Why fast boats for exercise boats?

It seems like most people requesting recommendations for good boats for exercise are looking for long fast boats and most responders suggest long fast boats.

Is this because the exerciser is really after the thrill of percieved speed rather than exercise?

If it’s to achieve a higher paddling cadence and higher heart rate, wouldn’t using a shorter, slower boat with a smaller bladed, less powerful paddle achieve the same high cadence for exercise?

I’ve wondered about this before and the other thread regarding percieved paddling speed got me thinking about it again.

Do longer and faster boats really have any exercise advantage over shorter and slower boats other than allowing the paddler to cover more territory while exercising?

Just wondering.

To keep yourself motivated it is helpful to see that the speed will increase as your effort increase. A short slow boat will hit its top speed early, after which it simply won’t go much faster. With a longer boat you’ll be able to see that the speed increases as your fitness level increases.

is expended to make the boat go. A short boat would require too much effort to keep going straight, and not enough to keep the heart going hard.

Also a long boat is much more fun.

Paddle hard; go fast!

Not necessarily

– Last Updated: Apr-03-07 7:24 AM EST –

Must be the time of year - I've had two conversations in the last week with fellow paddlers where ways to build endurance came in.

There is another alternative for building endurance and form. That is to take out an old school WW boat - like a Pirouette or a Pedra or Animus era boat - and paddle lakes and local rivers. Even take these boats out on after work paddles with a larger group, that kind of thing. In the right hands, a lot of this era of boat should be able to keep up with a mixed group of rec and touring boats with newbies mixed in. But it will give the paddler a good workout.

The one limit would be if someone may have to be ready to do on-water rescues - something with deck lines may be a better idea for that time. But it's a neat idea (and a lot easier boat to handle at the end of the evening).

Counter Argument Is…

– Last Updated: Apr-03-07 7:35 AM EST –

that the less efficient you are, the harder and more exercise you get. The better you can at a particular activity, the more efficient, the longer you have to do it to get the same effort as when you first started in it.

The idea behind cross training as good overall fitness approach is that you build complimentary muslces groups but also because the cross training forces you to use more energy, helping you stay in good shape with less time than focusing on just one activity.

Becoming efficient at one activity is about more than being in shape. It satisfies the emotional/psychological need to be good at (or to feel good about) that particular activity.

If it's about just the exercise, than one of the better things to do is to get a wide, short rec or SOT and really push it.


higher cadeance
With longer faster boats you start to have a more cardio work out as you can keep your heartrate at higher levels and sustian it without burning out strength wise. A friend I now race with who primarily paddles skis, fast stuff etc, is in much better aerobic shape than me, however since I still do a lot of my paddling in sea kayaks I am muscle wise a bit stronger.

Competitive edge
I second what Baldpaddler said. And there is an element of competition in paddling workouts; you against the clock for a set distance, against other paddlers, even against the shoreline cruising pontoon boats I have where I paddle. A long sleek boat gives you an edge to come out ahead once in a while.

Rowing is even more absurd
Those demanding “exercise” aspire to one of these

http://www.rowalden.com/ over a basic row boat. A row boat will work your tail off just like a rec kayak (short and wide) will over the same given distance. It is the “Beamer” effect! Look at what I’m paddling/rowing/driving etc.

Technique, form, and energy system used!
You need a really narrow beam (less than 18) to develop/employ proper technique and form.

Without a good technique/form, you would be using the wrong muscle groups of your body, and you would be neither efficient nor fast enough to paddle at an aerobic level e.g. avg. HR of 140-160.

Like most people using heavy and wide boats, you would be paddling at a HR of avg. 110-120 at most.

Only my two cents,

PS: some other paddlers might reach higher HR using wider and heavy boat, but not because they are into the aerobic zone, but because they are so out of shape that any physical activity is an strenuous workout :smiley:

Combine both!
Use a narrow, long kayak to maintain paddling form, then tie it off to the dock & paddle like mad (tongue planted firmly in cheek).

I did watch a demo by Hobie where an average Joe in a Hobie SOT with their pedal-driven system was hooked stern-to-stern through a pulley on the deck of the pool with Oscar in an Epic. First one to drag the other until they reached the far deck wins. Oscar won that day eventually, but it was quite a workout!

This is similar to cycling, where you can get a workout on a Huffy, but there isn’t the same thrill as doing the same thing on a Colnago…

Because it’s fun!
If the whole point was just burning calories and working hard, you could skip the boat entirely and work out on an indoor trainer.

