Leg power and the forward stroke.

I’ve been paddling my QCC 700X w/rudder for 10 days.

So far I love the boat, and want to go FASTER!

I’ve been paddling lakes in Northern Utah.

I’m working on my forward stroke and getting my boat “dialed in” to fit me for maximum efficiency and use the “big muscle groups”. I’m paddling an Epic mid wing. I’ve adjusted the length lock to 214 cm with a 60 degree feather.

I’ve removed the Rapid Pulse seat and it feels much better sitting directly on the seat pan.

I have ordered a NSI mini back backband, it’s “in the mail”.

I don’t feel like I’m getting full potential from my legs. My lats and abdomen seem to be getting a workout.

My question is about getting more leg power while paddling and where to put my foot pegs for a good leg push, with each stroke.

Is it best to have knees slightly bent?

Knees out wide, braced against the thigh braces?

Legs flat on the bottom of the boat is easiest for steering with the rudder?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I’m 5’9” male 175 lbs, size 10 shoe.


I have little advice still working on it
I have been working on paddling for about 5 years now but I am still working on my forward stroke. It clicks in and out and even when in is not that good, Find out where Greg Barton is teaching this summer and get there. The $50 I spent on his class was a great investment. See if ther are flat water racers in your area and get there. Maybe get with flatpick or some other well respected paddling instructor in your area and start to work.

That said, most paddlers with agood forward stroke press gently on the side with the active paddle.

It’s about torso rotation, when it works you are hanging off the paddle with your abdominals engaged and the legs are providing you wiht power transmission to the boat.

Paddle from the hips to engage legs

– Last Updated: Mar-20-05 7:46 PM EST –

My advice -- don't think legs... think hips.

When I began "paddling from the hips" I found that my legs engaged and my feet pressed hard against the footpegs ~naturally~. No longer did I have to think explicitly with each stroke "ok, press that foot, push that leg". It was all part of one fluid motion. Good thing, too, because I always had a devil of a time remembering to engage the legs, and would inevitabley find myself getting thoughtlessly lazy about it. No more.

What is "paddling from the hips"? It's cocking the hips way far in one direction (way, way, way far -- see the Brent Reitz Video and marvel at how far he turns his body sideways; he's mostly cocking his hips in the extreme). Then unwind the hips forcefully to drive the upper body around and the paddle through the water. Feel that the force is coming from the hips, not the arms (for sure), not the shoulders, and not even the back (except the very lower back, which is what drives the hips, along with the oblique abs).

So paddling from the hips is a cause of both torso rotation and leg engagement, but (IMHO) it's more fundamental.

Lots of leg power
and torso rotation can be gained by paddling with the knees up and close together. This usually means moving foot pegs further forward. The Q700X cockpit may not be long enough for you to do this if you have long legs. Also, this works better in the Q700X if you don’t have the thigh braces. Paddling with this technique obviously requires more balance and, at least at first, is something you will want to use only in flatwater.

swivel seat
Icf banned swivel seats but I would like to try one. Try waxing your seat to make it very slippery or if you must have padding then cover the padding with something slippery such as 1/4 in thick rubber gasket material and then on top of that just a loose piece of 2ft by 2ft rubber gasket material to facilitate rotation. Less friction… Then try having seat slope forward so right hip slides forward when right blade goes in water… A kayak pro exercise machine is easy to mount this seat or try turbo paddles. He did make swivel seat. Try www.kayaksport.net technique movie

ICF made a correction since January and the Swivel seat is allowed.

Leg power!
I once loaned a friend my olympic k-1 to race & he kicked out my wooden footbrace! Check Epics site for feather info. Also yahoo surfski group has a survey on wing feather & length. I think Barton uses a 75 to 79 degree. I have one wing @ 60 & one adj. I set @ 75. 75 is better going into any wind. 214 sounds great for you. Have fun!


Leg Power and the QCC700
I have a 700 also, and find that, although it is possible to pop your knees out from under the coaming, due to the design of the keyhole cockpit, it’s not of all that much benefit. I can pump my legs, but they’re forced so close together, I don’t get much force beyond what I can exert on the pegs alone sitting normally. Sometimes I’ll do this though, just to vary the seating position in longer races, to stave off leg numbness, in the same way I’ll change hand position on the bars of a bicycle. The boat is so supremely stable it’s no problem, but I can’t get them cycling the same way as I can in my ski. The Epic 18 seems more conducive to this, and other boats like the Kirton Inuk, Nelo Razor, etc. have wider cockpit openings (also narrower decks to promote a closer catch), and raised foredecks to facilitate this. Removing the Rapidpulse diaper was a good move; try running the boat w/o a back band entirely, by pushing it back out of the way. You’ll be able to torso rotate much more effectively, and as you’re ruddered, directional control will not be much of an issue.

The role of the hips . .
In general I agree with David on this. I feel the issue warrants a bit more description.

Warning: I’m not an expert, but I have studied the forward stroke as long as I’ve been paddling. Mostly I’ve learned how not to do it. The following is my understanding / opinion of the issue. Take it for what it’s worth . . .

The role of the hips in paddling is to provide the maximum degree of passive rotational movement of the torso. Consider how much rotation you can get out of your torso alone without use of the hips. Do you get 60°, 80° using only your abs / obliques? Now consider how much you can rotate your hips only, maybe 10 or 15° max. This “free rotation from the hips” is worth from 12-25% of the rotation available from the torso alone. A significant part of the total available rotation.

This is similar to the way a boxer throws a punch. Yes, of course the fist is thrown forward by the arm, but the torso also rotates to provide more power, putting the weight of the torso “behind” the punch. But it doesn’t stop there. The most powerful punches use the hips to tie-in the upper legs. Lastly forward motion of the whole body puts the weight of the whole body behind the punch. Compare the above with throwing your fist using only your arm and you get an idea of the value of using the whole body.

Here’s the goal, set up for a forward catch on the right side, reach as far forward as possible by extending the right arm straight forward without using your shoulders or your hips. Now rotate your torso by pushing your right shoulder forward and see how much further the hand / paddle extends. Lastly, push your right hip forward to gain even more “reach”. At this point the hips > shoulders will feel much like a spring that is stretched to capacity.

After the “catch”, the motion of the forward stroke is to “unwind the spring” by pushing with the right leg to rotate (unwind) the hips (clockwise from above), while the torso rotates (clockwise) by pulling the opposite (left) shoulder forward with the abs /obliques. Note, the right arm is nearly passive through the stroke but might move out and away from the boat to provide even more translational movement of the paddle blade. The right arm moving out away from the boat provides for a lengthening of the stroke but may also introduce some yaw. This becomes less of a problem as speed builds.

The hips provide a rotating base for the rotating torso. This is how we can use our legs to power some of the stroke. Since our legs are much stronger than our abs, this ends up feeling like free power for the stroke, reducing the total perceived effort to paddle.

Many people push too hard on the foot pegs when attempting to use their legs. If your legs get tired doing this then you are pushing too hard. Any effort expended pushing the foot pegs away from the seat back is wasted energy. Again the goal is to use the legs to push the boat forward and rotate the hips, not to push-out the bulkhead or rip-out the foot pegs. Try this with out a seat back to see how much effort you’ve been wasting by pushing against the back of the seat.

The forward stroke provides a great analogy of paddle technique on general. Everything is much more subtle, intricate and systemic than it appears on the surface. The one golden rule of paddle technique remains (at least from my perspective) “If it’s strenuous, it’s probably being done with bad form”. Good technique is nearly effortless and amazingly satisfying.

Cheers, I look forward to the group’s comments.