Kayak Exercise Machine

I am a Senior Mechanical Engineering student at Northeastern University. In order to graduate we are required to complete a senior design project. My project is to design and build a kayak exercise machine that will meet the demands of kayakers. The first step in the project is to gather any information on the major muscle groups that would be important for a kayaker to work. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

Already been done

I’m in the Boston area,
and own one of the two commercially available kayak machine designs. They have significant flaws. In particular, both (the Australian K1 Ergo and the newer KayakPro Speedstroke) use a pole attached to a tensioned line. The tension in this line makes the stroke feel unnatural. Maybe you can come up with a different design that avoids this problem–email me if you’d like to visit and see what I mean.


You should definitely take Sanjay up on that offer- the KayakPro is generally regarded as the best of the indoor trainers. It would be great if you could figure out some ways to improve it. You might also write to VermontWaterways.com and see if anyone in the Boston area has their adapter for the Concept 2 rower.

Sanjay- what don’t you like about the KayakPro? I’ve heard almost all good things about it and was impressed with the feel when I used Mark W’s machine. Perhaps it is best for simulating the wing stroke?


An another machine…

Never tried it but always wanted to.

I’m quite happy with barbell/dumbell/swissball training though.


Hi Andrew,
I like it better than the Ergo, which has a harder catch, but both have the problem that the line flaps on the return stroke, and that to the extent the line is tensioned, you lose the natural feeling in your pushing arm and you’re pulled forward in your seat, which gives me a backache. Both machines feel a lot like kayaking, but there’s always room for improvement. I thought perhaps a young engineer with no preconceptions might have a radically different solution to the problem.


I’m new at kayaking but
it looks, to me, like the leg positions (on the machines pictured in the various links)are all wrong.

The foot and thigh braces don’t look like they mimic the basic sitting position.

Seems to me that would make a big difference in the muscle groups used.

Not to be rude, but
don’t you think that “maybe” your siting position is wrong as well as you still have not develop a proper forward stroke in/on a performance boat.

Most of the paddlers in those pictures are world top racers, not recreational ones…

Only my two cents


what iceman is trying to gently point out is that these machines are really designed to simulate a high performance ICF sprint boat or a surfski. In those boats, you have your knees and feet together, without thigh braces, and pump your legs to assist in proper torso rotation. Balance, bracing and staying in the boat are a bit tricky, and better attempted than explained. You are correct to say that the muscle used might be a bit different than those you would use while frog-legged in a touring kayak, although learning proper racing technique can be very, very valuable in effectively paddling a touring boat.


I have the paddleone.com
Didn’t try other machine but I like mine.

It took a little time to get used to the precise

motion you have to do to adequately simulate kayaking.

It’s very compact too.

I call it the earth-kayak


Here’s what I could “google” up
It shows the muscle groups followed by some types of excercise that works these groups

Torso rotators: sit-ups, static trunk rotations, bridging, dead lifts

Shoulder extensors and medial rotators: bench press, rowing, chin-ups, pull-overs

Shoulder lateral rotators and flexors; elbow extensors: push-ups, dips, bench press, triceps extensions, lateral raises, cross cable laterals

Hip and knee flexors and extensors: curls, extensions, raises

Spine stabilizers: rowing, dead lifts, surfer


Thanks Andrew

– Last Updated: Jun-01-05 9:12 AM EST –

for being more diplomatic than me. However, it is difficult for me to understand when someone with limited knowledge about someting think is knowledgable enough to critic the ones on top of the piramid.

It is like a junior tennis player criticizing Jimmy Connor and/or McEnroe technique only becuase it is different from his/hers :D :D :D


I’m not sure that there is much advantag
to exercising the kayak paddling muscles to the exclusion of one’s other musculature.It’s better to exercise neighboring muscles in order to provide support for the muscles you paddle with. What will a kayak machine provide that a good lat/oblique workout won’t?

aerobic for starters
Think of it principally as a cardiovascular machine that uses kayaking muscles. No one said you weren’t allowed to do anything else. But it will build sport related strength, the same way a good indoor rowing machine does.

Why knock the guy???
I see so many posts knocking this guy for wanting to do something positive? WHY?

I agree that it would be best for him to take a kayaking lesson or two, so he can better understand the sport, but don’t knock him for wanting to do something that just might work out better than what is already available?

I wish where I live in Lancaster County, PA, was close enough so I could work with him and help him. I’d be glad to do this! I love building things, and figuring out how to make things better.

Best wishes, and let me know if I can help in any way!

Well, we haven’t

– Last Updated: Jun-02-05 10:10 AM EST –

heard back from our young engineer, so I guess we scared him/her off.


Hey . .
I said I was new at this.

I’m interested in learning all I can.

check dansprint and www.kayakpro.com. It is about pulling with the back muscles about like bending over and lifting as you do a bent row. Also ab crunch. A big digital readout is good.

The Dansprint looks interesting.
I’d never seen or heard of it before. It seems to place the wheel lower compared with the body and feet than either the K1 Ergo (which I have) or the KayakPro (which I’ve used). But it has the same basic design–lines attached to a pole, running an air-resistance wheel.

I have an idea for a completely different style of machine. Maybe some day I’ll get to fiddle with it.

Personally, I don’t get any pleasure from sitting on a machine compared with being in a boat. I use mine only in emergencies, e.g. utterly unable to get to unfrozen water in the depths of a winter Nor’easter. I think I only used it once this past winter. I can only sit on it for more than 10 minutes if I have a good movie on.


Thanks Guys
hey guys thanks for all of the help. This should be a good start. Just to answer one of your questions, I have kayaked before but I wouldnt call myself an expert. The biggest reason I asked for help is that I thought that people who do it more often might be able to give insight on things that I might have not noticed. This project is just in the research stage and will be continueing through april of 2006. I appreciate all of the insight so far and I am sure more questions will come up as we continue with the project