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Kayaking for fitness
An 8-week program to get fit and have fun
¦ Although they are perfect for day trips,
expeditions, fishing and birding excursions,
and terrific way to mellow out at the cottage,
many people are also starting to see how
great the kayak can be as a piece of fitness
equipment. Wherever there are suitable bodies
of water to paddle, kayaking can be built into
daily and weekly routines for achieving total
body health and fitness.
The fact is, we’re on the verge of a fitness
Week 1 day 1 day 2 day 3 day 4
revolution—and it’s not just elite paddlers
name of
preparing for a race or expedition. A whole
Posture Perfect
Picking up the
Workout pace
Junk Paddle Easy Flow
new crowd has switched on to kayaking,
Easy and intense Easy Easy
seeking out the general fitness benefits that
intensity level Easy Zone 1
Zone 1 and 3-4 Zone 1 and 2 Zone 1
it offers—to lose weight, build strength and
muscle tone, increase health and to look and
Beginner: Beginner: Beginner: Beginner:
45 min 40 min 50 min 60 min
feel good. Intermediate: Intermediate: Intermediate: Intermediate:
What is drawing people to this sport now?
55 min 50 min 60 min 75 min
Many are plagued with injuries from cycling
Advanced: Advanced: Advanced: Advanced:
65 min 60 min 70 min 90 min
or running. In looking for other ways to stay
fit, they discover that kayaking works the the 8-week program. These zones are based Name of Workout: Posture Perfect
whole body, giving an extra workout to the on percentage of your maximum heart rate. Type: Skills and Rhythm
oft-overlooked abs and shoulders. Because
• Zone 1: Frequently used in these workouts,
Intensity Level: Easy, Zone 1
kayaking with proper technique works the
this is your long distance, steady and easy
Duration: Warm-up 10 min
entire abdominal area, it also develops
intensity zone. You can talk comfortably,
Workout Beginner 25 min
essential core strength. The importance
but still need to take good breaths between
Intermediate 35 min
of core strength as the foundation of total
each sentence. (60-70% of maximum
Advanced 45 min
fitness has received a lot more press in recent
heart rate)
Cool-down 10 min
years. Strong muscles in your abdominal core
give you better posture, slim your waistline,
• Zone 2: Slightly more intense. You will very insTRuCTiOns:
and support you physically in every activity
rarely work in this zone.
The goal is to get on the water and start
from simple everyday movement to running • Zone 3: A good pace for racing. You will paddling. Focus less on how long or hard you
marathons, which also means fewer injuries. only be able to say a few words before are paddling and more on skills and technique.
needing another breath and you are
Day 1 workouts throughout the program
WEEk 1 TO 4
working very hard.
will have a technical focus, not necessarily
sTamina and gEnERal fiTnEss
• Zone 4: (80-90% of maximum heart
intensity. So just go out and have an easy
Over the first four weeks, you will develop
rate) requires hard effort, which is not
paddle, maintaining Zone 1 intensity. During
the kayak specific muscle groups, paddling
sustainable. Your muscles will feel the
this session, focus on paddling with good
technique and a stronger fitness base. This
build up of lactic acid causing them to feel
posture. This means sitting up straight with a
period will prepare you for the strength and sluggish slight forward lean in the upper body and your
endurance workouts of the last four weeks. legs bent.
• Zone 5: This is your highest intensity
We will do some intensity drills and longer
possible. You will not be able to talk for all
Good paddling posture will give you the
paddling sessions at a steady aerobic zone, as
your breathing.
most control over your boat’s edging, let you
well as sessions focusing on skills. rotate your upper body the most effectively,
and give your strokes the most power.
HEaRT RaTE ZOnEs WEEk 1 day 1
This is a segment from
Whether or not you have a heart rate As you spend more time in a kayak, and your Kayaking for Fitness: An
monitor, it’s a good idea to calculate how skills improve, your paddle will evolve into a 8-Week Program to Get Fit
hard you are exercising based on your heart natural extension of your arms. When holding and Have Fun, authored by optimize your training. These different your paddle, maintain a secure but light grip Jodi Bigelow and published
levels can be broken down into Heart Rate on it. An overly tight grip will only lead to sore by The Heliconia Press
Zones, which we’ll be referencing throughout forearms and potential tendonitis. (
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