Exercises for White Water Kayaking

Exercises for White Water Kayaking
Whitewater kayaking is a strenuous sport that involves paddling a kayak on a whitewater river or a moving body of water that can range from gentle to dangerous. The sport requires a lot of upper- and lower-body strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. Training for whitewater kayaking should involve well-rounded exercises that focus on cardiovascular development, strength training and flexibility.


Whitewater rafting requires the athlete to be able to sustain long periods of paddling on fast-flowing rapids. This activity requires plenty of stamina and cardiovascular strength. Cardiovascular or aerobic workouts such as running, bicycling, swimming and jump rope helps significantly to improve strength and endurance while aiding in preventing injuries. Increase the intensity of workouts over time to keep challenging your body.

Strength Training

Maintaining strength and muscle conditioning is an integral part of any kayaker's workout regimen. Whitewater paddling can be strenuous and requires a lot of upper-body strength. Shoulder injury is a common strain among kayakers. Exercises that focus on strengthening the shoulders, back and chest can help prepare the muscles for the strain of rafting against fast waters. Chest press, lat pulls, one-arm rows, dumbbell press, front raises and rotator cuff isolation weightlifting exercises are beneficial in strengthening the body to improve endurance for whitewater kayaking. These exercises will help build strength and power to improve kayaking maneuvers like sweep strokes, forward and reverse strokes, loading and lifting.


Maintaining flexibility by doing stretching exercises is also essential. This helps to prevent injuries and soothe stained muscles from the stresses of whitewater rafting. Muscles must be conditioned enough to withstand the repetitive rowing motions of paddling but also limber enough to handle the full range of motion it requires. Kayakers should maintain flexibility all throughout the body, including upper torso, lower body and core. Effective stretching exercises include the arm-up rotator stretch, reaching-up shoulder stretch and the standing high-leg bent knee hamstring stretch. Maintaining flexibility also improves posture and balance. Good posture while sitting on a kayak aids in lessening the risk of lower back pain.

Article Written By Rona Aquino

Rona Aquino began writing professionally in 2008. As an avid marathon runner and outdoor enthusiast, she writes on topics of running, fitness and outdoor recreation for various publications. Aquino holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and English from the University of Maryland College Park.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.