Dragon Boat Fitness; Don’t Mistake Fitness With Being An Athlete

One of the questions I get asked by the dragon boat paddlers I have coached is why they have to follow a training program when they are very active and fit. Dragon boat fitness is specific to the sport.

Just because you are super fit does not mean you are trained to perform in your sport. Please don’t confuse overall fitness with developing the muscle and energy systems of athletes who want to be strong contenders in competition. I have seen the results of this misunderstanding when testing athletes. I have seen contenders who are very fit under perform in testing by someone who may appear less fit.

The difference between an athlete in training and a fit individual lies in the sport specific programming that happens in a well laid out training progression. Just because you can run a killer race doesn’t mean you can pull off a 2 minute time trial on the paddling erg! Both take specific elements of training geared towards a specific result. There is a huge difference between running and a 500 meter sprint in the dragon boat! For example, if your time in the gym was spent lifting weights to be toned versus focusing on the shoulders, core and lats you will fatigue in the dragon boat come water time.

Lets take a look into the different levels of fitness.

Being Active:  Done with intent to create joy and overall well being

  • No one focus is required
  • Activity for the sake of moving the body
  • The goal is to have fun!
  • It works the muscles but for the sake of the activity
  • Can create a level of fitness but fitness is not the goal
  • Is general in nature although it may be done repeatedly

Exercise: Done with intent of overall fitness

  • Requires focus and may have a personal intention
  • Specific activity that works an energy system and or muscle groups
  • An isolated event that has a goal for that event
  • Creates fitness as a result of doing that exercise
  • Can be a specific routine and may be done repeatedly

Training: Done with intent of specific outcomes and results

  • Contains a specific focus in each session that leads to a result
  • Fitness routines for athletes
  • Focused activity that works the energy systems required to compete
  • Workouts based in development of each energy system
  • Evolution of muscle development related to performance
  • Builds the fitness required to handle the load the sport demands
  • Is done in progression to build fitness consistently in a period of time
  • Completely result orientated and has a time frame for peaking
  • Involves measurement, evaluation or testing

Sport specific: Done with the intent of developing fitness for the sport

  • Focused movements that simulate how the body moves in sport
  • Development of specific muscle groups that enhance the sport
  • Specific activities focused on training and competing in the sport

A note on hiring a trainer: ensure your trainer understands your sport and has a background in building progression for that sport. It’s a good idea for your trainer to know the parameters of your testing, the goals you have and the outcome that dictates success in that specific testing or competition. If you are aiming to improve in your sport your fitness needs to reflect your goals!

Click here to take a look at the dry land training program specifically created for dragon boaters!

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