Gym Work For Kayaking

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Stopper
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Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Stopper »

So as part of a new year, new me! fitness drive I am joining a gym for the first time in my life. Not really sure what to expect or to do. But was wondering if anyone here as any good advice/links to the type of training that would good to build up strength for kayaking. Not really interested in the whole "BIG" thing, but can not help but think a little more power would of course be of use.

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davebrads
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by davebrads »

You are dead right with power. White water kayaking consists mostly of long periods of low intensity interspersed with short periods of high intenstity.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the most important group of muscles is the core - you need a strong core not only to generate the power, but also to provide connectivity between your arms and your boat.

So any exercises you do should target these areas.

Power is strength x speed. The traditional way of increasing power is to first develop the strength, and then develop the speed. The modern way of thinking is to develop the two together, but as this involves things like Olympic lifts where you need to be able to drop the weights, or throwing heavy things, gyms are not overly keen on this so you are mostly stuck with the old way. If you want to get stronger you need to be lifting weights close to your maximum, and be doing sets of between 4 and 6 repetitions. Once you have developed the strength you can translate this to power, but this is probably best done out of the gym - e.g. doing short sprints in your boat.

Stay away from machines wherever possible. These constrain the movements and prevent you from using your core, and also tend to limit the muscles that are working. The result of this is that you end up with strong major muscles, but without the support structure and connectivity you can't use it properly in the real world, and you may end up injuring yourself.

My session almost always includes a set of deadlifts and a set of cleans (where you lift the weight from the floor to your shoulders in a single movement). Then I will mix it up, but on the whole I will be using free weights wherever possible, dumbells and kettlebells, though I will also use cable machines where they are the only way to replicate a particular movement.

Most gyms give you a free PT session, and it is worth taking advantage of this. In my experience the instructors do know what they are talking about, and if you tell them what your aims are they will give you some exercises to suit. As you get more into it there is a wealth of information on the internet - just be careful to keep your aims in mind, there is an awful lot of stuff aimed at bodybuilders and fitness freaks.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Strad »

Just some quick thoughts - first off 'big' and 'strong' don't equate in the way you think they do - take a look at climbers or dancers - they don't look like schwarzenegger in his day but pack some strength! Second thing always balance each joint / area of body so if you are doing 30 reps of 30lb bicep curls, you need to do 30 reps of 30lb tricep extensions, if you do 50 sit ups, do 50 good mornings or dorsal raises so you keep front to back balance.

Most gyms will run through the basics face to face as part of your induction. If you want a book that has a good mix of exercises tips to consider try this one: Royal Marines Circuit Training
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Franky »

I find swimming pretty good exercise for paddling. It improves stamina and gets lots of different muscles working, especially if you combine breast stroke and crawl. It's particularly good for shoulders, which is what you want - but also chest, biceps, back and legs. I think that's all quite good for white water paddling, especially if you don't do the latter that often, because you may need to make sudden moves involving muscles that don't normally earn their keep!

Swimming probably doesn't exercise your hip muscles much, but I'm not sure there are many things that do apart from kayaking!

If I don't swim for a while, I'm noticeably stiffer when I paddle.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Wadhamite »

Franky wrote:I find swimming pretty good exercise for paddling. It improves stamina and gets lots of different muscles working, especially if you combine breast stroke and crawl. It's particularly good for shoulders, which is what you want - but also chest, biceps, back and legs. I think that's all quite good for white water paddling, especially if you don't do the latter that often, because you may need to make sudden moves involving muscles that don't normally earn their keep!

Swimming probably doesn't exercise your hip muscles much, but I'm not sure there are many things that do apart from kayaking!

If I don't swim for a while, I'm noticeably stiffer when I paddle.
And also very good for building the lung capacity for things like multiple roll attempts and, er, swimming out of your boat... Plus it's low impact and therefore kind(ish) to your joints.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by deej517 »

You will find that swimming is one of the best methods of increasing and strengthening the shoulder joints and their surrounding associated muscles, its also the best way of building stamina into shoulder, torso and arm movements, in a typical half hour session in a pool you can achieve thousands of repetitions of movement without risking damage throwing weights about. Hips and legs can be exercised using breast stroke leg kick which used core muscles as well as large muscles in thighs. One of the best for core muscles in abdomen and back is butterfly kick grab yourself a kick board and a pair of flippers after a couple of lengths of the pool you'll feel the effects. Swimming has the advantage of no additional resistance (ie weights) just the water. Also spending time swimming will eventually be of benefit when you're knackered and bail out of the boat.

