Training for Kayaking : How to Get Your Body Prepared


Kayaking is a fun and physically demanding activity. Competing in races and other competitions are becoming popular for many people looking for new and interesting ways to exercise. For new kayakers, trying to improve stroke and paddle strength can be difficult without knowledge about how to do it.

Getting better at kayaking can be a challenge. Some people may be short on time, other times it can be a matter of not living close enough to water to train every day. Regardless of the difficulties, if someone wants to improve, there are some different types of training for kayaking that can help them gain the skills and practice they need to become a better kayaker.

Training for a specific sport generally includes practicing that sport.  But cross-training, stretching, and strength training can greatly improve performance. Doing different kinds of training is a great way to improve performance in many muscle groups as opposed to just a few.

Some of these training activities don’t even need to be an entire workout.  Taking a few minutes out of a day to stretch and workout specific muscles can make a huge impact. It will also help reduce the risk of injury.


Warm-Ups and Stretching

One of the most important things to do before any physically strenuous activity is to stretch, but stretching on its own can also be a great help. Stretching in the mornings and at night can help increase the elasticity of muscles and make repetitive movements, like the rowing of a kayak, much easier.

For kayaking, stretching all muscles is important, but some of the most important, and most beneficial for kayakers to stretch, are the glutes, pectorals, and abdominal muscles. These are the primary muscles used to row, and stretching these daily can improve kayaking performance greatly.

Some stretches to help train the pectoral muscles are elbow stretches, back bend stretches, and lying chest stretches. For the glutes, effective stretches are the seated spinal twist, seated leg cradle, and bridges. Abdominal muscles can be stretched by doing the cobra stretch, stand and turn, and also an oblique standing stretch.

Being warmed up for exercise decreases the risk of injury, so not jumping directly into a difficult or strenuous activity is imperative. A warm-up usually consists of stretching, as well as warming up the muscles used for the given activity

For a pectoral warm up, pushups or lifting light weights should help to stimulate that muscle before use. For glutes, jumping in place, running in place, and squats are all great ways to loosen up that muscle. For the abdominal muscles, sit-ups and planks help to stretch them out and get them ready for rigorous use.



Another way to become a better kayaker is to cross train and practice cardio. Most forms of exercise raise the heart rate and breathing rate, so the body can more quickly get oxygen into the bloodstream. Kayakers can benefit from doing all sorts of cardio training for kayaking to help them gain physical endurance, as well as help increase lung capacity.

Gaining general physical endurance can be done by doing just about any kind of cardio. Running and biking are great examples of cross training that can help improve a person’s kayaking ability.

Lung capacity is also a big contributor to physical endurance since running out of breath in the middle of any exercise can put a pause in any good training session. To train for lung capacity, many kinds of cardio are acceptable and used by many kayakers.

One of the best exercises for gaining lung capacity is swimming. With the combination of breath control and cardio, swimming vastly improves a person’s ability to control their breathing during cardio. Swimming is also hailed as one of the best training exercises to cross-train for kayaking. This is because it works as an aerobic exercise, as well as targeting the paddle specific muscles to improve endurance during training.


Strength Training

For those who are looking to work on increasing muscle in certain areas, strength training is a great way to work on multiple muscle groups at a time. Having some sort of weight set or resistance band or even an exercise ball can make specific muscle workouts much easier, but even without these, it’s still possible to work out the muscles used for kayaking.

For the pectoral muscles, the resistance band can be used for chest flys, and a weight set can be used for barbell bench presses, flat bench dumbbell press, incline dumbbell press and many more exercises. The perks of strength training for kayaking are really endless because having powerful muscles allows the body to produce more force, which in turn allows the production of more speed while paddling.

Strength training can also improve muscle resilience and prevent injury. Training a specific muscle harder and increasing the load it can hold will increase performance and improve control and performance of that muscle. Although it is not a simple equation of making a muscle stronger makes it entirely resistant to injury, it holds true that the stronger that muscle is, the less easy it is to become torn or hurt.

It is also important to note that while training specific muscles can improve performance, full body exercise or cardio are also important, and should usually be the first step to becoming more physically fit for any sport or competition.

Check out this short kayak training video of three endurance building exercises.

Kayak Training Conclusion

One of the best techniques in training for kayaking is to simply go kayaking. However, for those who are unable to regularly hit the water, there’s no reason to give up on being a competitive or even recreational kayaker. There are plenty of activities, like aerobics, cardio, and others, to help any kayaker improve while on land, as well as in water.

As long as a person can remain committed to training, they will continue to improve and gain the muscular ability to become a better kayaker. It’s important to remember that doing just one kind of training can hinder a person’s ability. Try to diversify your exercises. Also, trying new ways to train will greatly improve one’s athletic performance. If you’re ready to buy a new kayak check out our homepage.