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Kayak Fitness: Start the Season Right

Kayak Fitness: Start the Season Right

Kayak season has finally arrived. The weather is a perfect 70 degrees, a few puffy clouds float lazily in the sky.  The water ripples gently in response to the perfect current. Time to launch the season. Are you ready?

But what happened? When you sit in the kayak to test your foot pegs, you almost get stuck in the cockpit. Did your kayak shrink? Unlikely.  But you got a bit weaker and heavier over the winter.  It’s time for some kayak fitness to get yourself in shape for the kayak season, and the best place to start is with strengthening your core.

What is Your Core? 

It’s the muscles in the trunk, front, back and  sides. Any type of kayaking you do–white water, creeking, river running, lake crossing-involves a strong core. Kayak fitness based in a strong core will improve your paddling efficiency and enjoyment.

The core of the body is where all movement begins. The core muscles are key for athletic performance for any sport because they ensure efficient transfer of power from the lower body (high power) to the upper body (less powerful). The core is the mechanical link between the upper and lower body. 

Side Lying Plank 

Lie on your left side with knee and elbow bent, then push into the left forearm and left knee to raise the left hip off the ground. Keep a straight line between knee, hip and shoulder on the left side.  Hold for several seconds. Release. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides. 


Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width apart, kneed flexed and your feet directly under them.  Lift the hips slowly off the floor, engaging the gluts and core lift the hips.  Hold for several seconds.  Lower slowly.  Repeat 10 to 15 times. 

Straight Arm Paddle

When you are actually on the water kayaking, try the straight arm paddle. Hold your paddle out in front of you. Straighten your arms and lock your elbows.  Paddle, in short strokes, but keep your arms and elbows totally straight. You will have to engage your core and rotate your torso to make the kayak move.  (Well, I guess you could just sit there and drift…) 

Yoga is Effective for Kayak Fitness, Too

For releasing tension and strengthening the core. Try these two yoga exercise for kayakers:

  • Downward Facing Dog and Down Dog with Twist Downward Facing Dog: Start in a modified push up position with hands directly under your shoulders. Lift the hips up and press them back until the body is in an inverted V position and the heels are flat on the floor. Inch the hands back a bit and drop the heels more. Spread the fingers and press back through the palms to lift the hips higher.  Hold downward dog for 10 seconds.
  • Down Dog With a Twist:  For down dog with a twist, bring the right hand to the outside of the left ankle and gaze up for 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Last modified: December 4, 2021