Help me get into good paddling shape
September 18, 2006 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Know of any good conditioning exercises I can do at home in preparation for an upcoming sea kayaking trip?

I will be sea kayaking and camping in the Virgin Islands in about 2 months. I have very little kayaking experience, which is just fine because this trip is geared toward all levels. I'm in good shape, and I'm fairly active. I would like to know if there are any conditioning or strengthing exercises I could do until then that would help work the same muscles used in paddling. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
posted by Alpenglow to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
I would imagine an ergometer or any other seated row pull for the pull stroke and cardio, and pushups/bench press/incline press for the push stroke would do pretty nicely.

Also you will be using your torso a suprising amount, it wouldn't hurt to do some ab/oblique exercises as well. Although these are just generally a good idea for everything.
posted by spatula at 9:29 AM on September 18, 2006

Best answer: The major muscles used in kayaking are the abs, and to a lesser extent the lats and the bis/tris. Home exercises should concentrate on a strong core, especially if you aren't used to sitting in a kayak all day long. Pilates would be great, planks, tabletops and others that work the spinal erectae. Oblique crunches and side planks are also very good for the rotational movements integral to a good kayak stroke.

Finally, if you've got tight hamstrings now would be the time to start working to stretch them, as tight hamstrings can make it difficult to sit upright in a kayak all day.
posted by OmieWise at 10:14 AM on September 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's a pretty tough exercise and you need access to a pullup bar, but L-pullups will hit most of the muscles you need all in one movement. You can scale it down with a little creativity such as raising just the knees or lightly resting the feet on something in front of you.
posted by Durin's Bane at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2006

Sumo Deadlift with a high-pull.
posted by tkchrist at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2006

When I kayaked the Napali Coast in Hawaii, in addition to the core and arms as mentioned above, the sides of my thighs were sore from constantly steering a tandem kayak through oncoming ocean waves.

No advice, though. Maybe Fit to Paddle or Sea Kayaking: A Woman's Guide can help.
posted by billtron at 7:26 PM on September 18, 2006

In my opinion, if you get sore or feel exercised by sea kayaking, you're not optimizing your paddle. In my experience, a slow, steady pace is the most efficient way to cover the long distances you cover sea kayaking. I've seen people take off like rockets, only to fall back after hours of paddling.

The one thing that'll make a huge difference to your comfort level will be the weight of the paddle. Try to make sure it's a fiberglass or carbon fiber model that weighs ounces, not pounds.

If they're like every other group of paddlers I've met, these guys would probably be happy to loan you a boat and give you some tips. If you're sore after a daytrip, maybe it's time to hit the gym.
posted by atchafalaya at 5:58 AM on September 19, 2006

Sounds like a nice trip...I just had a similar experience, kayaking 14 miles across L.I. Sound having never kayaked before.

I will second the notion about strengthening the core. If you're paddling properly, you'll mainly be using these muscles (back and abs). Stretching is also a good suggestion - wish I had done more of that in preparation!

Goog luck!
posted by Jhaus at 4:05 PM on September 19, 2006

L Pullups and Sumo deadlift high pulls (suggested above) are great suggestions and I totally concur. My favorite ab exercises are hanging leg raises and knees to elbows. This page has a slideshow (about halfway down the alphabetized list) of the knees to elbows. The hanging leg raise is simple: hang as if you were going to do a pull-up, then raise your legs straight out in front of you (hard) or pull your knees up into a tuck (easier). Both exercises are made quite difficult by the fact that you need to stabilize yourself with your arms and trunk while your abs work.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 4:34 PM on September 19, 2006

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