Lower body training for paddlers
A common question I get about strength training for paddlers is 'should paddlers train their lower body'?
Following on from the last post about the www.paddler.nz resources I just want to refer back to the figure that broke down paddle stroke force generation and the different muscle groups used.
As we can see the lower body plays a very large part in force generation in the kayak when you paddle with good technique.
As well as this logical reason to train the lower body (because it plays a large role in the paddle stroke) there are also a number of other reasons you will find exercises like front squats, single leg squats and dead lifts in the Paddle Stronger training plans.
Doing them actually makes your upper body and core stronger!
How? Keep reading.
On the surface a squat, even a front squat (which involves more upper body activity), looks like a 'lower body' exercise or an exercise for the 'quads' especially to a person who has not done one before.
However, if you load the bar up and perform a few sets yourself you soon realise that your legs are the least of your worries. You see the front squat requires a huge amount of stabilisation through the core/trunk and upper back to keep you from collapsing in half as you squat down.
The same goes for the deadlift. To the untrained eye it looks very much like a 'lower body' exercise, that is again until you actually perform a few sets. Lifting a loaded bar off the ground using a deadlift you have to contract your whole body (not just your legs) as hard as you can.
There is a large body of evidence that shows heavy squats and deadlifts stimulates a large response in human growth hormone and testosterone. These just happen to be the two key anabolic hormones the body requires to increase the strength capability of muscles.
These hormones are then circulated around the WHOLE body in the blood. This is another reason that you can increase your upper body strength with 'lower' body training.
So there you have it.
If you are a paddler and are not doing at least some form of squatting or dead lifting then please start.
Train hard, but remember to train smart.
If you have a burning question about your training that you want to be answered, send me an email me here and I will do my best to answer it for you.
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