weight training and fitness for paddlers

I guess this applies to canoe paddlers too…

So, do any of you work out off season (or on) with the specific goal of developing core, upper body and lower body strength to be a more efficient paddler?

If so, what kind of workout/muscle groups do you focus on?

Howabout cardio?

And - do you feel any real benefit in exercise to support your paddling?

Added light weights (mostly abs, shoulders and back) to my existing cardio and stretching last summer, and it definitely made a difference. I’m an open boater and often had problems with my on-side shoulder. Now that I am doing some weights, I seem to have fewer problems. Also find that I have a more powerful forward stroke to get back on waves once I fall off. Now if I could just figure out how to stay on the wave…

is the most beneficial thing for my paddling. Everything is easier if you’re more flexible.

I do it for fitness
I’m interested in fitness for two reasons:

  1. Add years to my life. I had my first cardiac “incident” at 38 and that was enough to make me wish to avoid any more.

  2. To allow me to paddle and fish and camp for as long as I’m breathing.

    So, I guess I don’t exercise SOLELY for paddling, but paddling is a major component of my motivation. I do fat-burning and cardio exercises that concentrate on legs. I use elliptical and WALK on a treadmill. I cannot run any distance for reasons other than cardio. Then I lift, at present, 11,000 pounds with upper body without any consideration for how much or what exercise. For example, as far as I’m concerned 20 repititions of 50 pounds is the same to me as 10 repititions of 100 pounds. I try to advance the weight lifted in any given exercise over time, but I will get to a LOT of repetitions before bumping up as I am more interested in building endurance (for paddling) than strength (for whatever other reason I may have). By the end of April, I am hoping to get back to 13,000 pounds per upper body workout, which is where I was before having a shoulder surgery last April. The doctor said it would take a year to restore strength (he cut out a lot of muscle) and even longer to restore stamina. So far, he’s been about right.

  • Big D

It’s not an option
I’ve done some form of training ever since I took on a more sedentary job - but now, having passed the 50 mark, it’s even more critical. My primary equipment for keeping in shape when we’re frozen in is the Nordic-Track X-C ski machine. I also do a moderate routine with weights for upper and lower body, along with stretching, pull-ups, push-ups and lunges. I don’t do everything every day, but I try to keep to as much of a routine as possible. I tend to slack around Thanksgiving and Christmas though. :open_mouth:

New to me this year is the balance roller - or whatever you call it. One of this winter’s shop projects that I kinda slapped together. It’s a 34" wide platform that balances on a 5" diameter roller with edge guides. I balance on it and try to keep it rolling side to side while keeping upper body stationary. I think it has helped me keep some of my poling ability up over the winter break.

At my age if I stop moving for more than a week, it takes a long time to get back into shape.

Work out for paddling?
I don’t workout specifically for paddling. For me paddling is one form of workout. I workout to avoid becoming a slug.

In theory I try to exercise every day. In reality it’s usually 5 or 6 days a week. I alternate days of strength (Bowflex type machine) and cardio (Concept rower or stationary bike). The cardio days alternate between intervals and constant intensity sessions.

I do crunches, leg lifts etc. and some yoga stretches every morning. If I don’t an old back injury causes some low-back pain.

I climb every stairway I encounter. On a weekday this amounts to climbing 20 floors worth of stairs each day. And I walk about 3/4 mile to and from the train station every day.

Does this all benefit my paddling? Absolutely. I can go farther and faster than those that paddle on the weekends without other exercise. I’m fine on a Monday after a hard Sunday paddle while the weekend warriors are in pain and slathered with Ben-gay.

The other weekend I was out in some high wind and one of our group was not able to make any headway. I was able to tow him into the wind to a protected cove. If I wasn’t in decent condition I couldn’t have done that and things could of become unpleasant.

In white water circles you’ll see a lot of the weekend warrior types with dislocated shoulders. While that mostly has to do with poor technique and form having strong muscle support of your joints greatly reduces the stress on ligaments (or tendons - I forget which is which) and reduces the risk of dislocations.

eliptical trainers
One thing I like, that I feel really helps with paddling, is the eliptical trainers that also work the upper body kind of like xc skiing.

