Getting in shape

Blade size and fitness
Consider a paddle with smaller blades. Blade size is similar to bike gearing. You want a smaller gear and higher cadence for her. Women are more aerobic than men so they need to really on less strength and higher cadence.

A lighter weight paddle may also help. Remember, the further the weight is from the hands the more critical the weight is. Small light blades that she can really turn over will help.

Don’t insist that she uses perfect form at this point. Let her keep her hands low. As she builds strength she can begin to raise her hands, twist and reach for more power.

Endurance is built with low heartrate exercise. She needs to keep her heart rate below about 140 to build slow twitch muscle endurance and build aerobic capacity. Do an Internet search of the 180 heartrate formula to figure out a good heart rate.

Lastly, remember it is all about the fun. Women love to talk. Make it about the company, the relationship and the experience. Distance will build naturally if she is having fun.

Good luck

Key Point
"Lastly, remember it is all about the fun. Women love to talk. Make it about the company, the relationship and the experience. Distance will build naturally if she is having fun."

I think this is key for any exercise. Quite a bit of it is mental and getting over the fact that you are putting out the effort and feeling the effort.

Being tired is often mental long before it becomes a physical thing. I have learned this through 20 years of racing and fast cycling through back and knee issues.If I take too much time off, riding hard becomes a mental obstacle for me.

One more thing
Some have suggested that she should use the larger muscles of her trunk to save her arms. This is true but the larger muscles draw more from the cardio/vascular system. Without the cardio to support the large muscle groups she will bonk sooner. Let her paddle her way and go long and slow. Let her flap along so her endurance will build slowly. When she has a good aerobic base she can begin to build her form to take advantage of the larger muscle groups. Your cardio is the engine and the muscles are the drive train.

Invite Nick Mulpagano into your home.

Work her way into it, focusing on technique. The journey of a thousand miles blahblahblah.

It’s the same for me after the winter withdrawal. Some people think it’s boring, trying to improve strokes, but really it’s not. Focusing on technique removes the “boring” part of paddling in small ponds doing laps. It’s way better than indoor exercise.

Oh, no
"Women love to talk."

Sometimes that’s true–same as for men.

I like most of my paddling QUIET, and I believe there are more than a few other women who feel the same. We can yap any old time, on the phone, at home, in a cafe, whatever. Why sully paddling with too much chatter?

prolly too late now

– Last Updated: Oct-09-07 4:40 PM EST –

but that Tsunami 140 may not be ideal for her. I'm not seeing her paddle, but I do know this boat - relatively high decked kayak with more than usual depth.

Despite being a nice height of 5'7", if she carries most of that height in her legs and so has a short torso, she might wind up banging hands on deck regardless of fatigue. This happens to a lot of women paddlers in a kayak that is too big for them. Unfortunately they are sold such kayaks in a wellmeaning attempt to overcompensate for feelings of tippyness. Those are usually temporary (esp. as women have a lower center of gravity) but the bad fit can be a hassle for the life of ownership.

If sitting height is an issue you can add a seat pad (not a squishy one, something like the Peak to Sea HotSeat would be good) but do not raise her sitting height too much or it will interfere with the original design intent and cost her some of that nice advantage in center of gravity.

The Tsunami has that huge Phase 3 seat as well. The seat back interferes with good torso rotation, esp. for shorter people. Try replacing it with a good backband (Snapdragon, IRS and BomberGear are worth checking out). Encourage her to sit upright and forward enough that she is not resting against the backband while paddling. It seems counterintuitive but it really will help and get easier over time.

Her abdominals and laterals get stronger with good paddling technique. I agree w. pikabike - she should try for good form right out of the box, realizing that she's working up to it.
Bad habits can result in repetitive injury and be hard to unlearn, thereby frustrating the paddler.

She can of course do land exercises for the abdominals and back muscles as well,and do them in a sitting position to avoid toe injury discomfort.

