Coaching Pocket book: Energy Coaching Via the Aggressive Paddle Season

Whether or not you’re a racer or critical health coach, you’re most likely fairly diligent about spending time within the health club constructing energy throughout the “low season” when climate and lack of daylight make paddling harder and, typically, much less satisfying.  

I’ve made my ideas fairly clear over time on the worth of energy coaching for paddle sports activities. Whether or not you’re paddling dash canoe or kayak, outrigger, surf ski, dragon boat, or SUP, energy is a invaluable a part of the health package deal that you just convey with you to the water.  In truth, there are three pillars to paddling efficiency:  approach, cardio potential and energy.  

Energy is especially necessary for SUP paddlers.  SUP boards are shorter, wider, and slower than canoes, kayaks, surf skis and outriggers which means they’ve extra resistance to motion by means of the water.  This further resistance makes energy much more necessary for SUP paddlers than different paddle athletes.  Moreover, since on a SUP you might be standing, your backside hand on the paddle is farther from the water which means you’ve acquired extra paddle beneath your hand.  That is mechanically disadvantageous in comparison with canoe, kayak or different sit-down paddle disciplines the place your hand is nearer to the load on the paddle blade.  Consider your paddle as a long-handled backyard spade.  Attempt shoveling along with your backside hand near the shovel blade.  You may simply carry a good quantity.  Now attempt transferring your backside hand nearer to your high hand and away from the blade.  It’s wonderful how a lot this impacts your potential to take care of load on the blade.  You’re a lot, a lot weaker.  Sadly, should you’re a SUP paddler, you may solely get your backside hand so near the paddle blade.  Sooner or later you simply can’t get it any decrease.  So, the one approach to overcome this relative inefficiency is with energy.  A stronger SUP athlete has an enormous benefit over a weaker one.  

Energy is clearly most simply and conveniently developed within the low season if you aren’t in a position to paddle as a lot.  With out having to extend your complete coaching time, you may substitute time you’ll have spent on the water with a visit to the health club.  I strongly advocate doing energy work three to 4 instances every week all through the low season.  All through my dash canoe profession, we did two “heavy” periods and two “circuits” all through the winter and have been extremely sturdy with wonderful energy endurance once we acquired again on the water within the spring.  

Should you’re a kind of paddlers that spends time within the health club within the winter, you’ve little question felt the identical factor – a excessive degree of energy and energy endurance if you lastly get again on the water.  Even should you’re not on a very well-structured or deliberate program, simply having gone to the health club and lifted all through the winter could be very probably going to depart you stronger within the spring than you have been within the fall.  For a SUP paddler particularly, this can be a superb factor. 

The query is, what must you do as regards to energy if you lastly get again on the water?

The case for continued journeys to the health club by means of the summer time

Should you’ve constructed a excessive degree of energy and energy endurance by means of the winter, how lengthy does that final by means of the paddling season?  The reply is, it relies upon.  

Should you’ve acquired restricted time to coach and so simply substitute your health club time for paddling as soon as the temperatures rise and the rivers and lakes unfreeze the reply will not be very lengthy.  With out lifting, over the course of some months most individuals are going to lose quite a lot of the energy they’ve gained within the low season.  The excellent news is, you’re unlikely to finish up being weaker in the summertime than you have been firstly of the low season within the earlier fall.  The dangerous information is, all of the work you set in within the winter to develop energy goes to be, ultimately, misplaced.  The query it’s good to ask your self is, “do I need to let all that work go to waste”?

Don’t delude your self into believing that paddling alone goes to take care of the energy you constructed.  Don’t delude your self into considering that the energy you lose isn’t useful or vital in paddling should you don’t preserve it by means of paddling alone.  Even should you paddle often into sturdy headwinds, put bungees round your board, or drag your leash for further resistance, you’re going to ultimately lose a lot of the energy you developed within the health club.  

