Trout Fishing photo

For the wading angler who’s out of shape after the winter layoff, C.J. Murphy, co-owner of Total Performance Sports in Everett, Mass., offers this workout, which will strengthen your legs and improve your balance –both crucial to safe wading. All you need is a 30-pound sandbag. Perform the workout twice a week for two months before your first outing.

The Side-Loaded Farmer’s Walk


Illustrations by Pete Sucheski

The farmer’s walk builds leg strength and endurance. Pick up the sandbag and hold it at your side. “Grabbing sandbags builds forearm and grip strength, which will help you reel in that big fish,” says Murphy. Walk in a circle or in a figure-eight pattern for 45 seconds. Keep your body from leaning toward the weighted side. Repeat, this time holding the weight in your other hand. Do a total of three walks on each side.

The Side Bend


The side bend will improve core stability. Hold the sandbag in your right hand, keeping your shoulders level. Bend your upper body toward the right, letting your right hand drop about as far as your knee. Keep your hips perfectly stationary. Pause, then straighten your torso by using your obliques (the muscles on the side of your stomach) to pull your ribs toward your hips. Repeat 12 times, then switch the weight to the other hand and perform 12 more reps on the left side. Do three sets per side.

The Sandbag Squat


This exercise strengthens legs and arms while improving balance and stability–especially important if you fish fast water. Hoist the sandbag onto one shoulder. Keeping the sandbag on your shoulder and your other arm straight out in front for balance, squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor, then push through your heels to stand back up. Drop the sandbag to the floor, then lift it to your other shoulder and do another squat. Drop the sandbag to the floor–that’s one repetition. Perform three sets of 12 reps.