Workouts for Improving Kayaking

Kayak Workout

One of the most popular and fun water sports and activities is kayaking. Kayaking is a great way to enjoy some family time along with remaining cool in the hot summers. It takes up muscle strength so regular kayaking can keep you healthy and very fresh. It is also considered great cardio exercise for people who are looking to lose weight with fun exercises. 

There is a lot of technique used in paddling the kayak. It needs major upper body strength and exercises to ensure that if you are paddling for competitive levels you are ready for it. If you are paddling and you find yourself in pain, you might need some exercise to be ready for it. The following are a few workouts that will help you in improving your kayaking. 

kayaking exercise

Why is working out important before kayaking?

Unlike what it sounds like, kayaking is not only about sitting in a flatboat and paddling across the water. The paddling takes up a lot of energy as it is the action of pushing the water back with all the pressure that you have. 

Sometimes this pressure is so much like in rough waters, that arms tend to cramp up and they lose mobility. Most kayakers complain about cramps in their cores because they are not well prepared which is very dangerous as cramps prevent you from swimming as well if you fall in the water. 

Rowing machine

Working out before kayaking and preparing allow you to get a chance at making your muscles strong enough to fight the rough and smooth water. It allows the body to be more mobile and helps the muscles store more energy in them so that they can be released while you are kayaking.

Equipment training

The following few workouts are done with some form of gym equipment. Keep in mind to consult your physician or trainer to ensure that there is no harm in using any of them according to your health. These are the best workouts to for kayak training in our opinion.

Swiss Ball Crunches 

The Swiss Ball crunches exercise is great to engage your core and make it strong. The strength of the core is very important for paddlers to help their core energy and muscles keep them stable while they are paddling in the rough and smooth waters. Most of the energy that is consumed during kayaking is from the core which is why it is important to keep it strong otherwise you may be cramped up while kayaking which can be dangerous as well. 

To do this workout you need a gym ball. Sit on the ball and then gently roll down until your hips are on the end and they are supported by the pelvis and lower back. Put your hands behind your head or cross them on your chest. Suck your abs in and keep your spine in a neutral position to reduce any stress or injury. Contract your abdominals and lift your chest upwards away from the ball until you are high enough to keep maintaining your back flatly. Repeat about three times and do at least three sets. 

You can also opt for the oblique crunches where the position remains the same but instead of going straight up, you will have to shift to the side a little and move your upper body. This helps in making your side core stronger and much more energetic and supportive. 

Arm curls

Arms curls also known as bicep curls are a workout that requires dumbbells or any other form of gym weights. This workout helps in engaging the upper arms and the biceps. The workout makes the muscles much more mobile and strong to defeat the strong and rough waters and increase the stamina of the muscles in the arms to reduce cramping. To some extent, your lower arms will also find it beneficial and will be strengthened. To begin this exercise, make sure you have moderate amounts of weights. Make sure to not pick up very heavy weights in the initial stages. 

Stand straight with your feet hips width apart. Make your spine straight and neutral and suck in your abs. Pick up weights in each hand and make sure your palms are facing towards the sides of the thighs. Lift the weights slowly by bending your elbow. Make sure to breathe out when lifting and breathe in when in a relaxing position. Do not hold your breath in any case. Take the weights towards the shoulders at a steady speed. Any faster and you may injure your shoulder. You can alternate the arms as well. 

Non-equipment workouts for Kayak Training

The following list is a few workouts that you can do in the comfort of your home without any equipment. Make sure that you ask your trainer and doctor so that you do not end up hurting yourself because of any exercise.



One of the best exercises for the whole body is the plank. The plank engages the core, abdominal muscles, triceps, biceps, and the shoulders to make them strong. All these muscles are used in kayaking which means that they are important to be worked upon to improve kayaking techniques and skills. 

For the plank, you need to lie on your stomach with your arms resting in a natural position on your side. Align your palms with shoulder while keeping them flat and gently push off the floor to rise on your hand and your toes. Keep your abs in and your back flat. Your head should be aligned with your back as well. This is one position of the plank which is the most common one. 

Remaining in the same position, roll out your shoulders a bit so that the back remains flat and in a natural curved shape while the shoulders are rolled up and a little higher than the back.  This position helps engage the shoulder muscles and helps them be more stable and mobile. 

To take it up a notch and work extra on your legs, you can attempt the walking plank. Start by positioning yourself in the regular plank position. Take two steps to the right with your feet and your hands. Make sure to not take extra-long steps so that you do not lose your balance. Come back to the initial position by taking two steps to the left. Repeat until you feel that you cannot balance anymore and your hips are dropping. 

Side planks are another variation in the plank which helps in targeting the upper arm muscles. To position lay on the side. Inhale and lift yourself up by keeping your elbow in an “L” position and lifting your hips. Your abs should be pulled in and your bottom should be clenched while your back should be straight.  Let the upper hand be on your hips while you are doing the plank. Repeat on both sides. 



Probably one of the most effective but hated exercises is the crunches. They help in working through your core and making your abdominal muscles and your core strong enough to help you remain stable. 

To begin, lay flat on the ground with your knees bend and feet hip-width apart. Keep your abs in and put your hands behind your head in a straight position. Slowly lift your shoulder up while keeping your neck in a soft yet parallel position. Do not move your chin to touch your chest as it may cause serious spine injury. Make sure your lower back stays on the ground and your upper back is only lifted. Make sure you are moving your shoulders first and slowly rolling back to the starting position. 

Exhale when you are making an effort and inhale in your relaxing position for the ample breathing technique. You can do ten repetitions and up to three sets. 

Cardio workouts

Cardio workouts such as aerobics and Zumba are a great way to increase your stamina. These exercises are suitable for most people and they allow your heartbeat to be much more controlled and your lungs to take in extra air when you are kayaking. A few of the greatest cardio exercises include 

  • Jogging: You can wear your tracks and head to the nearest park or jog on the roads. Start from about a kilometer and slowly increase as your stamina increases. 
  • Cycling: Cycling is another great way to keep the heart running at a steady pace. It helps in saving fuel and allows you to work on your leg muscles while steadying your breath 
  • Aerobics: Head over to Jessica Smith, Jane Fonda, or any of your favorite trainers online and you will find great cardio aerobics that you can do according to your age and needs. You can simply follow them in your living room.  


Working out before kayaking is very important and it helps in increasing your stamina. With the newly built muscles and the strength, you can improve your kayaking skills with different techniques and apply more energy to the whole process. Your skills will also help you move faster and help you win if you are competing. 

Gear up and Happy Kayaking!

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