How to Train for Kayaking

A skilled kayaker gliding across a glassy bay can make it appear effortless. If you’ve ever gone for a short paddle, you may have noticed muscles that weren’t quite ready for a long journey. So, if you have an upcoming tour or are new to kayaking, it makes sense to spend some time tuning up your kayaking engine.

This workout improves upper leg, hip, abdomen, and back strength, endurance, and balance. Several exercises target these muscles, with individual exercises simulating motions used in specific kayak strokes.

Here’s a quick overview of how to prepare for kayaking:

  • Increase the strength of your core muscles, which help you generate stroke power (so you don’t have to rely on the weaker muscles in your arms and shoulders).
  • Develop endurance in the shoulder and arm muscles, which must be in constant motion during any stroke sequence.
  • Improve your balance to create a more stable foundation that will allow you to paddle smoothly and efficiently.
  • Don’t forget about the cardio. Complement this workout with your favourite aerobic exercise, such as running or biking—swimming, of course, is ideal.

Training Schedule for Kayaking

As you train, keep the following in mind:

  • Make the exercises fit your body, not vice versa.
  • If something hurts, modify or skip the exercise; and take extra rest days if necessary.
  • Move at your own pace, starting slowly.
  • As your training progresses, increase the repetitions or add more resistance or weight.

Warm up by doing a quick 5- to 10-minute session on any gym equipment you have at home, or simply going for a brisk walk. Then, as you work through the exercises in this article, follow the guidelines below:

  • Inhale during the initial effort, then exhale as you return to your starting position; for faster exercises, simply make sure you breathe regularly.
  • Rest for 30 to 45 seconds after each exercise (if an exercise requires a longer rest period, it will state that in the steps for that exercise).
  • Perform each set of exercises below once in succession, then rest for two minutes before repeating (a third set of exercises is even better if you have time).

Open Book Exercise

  • Lie on your side with your legs in front of you and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Both arms should be straight out in front of you, about shoulder height. Arms and open hands are stacked on top of one another.
  • Lift your top hand and arm slowly while rotating your torso and head to look behind you.
  • Rotate as far back as you can, feeling a good stretch along your side and front shoulder. If your arm is too tight or painful, do not force it to the ground.
  • Return to your original position.
  • Do this 15 times on one side, then repeat lying on the opposite side.

Skater with Uppercut

This warm-up exercise works your glutes, quads, and abdominals to improve rotational power and balance. The uppercut motion aids in the development of shoulder strength and endurance. The dynamic side-to-side skater motion also helps circulate your blood.

  • Begin by standing with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hop laterally, landing on your right foot, while raising your weighted left arm diagonally across your chest, as if performing an uppercut punch. The power to raise your arm should come from your torso and core muscles rather than your arm.
  • Return to your left leg, bringing your weighted right arm diagonally across your chest.
  • Perform 15 reps on each side.
  • A Kayaking Guide will also help you out.

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