Build Up Your Kayaking Strength

Maybe you kayaked last summer and thought – or hoped – your fitness level would maintain over the winter. Maybe you promised yourself you’d go to the gym regularly. But maybe you got busy at work and spent most of the winter recovering on the couch watching Netflix. When you hauled out your kayak for the first time last week, you were bummed by how sore and exhausted you were at the end of an afternoon’s paddle. Never fear! Help is here!

Shiromi Nassreen wrote a very straightforward article in Trails.com identifying the muscles that are used while kayaking. Below Nassreen’s name and description of each muscle is an exercise and the Youtube channel where it can be found.

*PLEASE NOTE: None of the information in this blog is to be used instead of advice from a doctor, trainer, physiotherapist or other qualified health practitioners.

Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff controls a group of muscles that work together in the shoulder joint to control the joint during rotation. Because it is used in all kayaking maneuvers, it can tear and become inflamed. Most of us know exactly where our rotator cuff is located once it’s been injured.

Video: Exercises for a Stronger Body : How Do I Do Rotator Cuff Exercises?

Biceps Brachii

Found on the upper arm, it is used to flex the elbow and rotate the forearm. Kayakers need a lot of bicep strength in order to perform a forward stroke and cut easily through the water.

Video: Weight Training : How to Build Biceps & Forearms

Triceps Brachii

Also required for the forward stroke used in kayaking, the triceps brachii is the muscle found on the back of the upper arm and covers two-thirds of the arm’s muscle mass.

Video: Resistance Bands: Triceps


The trapezius muscles are divided into three areas: upper fibers, middle fibers, and lower fibers. Among the many functions of the trapezius muscle are moving the shoulder blades back toward the spine, moving the shoulder blade up and down, and rotating and bending the neck from side to side.

Video: Personal Fitness Tips: How to Build Your Trapezius Fast

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi (or ‘lats’) are the broad back muscles located behind the arm. The latissimus dorsi is responsible for the movement of the arm moving down and back and rotates the arm inward. This muscle is used a great deal in kayaking during high braces and rolls.

Video: BEST 3 Latissimus Dorsi Workouts at Home; NO Weights or Cables Needed


Rhomboids help to hold the scapula (shoulder blade) and connect it to the vertebrae found in the spinal column. The rhomboids help to pull the shoulder blades back toward the middle of the body.

Video: Rhomboid / Lower Trap Row Exercise for Forward Head Posture & Rounded Shoulders – Dr Mandell

How do you maintain your kayaking strength over the winter? Do you play other sports OR do you have a work-out routine?  Post a comment and let us know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>