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  • Writer's pictureMCFA Guest

Fishermen Wellness: Strength-Training After Working on the Water

By Christopher Gilman Scott

“Ego is not your amigo.”

Returning to the strength and conditioning world from the sea can be a test on the


On a positive note, as we’ve come to know, the fact that the commercial fisherman is a

“physical laborer” is a good thing. Our bodies are in motion and are muscles are

working, maintaining, and improving our strength. It builds this capacity peripherally

from the movements of powerlifting and ultra-running. However, since it does not have

an effect directly on these movements and the volume is so large, when returning to the

gym and the trails, it is imperative to lower the volume and build back up patiently.

I struggle with this.

Photo: Christopher Gilman Scott

Usually, when I return, I want to test myself that first week back to see where I’m at and

what I can handle right away. This often leads to a state of overtraining from the get-go

and prolongs my gains.

Do not do this.

I’m in the process of understanding and developing a more informed mindset about how

our bodies perform under these conditions.

A study has brought to light that even after individuals took 30 weeks off from training

completely, they only lost 13% of their strength: “After 6 weeks of training again

This is a study we should keep in mind when we feel like we’ve weakened due to a lapse

in regular strength and conditioning training.

The wiser ones of us may already have this concept dialed in. For the rest of us, consider

these approaches when returning to your training.

It’s also important to note that the stress of fishing and being at sea can add to fatigue and

exhaustion and your workouts when you return home can seem more difficult because

of this.

(Just replace “competition” with “fishing” below.)

Photo: Christopher Gilman Scott

Fun fact: In October 2018, Chess Grandmaster Mikhail Antipov had his [heart rate] monitored during a stressful match. They found he had burned nearly SIX THOUSAND CALORIES over the day. Keep in mind; that he barely moved the whole time. Competitions aren't just exhausting because of the volume of work, but because of the mental stress of competing. Hell, I've seen ELITE athletes exhausted for weeks because they did SIX lifts at a weightlifting meet.

One of the reasons this is happening is the elevated stress of competing. Stress can cause

breathing rates to triple, increase blood pressure, and increase resting heart rate. All of

this raises the metabolic demands on the body before you even start competing.

The other typical reason for lingering effects is the poor sleep typically associated with

the nerves of a competition. This can be compounded if you've traveled and are staying

in a hotel which has been proven to decrease sleep quality. Going international? Oh


So… how do you combat this?

  • The more used to competing you are, the less stressful it will be.

  • Travel to the competition a few days early to get used to the sleeping situation

  • Find ways to manage your stress through meditation, breathing exercises, etc

  • Take some downtime after the comp. We promise you won't lose all your fitness.


It's important to speak to a professional, whether a personal trainer, physical therapist or doctor, before starting any major workout routine. Especially for commercial fishermen who may have excessive swelling, joint effusion, repetitive use injuries, or chronic pain.

Learn more...

How often should you work out? Learn more at WHOOP.

For some basic yoga and stretches, check out the FishAbility website.

If you want to learn more about fishermen as industrial athletes, check out the Fishing Forward Podcast.



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