Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving over water. It is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle. A kayak is a low-to-the-water, canoe-like boat in which the paddler sits facing forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other in rotation. Most kayaks have closed decks, although sit-on-top and inflatable kayaks are growing in popularity as well.
There are many ways of improving kayaking performance. The obvious one most paddlers go to first is simply paddling more. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the gains from this alone are limited and you quickly run out of time unless you are a professional athlete. One mode of training that most paddlers neglect or struggle to do well is strength training in the gym or at home. Smart strength training can have a huge impact on kayaking performance.
Whether you are a competitive paddler training for your next race, looking for adventure in whitewater or love the freedom of touring, you can improve your paddling experience with strength training. A well-planned kayak strength training program will help you paddle faster and longer, protect you from injury, allow you to get more out of yourself or just enjoy the journey more by not being as fatigued by the demands of paddling.
Indirect improvements in the kayak from strength training come from improved core control, joint stability, and ligament and tendon strength, all of which make a paddler more resilient to injury. When a paddler has higher injury resilience they are able to train harder on the water and manage a higher training load which will result in increased performance.
“Paddling requires a combination of flexibility and strength and can sometimes be tough on the body. To train effectively and compete long term whilst hopefully avoiding injury it is not purely about time on the water. For me training in the gym and mobility/flexibility work are essential to keep my body healthy and happy and ensure I can kayak for the rest of my life”
- Ottilie Robinson-Shaw
“Over the years I’ve realised more and more the importance and benefits of doing some specific training for my sea kayaking. Initially this was for performance (to go faster, longer and bigger) and lately it has been for injury prevention, injury management and to ensure I can keep paddling for many years to come.”
- Doug Cooper
“I realised a few years ago that my personal fitness was the missing link with my paddling and if I wanted to improve on the water, I needed to put more work in off the water. So I set my focus to improving my fitness through daily running whilst maintaining my strength with regular resistance band exercises. The results have been really dramatic and I feel like I’m flying when I’m out in a boat now.”
- Chris Brain
“Fitness is so important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it helps maintain good muscle balance essential in preventing problems with posture. It can lead to an increase in performance, but it can also enhance your experience in a recreational context as well; longer more enjoyable days on the water in more challenging places. The fitter you are the more effective you’re going to be.”
- Ken Hughes
FOR YOUR CHOSEN WATER SPORT
Most water sporting enthusiasts don’t need an intensive exercise regime to
enjoy their chosen sport, which tends to keep you fit and active
stand-alone. That said, strength and endurance can be really beneficial when you’re spending
a lot of time on, or in the water - and give you the endurance edge over other teams in, for example, competitions, when you will need a far higher level of power and endurance.
Especially swimmers and rowers.
The type of water sport you love will impact the type of training you need. It is specific to your
expectations. For example, leisure canoeing and scuba divers may not need to be ocean athletes. But it pays to keep your body in good condition, to be able to meet
any challenges rivers
and seas can throw at
you, and keep your mind alert to changing conditions, when the
opportunity to build up stamina during sporting activities is limited,
those exertions rather draining reserves.
Diet is important, to help you stay in shape, and to build up your stamina before embarking on your
water based adventures. Water being one of the most important
ingredients for life
on planet earth.
Exercise and diet is thus interlinked, especially for those who are climate
conscious, perhaps contemplating a pescatarian,
vegetarian, or most demanding of all, a
vegan diet while afloat.
When you can’t get out or in the water, try to work on your fitness at home instead. It is hard to stay in shape during
off-seasons, with high calorie meals during winter celebrations, that pile on the pounds. Making it all the more difficult to stay fighting fit when it’s time to get back
to your water sport.
OCEAN AMBASSADOR - Ryan is the youngest member of the Elizabeth Swann
team. He is coached in fitness matters by Terry, a seasoned vegan, having
weaned himself off meats over a year ago. Ryan has been attending
exhibitions and events for many
years. Often helping to man the stands at events where (for example) the
proof of concept vessel was on
SPORTS A - Z
stronger you become both
mentally and physically, the better you will become at coping with the stresses associated with competition, if that is your aim. You need to be sharp, prepared and capable in order to win competitions.
Especially when competing in the Olympic Games.
If you want to improve your general fitness, you don't need to be quite so disciplined and focused. But, it pays to make the effort when you can.
So think about your health, diet and exercise, for which you will see
results, and being healthier, is one way of remaining youthful and
If it was easy, then everyone would be doing it.