Back Exercises For Kayaking

Do you want to take your kayaking performance to the next level?

Are you worried can you go kayaking with a bad back? If so, then strengthening your back muscles is essential for optimizing your paddling power and technique.

Great back exercises for kayaking will target the major muscle groups used in paddling and help build strength, endurance, and balance. The major muscle groups used in paddling are your upper back, lower back, lats, and core.

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The upper back muscles are used to pull the paddle through the water and rotate your body, while the lower back muscles stabilize and balance your body as you move around.

The lats are used for reaching and bracing, while the core provides stability during all paddling movements. Here we’ll look at some of the best back exercises for kayaking to help you increase your paddling power and efficiency.

What do Exercises help With Kayaking?

Core Strengthening Exercises

This can help with posture, balance, and overall stability while kayaking.

Shoulder Presses

Helps build upper body strength for paddling power.

Lower Body Workouts

Squats and lunges help improve leg strength for longer kayaking endurance.

Flexibility Training:

Stretching helps increase the range of motion to move the boat more efficiently during a kayak session.

Cardio Training

Maintaining a good cardiovascular level keeps you in shape for regular kayaking trips.

Rowing Machine Workouts

This is an easy and effective way to replicate the feeling of paddling in a kayak on dry land.

Yoga Exercises

Poses such as Warrior 3 can help increase balance and flexibility while paddling.

Abdominal Crunches

Core muscles are important when it comes to keeping proper spinal alignment while sitting in a kayak seat for extended periods of time.


This helps strengthen the arms, shoulders, and chest to give you more control of your paddling strokes.

Chest press

Often overlooked for kayaking, chest presses help build upper body strength for more power and endurance.

What Back Muscles Do You Use For Paddling?

When paddling, you use a combination of muscles in your back to power your stroke and move your boat forward through the water.

Knowing which specific muscles are involved can help you target them with specific exercises to improve your paddling performance and prevent injury.

The main muscles used when kayaking are your upper back, lower back, lats, and core.

The upper-back muscles are responsible for pulling the paddle through the water and turning your body, while the lower-back muscles maintain stability and balance as you move around.

The lats help with reaching and bracing, while the core provides stability during all paddling movements.

What Are The Best Back Exercises for Kayaking?

When it comes to strengthening your back muscles for kayaking, there are some key exercises that you should include in your routine

Resistance Band Lat Pulls: Sit on an exercise mat with a light resistance band in both hands. Extend your arms outward and pull the band towards your chest.

Band Seated Rows: Secure a heavy resistance band around a fixed anchor point. Sit on the floor and cross the band over your feet while keeping your back straight and bending your knees slightly. Then, using both hands, pull the ends of the band towards your midsection.

Kneeling Pallof Press: Get into a half-kneeling position with one side of the body parallel to the anchor point where you secured the resistance band (as described above). Hold one end of the band with both hands and press it outwards away from your torso keeping it at shoulder level. Pause for 3 seconds before returning to starting position.

Single-Arm Bent-Over Rows: Stand facing away from an anchor point, preferably one that is waist height or slightly lower, holding a lightweight dumbbell in one hand with a relatively neutral wrist position (palm facing inward). Bend at the hips until fully extended, then pull upwards as far as possible without allowing any movement in other planes (make sure to keep your spine straight throughout). Lower slowly back down to starting position before switching sides and repeating.

Superman Lifts: Lie faces down on an exercise mat while keeping both legs together bent at 90 degrees and arms extended outwards above a head level; palms should be facing downwards towards floor level during this exercise (this is known as the ‘Superman’ pose). Lift upper body and arms off the floor without arching back excessively; hold this pose for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning to starting position

Ball Abdominal Crunches: Lie flat on an exercise mat with legs bent and feet flat against the wall. Place hands behind the head/neck or crossed across the chest then lift the upper body by crunching abdominals towards the ceiling while maintaining the curvature of the lower spine (do not allow the lumbar spine to arch during this exercise!). Hold this position for 1 second before slowly returning back down to starting position (repeat as desired).

The following Infographic explains the 4 best back Exercises for kayaking:

The following Infographic explains the 4 best back Exercises for kayaking

Video Source:@houseofsurf_

Improving Your Paddling Strength

To increase your paddling strength, there are a few strategies you can incorporate into your training regimen.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Resistance Training: Incorporate resistance training exercises that target the muscles used in paddling, such as the lats, shoulders, and core. Exercises such as lat pulldowns, seated rows, one-arm dumbbell rows, and back extensions are great options. Aim to do these exercises 2-3 times per week.
  • Cardiovascular Training: Kayaking is a high-intensity cardiovascular activity, so it’s important to build your endurance by doing aerobic activities such as running, cycling, or swimming. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise 3-4 times per week.
  • Proper Technique: Make sure you use the proper paddling technique to maximize the power and efficiency of your strokes. This means engaging your core, using your torso and legs to generate power, and maintaining good posture throughout your session.
  • Incremental Progression: Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your paddling sessions over time. Start with shorter paddles and slowly work up the distance or time on the water. As your fitness improves, you can incorporate more challenging paddling routes or higher-intensity intervals into your training routine.

Remember to listen to your body and take rest days between workouts so that you don’t overdo it and risk injury.


Back exercises are an important part of any kayaker’s training regimen.

Incorporating resistance and cardiovascular exercises into your routine can help build strength and endurance, and improve your paddling technique.

Remember to progress gradually, listen to your body, and always take rest days when needed.

With these tips in mind, you can make sure your back is in shape and ready for any kayaking adventure!

Good luck on the water!

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