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Off-Season Fitness for Kayakers

The further we get into the fall season, the more layers you need to comfortably kayak. This prompts many who enjoy the sport to hang up their paddles and store their kayaks away for winter.

The onset of this off-season doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the fitness and conditioning activities that preserve, enhance, and strengthen your paddling abilities, though. There are many exercises that allow you to stay in good ‘kayaking shape’ - while in the off-season - so you don’t face any setbacks come springtime.

Conditioning Exercises for Kayakers in the Off-Season

If kayaking is a main part of your fitness routine, it can be challenging to replace it when the weather makes paddling less desirable. Luckily, there’s plenty to do to stay in good physical shape if you’re looking to fill the paddling gap.


One of the benefits of kayaking is that it’s a great form of low impact cardio. In order to keep your heart strengthened for the next season of kayaking, it’s beneficial to find a replacement cardio or aerobic activity in the meantime. Something as simple as taking walks around your neighborhood for a few hours a week can preserve both your heart and joint health.

Paddlers also look to swimming as a replacement cardio sport in the off-season. Swimming has the added benefit of keeping your upper body muscles toned as well as getting your heart rate up. You also improve your self-rescue capabilities with swimming.

Strength Training

Keeping your heart strong is important, but you should also think about strength training as an additional training component. Kayaking utilizes many muscle groups all over your body, so keeping them toned and in top form is important.

The main muscle groups to keep in mind when strength training for kayak season are your core and upper arms. Strengthening your core will translate to better balance, less muscle strain on other areas, and improved endurance while paddling. Developing strength around your shoulders helps stabilize that joint and prevent straining it too much.

Yoga / Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are great ways to improve flexibility, balance, and further tone your paddling muscles, as well as strengthening those important core muscles needed for kayaking. Balancing in your boat and remaining limber are important components when it comes to kayaking. Forms of exercise like yoga provide full-body conditioning that works towards injury prevention. The stretching and relatively low-impact exercises involved with yoga and Pilates further work to increase your flexibility and improve balance. And it’s also easy to do from your home with online tutorials!

Just like with any other sport, off-season training to maintain and improve your form is important for kayaking. There’s lots of different ways to engage with this, so find what interests you most and go for it!



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