Yoga is excellent but it alone does not build stronger or larger muscle tissue. Yoga is more about toning existing muscle, and improving breath, than increasing muscle. Weight bearing exercises break down muscle fibers on the "on day" and then letting them rebuild and thicken on the "off" day. As luck would have it, abdominals, calves and biceps can be worked everyday, or alternate days.

Combining them has incredible benefits. Encourage your wife to do them both, perhaps yoga for warmup and cooldown w. weight training inbetween. You might enjoy it as part of your own exercise regimen.

Side benefits: better posture, loss of body fat, greater flexibility and endurance. Good luck to you both and may you both paddle happily (and quietly LOL).

If you'd like any more specific info about the HotSeat or specific exercises, email me. Will gladly and humbly help out. Not a personal trainer but have worked with some good ones and taken yoga classes for a number of years.

My wife and I enjoy the recreation and most times the recreation is a way to spend time together without kids or work. Most of our bike rides, paddles, sails, etc are full of conversation. It is just our way I guess.

Sounds like work
If I did that with my wife she would have quit. I agree it is probably the best way to progress but if you turn it into work it aint gonna last. Make it fun. Just my opinion.

everybody’s got one
I like working out and trying new things, acknowledge that some folks don’t.


Motivation comes from within. Can be seen as hard work or hard fun. All in one’s perspective.

As for the lady in question, we don’t know her, she didn’t post for herself seeking advice.

Therefore we do not know how she would view any of these suggestions. I’m hoping that some of mine might help, I always enjoy reaching out to other women paddlers.

If not, well, I’ve seen bigger wastes of self-aggrandizing bandwidth here.

You said it
make every one of those 15minutes enjoyable then take a break. I’ve seen too many of these kinds of mismatches between semi-athletic weekend warriors and their wives. If you can’t paddle at her pace then YOU’VE got the problem and not her physical condition.

hey yotaman
FriendlyFires point about the tsunamis high deck (it is) got me thinking about general paddling technique to take weight off her shoulders. It’s common for a persons arms/shoulders to get tired from holding the paddle and arms out in front. I have a suggestion you can try on your own and see if this is something that she might pick up. This is a parallel suggestion with all that’s been said about torso muscle use, rotation, etc.

Try placing the blade on the plant(when the blade is first immersed for the forward stroke) with the blade face angled down a bit. Kind of what you’d do for a slight bracing component.

Instead of digging deep and straight back let the blade glide out to the side a bit with the blade face still angling down. The general idea is to get the angle of the blade to impart an upward force to take the weight off your arms.

This won’t reduce the total effort expended but it’ll reduce the effort expended holding the paddle and arms in front of you and transfer that effort to the movement of your torso muscles. In other words it’s a dynamic support that only occurs when paddling. It requires a distinct circular contact to the paddle through your arms and shoulders. Not a push/pull through punching/pulling arms as much as an alternating abdominal contractions with a springy steel-like suspension through your shoulders and relaxed hands.

It’s a different way of paddling, like I said it won’t reduce total cario effort but it might reduce peak loading on shoulder/arm muscles that are being worked to exhaustion from poor technique. Having muscles poop out in 15minutes sounds like lactic acid overload. So move that overload to the torso, eventually increasing strength in the arms/shoulders.

This also might be the time to hunt around for superlight paddles but a superlight paddle really won’t correct for bad technique and small muscle groups. The method I’m suggesting will work ok with the aquabound paddles but not as distintctly with paddles that have lots of spoon or dihedral like the Werners or Onnos regular touring paddles.

Torso Height
Very good point. One of the trivia bits that you find out when getting measured for a road bike is that women tend to be proportionately shorter torsoed than men. The only reason that I could take regular sized tires is because I am a little less foreshortened longer in the torso and arms than the usual.

Two words
Rowing Machine

Toes are not a problem as you can adjust the foot rests as needed or pad them if needed. It is a great total body workout.

Schwinn Airdyne type dual action bike.
Very little pressure on toes, but good for developing tone and strength in both the legs and arms as well as the cardio.