The best way to train the energy systems for peak performance is through functional, sport-specific movements such as paddling on the water. This article on periodization, as well as our customized training plans, explain the exact paddling workouts you should do to train each energy system at the correct time. Training the energy systems on the water is important, however, cross training for paddling off of the water helps us become more complete athletes, prevent injury and maximize our paddling potential.
The body can make its biggest improvements when it creates specific adaptations based on specific training inputs for each element of fitness. Stressing each element of fitness independently will help to maximize the potential for performance gains.
If you really want to prevent injury and improve, you have to train the elements of fitness with workouts, both on and off of the water. Neglecting specific fitness elements is like driving a rusty car into the ground and never maintaining the vehicle, then throwing your hands up in disbelief when the engine starts smoking. Don’t be this kind of paddler!
Cross Training For Paddling When It’s Too Cold To Paddle
You might be a paddler who can’t get on the water because of harsh winter weather, time constraints or any other number of factors. If this sounds like you, then cross training for paddling is a absolute necessity. Use the outlines and exercises in the Fitness section to help replace the time you can’t get on the water with dry-land exercises.
Training the elements of fitness will prepare you for races when you’re dealing with restricted time on the water. Our head strength and conditioning coach, Sean P, incorporates cross training into all of our customized paddle training programs if desired.
Paddling Is Stressful!
When compared to other paddle sports like outrigger paddling, use of the SUP paddle produces a great deal of stress on our bodies. In other paddle sports the bottom hand is situated close to the paddle blade, creating better leverage and less stress on the body. Stand up paddlers use a much higher grip on the paddle leading to more stress because of the poor leverage.
Cross training for all paddling sports helps to improve paddling while limiting the toll it takes on your body. However, we believe it is particularly important for SUP athletes. In addition to the poor leverage, SUP is the first paddle sport for most participants (it was for me!).
Our muscles, joints and bone structures have not developed sufficiently to deal with the stresses of intense stand up paddling. Again, stand up paddle cross training will allow you to develop the elements of fitness and also help your body to rest and recover from intense paddle sessions.
Specific training on the water is the most efficient way to make sport-specific performance gains. However, cross training for paddling off of the water can minimize the physical impact of an intensive paddling program and build your overall fitness to help you become a more complete athlete.
Consider adding cross training for paddling to your regular training program using the information in our Fitness section or from your customized training program. If you are frozen off of the water all winter or simply don’t have the time to paddle during the week, these exercises can help build your fitness and complement the training you eventually do on the water.
When To Cross Train For Paddling?
The timing, volume, intensity and duration of your cross training for paddling should be coordinated with your annual training plan or with an upcoming race. Match the types of training explained and shown in the Fitness section with the timing, volume, intensity and duration explained in this periodization article.
For example, our phases of training chart recommends aerobic training for 45-90 minutes in the base development phase. If you want to cross train, choose an aerobic training exercise from our library of workouts and use it during this phase.
An important factor to consider is that your heart rate based training zones will be different for each cross training activity because the heart rate training zone used for your paddle training will be determined through a paddling test, not a running or biking test.
Instructions for the heart rate training zone test can be found here. You can test your heart rate zones for each cross training for paddling exercise, or you can simply use your perceived level of exertion, as described in the Training Zones chart. I recommend using this chart instead of testing every cross training exercise.
Cross Training for Paddling Recap
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to plan your cross training for paddling, consider working with a Paddle Society coach to receive a customized training program. We will tell you exactly when to paddle, cross train and taper for a race or simply get in shape.
How do you cross training for paddling? Let us know and join the conversation on the Paddle Society Forum!