Line up the competition at a kayak race and you're bound to see lots of broad, muscular, V-shaped torsos atop spindly legs. That's because paddlers spend hours at a time working away with their backs, shoulders, and arms while their legs remain safely tucked away. (Your legs actually are instrumental in a sound stroke, but they act mostly as stabilizers instead of sources of speed.)

There's no need for a paddler to spend a lot of time on his or her legs, as you'll see from the program we've designed. On the other hand, hours of twisting the torso are facilitated by strong obliques, abs, and lower back muscles. The muscles of the back and shoulders provide most of the power in the stroke, so that's where we'll place our primary emphasis.

The most common injuries among paddlers involve the rotator cuff, so don't forget those internal and external rotation exercises.

The following exercises may not float your boat, but they'll definitely get it moving through the water faster.

Body Part Exercises

Legs and hips Leg extension

Leg curl

Back Pull-ups (assisted if necessary)

Dumbbell rows Chest Bench press

Dips (assisted if necessary) Shoulders Military press

Lateral raise Internal rotation External rotation

Body Part Exercises

Arms Seated biceps curl

Triceps push down Midsection Reverse crunch


Oblique crunch Back raise

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