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Leg Workout for Paddling

In the next few months will be doing a 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.

This month, we'll focus on the exercises to build the legs:

Sissy Squats - Basic (balance, strength)

Muscles Used: Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus
Used In: Loading, Lifting and Portage
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


Begin by standing upright with the feet shoulder width apart. Point the toes outward at a 45-degree angle.

Use a paddle, broomstick or dowel, placed in front of you, for balance.

While squeezing your abs and thighs, start the exercise by standing on your toes, and then squat down as if sitting on a chair. Inhale on the way down.

Keep your back straight and the shoulders and chest in line with the hips. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Do not lean forward or rock your chest out over the knees.

Now, pressing with the thighs, push back up to the starting position. Exhale as you push. Do not pull yourself back up using your arms! The paddle is only for balance.

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This is an advanced version of the same exercise and requires more balance and strength.

Begin, as before, with the same foot position. Place the paddle over your head, as shown in the picture.

Go into the squatting position while keeping the paddle above your head.

As you squat, keep the paddle in line with the shoulders and spine. This means it will travel backward, behind the head, for balance.

A tip for balance: Arch the back and extend your chest out over the thighs.

Leg Extentions - Isolation (strength, muscle tone)

Muscles Used: Quadriceps
Used In: Loading, unloading and portage
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


Adjust the seat so the knee is even with the point of rotation of the machine.

Also, adjust the shin pad so it rests just above the ankle.

Use light enough weight to do 20 reps.

Take a deep breath...

....and then, extend the leg up as you exhale.

Once fully extended, flex the quadriceps (thighs) at the top of the stroke and hold the position for a count of 3 seconds.

Return to the start position but do not let the weights touch. This will keep weight on the quadriceps through out the exercise.

Leg Curls - Isolation (strength, muscle tone)

Muscles Used: Hamsrings, Gluteus Maximus
Used In: Loading, lifting and portage
Sets: 3
Reps: 20


Adjust the body so the knee is even with the point of rotation of the machine.

Also, adjust the calf pad so it rests just above the ankle. Hold the handles of the machine with the head up, looking forward.

Use light enough weight to do 20 reps. Take a deep breath...

... and then, flex the hamstrings and curl the legs up as you exhale.

At the top of the curl, squeeze the hamstrings and glutes (the muscles in your butt) and hold the position for a count of 3 seconds.

Then return to the starting position. Do not let the weights touch as you lower your legs.

These great leg 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 back 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.


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