Summer is here and wherever you live, water sports reign supreme. But to get the most out of sport like rowing, canoeing and kayaking, your upper body strength may need a boost. For seasoned competitors and amateurs alike who want to keep pace, we’ve got some great weight-training tips to get you going this season.
The training program you choose should suit your current fitness level as well as your long-term fitness goals. First, decide whether your training should focus on endurance or strength. Weight training and aerobic conditioning are critical for both. In his article “Weight Training for Rowing, Kayaking and Canoeing” trainer Paul Rogers notes that proper weight training for water sports should be done in phases, the build muscle and basic strength — focusing on “moderately heavy” weights and then moving on to heavier loads. This approach essentially trains your body’s nervous system together with your muscles; but while it builds up your muscles, it doesn’t necessarily increase your strength. The key is to focus on strength while developing more explosive power — which is what’s needed, of course, to get a good start or quick finish in a rowing, canoeing or kayaking competition. And even if your plan involves simply hitting the river with friends, lighter weight loads and faster lifts can further increase your power and help you keep pace.
Of course, don’t ignore your upper body altogether, advises Rodgers. Your hips, glutes, thighs and abs are of equal importance to maintaining power. Squats and deadlifts can help you build strength and power for those areas.
Whether you train in a supervised fitness studio or have your own home gym, it’s important to warm up and cool down adequately before and after training sessions. Athletes competing in water sports have a greater chance of back and shoulder injuries, largely due to repetitive rowing motions. Regular training using a good quality indoor rower or rowing machine can protect against such injury. Sensible strength training can also help you avoid injury. If you experience joint pain rows or pull-ups, see a trainer or doctor before moving on.