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5 Exercises To Get You Kayak-Ready

5 Exercises To Get You Kayak-Ready

Are you feeling the burn whenever you get back on dry land after a day exploring in your kayak? No matter whether you love paddling lakes, riding the coastline, or exploring the wilderness over a weekend, kayaking is a fantastic form of exercise. Maintaining fitness while on land will help performance while out on the water and avoid certain injuries from over-exertion and strain.

The sport ensures your body develops a wide range of skills, including:


As you propel yourself through the water, you will be building your core strength; allowing you to paddle for further and longer.


Strength is nothing without endurance and regular kayaking helps to build up your stamina and endurance.


Paddling is a fantastic cardiovascular workout and can really help to give you a thorough aerobic exercise. You can even integrate some High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) for an extra beneficial workout.


As you learn to paddle smoothly through the water and learn to control your kayak, it is also a great way to boost your overall balance.

There is no better training for kayaking than getting out on the water and paddling, with the sport utilizing muscles that are hard to train in the gym. That said, there are a number of exercises and training routines that you can do at home to help boost your overall performance.

If you are looking to get kayak ready for the next time you hit the water, we have put together our top five exercises to help you. However, before you head straight to the gym and lifting weights, it is important that you listen to your body and respond accordingly. If something is hurting, then skip that exercise until you are healed and above all, only ever exercise at your own pace. Please consult your family physician if you have any health concerns before starting a new sport or exercise regime.

Warm-up tips

Before you undertake any form of exercise, you should make sure that your body is sufficiently warmed up to prevent any injury. This should be a ten-minute light session such as a brisk walk or jog, just enough to ensure that you get your heart pumping and your muscles warm. Also, consult with your physician before starting any new strenuous physical activity.

Five exercises to improve your kayaking 

1) The Rotating V-Sit

One of the best areas to target to improve your performance on the water is to focus on improving your core. The rotating V-sit is a very popular exercise as it can help to simulate the rotation and movements of paddling.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs together and flat in front of you. Hold a light to medium weight in front of your chest, a medicine ball is a great option to do this exercise with (or use a large jug filled with water).
  • Keeping your back straight, lean back around 45 degrees and then bend your knees and lift your legs off of the ground. Using your glutes to keep your balance, hold the V shape between your chest and thighs.
  • Slowly twist your waist, moving the weight towards your hip. Touch it to the floor and then return to your original position before repeating the process on the other side.
  • Complete this movement fifteen times, for three sets – however, if you are finding this difficult or easy, then decrease or increase weight or repetitions as required.

2) Plank Row

Another great exercise to boost your core, as well as strengthen your arms, back and shoulders is the Plank Row. This simple movement can really help to improve your paddling and give you more power to propel yourself through the water.

  • Position yourself on your hands and knees, holding a light or medium weight in each of your hands.
  • Slowly lift yourself into the standard plank position, keeping the weights under your hands. A regular mistake many people make when doing the plank is keeping their hips higher than they should and their back arched – so make sure you avoid this common error.
  • Shifting your weight onto one arm, slowly lift the weight in the other arm towards your shoulder in an upward row; keeping your hips square to the ground. Lower the weight back to the ground and repeat the process with the other arm.
  • Complete these reps ten times each arm, for a series of three sets. Again, amend this accordingly depending on your current fitness levels.

3) Press-up

The standard press-up is a staple of any workout routine for a reason. Capable of being completed anywhere, at any time, the press-up can help to target your core as well as boosting shoulders, chest, and triceps.

  • Keeping your hand’s shoulder-width apart and underneath your shoulders
  • Your elbows should stay close to your body as you lower yourself to the ground.
  • Ensure your head remains facing forward and your body as stiff as possible – with your knees and feet together.
  • Raise yourself back to the original starting position and repeat the process ten times to start with, increasing the number of reps as your fitness level increases.

4) The Pull-Down

For this exercise, you will need a resistance band. This is a great exercise that has been specifically designed to help you boost your core and build your endurance levels and let you handle long periods of paddling in your kayak.

  • The first thing you need to do is to secure the resistance band firmly above your shoulder height.
  • Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the end of your resistance band with your arm outstretched in front of you and slowly lower your back so that there is some resistance in the band.
  • Pull the band back in a rowing motion so that it reaches past your thigh; ensuring that you keep your body firmly planted and your arm straight throughout the process.
  • Slowly bring your arm back to its original starting position and swap over to complete the process with the other arm.
  • Repeat this exercise for 20 reps with each arm, over the course of three sets.

5) The Twist Crunch

A slight variation on the traditional crunch, the twist crunch helps to boost your core strength and develop your essential abdominal muscles; a key muscle group to help you control your kayak and power your paddling.

  • Lie down on the floor with your arms crossed over your chest and your knees bent and together.
  • Slowly raise your head and upper torso up off the ground slightly and towards your knees. Try to maintain around two inches between your chin and chest throughout the crunch – ensuring your neck is not strained at any point.
  • As you lift your head and torso up, rotate slightly towards one knee, without touching it. If you are finding this easy, you can increase or decrease how high you lift your head and how much you rotate.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down towards the ground while maintaining muscle contraction before repeating the process, this time turning towards the opposite knee.
  • Repeat this process for thirty reps, fifteen toward each knee, and complete a set of three.

Of course, as with any exercise routine, it is only one part of the puzzle towards ensuring you are ready to take on anything that a day on the water might throw your way. Alongside getting your core and your muscles prepared, you should focus on improving your nutrition as well as ensuring you stay well-rested and hydrated.

Kayak On!


I was first introduced to kayaking as a teenager when I joined a competitive canoe club. It was instant love. But when I went off to school and then got a job, adult responsibilities got in the way. Now approaching retirement, I've rekindled my kayak romance. My husband and I love to throw the kayaks on the trailer and head out on adventures. Maybe you'll join us?!

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