This energy loss is gradual, and due to this fact the results of it are refined and troublesome to discern in your each day paddling.  However over time, you’re going to be rather less able to actually cranking dynamically in opposition to a hefty quantity of water gathered and held in your blade.  Over time, as your stroke turns into just a bit much less dynamic, you’re going to need to work somewhat more durable however probably find yourself going somewhat slower.  Think about having the ability to bench press, for instance, 100 lbs simply and explosively for 30 or extra reps.  Now think about letting your energy slide by avoiding the health club for just a few months.  It’s not arduous to think about that it’s going to be harder to crank out these reps with 100 lbs than it was earlier than you stopped going to the health club.  Should you don’t preserve your energy by means of the summer time, you’ll expertise the identical impact with the load you maintain in your paddle every stroke.  

I used to be reminded of this these previous couple of months.  Throughout COVID, I averted the health club for nearly 2 years.  My mom is in her 90s and I go to her virtually daily.  I didn’t need to cease seeing her as she depends on me to do stuff for her and I definitely didn’t need to give her COVID.  So, I restricted my publicity in each manner I may which, sadly, meant I didn’t go to the health club.  By Fall 2022 I felt the danger of returning to the health club had develop into acceptable, and I began to work out once more.  I liked it and didn’t notice how a lot I had missed it.  I hammered, as arduous as I used to once I was coaching dash canoe, and watched my energy and, particularly, my energy endurance quickly return.  

Whereas away from the health club, I had no thought how my energy was declining and the way it was impacting my paddling.  Steadily shedding energy is troublesome to detect in your each day paddling.  It wasn’t till I’d been within the health club for just a few months and had begun to construct a great deal of my energy again that I actually skilled the impression that energy has on paddling.  I started to note how a lot stronger I felt on the paddle and the way a lot simpler it was to maintain arduous pulling.  

The wonderful factor is that issues have simply gotten higher and higher.  As I’ve regained first some primary energy, then some energy, then energy endurance, I’ve reached the purpose the place I’m beginning to develop some neuromuscular pace.  I’ve additionally relearned to activate muscle tissue which can be helpful in paddling however troublesome to isolate and develop in paddling.  The cool factor is that whereas deep core muscle tissue and your glutes are troublesome to actually activate within the paddle stroke, they’re fairly straightforward to activate and strengthen within the health club.  I’ve realized that after you’ve discovered activate them within the health club they’re truly fairly straightforward to activate within the stroke and may actually make a distinction, significantly within the second half of the pull and the exit.  

In the intervening time, about six months after returning to the health club after my two-year COVID layoff, I really feel stronger on the paddle than I can ever bear in mind since I began paddling SUP.  And I’ve higher management of the muscle tissue that I needed to interact however wasn’t actually in a position to have interaction nicely earlier than.  Whereas I knew from my dash canoe days how necessary energy work is to paddling, I’d by no means truly skilled the distinction between having energy and never having it till now.  It’s an unimaginable distinction.  

All of this begs the query, should you construct energy within the health club within the low season, why on earth would you need to neglect it and lose it in the summertime?  It is just too necessary to neglect.

Energy work within the paddling season

If the low season, or the a part of the season if you’re not coaching for necessary races, is the time of 12 months for energy improvement, then the paddling season (or aggressive season) is the time for energy upkeep.  You don’t must spend as a lot time within the health club doing the identical quantity or depth of energy work, however you do must do sufficient health club work to take care of the energy that you just’ve developed.  This not solely permits you to profit from the fruits of your low season energy coaching labor by means of the paddling season, it additionally permits you to begin subsequent low season’s energy coaching with higher energy skills.  On this manner, your energy improvement work in every low season can start from the next degree and this lets you construct energy from 12 months to 12 months slightly than merely making an attempt to make use of every low season to reacquire energy you’ve misplaced.

