Exercise prep for the new season

I started kayaking last summer–but my season ended abruptly in late September with a torn gastroc muscle (calf…painful…you don’t ever want to experience it. :slight_smile: ).

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what kind of exercises would make sense to prepare for the new season. I know I want to do some core abdominal work, but do you guys also do shoulders, chest, arms? Are particular exercises better than others for strengthening key ‘kayak muscles’?

Do any books or web sites lay out an exercise plan?

I appreciate any and all suggestions!


my personal trainer
gave me an exercise that can be done either on a large exercise ball or a bench.

Basically you lay chest down on the ball or bench and with 2 (fairly heavy) weights in hand pull them up until you feel a squeeze between your shoulder blades. I usually do it in a super set with push ups (feet on a ball for core stability) and another arm or back exercise.

Found it has helped my paddling strength alot AND gives a nice looking back.

Another favorite core exercise of mine is the static bridge (feet on the ball for more challenge). You are in a position similar to a push up but you have your forearms on the ground. Suck in the stomach and hold the position for as long as you can. Its a B!%CH of an exercise after you hold it awhile but its great for strenght.


I am sitting on a fit ball right now!

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 11:14 PM EST –

I sit on one over eight hours a day. Been doing it for a couple of weeks after a week of ramping up. First an hour then an hour twice a day, then.... If your work allows this it is a great way to strengthen your core muscles believe me you will notice the difference and burn extra calories and get better posture. If you go this route work with different pressures in the ball. I find I like ii inflated to almost the maximum diameter.

Work on your flexibility if needed, as sitting in a kayak all day demands it, and it is a help with rolling etc. Hold the stretch in comfort and breathe; no bouncing. Do you know about proprioceptive stretching? Worth learning!

Straight and diagonal bent knee abdominal crunches remembering to pull the stomach in towards the floor.

I'll leave the more hard core ideas to those who practice them with regularity.

i’m assuming you work from home!
lol, I’m laughing thinking about the looks I would get if I sat on an exercise ball in my office in front of my computer!

Good idea…

The exercise ball sounds like a smart way to get my core stronger and work on balance. Do you think I could use it like a Qajaq balance board if inflated to the max?


Some Ideas
There is a book called “Fit to Paddle” google for it and you can find used copies. Lot’s of ideas there.

The best thing I did was sign up for my local Y, where we have very good weight training machines and took an orientation. The yearly membership is not very expensive and gives you a lot of equipment to use and free advice on how to best use the equipment. I use anything that works my arms, back, torso,torso rotation, abs, and legs. A rowing machine is also good. I have been working at sprinting on the machine as hard as I can go for 20 minutes and it’s done a lot of good.

Notes from an exercise physiologist
First…sorry about your calf…big time ouch! Fortunately they’re resilient muscles and they will bounce back with good direction.

Core training…core training…core training…

If you can sit on an exercise ball at work, better than not. Most places will allow it now since it willalso reduce the risk of work-related injuries.

Go to bodytrends.com and click on body ball exercises. It’s a great resource.

Also, if your stick with the basics you’ll be good to go…cardio 30 minutes at least 5 days a week, abs, push ups (one of THE best over all exercises on the planet).

Here’s a great one to challenge your shoulders and abs:

Lay on your stomach on the floor (or mat)

Go up on your toes like you’re going to do a push up.

Rise up on your elbows like a sphinx.

Lift your hips off the floor so your body is in a straight line.

Hold for ten seconds (if you can) and relax. Repeat.

Good luck!

the ball
If your serious about your core, try a ball.My trainer put me on one after I had been working out for five months.I looked at it and thought “you got to be kidding”.Let me tell ya, my stomach felt like it had never been worked.Other parts of the body can benefit as well.That’s my alla-round view.

XC Skiing works for me.
I realise that this is a bit late (and not even possible for some), but I do a lot of xc skiing during the winter months, and that’s a great way to get a pretty good over all workout. It’s probably the closest thing to paddling (as far as muscle use) that you can find in an off season recreational activity. I’m up around 150K (~100 miles) so far, and will likely ski another 20 to 50K before the season ends. I also do sit ups and twists year round.

~ Arwen ~

No, the ball is way too forgiving

– Last Updated: Mar-23-05 10:47 PM EST –

and I would never recommend overinflating one of these things. Thanks for making me experiment though.

One of the great advantages to living in Massachusetts is that there is so much weirdness here you can get away with murder. If you do sit on a ball for work you want your feet flat on the ground.

Also believe me if you want to push it you can force you boss to buy it for you if you have 1/4 of my record of back trouble. "It's just a little accomodation for my proven disability, boss. Good ergonomics. Yes, I know I'll never get another promotion"( Paddling has been good for my back and shoulders) There is a great chair (google sissel fit ball chair) that does not look so out of place in an ofice. Also there are now active seating cushions made to give similar results in a more fashion conscious office. (google fitball chair active seating).

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

play hockey!
good excercise for everything and then some!

but seriously, those who have recommended the fit ball know of what they speak.

shoulder resistance training with surgical tubing or light weights is also great.

bent over rows with dumbells another good one.

lat pull downs; i don’t like them, but a crucial excercise.

stretching your sides and back will reduce soreness

stretching your legs, hips and hamstrings often is important.

stay well, and have a great season.

I’m starting today!
Wow! Great ideas, everyone–thank you!

I actually have an exercise ball AND a balance disk, so I can start all of this (well, perhaps not ALL of it :slight_smile: ) right away.

Peter, thanks for the reminder about proprioceptive stretching. I learned about it during my 2 months of physical therapy, but utterly forgot about it.

I work at home, so I’m going to try sitting on the ball while I work. I like the idea of ‘passive’ exercise. :slight_smile:

Seadart–I’ll look for the Fit to Paddle book, too. Thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks, all, too, for the good wishes. After all that PT, my right calf is now the strongest muscle I ‘own.’ I only wish I could paddle with it!


Swimming and aquacize are great for
rehab and general fitness. We’re in the process of downsizing and relocating and one of the reasons is so that I can be closer to a pool.

It’s better to stay in shape year round than to try to get in shape. Boy, don’t I know it! But, I understand after the injury that it takes time to get things working. Drop and gimme 10. :^p

If you get realy hyper about swimming
YOu can get shulder degeneation from reaching out too far above you head, and lower back problems fron explosive turns.

Most recreational swimmers will never have these problems and swimming at a national class level brought me many benefits but some problems as well. Better to take an easy pace and swim without explosive flip turns if long term fitness rather than short term competetion os the goal. swimming can be a big help if done sanely.

Plus if you paddle surf and such swimming offerrs you a lot of chances for breathholding exercises and such; when you are pretty good you can do 25 yards regular breathing and 25 yards breathhold for a few laps.

Here’s a funny training film
you might want to have a high speed connection.


Wall Pushoffs
30 every morning. Sea Kayaker Mag and Outsider Magazine both ran brief sidebars touting the positifves of this exercise on paddling. (A hallway is a great place to do these as it’s about the right width. I also do 30 windmills and 30 drawing circles (for the shoulders)

get used rowing machine
I bought two. One for work and one for home. I got them used at “play it again” use sports stoer for less than $45 each.