Best wishes with whatever method you choose.

David

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by DaveBland »

Sack off the gym, it's totally boring. Play canoe polo once a week for an hour and you have all the cardio, paddling related muscle-work [and fun] you need.

Plus a few sit-ups and press-ups at home before bed.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Mark R »

Just go for a run/ MTB/ paddle.

But if you really can't get out the house, this works for me right now...

Fan rowing machine (100 quid on eBay)
Bluetooth headphones (20 quid on Amazon)
Box Set playing on laptop - keep rowing until each episode finishes. I've done with Walking Dead Season 5, currently on House of Cards.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by davebrads »

You do need to start by identifying what it is you want/need to work on. White Water Kayaking does not put great stress on your cardiovascular system, nor is in an endurance sport. All the body's systems can be modified, but with whatever you are trying to improve requires overload to promote adaptation. So if you want to be able to run long distances, you run long distances, but if you want to run fast you run short distances. Running long distances has minimal effect on your speed.

The trouble with swimming/rowing machine/running is they are great for CV and endurance, but they are not very good for building power. You could do swim sprints which will have have some effect on strength, but you will get much quicker results by using weights. If you want to improve strength (without bulking up excessively), and thereby power, you need to do a maximum of 6 repetitions at a load that is the most you can manage.

I do agree gyms are boring, and especially the weights rooms are mostly inhabited by meatheads which is very off-putting, and that is why I generally only concentrate on gym work when it is difficult to get out as it is at this time of year. I also struggle with motivation on any CV machine in any environment and rely on my cycle commute to maintain my CV fitness.

BTW Canoe Polo is great, full of explosive bursts, and includes agility and flexibility, but if you are serious about improving your fitness then one hour a week isn't going to cut it.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by eeonz »

Time spent strengthening your "rotator cuff" muscles would also be well spent, to help keep the shoulders in balance.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Franky »

davebrads wrote:The trouble with swimming/rowing machine/running is they are great for CV and endurance, but they are not very good for building power.
That's not true, with regard to swimming - or at least, it's only true if you bimble up and down the pool at a pace that is "comfortable". There's nothing wrong with that - but you can build power very quickly and easily by pushing yourself. I don't mean going flat out, I mean going maybe 50% faster than is "comfortable". You'll find that the endorphins quickly offset any feeling of actual discomfort, and you start enjoying it. Swim 20 lengths like that 3 times a week, and before you know it, you will have bulked out considerably.

But it's important to pace yourself. If you keep swimming 50 lengths at full pelt, it won't be long before you strain your shoulder. (I got bursitis in my early 20s from swimming too hard, and could hardly move my shoulder for several months. Since then, I'm always on the alert for any sign of muscle strain and I rein myself in immediately if I notice it.)

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Franky »

davebrads wrote: BTW Canoe Polo is great, full of explosive bursts, and includes agility and flexibility, but if you are serious about improving your fitness then one hour a week isn't going to cut it.
I always thought that the best practise for the "explosive bursts" involved in WW kayaking is not more explosive bursts, but relatively gentle, but forceful and rhythmic activity that strengthens the muscles around the joints so that they can handle the explosive bursts when they're needed.*

Perhaps - shock horror - flat water paddling is a good way of getting fit for white water paddling?? :)

* It's quite common for middle-aged blokes to damage their joints playing high-impact sports like football - perhaps because it's the only exercise they get during the week. If they supplemented it with less intense exercise, they might avoid those injuries.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by davebrads »

Franky wrote:
davebrads wrote:The trouble with swimming/rowing machine/running is they are great for CV and endurance, but they are not very good for building power.
That's not true, with regard to swimming - or at least, it's only true if you bimble up and down the pool at a pace that is "comfortable". There's nothing wrong with that - but you can build power very quickly and easily by pushing yourself. I don't mean going flat out, I mean going maybe 50% faster than is "comfortable". You'll find that the endorphins quickly offset any feeling of actual discomfort, and you start enjoying it. Swim 20 lengths like that 3 times a week, and before you know it, you will have bulked out considerably.
20 lengths is around 10 minutes or so - so yes you will be developing strength and power. But the power you will develop is the kind that can be sustained for 10 minutes. White water kayaking really needs explosive power - often a single stroke is all that is needed, and rarely more than three or four at a time. Your 10 minute swimming sessions will improve your instant power - after all you will be stronger, but if you really want results you must target the system you are trying to improve. Sessions such as you describe will be very useful, but should really supplement the gym work. Mix it up a bit with single flat out lengths and it will be even better.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Franky »

