Kayaking can be such a serene summer activity — the sights and sounds of the rippling water and the warm sunshine touching down on my shoulders transport me to a much calmer state.
On the flip side, kayaking is also really, really challenging. The constant paddling to propel the boat through the water makes my arms feel like jelly — as you can imagine, lifting the kayak into the back of my dad's truck is quite a feat afterward. But I'm tired of cutting my kayak sessions short because I'm feeling the burn, so I'm tweaking my at-home workout routine and adding in arm exercises that'll help me feel stronger in my paddle strokes.
"In order to get the most out of your kayaking experience and to ensure you can get through whatever the water may throw at you, you will want to make sure that your upper body, as well as your core, is strong to withstand the balancing act that is required!" Annie Mulgrew, an NASM-certified personal trainer and CITYROW VP founding instructor, says.
"With each stroke, your body is working to maintain stability, so adding strength training to your workout routine that focuses on your core muscles — especially your obliques — as well as your upper body, as mentioned before, will make you a stronger kayaker!"
In fact, Mulgrew says the sport also requires the use of muscles in the upper back, shoulders, your chest, and your biceps and triceps. You can start boosting your kayaking stroke strength with this short workout curated by Mulgrew.
Do each of these exercises for 12-15 reps using medium weights. This entire circuit can be done for 3-5 rounds. Rest about 60-90 seconds between rounds.
Renegade Row + Push Up
- With a medium weight in each hand, come into a plank position, shoulder stacked over the wrists and palms facing one another. Widen feet to create a stable base.
- Pull the weight in the right hand toward the rib cage, keeping hips and shoulders square to the floor.
- Pause for a moment with the weight touching the right side of the torso.
- Slowly, return the weight to the floor and repeat on the left side.
- To make this move more challenging, do a push up in-between sides. To modify, place knees on the ground.
Tall Kneeling Bicep Curl Into an Overhead Press
"Tall kneeling position is one of our favorites at CITYROW. It is a humbling position, as you are not able to use momentum to lift weights. It requires trunk stability and works your glutes and abdominal muscles," Mulgrew says.
- Kneel with both knees on the ground (roll up a mat if you need extra padding).
- Make sure knees are directly under your hips and your toes are tucked.
- Engage your glutes and sit your torso upright, stacking your shoulders on top of your hips.
- Holding onto a medium weight in each hand, bend your elbows to curl the weights toward the shoulders, then extend both arms directly overhead, palms facing the midline of the body.
- Slowly return the weights to the starting position.
- Your glutes and abs must continually engage in order to keep the torso upright.
Tall Kneeling Frontal + Lateral Raise
- In the same tall kneeling position, hold on to a lighter medium weight in each hand, with arms in front of the body — palms facing the upper legs.
- Keeping your glutes and abdominals engaged and pressing hips forward, lift the weights up in front of the body with straight arms until the wrists come to shoulder height — no higher.
- Slowly return to starting position, then rotate the arms to the sides of the torso — palms facing in toward the sides of the hips.
- Lift the weights out to the side or laterally, palms facing down, with straight arms until wrists come to
- Slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the frontal raise. A frontal raise and a lateral raise constitutes one rep.
Reclined Chest Press in Bridge Position
- Lie down on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor, and head relaxed on the mat.
- Holding on to a medium weight in each hand, bend your elbows out to the side of your torso, creating a 90-degree angle in the arms with palms facing forward.
- Lift your hips up off the floor as you extend both arms straight up toward the ceiling.
- Slowly bend elbows and place hips back on the floor to return to the starting position.