Whether you kayak, canoe, or SUP board, paddling regularly is one of the best exercises that exists to stay in great shape while having a great time. It is fantastic cardio since it gets your heart pumping fast for hours at a time. It also helps train and build muscles in places like your arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. Paddling is also loads of fun. It’s one of the rare activities that allows you to completely forget you are exercising even while you are getting one of the best workouts you could dream of.
This is why the cold winter months can be a drag if you are someone who regularly paddles. Paddling is infrequent, or even non-existent in these months. it is also easy to fall into a routine of laziness and overeating thanks to holidays and heavy foods that accompany this time of year. While the colder months might mean less paddling, there are plenty of ways to stay in great paddling shape, even if you aren’t able to get on your paddling vessel as much as you’d like.
Take yourself to the gym and do weight training, focusing on muscle groups like your back, shoulders, and abdomen. Incorporate yoga for increased flexibility, and try pilates to help strengthen your core and improve your balance on the water. Find an indoor pool to swim in during the winter or a rowing machine you can use. Try to take a trip somewhere where you can paddle, or do some winter paddling.
Nine Tips To Stay In Great Paddling Shape In This Winter
1. Use Weight Training To Build Important Paddling Muscles
One of the best ways you can stay in fantastic paddling shape during the winter months is to lift weights. Strength training is an ideal way to build up your body, especially in areas where you may have felt weak or vulnerable when paddling in the past. Below are a few areas to focus on when weight training on your paddling off-season.
Back And Shoulders: Regardless of which type of paddling you do, your back and shoulders are used almost constantly. Your back muscles also tend to not get much stimulation from several popular types of basic cardio, which means focusing on your back and keeping it strong with weight training is critical.
Abdomen: Abdomen and core training is key to keeping your body in top paddling shape. Some of this can be done through weight training.
Arms: Everything from curls to bench presses is key to keeping the arms strong. Focus on the upper chest and all arm muscles when planning your arm workouts.
Legs: It’s easy to forget that legs are crucial while paddling. Keeping them strong throughout the winter through squats, leg presses and other leg workouts will pay off when you start paddling again. Don’t skip leg day when you are staying in top paddling shape.
2. Incorporate Yoga Into Your Off-Season Routine
Yoga is almost always a great exercise to fold into your routine. It has all sorts of health benefits for people of all ages. Yoga can help with joint pain, balance issues, and most of all - flexibility. Yoga is especially great for paddlers, as balance and flexibility are both very important for paddling. Balance is fundamental to SUP boarding, kayaking, and canoeing, and it is also at the forefront of every yoga practice. Keeping your body flexible also ensures you will be agile once better weather returns.
3. Try Pilates To Strengthen Your Core
Every time you stroke your paddle you can feel it in your core. This is because paddling is a fantastic core workout, and relies on core muscles for both strength and balance. Strength training can assist in building muscles around your core, but you might want to add some exercise that specifically targets your core area, like pilates.
Pilates is an aerobic exercise that is not only a great cardiovascular workout and good for weight loss, but it is also fantastic at building core strength. Just like yoga, pilates can also help with your balance.
4. Take At Least One Paddling Vacation
Workouts are one way to stay fit in the winter, but all this indoor exercise isn’t always fun. This is why it is great to switch things up with an active vacation in a warm paddling-friendly destination. If you have the financial means, a vacation somewhere warm during the winter is the most rejuvenating and therapeutic gift you can give yourself. Try and take your vacation somewhere that also happens to be a bucket-list-worthy paddling destination if possible. This way you can warm up and also keep your body in good paddling shape.
5. Find An Indoor Swimming Pool
Swimming, like paddling, is an exercise that uses nearly every muscle group in the body. It helps strengthen your arms, legs, shoulders, back, and core - all of which are critical for paddling success. While swimming outdoors might be out of the question in the winter, you might want to think about splurging on an indoor pool membership for the winter. It is a great way to keep your body in the water, and swimming is fun.
6. Use A Rowing Machine
One simple and obvious way to keep your stroke strong and your paddling muscles in top shape is to use a rowing machine. Rowing machines come in various forms these days, but the general philosophy is the same. Opt for a machine that works your arms, back, and shoulders just like rowing and other forms of paddling would.
You can purchase a rowing machine for your home gym, or you can find a gym that has one. Most popular and well-equipped gyms should have a rowing machine or something similar.
7. Maintain A Healthy Diet In The Winter
While maintaining muscle and good cardiovascular health is a big part of the battle to stay in good physical condition, your diet is equally important. It is all too easy to over-indulge in food and beverages in the winter. There are so many rich and heavy holiday foods, and baking seems to become an all-to-popular pastime in the winter. Combine this with short days, and long nights for drinking hot chocolate or wine, and it is an easy recipe for packing on the pounds. Remember to eat healthy in the winter months, even if it is hard. This is even more important if you find yourself exercising and moving around less than you would normally.
8. Remember To Stretch Daily
Even if you slack off on your exercise and eat more than you should in the winter, you should at least remember to stretch your body daily. Cold weather and inactivity can lead to your muscles tensing up, which makes regular stretching all the more important during your paddling off-season.
In addition to keeping your muscles loose and agile, stretching helps prevent injuries. This is particularly important when you decide to start paddling again, so keep your body stretched out. Your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs all need a daily stretch. Try and develop a morning or evening stretching routine - you will feel better, and be happier for it.
9. Keep Paddling In The Winter
Lastly, if you want to stay in peak paddling shape through the winter months, then you might want to consider continuing to paddle, even in the cold weather. Instead of storing all your paddling gear, consider buying some cold weather equipment like a dry suit, wet suit, poggies, and other cold weather gear to keep you warm while paddling in the cold months.
Cold weather paddling might take more equipment, but it is an entirely new and exciting type of paddling. It tends to be quiet, with new scenery and wildlife to enjoy. Best of all, you can continue to improve upon your paddling physique, even in the off-season.
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Final Thoughts On Staying In Top Paddling Shape In The Winter
Winter is often a time for lazy days spent indoors, and large heavy meals eaten with loved ones over the holidays. While winter can be a cozy and festive time, as a paddler it is important you don’t completely neglect your body and all the great physical gains you have likely made throughout your last paddling season.
To keep yourself in great paddling health even when you aren’t actively paddling, do some focused weight training at home or the gym, and seek out a rowing machine. You can also incorporate yoga or pilates into your winter health routine, as both are great for flexibility and balance. Look for an indoor pool, as a pool membership in the winter is a great way to keep all your muscle groups working hard. Remember to keep eating well and stretching regularly, even if it feels difficult at first.