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It’s really hard not to be inspired to work on our freestyle skills with 2012 World Cup just wrapping up. The whole paddling community has pretty much been glued to the World Cup coverage, watching their friends and favorite athletes compete. I’m pretty sure many of you were doing those freestyle moves, right along with the competitors, while sitting in your chairs at home  Don’t be ashamed…
Many of us are weekend warriors and aren’t necessarily able to get to our favorite play spots to work on those freestyle skills as much as we’d like. This doesn’t mean that you can’t train when you’re away from the water in order to perform better on the water.

When you’re training to reach a certain goal, you need to consider the characteristics of the activity for which you are training. In this case, freestyle kayaking, you need to take into consideration that it requires power, core strength, and flexibility. I put together a fun little workout that you can do when you’re away from the water but have freestyle on the mind.
1: Depth Jumps. This plyometric exercise will help with your lower body strength, lower body/ core power, and it will help with vertical jumps (think loops!) Equipment needed: Plyo Box, bench, or something STABLE
Start with a box that isn’t too tall (just a few feet high.) Stand on the box, then jump off with soft knees and go straight into a vertical jump. Make sure that you’re jumping onto a surface with a little give. Nothing too hard (concrete) that will put too much impact on your joints.
2: Reach and Press: Overall strength, coordination. Equipment needed: Dumbbell, something fairly heavy
Get into a lunge position and hold the DB in the same hand as the front foot. Reach the DB towards your foot (bending at the knees and hips,) as you come back to start position use your momentum to press the DB overhead. Think of a DB clean and press. Make sure that your knee doesn’t go past your toes when lunging.
3: Russian Twists (or Kayakers, as I learned them.) This will improve core strength, flexibility, and stability. Equipment needed: Medicine ball, dumbbell, or something with weight.
Get into a sitting position on the floor with knees bent and lean slightly back, making sure to keep your back straight. Hold the weight in both hands and twist side to side. Make sure that your chest is always facing the same direction as your hands. So no moving just your arms side to side, you are twisting at the waist. To make this exercise harder, bring your feet off of the floor or go up in weight.
4: Plyo Pushups: Power, upper body and core strength. Equipment needed: bosu, small bench (like one for step aerobics) or a thick book, or just use the floor with no prop.
Do this in any form as you would do a regular push up. Place one hand on the bosu or bench (if using) and one on the floor. Perform a pushup, but as you come up push with so much force that both of your hands come off of the floor. If you are using a bosu, place your opposite hand on the bosu as you come back down.
5: Woodchops: power, overall strength, transfer of weight across the body, core stability. Equipment needed: Dumbbell, fairly heavy.
Stand with feet at hip/ shoulder width apart and both hands on the DB. Slightly bend your knees as you bend and bring the DB towards one knee. Then stand and bring the DB across the body and above the opposite shoulder. Again, make sure that your chest is facing the DB at all times; don’t just swing your arms.

Flexibility is extremely important. Whether its conventional stretching, yoga, or anything else, make sure to include it in your program. Spend some time after your workouts to stretch your muscles. I like to devote blocks of time a week to spend on yoga. Andria Davis has a great Yoga For Paddlers that you can download at

If you have any questions about any of the exercises, form, or alternate exercises please feel free to contact me!