by Brad

October 22, 2021

How to Train for Kayaking

The best way to boost your kayaking performance is by increasing the duration and frequency of your paddling sessions. All the same, if you’re not a professional athlete, you might not be committed enough to train for more than 20 hours weekly. 

Therefore, you’ll have to find another way to train for kayaking. How about “land-based” kayaking workouts to boost your endurance and strength?

A properly planned kayak training schedule can substantially impact your kayaking and reduce the chances of getting injured during your adventure. Plus, it will make your trip much less tiring and more fun! That said, here’s what you need to know about how to train for kayaking.

Why You Should Train for Kayaking

Why You Should Train for Kayaking

Kayaking calls for a rare combination of several variables, which is why you need extra training despite your present fitness level. So, here’s why you need additional training for paddling:

It enhances your core and stability 

Stability and balance are vital for maintaining control and proper posture when kayaking. While strength is crucial, it is the core that promotes the correct kayaking motion.

It boosts your strength

You’ll become more proficient at paddling as your muscles become stronger. Also, strength workouts translate to a bigger margin between sailing and optimum effort kayaking. Again, working out increases leg and torso stamina.

It promotes metabolism

It is essential that your lungs and heart keep providing the body with oxygen as you work out. Nevertheless, you must focus on your endurance or muscle capacity to do specific actions without tiring fast. Frequent aerobic workouts can come in handy in promoting both, thus making you a more efficient paddler.

Training Program for Kayaking 

Training Program for Kayaking 

Now that you know the importance of training for kayaking let’s delve into the necessary workouts and the training schedule.

Begin working out 6-8 weeks before your kayaking trip. A decent combination of different workouts weekly involves:

  • Strength training for three alternate days
  • Cardio sessions for two non-consecutive days
  • Resting for two alternate days

Kayaking Workouts 

Open book

It’s always recommended to begin by warming up before delving into intense workouts. So, lay on one side with your knees bent at 900. Open up your arm as you turn your head. Next, rest your arms on one another. With this, try to get a good stretch via your back. Again, when it comes to your arms, move them as far as you’re comfortable with.

Make sure you don’t stretch too much to trigger a muscle pull. Do these for 20 seconds to properly warm-up before the other workouts.

Skater with uppercut 

After you’re done warming up, it’s time for cardio. No workout is complete without incorporating a bit of cardio. This exercise will improve your balance, endurance, and shoulder strength.

Hold a dumbbell on both hands and stand up straight. Jump to your right side, with your left arm positioned across your chest. Then jump to the left with your right hand placed across your chest. Make sure that as your arms are moving, you’re engaging your core. Do 15 on each side, and ensure your knees are not landing too far over your toes.

Training for Kayaking

Kneeling chopped 

Like the skater with an uppercut, this workout focuses on your core by toughening the lower and upper abdominal muscles. Place any of your resistance band’s end marginally above your shoulder’s height. 

Kneel parallel to where the band is positioned and hold the band’s free end using both hands. Lift your right foot with the knee upright. Your left foot is directly beneath your left shoulder.

Now begin pulling the band towards your body while turning your upper body. However, don’t move your knees. Keep your arms straight while pulling. Also, pull with your core and back instead of your arms. Do 15 of these on both sides, and if you want to work a bit harder, you can move further from the band’s anchor point.

Kneeling lift 

Also referred to as the work chop, this kayaking workout focuses on enhancing your lower and upper abdominal muscles. Place any of the band’s ends at the same height as your ankle.

Stands on its left side, and kneel with your left knee and your right foot forward. Hold the band with both arms and start moving your core to the right, pulling the band in an upward motion across your body.

Then go back to your original position, and repeat. Your knees should not move, and your arms should remain straight. Move with your torso instead of your arms. Repeat this 15 times in each direction. Moreover, to make it more intense, you can move further from the anchor point. Again, you can move near the anchor point to make it easier.

Single-leg squat and row 

The single-let squat and row workout strengthens the core and improves stability by engaging both the core and the hip muscles. Position one end of your resistance band somewhat above your shoulder’s height. 

Stand facing the band’s anchor point with your right hand gripping it. Then bend at a right angle against your ribcage. Do one leg squat with your left foot, stretching out your right arm as you squat. Use your free arm to offset your momentum.

Do 15 of these exercises on both sides

How to do kayaking workouts

Pull down 

Pulldowns come in handy in building stamina in the shoulder muscles to handle the paddling motion when kayaking. Position any of the resistance band’s ends marginally above your shoulder’s height. Leave a small distance between your feet, and hold one end of the band with your left hand. 

Pull down the band till it reaches your right thigh, with your arms straight and core tight, and retreat to your original position.

Repeat 20 times for each hand.

Crunch and twist 

This workout increases your core’s strength as it engages the abdominal muscles and obliques. Lie facing upwards with your hands across your chest. Bend your knees and don’t leave space between them. 

Do a crunch by lifting your upper body and head. Leave a small gap between your chest and chin, as it allows your neck to stay in a neutral placement. Move your head towards your right knee as you go up.

Then go back to your initial position, and repeat this, moving your head towards the left knee. Do these 15 times moving your head in either direction.

Book grab 

Last is this workout that is as simple as it is effective. Stand straight with your hands on your side. Hold a book’s spine in the middle with your left arm. Make sure your arm and the book are hanging downwards, on your left side for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other hand. Do these 15 times on each hand.

Kayaking Workouts


Also known as plank press, plank-ups are handy in working your core and chest. While the shoulder and back muscles are often used when kayaking, the muscles in the chest act as stabilizers.

Begin in a high plank, and spread out your fingers. Then place your arms beneath your shoulders, and stretch out your legs. Squeeze the muscles on your thighs to involve the core and allow your body to remain in a straight position. Next, lower your body to the forearms. Press your arms towards the floor separately to retreat to your initial stance.

Dumbbell squat and press

In terms of strength training, the dumbbell squat & press, otherwise known as dumbbell thruster, focus on your whole body in one motion. This workout begins as a typical squat but finishes as an above-your-head shoulder press.

This blend lets you build strength, especially on your lower body, and muscular stamina as well. Mainly, it focuses on the quads and glutes, though it also works on the upper body and enhances your core’s stability.

Final Thoughts on How to Train for Kayaking

Stand upright with feet apart, and hold dumbbells on both hands. Raise the dumbbells at shoulder height, close to the ears, and bend your elbows.

Start going down like you’re squatting with your thighs almost parallel to the ground. Ensure the knees are lined up with the toes. However, if you can’t squat that much without affecting your form, you don’t have to. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

Now, begin going up and go back to the standing position, and lower yourself once more. Squeeze the dumbbells over your head, which will bring your biceps closer to the ears.

Next, return to your initial stance. Do these 15 times per set and at least three sets per day for optimal strength. Once you’re finished, take a break and do them one or two more times, and you’re done for the day. Do these workouts three or four days weekly so that you can be ready and confident when it’s time to paddle through the waters!

Hopefully, this guide has provided some insight on how to train for kayaking, though you should still remember that the best way to sharpen your skills is to go out and kayak.

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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