How to train for wave kitesurfing

Interview with James Carew

James Carew spent the winter months getting barreled and riding giants in Portugal. He experienced the raw power of the big waves in Nazaré and got to be part of an amazing crew of well-known big wave legends. With their help and an intense training schedule he was able to push himself to places he hadn't been before and rode the biggest wave of his life.

In a chat we had with him this past winter he shared his training routine with us and explained how stretching out and mobilizing daily is crucial for his performance and how it allows him to train hard every day.

What’s your current setup?
I am currently in Portugal for the winter months and have been focusing on bigger waves and all around wave riding. After all surfing is the base of everything I do!


Run us through a training week with James Carew. Which days are you focused on what?
Everyday is training for me. I’m in the gym as much as possible, it gets a little hard when
you're kiting 24/7, so if it's a big windy day usually I'll stay out of the gym and maximize water time. So if there's a full day on the water I prioritize that as it's not always that good and windy days or good waves are around.

However if it's not a windy day then I’m definitely in the gym, strength training for me is a huge must have as when you feel strong you can take more beatings, have more confidence and overall, push harder. I have a few training plans I try and follow, leaving out the windy days, but one thing I always make sure I do regardless of wind is stretching out. Every day I mobilize or stretch out and make sure my body can keep going through the week at maximum performance. For me this is the most important thing, without it I become a big ball of stuck energy and am barely able to move. Every day has something, staying active and constantly pushing myself is a must. 

Who sets up your out the water training plan? Do they also include a diet plan for you?
I do it all myself! I love to train off the water and I have a passion for it. I built myself a training program with the help from a few experts online and from all the knowledge I have gathered over the years. As for the diet plan, I love to feel like an animal when I’m on the water, really raw and explosive, primal energy. The food that gives me that is meat. I make sure I’m always eating meat and base my diet on this, I wouldn’t say it's carnivore but it's more than average. It gives me that raw edge.

Which exercises do you recommend that increase your power?
It depends what kind of power and where you want it. I work a lot on explosive power. Pull ups, push ups, dips, squats and jumps to name a few. Adding an explosive touch to basic, compound movements will help you generate power and overtime you will see a huge gain in explosiveness in the water. This is something that is super important for kiting and very overlooked, the more power you have, the more options you have.

How long before a contest do you begin your training camp?
Training for me doesn’t really stop, I love it. However, 6 weeks before a competition I’m in full training mode, no holding back. The month leading into the competition is where most of the progress happens and this is where my mindset comes into play and I really start channeling that primal feeling to bring it into my game.

Give us your top 3 do’s and don’ts during your training camp?

  1. Don’t hold back
  2. Make sure you sleep a lot, recovery matters
  3. Shut negative energy up before it starts

Does your day-to-day mindset vary much from your contest mindset?
Leading into a comp and during the comp I am a lot more disciplined, there's no time for distractions or missed steps leading up to the comp and during the comp, all distractions are gone. However on an average day my mind goes everywhere and from time to time I miss steps and let things slide. But as soon as that goal is set, it's game on and no time for nonsense. 

Which event is your favorite on tour and why?
Mauritius, by far. I love that place. The conditions are just insane. Some of the best waves in the world for kiting are there and the place is just beautiful, the water
color, the scenery, everything. Its almost like you’re kiting in a dream, some sessions I’ve had there I'll never forget, it's almost like a time travel machine some days, all alone with absolutely pumping waves and in board shorts. I'm always waiting to go back there.

Give us 3 tricks that should be added to the Wave section of the Kite Academy App next?
Nothing, it's all there!

That’s true dedication and grit! Thanks James for giving us an insight into your training schedule and mindset.
If you want to train like James, go to the training section of the Kite Academy App and include warm ups, workouts and mobilizing exercises in your training routine, especially on days with no wind.