davebrads wrote: 20 lengths is around 10 minutes or so - so yes you will be developing strength and power. But the power you will develop is the kind that can be sustained for 10 minutes. White water kayaking really needs explosive power - often a single stroke is all that is needed, and rarely more than three or four at a time. Your 10 minute swimming sessions will improve your instant power - after all you will be stronger, but if you really want results you must target the system you are trying to improve. Sessions such as you describe will be very useful, but should really supplement the gym work. Mix it up a bit with single flat out lengths and it will be even better.
I think you're assuming that I have competitive ambitions in white water kayaking. I don't. For a start, I'm 45, so well past the age at which it might even be considered; and secondly I don't enjoy competition, I just want to be as good as I can within limits that I accept.

I don't quite understand what you're saying about "the kind of power that can be sustained for 10 minutes". That sounds like pure theory to me. All I know is that swimming several times a week (for 25 years) has made me reasonably strong. I can lift fairly heavy weights, and that's not through practising lifting weights, it's through swimming and paddling. (I've probably been inside a gym 3 times in my life.)

I've seen much better paddlers than me who probably aren't as strong, but who have much better technique. It's my technique I want to work at, not my strength. After all, as someone once told me, "As you get older, you'll lose your strength, but the river won't lose its strength."

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by davebrads »

Franky wrote:I think you're assuming that I have competitive ambitions in white water kayaking. I don't. For a start, I'm 45, so well past the age at which it might even be considered; and secondly I don't enjoy competition, I just want to be as good as I can within limits that I accept.
Not at all, I am assuming that you are trying to help the OP, all I am saying that is if he wants to do some non-kayaking workout that will improve his kayaking then it should be specific to the requirements of the sport.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by DaveBland »

davebrads wrote:BTW Canoe Polo is great, full of explosive bursts, and includes agility and flexibility, but if you are serious about improving your fitness then one hour a week isn't going to cut it.
That would explain quite a lot then :)

To be fair me comment was a bit tongue in cheek, but there is a serious side to it. Paddling is the best practice for paddling. If you can work out ways to paddle more, your paddle fitness will improve. Sure other things help too.
Creeking is really not that good a workout. I reckon paddling-wise I am in better shape after the winter of polo than after the summer season of hitting the rivers.
Having said that the hardest thing about BC paddling is the climbing up and around river banks which seem to always be made of whole mountains.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by RizzRat »

So as part of a combatting fear mission I always try to stay fit and strong!

Whilst I appreciate this won't be for some/most I do a combination of the following about 4-5 times a week

Spin - heavy cardio and cycling isn't bad for hips
Metafit/Insanity - heavy cardio and body weight conditioning
Running - isn't bad for hips (is for knees) and the occasional half marathon/full marathon which isn't bad when you get stranded in Mexico and have to carry out of a gorge.
Heavy weight low rep conditioning
MTB - all of the above and it's outside and fun!

I've found kayaking isn't so great at maintaining fitness so have to do other things along side to avoid turning in to a chubster!!!!
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Franky »

davebrads wrote:Not at all, I am assuming that you are trying to help the OP, all I am saying that is if he wants to do some non-kayaking workout that will improve his kayaking then it should be specific to the requirements of the sport.
Sure. We just clearly differ in our views of how specific to these requirements swimming is.

I'm only speaking from personal experience when I say that vigorous swimming seems to be good (I didn't say perfect) fitness training for paddling.

I could supplement swimming with weights, because obviously any extra amount of power is a good thing, but I really can't be bothered and my strength is most definitely adequate for my paddling ambitions. My paddling accidents are invariably down to errors of judgment, not lack of strength.

I know some people find swimming lengths of a pool boring, and I can understand that, but for whatever reason it doesn't apply to me. I just let my body do its thing and my mind wander.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by DaveBland »

Franky wrote:...vigorous swimming seems to be good (I didn't say perfect) fitness training for paddling
i know a few paddlers for who it is truly a perfect match.
dave

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Lancs_lad »

Why dont you see the new "fitness" regime as a potential new hobby that can help kayaking rather than the reason to do it.

I will quite happily say that lifting and kayaking are equal to me but one i do more often and is a lot more reliable!!