It’s nice getting a return on your efforts, and going faster is more fun than just making a bigger wake. Peter Eagan called it the “zoom factor”. It just feels good. For the same time & effort I’d rather paddle/bike/ski further and faster than thrash slowly.

Some short boats do go straight…
such as my 12’6" Old Town Castine and 12’ Poke Boat. It seems like I can get just as much exercise paddling them as my 17’10" long Sea Lion.

If I paddle the shorter boats on a relatively small lake, I percieve that I’m going just as fast as I would percieve that I was paddling a longer boat on a larger lake - if I’m the only boat on the water with not other boats to compare speed to.

Wouldn’t using a paddle with lower loading, e.g. a Werner Little Dipper, rather than a Werner Ikelos, with a less efficient boat allow just as high of paddling cadence with with a less efficient boat as the larger paddle would with a longer and more efficient boat?

Use a less loaded paddle such as
a Werner Little Dipper with a less efficient boat in order to maitain a higher cadence over time. Wouldn’t that do the trick to keep heart rate up over a longer time period?

This is what I suspected.

Width and form
Agreed that a narrower width boat makes rotation easier… but if the paddler’s regular boat(s) run to 22 inches wide, decent form needs to be developed that will work in more than racing kayak widths.

I wouldn’t quite call it …
a ‘Beamer’ affect at all. Sure, you can get a ‘good’ workout in a bathtub of a hull, but you will probably be far more prone to injuries over time if your goal is ‘good’ aerobic, extended duration exercise. For one, glide between strokes is greatly diminished in a ‘barge’, reducing the fluidity in your form and cadence. Think of running with a heavy pair of shoes on, sure it’s one hell of a workout, but a good one for your body over any distance? I think not. You do not see experienced runners looking for heavy shoes to train in do you? No. Likewise, a boat that has a much more efficient glide between a heavy or fast stroke will be less of a ‘jerk’ on your body at the catch. It is not an elitest, look-at-my-boat concept, but one of motion dynamics. A barge slows dramatically between strokes compared to a sleaker, more speed designed hull shape. You brought up the comparison of a Walden over a typical row boat. I’m sorry, but if exercise is your goal, any hull having a sliding seat assembly for rowing (like most Waldens) is going to produce a far better form of exercise, and will more than likely have a far better glide between strokes, being more than likely a narrower hull. If all you have is a rec boat you can get a workout, but your body is going to appreciate a hull designed for speed in the long run, as you will get the benifits of a hard, fast cadence at a lesser risk of injury. And a side benifit of that narrower, and faster hull is that they usually come in a tad more tender. You may not see this as a benifit now, but as you become more comfortable in that tender boat, your technique will improve with far greater balance, and likewise you will more than likely develope a far better ‘form’, in relation to your paddle stroke.

some good discussion
and I agree with what celia and sing have said.

If it really is all about the workout you could take it one step further (back?) and try swimming.

Overuse injury
If you know anything about bicycles you know you don’t want to spin in high gears to get exercise, the same is true in kayaking going at it really hard with a slow fat boat is going to cause greater stress on your muscles bones and joints.

Why not?
If you ride a mountain bike you’ll get a more muscular work-out and less sustained cardio than if you ride a road bike. I like the aesthetics of road biking better but I love to be in the woods so I hike.

I paddle a fine canoe, a do everything boat, a bit of a barge. I love my MR Explorer and I can get a darn fine work-out paddling it…but fast, it ain’t. I’d love a rocket, a GRB Classic XL is something I’m going to someday have. Do I need that much boat for a workout? No. But around these parts everybody has a 20,000 dollar bass boat and if I buy a canoe for 2 grand every 10 years, I’m not offending my anti-materialistic stance. I’ll paddle it with joy, I’ll keep it until I die, and maybe it will give me some extra pleasure worthy of the resources it cost to manufacturer.

If a few guys seeing me paddling a fine boat forego the purchase of a sea-doo or bass boat or ATV for a quieter and less abusive path to pleasure something has gone right for me. If they don’t, heck, I still get to paddle a fast beauty of a boat!



I could not POSSIBLY have worked
as hard in “any” basic rowboat as I could in my single scull with its sliding seat.

I will say, however, that for heavy exercise purposes, inexperienced oarsmen were sometimes put in slower craft we derisively called “pickle boats.” These boats coasted less easily, and so encouraged a hard catch and drive.