Spending a lot of time with the same group of people leads to some interesting conversation. Since both Beth and AJ are accomplished cyclists we talked a lot about long distance cycling and how it compared to long distance paddling. Aj is an avid gamers, so there was a lot of game discussion, and what makes a good game, or what keeps a good game from being great - his level of knowledge, and the ability to pick apart a game and isolate the subtleties of what works and what doesn't is staggering, he should really work in the gaming industry. - But Beth is a personal trainer, with a degree in Kinesiology. She is my go to person when I have a training question, and training and nutrition was a regular conversation. After talking with her, I realize I eat way too much protein, and will never have need of a drink like gatorade - and you probably don't either. I asked her to create a post for me that highlighted the exercises that would benefit kayaking. I did far less intensive pre-trip workouts on this trip, then I did for the Inside Passage, and I felt it. I will never let that happen again, and now i have a guide. Below is Elizabeth Hansens Guide to training for kayak expeditions. Enjoy.
Preparing for an expedition is a time consuming process; from checking (and double checking) gear, arranging life to continue while you are away from home, and attempting to mentally prepare yourself for life in the backcountry, it is a journey of its own simply to prepare yourself mentally for all you will encounter.
Whether it’s riding a bike, hiking up a mountain or paddling in less than ideal conditions, it is nearly impossible to completely prepare yourself for the awesome experiences that lie ahead of you. Calluses are never thick enough and it’s amazing how just an hour of cold rain can wash away one’s resolve. That is why physical and mental preparation are the key to any successful expedition.
With that being said, here are some exercises I found helpful in my preparation for our expedition to Alaska (or wish I had focused more energy on before I left). Brett does a great job of breaking down the paddle stroke into phases and this article will follow the same format. Each exercise is specifically designed to target a particular element of the forward stroke and strengthen the stabilizer muscles involved. Proper body mechanics are impossible to achieve for extended amounts of time without sufficient muscular endurance. Therefore, it is recommended you do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Each phase of the forward stroke is further explained here. (note from Paddling Otaku - my current favorite version of the forward stroke lesson is in the free book "Forward" available from iTunes.) Start incorporating these exercises into your routine and almost instantly you will see a difference in the quality of your forward stroke!
5 points of Contact
A. Bird Dog
C. Upright Row
B. Cable Twist
C. Side Bridge
B. Inverted Row
As a starting guide, incorporate a single phase at a time into your regular workouts. For example, if you typically do cardio on Fridays, you would complete your regular workout and then add in your 5 points of contact work. Make sure to give yourself at least a day of rest between strength work to allow for recovery
And finally remember: “In a kayak, the harder you work, the slower you go.”
So don’t work harder, work more efficiently. Efficient bodies effectively utilize energy with minimal waste, making your expedition that much more enjoyable.
-- Beth Hansen is a veteran personal trainer living and working in her hometown of Greensboro NC. She graduated from the University of North Carolina with a BS in Kinesiology and will finish her MS in Exercise Physiology in Fall of 2014. An ACE certified personal trainer, Beth is a NOLS graduate who specializes in conditioning established athletes and novice adventurers for various types of expeditions.