Your Ultimate Winter Paddle Fitness Plan | Rapid Magazine | Rapid Media
Heather Herbeck celebrates the new year, standing outside with confetti falling around her. Photo: Screen Capture

Get fit for 2016 with this 8-week training plan

Start your full year of fitness training by focusing on these basics:

Muscular Strength is the amount of resistance your muscle can take in a single contraction. Muscular strength is important for taking on sudden, external forces while kayaking and maintaining proper and safe body mechanics. It helps you go where you want to go when paddling challenging lines through rapids and it’s needed for carrying your kayak, putting your kayak on top of a vehicle and putting on your sprayskirt.

Muscular Endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles, to work continuously for a long time without tiring.  This is important for improving posture and alignment, thus decreasing the likelihood of acute or chronic injury.


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Training Plan:

GOAL: Build muscular strength and endurance with exercises specific to paddling

TIME: January and February (8 weeks)

FREQUENCY: Three times a week on land and 1-2 times a week on-water

DURATION:   3-5 sets of 6-10 reps for strength, 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps for endurance

These paddle-specific exercises for strength are demonstrated in the video below:

  1. Kettlebell swings, swinging kettlebell high and also keeping it low with more weight
  2. Overhead press
  3. Cleans
  4. Goblet squats
  5. Pull-ups
  6. Cable rows (Click here for video demonstration.)
  7. Push-ups (Click here for video demonstration.)

Remember to focus on technique. With strength training, you need to move with purpose—execute slow and controlled movements and work each exercise at a weight that causes fatigue at the end of the set.

Paddle-specific exercises for endurance:

Flatwater sessions in your boat:

  1. First four weeks – Paddle at a moderate pace for 20 minutes or two 10-minute intervals. You should be able to hold a conversation with a paddling partner.
  2. Second four weeks – Do five 3-minute bursts of hard paddling with a 1.5-minute recovery in between

Core training workouts for protection, power and mobility, demonstrated in the video below:

  1. Oblique twists with a medicine ball
  2. Leg extensions
  3. 4-square crunches
  4. Back extensions


A good base of muscular strength and endurance is encouraged before jumping right into these exercises. If you don’t have that base yet, start these exercises very slowly and spend some time working to perfect form. This type of training is not for everyone—we are all unique. This is just a general program.

Heather Herbeck has a B.Sc. in Exercise Science and is a pro-kayaker, Certified Personal Trainer and Level 1 Crossfit Trainer with over 15 years experience. Check out her website or fitness Facebook page, Fitness and Sport Evolution. 

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