Being Fit Won’t Make You A Better Paddler

There are 3 top reasons Dragon Boat paddlers participate in a dry land fitness program. They are:

  1. Become a strong paddler: build strength with progressive training
  2. Become a strong contender: build the strength required for testing protocols
  3. Become a strong competitor: build the strength to deliver stroke power

A sport specific training program will build the paddling firing patterns used for Dragonboat and outrigger paddling. The aim is to not just lift weights, but to do the different training disciplines in a progressive way to build kinetic connections specific to paddling. 

There many half truths about being fit in your sport and some that deter paddlers from getting the training that is geared to make them stronger in their stroke! I thought I would just lay out the top 5 and debunk those half truths, or “myths”.

MYTH 1: if you lift weights you bulk up

I wish!! I have trained in cycles for competing for over a decade and never got to the point where I couldn’t scratch the back of my head. I did get toned; I may have even got a bit of definition, but I have yet to get bulky.

Bulk and uber defined muscles are in and of themselves very specific goals and are mainly focused on calorie intake and food choices. This program is focused on paddling strength. I can ensure you will be paddling fit.

MYTH 2: if I do this program I will only be fit for paddling

Not at all. Paddling is a full body sport focused on the core and more specifically, rotational core strength. We still use biceps, triceps and calves so it is a well-rounded program with specifics that enhance paddling. Just to clarify, our core in paddling starts in the pelvis and hips and travels up to the pecs and shoulders. The focus of a dragon boat paddling fitness program has had many benefits to strengthen paddlers in their every day activities such as walking, hiking, and other sports such as golf, skiing etc. Core work is the foundation of most sports and paddling fits right in.

The bonus of being in a “training progression” is that you start the program right where you are and by following it at the end of 7 months you will be in the best possible shape for the paddling season.

MYTH 3: If I do cardio I don’t need to do anything more

Dragonboat programs train the energy systems geared for one sided paddling for 200, 500, and 2000 meters. It is not enough to train cardio, we aim to train each energy system in it’s peak to race a distance. This is specific to dragon boat and progresses and builds so come water season you are trained to paddle at the peak of each race distance.

MYTH 4: I’m super active so I don’t need to do any training.

Being active is NOT the same as training. Activity is not goal orientated although it can maintain fitness or build fitness over time. The timeline in activity has no end goals and therefore is not training. Progression training is specific to a time frame and goals that are measured. Training for Dragonboat requires cardio peaking, strength peaking and core peaking to be a strong contender in your sport.

If you want to be a strong paddler you have to do paddling programs. If however, you want to be an active paddler, being active in your daily life is sufficient.

MYTH 5: I can’t do my favorite classes if I do DB training

Wrong. Cross training with different activities enhances any training program! This specific program is a full body program that increases overall strength. This type of program brings fitness to any other activity one does. The key is to balance your training days and monitor your energy levels. Most sport specific training programs have ways of monitoring efforts to avoid over training. In the Dragon Boat Fitness program I developed I use the “resting heart rate method”. Paddlers monitor their training with the wisdom of their own body and are given guidelines to know when to decrease training and what that involves.

Bottom line – the key element in any sport specific program is that you are building the kenetic chains required for that sport. Technique  can be greatly improved when paddlers are strong in the muscle patterning of the stroke.

I am a Competitive Dragon Boat coach. I develop fitness programs to be effective and be focused on delivering the explosive movements of a dynamic dragon boat paddler. Period. I want anyone doing this program to feel that at the end of 7 months they would feel able to try out for club crews or national teams. My aim in a DB training program is to ensure participants be at the peak of their paddling fitness in an easy to follow and progressive way that makes reaching their goals completely achievable. 

To learn more about my 7 month progression training program for Dragon Boat and Outrigger paddlers, click here:

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