So, what ought to energy upkeep work appear to be?  Nicely, I’d nonetheless advocate doing all of your energy work a minimum of 2 to three instances every week.  Nonetheless, I’d counsel a few further issues:

  • Do your energy work after your paddling work.  The summer time paddling season, or aggressive season if you’re a racer, ought to see your on-water work because the precedence.  This implies you need to do that work whereas your nervous system is recent, not fatigued from doing work within the health club first.  Do your paddling work first, then both do your energy work shortly after or later within the day.  Whilst you might not have fairly the neuromuscular potential to commit to your lifting due to somewhat nervous system fatigue from paddling, you’re not making an attempt to develop energy a lot as preserve the energy that you just developed within the low season.  You need to have the ability to simply do that with no matter fatigue you would possibly carry into the health club out of your water exercise.  Attempt to carry on days when the on-water workload isn’t fairly as excessive (both as a result of it’s a decrease depth or shorter exercise) versus on days the place the water work is admittedly arduous.  And, ensure that to take a day’s relaxation from energy work earlier than doing the following energy session, identical to you do within the winter.  Health club periods on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays after paddling, for instance, is the right schedule.  
  • Don’t carry to failure.  You don’t must.  Bear in mind, you need to preserve the energy you’ve developed.  You are able to do this and go away one or two reps within the tank.  
  • Deal with all of the forms of energy you educated within the low season.  You need to attempt to preserve your max energy as greatest you may, however you significantly need to preserve your energy and energy endurance.  The easiest way to take care of all three skills is to alternate what you’re employed on from exercise to exercise.  Use your day 1 to deal with max or sub max energy, use your day 2 to deal with energy and your day 3 to deal with energy endurance.  Don’t fear about hypertrophy coaching, which is characterised by gradual lifting that maximizes the time muscle tissue are underneath stress.  This work is designed to extend muscle measurement.  You don’t need this, significantly throughout the paddling season, and also you particularly don’t need to be doing gradual lifting when the work you’re doing on the water is designed that will help you study to maneuver dynamically.  
  • Make your exercises shorter.  You don’t must spend as a lot time within the health club as you probably did within the winter.  You will get away with doing fewer workout routines every exercise and/or fewer units.  I’d counsel that, if you’re doing all of your energy work constantly by means of the paddling season, 50 to 70% of the quantity of lifting you probably did within the winter is suitable for in-season work.
  • Don’t carry the day earlier than races.  In case you are doing three energy periods every week, don’t do the third one should you’re racing on the weekend.  Even when it’s a low precedence race, your racing takes precedence over energy upkeep.  From the angle of energy upkeep, you may afford to overlook that one exercise and from the angle of your on-water efficiency, you need your nervous system to be as recent as attainable on race day.  Doing energy work the day earlier than isn’t going to facilitate that.  In case you are racing the next precedence race, I’d counsel doing solely the Monday energy session and skipping the opposite two energy periods for the week.  Once more, direct your bodily assets in the direction of the race.  You will get again to doing all of the weekly energy work after the race.  
  • Don’t count on resistance work on the water to take care of energy.  Utilizing resistance whereas paddling by wrapping a bungee round your board or dragging your leash is a good way to develop some particular energy, which is just energy within the particular paddling movement.  It principally teaches you to raised use the energy you’ve constructed within the health club within the particular padding movement.  It’s additionally actually helpful for isolating components of approach and making approach refinements, but it surely won’t assist you preserve the energy you labored so arduous all to develop all winter within the health club.  


Energy is necessary in paddling, significantly SUP paddling.  Should you’re critical about paddling, both for racing or health, you need to be utilizing the low season to develop energy.  However you must also be utilizing the paddling season to take care of the energy you’ve developed.  It merely is mindless to work arduous all winter on one thing that’s necessary, solely to then neglect it and let it wither away in the summertime.  Failing to take care of energy by doing common health club work within the paddling season will see most of what you gained within the low season misplaced by the point you’re on the beginning line for late season races.  An necessary pillar of efficiency will likely be lacking on this case and it’ll have a destructive impression in your potential to carry out.  

Right here’s wishing you a enjoyable summer time on the water, and within the health club.  

Completely happy paddling (and lifting)!


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