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Angler Fitness: Get Your Legs Fishing Fit with Tom Rowland

Improve your leg strength for more endurance on the water.

Angler Fitness: Get Your Legs Fishing Fit with Tom Rowland

Sea Legs – some people have them, some people don’t. Of course, having sea legs has much to do with balance but it also has to do with strength in your legs. With a boat constantly rolling back and forth, you have to use the strength of your legs to stay balanced, and when you are doing this all day, it can really take more of a toll on your body than you think.

There are many ways to improve your balance and the strength in your legs, and anglers and boaters getting ready for the season can improve them easily without having to go to the gym. As leg strength improves, anglers can spend more time on their feet doing exactly what they love.

Using your bodyweight for exercise is a safe and effective way to improve strength in your legs.

Here are two simple movements that anyone can do to get stronger:

  • Air Squat: The air squat is a non-weighted squat that can be done anywhere without equipment. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Send your butt back first and lower yourself to a squat position with your hips below your knee. Depending on your current fitness, sets of 10 to 100 repetitions can be done. This exercise builds strength throughout the legs with the primary area being the quadriceps, the muscles that make up the front of your thighs. It also helps tighten up your glutes and core.

    This is the most advanced version on a non-weighted squat, and it’s easy to modify the movement to anyone’s current level of fitness. If you are not ready for a full air squat, use a bench (or chair, etc.) of an appropriate height as an exercise aid. First, stand in front of the bench and sit down onto it. Rest for one second and stand up again. As you get stronger, you can choose an aid that is slightly lower. Continue reducing the height of the aid until you can do the full air squat.

  • Step Ups: Using only your bodyweight, step up onto a platform of any type. If you are just getting started this could be a stair in your house, a curb or eventually a cooler. Simply step up onto the platform that you are comfortable with and stand fully at the top. Step down using the same leg, and repeat the up/down process using your other leg.

    As you gain strength, use a slightly higher step to increase the challenge. You can also add resistance to the movement by holding some sort of weight in your hands. Dumbbells are ideal, but you can accomplish the same thing using a cooler, a cast net, an anchor or a tackle box.

Tom Rowland has seen thousands of anglers fish on his bow. The ones that are the most successful have a few things in common.

"Leg strength and balance are certainly factors that the best anglers not only have but also work on in preparation for a trip,” said Rowland. “In addition to putting in some work off the water, these same anglers pay attention to how much water they are drinking throughout the trip and stay hydrated.”


Mercury Pro Team member and television personality Tom Rowland grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, fishing with his father. He eventually moved west and became a drift boat guide based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, shepherding clients fly fishing for trout. After seven seasons, he changed paths and moved to Key West to try his hand at saltwater angling. After becoming a saltwater guide and tournament angler of note and appearing in some 30 nationally televised fishing shows, Rowland cofounded the Saltwater Experience TV program, which is in its 17th year of production. Rowland and his wife, Cynthia, have two sons and a daughter and are based in Islamorada, Florida. For more information on Tom Rowland, his TV show or his podcast, visit

Angler Fitness: Get Your Legs Fishing Fit with Tom Rowland
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