Exercising With Your Kayak: What Muscles Does Kayaking Work?

Many people think kayaking is a leisure sport that doesn’t involve many actions. This is true if your only goal is to enjoy nature. Nevertheless, just like a workout, you can also burn calories while kayaking. But do you know, what muscles does kayaking work?

As a regular kayaker, you must have noticed the fatigue or physical exhaustion you feel after each kayak session. It doesn’t have to be intense always. Because, even if you do kayaking to a minimum extent, several of your body parts work to row your boat.

As for muscle involvement, only a few other sports like kayaking involve so many joints and tissues from your upper body part, back, legs, core, etc. Hence, kayaking on a daily basis also helps to lose weight.

Handy Hint: To read more about kayak fishing, visit our other article about how to kayak 2 person [Click here] and how many calories burned kayaking [Click here]

What Muscles Does Kayaking Work?

If you are a starter kayaker, you are mostly going to use your arms. With time, you learn how to integrate the other body parts. And the more activities you incorporate in your kayak adventure, the more intense your workout session would be!

Back:: This is the first group of muscles that comes to mind when you are thinking of kayaking. Quite right to think so, because with each kayak stroke your back muscles are used to push and pull the paddle.

However, your rear muscles contain different types of nerves. The Lats muscles are the largest of this group. They transmit strength from your lower body part to the arm when you are paddling forward.

The rhomboid muscles are small but very significant ones. They pull back your shoulder blades while finishing each stroke. The traps muscles of the middle back help to move your spine and neck.

Besides, having a good posture is also important for a fit back. So, remember to get a good quality kayak that comes with a comfortable seat.

Shoulders: Shoulders are also very important for kayaking, as they are the connecting joint between your back and the arms. During the paddling, mostly the rear part of the shoulder is used for a frontward stroke.

You can develop muscle imbalance if not being cautious enough. Hence, you must train yourself to incorporate both front and rear shoulder muscles. This way the risk of shoulder injury can be minimized.

Moreover, you can also maintain the ‘Paddler’s box’ shape formed with your arms, chest, and paddles. This will ensure your safety.

Rotator Cuff: During a kayak session, our arms and shoulder keep on rotating the way we want. It is extremely important for continuous paddling so that, we can have a steady speed and balance. The four muscles of the rotator cuff enable us to do that!

Upper Arm: The upper arm of your body works differently when paddling. The biceps and triceps are more likely a contrasted pair, one intensifies when the other eases up. During the session, the biceps pull while the triceps push, constantly working both arms.

Grip & Forearms: It’s impossible to enjoy kayaking with weak or injured forearms and grips. Your hands hold the paddles while the grip allows you to control the stroke. Your grip works as a medium that transmits the force from your body to the paddles.

Too much strain can cause serious wrist injuries if you aren’t being careful. You need to loosen up your grip muscles from time to time.

Chest: When you are paddling a kayak to go forward, your chest muscles also work alongside with the back muscles. It is discreet, but they contribute to the back and forth movement of the paddle and your arms.

Core: Most people think strength and balance while doing a sport comes from our arms. But in truth, we draw the power from our center. Same with kayaking, your center links your body and the kayak. The core muscles are more involved than we think they are.

The core contracts during the paddling, rotating your torso, maintaining the balance, etc. As kayaking can take a long time, the stronger your center is, the longer you will be able to paddle.

Legs & Hips Even though you don’t require much legwork in kayaking, your legs don’t stay inactive during it. It’s all about distributing the force in your body parts. Basically, your hips and legs work as a base that helps you to kick start the whole process.

Before each paddle stroke, you need to set your feet firmly on the boat while your hip works as the joint between your body and legs. As you become a skilled kayaker, you will learn to use your legs in many other ways.

Cardio: Kayaking is actually an excellent cardiovascular exercise. You can burn a lot of calories depending on the intensity of the sport. As it involves mainly upper body parts, people with lower-body injuries can also enjoy this as a cardiovascular workout.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is kayaking a good workout?

Rather than good, we can say kayaking is a great workout option. It involves the movement of important muscle groups, resulting in building a strong body and developing your stamina. At a moderate pace, you can burn up to 300-400 calories per hour.  

Moreover, daily kayaking can also improve your cardio health. If you don’t want to visit the gym, grab yourself a solo kayak (Intex Challenger K1) and hit your kayak pool instead! You can also have fun with your workout partner rowing a 2-person kayak.

Is kayaking good for lower back pain?

Yes, depending on your health condition, kayaking can be a good workout option for lower back pain. Your back parts are constantly working for the paddling, hence the working muscles get stronger. But if you have back pain due to an injury, consult a doctor first.

Because if you are not careful, any additional pressure can cause permanent damage to your muscles.

Final Thoughts: 

Not only physical exercise, but you can also kayak to get a sense of liberty or simply to enjoy mother nature. You might be just angling idly in your fishing kayak and trust me, that’s essential as well. Because, for a healthy life, a healthy mind is also important.

Who would have thought that a simple kayak can serve you so many health benefits! Not only it strengthens several muscle groups of your body, but also helps to burn fat and lose weight in such a short time! A terrific combination of recreation and exercise.