If you decide to throw yourself into it get some instruction (I would say from a PT but good ones are hard to spot) as you will want to be using the free weights but with poor technique you will injure yourself.

To start with as mentioned you need to focus on increasing your strength. A simple workout consisting of compound exercises will do.

Warm up on each exercise and then do 5 sets of 5 reps (except dead lifts only do 1 set of 5 reps) with a weight which is taxing. (only once you have the correct technique). 3 times a week is enough ABA, BAB.

Workout A
Squat
Bench
Row

Workout B
Squat
Press
Dead lift

When you are accustomed to the workload you can add pull ups to one of the days if you like.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by davebrads »

RizzRat wrote:I've found kayaking isn't so great at maintaining fitness so have to do other things along side to avoid turning in to a chubster!!!!
This is a real problem for WW kayaking. For most of us it is something we get to do irregularly, we can go months without getting out then we'll do several weekends on the trot or go to the alps for a week or two. A lucky few can get out more regularly - I know someone who would run the Fairy Glen on his way home from work - but most of us aren't that lucky so we have to do something else to keep us fit, especially if we are pushing the grades. Lack of fitness can be a real problem, you are more likely to make mistakes, and be punished harder when things start to go wrong.
Lancs_lad wrote:Why dont you see the new "fitness" regime as a potential new hobby that can help kayaking rather than the reason to do it.
Absolutely. I only really hit the gym at this time of year, and for a while I get really into it, but after a few months it gets boring, but fortunately the evenings are getting lighter and I can get outside. If you like swimming, then swim. If you like rowing machines in front of the telly do that instead, it is all going to help. But if you want to improve your fitness for WW kayaking the gym is still the best option, except:
DaveBland wrote:Paddling is the best practice for paddling.
So if you can get to a polo session it is great, and good fun too. The only problem is it is not something you can just dip in and out of as it suits, you need a team with commitment who will book a weekly session at the pool, and naturally they will be looking for some kind of commitment from anyone joining their sessions. I am a slalom paddler, and a slalom training session is about as specific as you can get for WW kayaking except for getting out on white water. Do a session in your boat, I'm sure most people can at least get access to some flat water somewhere. Since I have moved house and no longer live close to a slalom training site I use a stretch of flatish river in the middle of town which is well lit and do a work out either in my slalom boat or in my Burn. The workout is much the same in either, a mixture of short burst sprints, tight turns and longer sprints.
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by morsey »

It'a all about the Guns!

Stopper
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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by Stopper »

Thanks for the replies and sorry for the delay been away from the internet for a bit.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by flashollie »

For river running I think the starting point has to be cardio vascular. Running, rowing, swimming or cycling take your pick but if you are out all day paddling, dragging boats around, swimming or chasing up and down river banks a pair of lungs and a heart is worthwhile. I go for running as its quick and cheap to do. I do cycle to work as well but I like the specificity that running has for the number of times I seem to be running down a bank following my boat!

I also think core work is vital for kayaking. So much paddling power comes from trunk rotation and this hasn't been mentioned much above. You will need this if you want to make use of the guns. Your stronger and shoulders and arms need a solid core to transmit this power to the boat and pull it across the water. The circuit training route (squat thrusts burpees plank press up all will be in the marines fitness book mentioned above) is a goodway to get this and can be balanced with the weights.
Also medicine ball work or kettle bells I think.....I just got one of these cheap in Lidl this week so if anyone has any recommendations about how to use this I'd be grateful.

Free weights are the way to go if you do choose weights as they ensure you get all those little stabilising muscles strengthening as well.
@ Dave Brads - I thought for general fitness power and strength required in kayaking 3 sets of 10 reps of a given exercise rather than the 4 to 6 reps mentioned above was the way to go?????

Don't neglect stretching either. "Do yoga with me" on YouTube is your friend for this.

All the above only works if you do it!!! Choose something you enjoy are motivated by and stick at. Don't be afraid to change it around to maintain the interest and the motivation. Good luck.

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by steveparry »

Yoga...it can be unbelievably powerful and 'flexible is the new strong'. It'll develop core strength like you wouldn't believe and keep you healthy with the stressy lower back movements associated with paddling. I am utterly hooked to practising in a heated room and this hits cardio too. Seriously, try it out.
Steve

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Re: Gym Work For Kayaking

Post by RichA »

Antagonistic muscles, as Strad hinted at earlier. Don't neglect them or you will suffer in the long term.

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