Back Workout for Paddling continues the series of specific exercises for paddlers, targeting a different muscle group every month. Each exercise in the series, will be a part of a full body routine to be done three days a week. It's a great routine for athletes in almost any sport. For the paddler, it will build endurance, muscle, balance and coordination.

Perform each exercise by doing three sets of twenty reps. Rest only long enough, between each set, to catch your breath. No longer than two minutes between sets. If you feel out of breath and need a longer rest break, lower the weight used until you can do each set with a thirty second to one minute rest.

Last time we focused on the legs, and this month, we'll focus on exercises to build up the back:

Lat Pulls - Basic (strength, muscle tone)

Muscles Used: Latissimus Dorsi, Biceps, Rear Deltoid
Used In: All sweep strokes, High Braces, Forward Strokes, Rolls
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


This exercise works the muscles of the back that gives bodybuilders that V shape. For the kayaker these muscles gives more power to any stroke in which you will "hang" on the paddle - sweeps, rolls and high braces.

Begin with the hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Sit up straight with the back arched.

Take a deep breath....

...then, flex the lats by rotating the shoulder back, pulling the shoulder blade under, and pulling down. Inhale as you pull and flex.

Try not to pull with the arms!

50 years of lightweight, maneuverable, high-performing kayaks.

Check out this interview with Tom Keane, Eddyline Kayaks Co-Owner, on their journey!

It will help by using a light enough weight that you can flex only the lats. Extend the chest out to meet the bar, but stop the bar just below the chin.

As you repeat the exercise, going back to the starting position, do not let the weights touch. Do this by keeping the elbows bent slightly. Inhale on the way up.

Pull Overs - Isolation (strength and muscle tone)

Muscles Used: Latissimus Dorsi, Serratus Anterior, Lower Chest
Used In: High Braces, Rolls, Sculling Draws, Bow Ruddler.
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


This is a great kayakers' exercise that works those muscles just under the arm pit and chest that look like sharks teeth (serratus anterior). These, along with the lower chest and lats, are used in bow ruddering, rolls and sculling braces.

Begin with the feet wide and knees bent. Keep the arms straight with the hands just higher than the shoulders.

Take a deep breath, exhale...

...then, press the bar down flexing the serratus muscles under the arms as you pull.

If you feel a burn in the triceps, it means you are pushing down with the arms and not the serratus anterior.

Keep the arms straight through out the exercise.

One Arm Rows - Isolation (strength and muscle tone)

Muscles Used: Teres Major & Minor, Latissimus Dorsi, Biceps, Rear Deltoid,Trapezius
Used In: Forward Strokes, Rolls
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


One-arm rows will strengthen most of the major muscle groups of the back as well the rear deltoids of the shoulders.

Using a flat bench for support, place one knee on the bench and one foot, to the side, on the floor. Brace the upper body by holding the bench using the arm on the same side as the knee.

Keeping the weighted arm straight, reach forward and stretch the upper back.

Now, pull the weight up using the muscles of the back and not the biceps.

Keep the back flat through out the exercise. Avoid rotating the shoulders and hips as you pull.

Exhale as you pull. Inhale as you release and stretch.

Alternate sides and count both sides as one full set.

These great back exercises, when added to your full body routine will help build muscle and stamina. Stay tuned for next month's exercises to help build up your chest muscles.

Tony Kramer is the founder of The Sea Kayaker which is a kayak-touring outfitter serving Atlanta, Georgia and Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay area. They offer scheduled and custom, guided, sea kayak tours and instruction.
He is also known for his work with Walter Muellenhagen on their "How To" home improvement series: "Hands On" and "Remodeling and Decorating Today." Both shows air on HGTV and DIY. Tony takes this same "How To" approach to his kayak instruction and tours. As an instructor, his experience is based on over seventeen years of open ocean touring and BCU training.

 If you are interested in putting together a personal workout, they would be happy to put one together for you. Just email them with your information and training goals.


Related Articles

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it becomes harder to get out and paddle and easier…

This series of specific exercises for paddlers encourages the use of the Pilates Ball to help improve…

I once asked some whitewater experts if they thought 15-16 year old's who had never paddled a canoe…

Here is a functional warm up sequence that includes 5 different exercises to get your body going and get…