Kayaking is a sport known for the toll it takes on your upper body. While many people imagine the power resides solely in your arms, they might be surprised to learn the sport also demands super strong core strength - especially if you find yourself swimming! Expert or newbie, mixing these exercises into your routine should help ease the muscle ache and boost your performance. Happy Paddling!
1. Dumbbell Press
Perfect for strengthening muscles in both your arms and chest.
Start this exercise with your back laid flat on a lifting bench and with your head and neck supported. Take a dumbbell or kettle bell in each hand (weight is totally up to you) and slowly push them away from your body - starting at chest height and ending with your arms completely straight. Lower the dumbbells until your arms form a right angle at the elbow. Repeat.
2. Shoulder Raises
Ideal for strengthening front shoulder muscles.
Start with your feet spread shoulder width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. With your hands hanging at your hips slowly raise your arm one by one like you are flying - keeping your arm totally straight - until your arm is perpendicular to your body. Lower your arm back down, keeping your arm straight, and try the other side. Repeat.
3. Tricep Dips
Strengthens your triceps for better paddling endurance.
Start off by sitting on a weight bench – or any wide chair/step - with both palms faced down beside your hips. Rest your feet on the ground – balancing on your heels – away from your body. Lift up, pushing into your palms, so your body is off the bench/seat and begin to dip by bending your elbows. When you are as low as can be without your body touching the ground, raise yourself up using your arms. Repeat.
4. Bench Crunches
All-round core strength
Start by lying on a weight bench with your legs hanging off the end. Raise your feet off the ground - keeping your knees locked at a right angle – and bring them slowly towards your abdomen. As your legs come closer to your chest, lift the upper half of your torso to meet your knees, and straighten as you lower your legs.
Another great all-round core exercise.
Don’t be fooled, this is harder than it looks! Begin by resting your forearms and knees on the floor, shoulder width apart. Extend your legs so that they are straight, with your feet balancing on tiptoes. Slowly lift your body so that it remains straight – don’t let your core flag by putting the weight in your legs and you will feel the tension in your abdomen. Alternatively, you can side plank – the same position but on your side, holding your arm vertically in the air for balance – and you will feel the muscles from your underarm to your hip stretch out.
6. Ball Pass
Strengthens your core and your arm strength for longer days on the water.
Using a swiss exercise ball, lie flat on the floor with the ball in your hands. Slowly raise your upper body and legs at the same time (similar to a crunch) and pass the ball from your hands to your legs. Once you have passed the ball over, lay flat back on the floor and start again. Your legs have to work harder to balance the ball, so you’re working yourself more than a regular crunch!
You’ve done the weighted exercises, so now it’s time to stretch those limbs out! Stretching is an important part of any exercise routine and is often overlooked. Kayakers need to focus on stretching the hips and shoulders to open up the parts of the body that have been leaning forward in order to paddle.
Whilst standing upright, lower your body by bending one knee in front of your body and stretching the other leg out behind you. The deeper you lower and bend your knee, the more you feel the stretch in your back leg. Make sure to switch legs.
8. Tricep Stretch
Place your hand at the top of your spine with your elbow pointing up to the ceiling. Using your free hand, gently pull your elbow so that your fingers reach further down your back.
9. Bicep Wall Stretch
Stand facing a wall and stretch out one arm away from your body and up the wall. Your entire inner arm - palm, inner elbow and bicep - should be flat against the wall. Slowly turn your body away from the wall, the opposite direction of your outstretched arm. You should feel a stretch in both your biceps and your chest, but you can adjust your arm to stretch other muscles in that area.
Woo you've done it! Now, to treat yourself, grab your K-PAK and who's up for a paddle?