, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift that’s why they call it the present.” - Eleanor Roosevelt.

    For more tips from Sailing Olympian Nikki Barnes, make sure to follow her @nikolepbarnes on Instagram & YouTube

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