Better Strokes: Abdominal Exercises for Rowing, Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding

by Kelly Brown

It’s finally summer! Even though winter seemed to last forever this year (sigh) it’s time to trade your snowboard for your paddle board. Before you jump into the water for your first kayaking, rowing or paddleboarding trip, consider working on improving your core strength. Many paddlers and rowers don’t consider strength training to be vital to their sport performance. Whether you are a competitive paddler training for a race or just enjoy a leisurely sunset outing, a strong core can greatly improve your paddling experience. A well-planned core routine will reduce fatigue and allow you to enjoy the journey with less physical stress. The torso is the paddler’s powerhouse! Follow the below workout three times through for an amazing core burning workout that will take you less than 10 minutes!

Reverse Crunch 15 Reps 

The reverse crunch engages the lower abdominals, key players when carving edge to edge in your kayak! Lie on the floor with your legs straight in the air and in-line with your hips. Place your arms down by your side and your head on your mat. Contract your abdominals to lift your hips off the floor toward the ceiling. The goal is to not rock forward and backward, but rather to lift straight off the mat. Only lift the glutes off the mat 1 inch.

Planks 1 Minute Total 

A plank engages the abdominals as well as the shoulders, thighs and glutes. Planks are one of the most simple, effective and amazing exercises out there. But, it is also easy to perform with poor form. Consider setting yourself up next to a mirror for this exercise so you can spot any issues in your form. Lie face down on your mat, resting on your forearms with palms flat on the floor. Push up off the floor, through the base of your hand, and rise onto your hands and toes. Press the shoulders away from the ears, toes away from your head, and squeeze your thighs and glutes. Maintain a flat back through the entire minute. Try to hold the plank in a good position for as long as possible.

*Modifications and Variations: Try a low plank on your elbows or alternate between a left and right side plank (30 seconds each side) to work your obliques.

Russian Ball Twists 10 Reps 

Sit on a standard rubber exercise ball and roll down so it supports your hips at the low back/pelvis. With your arms in prayer in front of your chest (or behind your head if you have neck issues) contract your abdominals as you lift your chest upward off the ball. As you lift, keep your chin off your chest. Once you reach a contracted state, where your abdominal wall begins to shake, begin a slow twist from side to side. Use your breathe and move slowly.

Ball Pass 10 Reps 

Using the same ball from the first exercise, lie on your back with your legs straight and the ball between your feet with arms extended overhead. Bring your legs upwards as you complete a sit-up, lifting your chest and reaching your arms for the ball. Grabbing onto the ball with your hands, slowly return to a supine position with the ball in hand until the feet and arms are just off the ground. It’s important to only lower as far as you can while keeping your lower back pressed into the mat. Use a deep inhale to brace through the core as you lower and exhale as you lift.

Glute Budge 15 Reps

The bridge engages the innermost abdominals and pelvic floor while also working the hamstrings and glutes — bonus! Lay in a supine position, making sure your lower back is flat on the ground, pull your feet under your knees. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and tuck our tailbone under (squeeze your glutes). Hold this position for 3 seconds and slowly lower down with an exhale.


Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is a writer, marketer and egg-eater. Her writing have been published across Michigan and the US. When she isn’t writing, she works full-time at Green Giftz, instructs at Beer City Barre, and attends classes at CrossFit 616


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