SK Team Paddle Joe Crespi
FIT TO PADDLE FURTHER: CONDITIONING AND KAYAKING
As any Florida kayaking veteran will tell you, paddling isn’t just an exciting pastime—it’s also a serious workout. An hour of vigorous paddling will help you burn about 600 calories, engaging muscles all over the body as you propel yourself through the water and work to keep your balance.
Because kayaking is so physically demanding, improving your fitness can help you paddle more effectively. If you hope to tackle a long-distanceFlorida kayaking excursion, you’ll need to prepare your body for the challenge, and you can do so both on and off the water.
Your physical capability while kayaking will be dictated by four elements of your fitness:
Strong muscles make your strokes faster and more powerful. To boost your paddling strength, remember to work more than just your arms—you draw a lot of power from your core while paddling, while the legs work to keep you balanced in the boat. Sprinting, surfing and performing power strokes in your kayak can be great ways to build strength on the water.
When on land, there are many exercises that can help you build muscle strength all over your body, including:
- Bench press
- Arm and leg curls
All of your muscles need a steady supply of blood and the oxygen it carries to continue working efficiently. Boosting your cardiovascular fitness will improve your blood flow to all the body’s tissues, helping your muscles perform better.
Any kind of kayaking can help you work on cardiovascular fitness, as can activities like:
- Tennis and many other active sports
If you hope to maintain a steady speed and paddle through a lengthy tour, then endurance will be important. To build your endurance for kayaking, it will help to take intermediate to long tours daily, especially if you’re getting ready for a multi-day trek.
You can also work on your muscular endurance in the weight room. For endurance, you can use the same kind of exercises as you do for strength training, but should reduce the weight and increase the number of reps. The weights should be light enough for you to perform eight to 12 reps with each muscle group.
Strength without flexibility can lead to tension that limits your range of motion and efficiency. Becoming more flexible can help you turn your kayak more effectively and get stronger power strokes with the full rotation of your torso.
The best way to improve your flexibility is to stretch, both before and after you paddle. Stretches are more effective when your muscles are warmed up, so start by running in place or doing some light paddling, then do a few stretches like toe touches, torso twists and arm reaches to get your muscles loose and ready. After you paddle, stretch again to prevent soreness and cramps.
Working on these four aspects of your fitness can help you paddle more productively, but there are many more ways to exercise than what we’ve listed here. How do you stay fit for Florida kayaking? Give us your workout tips in the comments below!