The EXERCISE and TECHNIQUE Program is Designed to Help You Improve One Stroke at a Time
Nikki Gregg working on her push up and with her race stand up paddle board in tote to head to a workout.
It takes time to improve the strength-endurance needed for longer paddle sessions, but one thing you can change almost immediately is your technique.
I suggest learning how to get a more efficient reach during the catch phase of the forward stroke. This extra reach will force the larger and stronger muscles of the core to be recruited instead of just using the smaller, wimpier arm muscles to propel your body past your paddle.
Explanations on how to get more reach can be varied and technical, but here is a basic and quick break down. Work with an experienced paddling coach for more thorough instruction. (Signup for the Supconnect Newsletter.)
To achieve extra reach when paddling on your left side:
1. Twist Torso.
Twist your torso so that your left shoulder and left hip follow your bottom (left) hand forward as you go to plant the blade in the water.
2. Extend Body.
Extend to a comfortable reach where you are able to fully submerge your paddle blade in the water.
3. Drive Top Hand.
Once the blade is submerged, drive down with your top hand as you ‘unwind’ your torso, meaning the left shoulder and hip follow the bottom hand to the end of your stroke. You should feel your oblique muscles working.
4. Arms Straight.
Keep your arms straight to make sure you engage your core muscles, but do not hyper-extend or ‘lock out’ your elbows.
Most importantly is that once you have achieved a good reach, you must work on MAINTAINING that reach in every single stroke even when you start to fatigue. In addition to achieving a more powerful stroke, that extra few inches of reach will get you farther with every stroke which really adds up to significant distances during longer paddle sessions. (Join Nikki Gregg's group on Supconnect.)
Exercise: Pull Ups
Hands down, my favorite strength training move for stand up paddling are pull-ups. I think every stand up paddler should be able to complete several repetitions of this exercise. Pull-ups target an array of the large and small muscle groups that we use during stand up paddling and will make you stronger, faster!
For a healthy, non-injured person I recommend starting with assisted pull ups and working their way up to doing at least 10 unassisted pull ups for females, 20 for the males. Test yourself each week to see if you can add one or two more pull-ups to the set.
To avoid unnecessary stress and strain on the shoulder, I do NOT advise using a wide grip when performing pull-ups. Instead, keep your hands about shoulder width apart. I prefer a neutral (palms facing in) or overhand grip. Also, remember to pull your chest all the way up to the bar. Good luck! (Signup for the Supconnect Newsletter.)
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