You get a good cardio workout and also your arms and shoulders get a good workout as well.

You bet
I joined the local Y several years ago and do a full set of workouts for torso rotation, back, abs, shoulders, arms and legs. It makes a lot of difference in paddling for speed, endurance, and strength for throwing the boat around on a wave. I also do rowing machine as hard as I can go 2 -3 times a week, bike or stationary bike, and treadmill or jogging.

The weights also help for loading and unloading the boats on top of my tall Xterra.

I eat .

Like mintjulep, paddling is part…
of my yearly “keep active for health” plan. I backpack, power walk and hike with my dog, and am trying to add a strength training regimen to the mix, although when faced with the choice of guiness or gym, the pint ALWAYS wins…

All supplemental training benefits
paddling. Any combination of weight/machine workouts and

aerobic activities contribute to overall fitness,

including paddling.

I think that an improved overall fitness better enables

a person to deal with those “different” situations when

a paddler has to exert seldom used muscle groups.

Wish I did more of the supplemental stuff, myself.

That’s just good sense.
“when faced with the choice of guiness or gym, the pint ALWAYS wins…”

  • Big D

Upper body & back

– Last Updated: Feb-21-09 1:02 PM EST –

I have a buddy that is combat disabled like me. He is an amputee missing both legs from the thighs down.
He showed me his work out regiment that he dose just for his upper body and this impressed me, as he is a great kayaker.
I purchased a set of adjustable weights and work really hard on my upper body more than my legs, as my legs are shot and full of shrapnel. I now feel really strong when I paddle and can lift my body around on my hands with no problem.

work outs
For the last 2 years that I been taking my workouts really serious, I put together a medicine ball work out designed around core strength, the movements are real similar to the twisting of rolling and torso rotation of paddling. Of all things a 10lb. medicine ball can be brutal when utilized in this fashion…

Lots of good information
I was wondering if I should be focusing more on core, and from what I’m reading here - uh yeah.

I hate crunches tho.

I do cardio 4 or 5 times a week tho, I like endorphins.

I just started weight training again : )

I like the variety and the reasoning behind everyone’s workouts. Cool! Thanks for the info.

CII Rowing Trainer


Best $850 you can spend. Cheaper than KayakPro erg by a longshot, exceptional gym-quality build, manufacturer is A++, and workouts are stupendous.

hit it hard/hit it often
I started at the Y in late July 2007. They use the FitLinxx system which is great for keeping up w/ workouts. It also ranks you compared to others which helps to set goals. Mine are fairly simple - be in the top 95% for my age group.

My workouts consist of 30-minutes of the cross-trainer and about 7 or 8 different weight stations. I also walk to the gym and back and I walk the dog 2-3 times a week. Must be working, he’s lost about 8 pounds. :wink:

fitness for paddlers
For several years I have been swimming lengths at the pool (I now do 100) and then going to the gym. I do some cardio on the bike or elliptical trainer then do 3 sets of 15 repetitions on the machines concentrating on arms, shoulders, chest and legs. In winter if I can’t get to the pool and gym I snow shoe or cross country ski.

When I kayak with a group, despite the fact that my kayak is more of a recreational one,(it’s a Cayuga 146) wide and stable, I am always at the front of the pack. Last summer on a 4 day trip a much younger and fit looking woman complained to the guide because she could not understand why I paddled so well in my modest boat. She could not keep up in her sleek sea kayak. Most of the time I paddle solo going 12 to 15 miles on a day trip and am ready to go again the next day.

So I guess the answer to the question is… Yes…fittness matters a great deal for endurance and enjoyment.

I am also a 59 year old female who has had serious back problems and a total hip replacement. I have worked very hard to get fit and am not going to slow down.

oh yes
I don’t do any kayaking-specific exercises…but I use functional training. And I can definitely tell the difference in my kayak if I’m in shape vs. when I’m not.

yoga, pilates, other core exercises
I also paddle year round, which helps.

I switch to a Greenland paddle for ‘cardio’ paddling.