Spring is here and it’s time to bring your workout to the water in one of the best kayaker’s workouts out there! We all know kayaking is a healthy sport, but how do you get the best out of your paddling excursion while keeping it pleasant? Here are a few ideas for the best kayaking workout you can get, aside from trying to outrun a shark.
Things you'll need:
- Kayak paddle
- Kayaking safety gear
- Get out there and stretch. Before beginning your kayaker’s workout, be sure to stretch a bit. Start out at a light pace, paddling just to get in the rhythm of it. Rest your paddle on your lap and give a good stretch to your arms, shoulders and waist. Gently twist from side to side while holding onto your yak’s sides, stretching your core. Lean forward and touch your toes, focusing on flattening your chest to your thighs. Don’t push too hard with any warm up or you’ll risk pulling a muscle. Take it slow, do a few light stretches, then paddle a bit more and repeat some stretches. Be sure your muscles feel slightly loose and pliable. Don’t forget to stretch a bit after your kayak workout, as well. Your muscles will be even easier to stretch after your intense workout.
- Break it up. Interval training is one of the best ways to get in shape and for the best kayaker’s workout, it’s an ideal way to improve your strength and endurance. Pace yourself. Paddle hard for a few minutes, then slow down and lighten it up, coasting along and enjoying the ride. After a few minutes of rest, start digging that paddle into the water again with tight, deep strokes. Concentrate on contracting your core muscles and let them do most of the work as you twist your core from side to side. Then rest a bit.
- Find nature’s markers. Look for markers up ahead—a buoy, a low-hanging tree, a pelican perched on a channel marker. Use these as your “check points,” breaking up your intervals of fast and slow between each marker. If a pelican flies over you and coasts on ahead, use that as an opportunity to “sprint” against it. Of course, unless you’re going downstream in a raging waterfall, you won’t catch the bird, but it’s a great way to keep spontaneity in your kayak workout.
- Take advantage of the water. You are paddling in a crystal clear ocean (we hope). Why aren’t you using it? Park that kayak on a beach and go for a swim. Pull your life jacket off the yak and hold it out in front of you while you paddle with your legs and complete a few laps. Your arms, shoulders and core have been getting a great workout in the kayak; it’s time to give your legs something to do. Every kayaker who works out in their yak should take some time to enjoy the water up close and personal.
- Use your paddle. It may not be very heavy, but it’s still an acceptable substitute for a workout bar and an essential part of the best kayaker’s workout. Try some strength training exercises with your paddle while you’re coasting along the river. Hold your paddle in front, elbows bent and do three sets of bicep curls. Lift your paddle over your head and twist your core from side to side. Bend down, reaching your paddle toward your feet, then sit back up. Repeat for three sets. Again, take it slow the first few sessions, and always maintain control over your actions, breathing in a controlled and regular manner. The necessity to balance in a kayak will provide you with a workout that’s just as good as using a balance ball!
Some of the best kayakers treat each paddle as a workout. With a few warm up stretches, some intervals of hard-core paddling and a bit of strength training with your paddle, you’ll not only enjoy the benefits of a more fit physique, but you’ll soon be a better, stronger kayaker than you were before.