What Muscles Does Kayaking Work? Full Information

What Muscles does Kayaking Work?

Kayaking can be all fun and games to a lot of people, but what many people do not really know is that this interactive and engaging sport can also be very beneficial to one’s health.

What Muscles does Kayaking Work

A sport as extreme and adrenaline rushing as kayaking requires a person to engage a lot of their core muscles into the mix. In summary, kayaking is a great way to tone down your body, get rid of excess fat while also having a spectacular time on the water.

But what muscles does kayaking work? Well, we thought of compiling a total list of all the muscles kayaking does indeed target and create this handy and informative article just for you!

Is Kayaking A Good Workout

Continue reading this article to the very end if you want to know more about how kayaking is beneficial to you and how this amazing sport can get you the perfect body. From improving your heart activity to toning down your back muscles, kayaking does it all!

Muscles Targeted During Kayaking

Even though this highly intensive sport works to tone down your entire body, there are some key muscles that are targeted more than the rest.

1. Back Muscles

Back muscles are mainly targeted the most during an intensive kayaking session. When a person rows the paddles, the back and shoulder blades are used the most, therefore engaging the muscles there most frequently.

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Similar to doing dumbbell rows and dead lifts, paddling on a kayak produces the same kind of effect on your back and shoulder muscles.

Every stroke that you will make on a kayak will put immense amount of pressure on these two core muscles, therefore burning the excess fat off of your arms at the same time. Not only will you have perfectly toned back muscles and shoulders, your arms will also look much leaner and stronger.

2. Shoulder Muscles

As we mentioned before, kayaking will definitely have a great amount of effect on your shoulder muscles. Imagine doing 100 pushups in a row, without any breaks in between- that is the amount of pressure created by the motion of the paddle against water on your shoulder muscles.

This high amount of external pressure is created solely due to the opposite pressure created by the paddle on the flow of water. The density of the water and gravitational pull of the earth will have a strenuous effect on your arms and mostly, shoulder blades.

The main muscles targeted around the shoulder region are the lateral, rear and anterior deltoids.

3. Rotator Cuff

Kayaking is a seriously intense upper body work out. While rowing your craft further and further away into a high pressured stream, your lats will be targeted the most. In this case, the rotator cuffs will also be used to some extent, therefore allowing your arms to be much leaner every time you go out for a kayaking session.

The four main muscles of the rotator cuff that are targeted during kayaking are the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor and the subscapularis. These four muscles are highly involved in shaping and toning your arms.

4. Upper Arms

While kayaking, the upper portion of your body is targeted the most. This means, starting from your back muscles, shoulders to your abs, everything in between is affected to an extent. The upper arms are no exception to this.

Due to the intense push and pull on the paddles during kayaking, you can expect your biceps and triceps to dramatically contract. As a result, not only will your biceps and triceps get bulkier, but the excess fat build up around those areas will also drastically reduce.

The total fat percentage of your arms will reduce to a minimum, thus leaving you with super lean and strong arms, probably with the veins being very visibly apparent.

5. Forearms

Similar to our previously mentioned point, your forearms will also see a drastic change whilst kayaking. Due to the excessive pull and push on the paddle from time to time, the amount of tension building up on your forearms will have a substantial effect on the way that they feel, look and work.

As a positive result of all the pushing and pulling on the oars, your forearms will be much more defined and feel a lot stronger and leaner than before. You can also expect your overall arm endurance to increase to an extent. If lifting heavy objects was a hurdle to you in the past, chances are, it will feel like a piece of cake after kayaking for at least a month or two straight.

6. Guns and Grips

When paddling, one arm will always be going over the other in order to hold onto the oar at all times. What this does in turn is create a sort of tension and pull on the lateral muscles of your arms.

Kayaking tends to hit all the right spots on your upper body during an intense racing session. Even while freestyle kayaking, you can expect your arms to be in a lot of use.

This will result in leaner looking and feeling arms, with fuller and bulkier guns and grips.

 7. Abs

A core muscle targeted by kayaking, you can expect to develop abs of steel after kayaking religiously for more than 3 months straight.

Due to the intense rotational movements involved in kayaking, your obliques and abdomen area will be targeted for the majority of time. Kayaking relies a whole lot on turning and pushing through, which might prove to be quite a painful hassle if you unfortunately possess a weak core.

For beginners, we suggest you to first complete a few gym sessions and then take up kayaking as a sport, as this activity highly relies on your core muscles and how much they can endure. Trust our advice and get some training beforehand if you do not want to embarrass yourself during a competition.

8. Chest

After the back muscles, the chest is the most commonly targeted area when kayaking. If you have not guessed already, the amount of pressure that will be applied to your chest is insane.

Similar to doing bench presses, kayaking will also involve your arm, pectoral and neck muscles into the mix. The only difference between a bench press and kayaking is that for the latter, you do not really get to take a break. Yikes.

However, if you manage to push through the pain and endure the pressure inflicted on your chest through kayaking, we can assure you, you will never want to head to the gym again. One kayaking session is much more intense than 5 gym sessions back to back. Go figure.

9. Heart/ Cardio

Kayaking is a not a sport for the weak. An activity as intense and mind boggling as this sets apart the weak from the strong. However, you can still surely take this activity up if you want to strengthen not only your mind, but also your body and being.

If you thought running was a high intensive sport, wait till you try kayaking for a change!

This incredible sport will engage not only your core muscles, but also your heart muscles and lungs into the mix. Sooner than later, you can say goodbye to heart palpitations and lung problems, simply by kayaking diligently. For better results, we suggest you to first practice kayaking on calm water with a guide and then move on to white water afterwards.

We will discuss the level of intensity associated with kayaking on white water in a section below later.

10. Legs and Hips

Even though kayaking targets mostly your upper body region, there is no reason for it to not work the lower portion of your body. This incredible activity makes sure to also engage your legs in pedaling the vessel forward, thus creating pressure on your hamstrings and calves.

A lot of people complain of having sore feet and legs after a good kayaking session, wondering how that could be, since the popular belief is that this sport is only good for upper body work out.

However we beg to differ here. Take a chance and go kayaking yourself for a month. The changes you will see in your legs will surely change your mind about kayaking. Not only will your legs feel much more toned down, with strong and lean thighs, but your calves will also feel much heavier and bulkier. In short, your endurance and posture will completely change, thanks to kayaking.

Also don’t forget to check out What To Wear Kayaking?

Is kayaking good exercise?

If you still have not guessed it already, kayaking is not only a good form of exercise, but it also works to enhance a lot of other skills and traits a person might have.

Muscles Targeted During Kayaking

Starting from honing your observational skills to your navigational skills, this highly intensive sport is not only meant to increase your physical endurance but also sharpen your cognitive skills.

So in short, yes, kayaking is definitely good exercise. Most athletes and work out junkies claim that a few sessions of intense kayaking is much more effective than spending tons of cash and time in the gym.

Kayaking is not too expensive, plus it allows you to make new friends as well. Starting from your core muscles to your heart muscles and even lungs, kayaking works to improve them all.

If you want to go the extra mile, we recommend you to keep a keen eye on your calorie intake and start kayaking based on that. In order to burn off a large number of calories, you should take up white water kayaking. However, note that this type of kayaking requires you to have a good amount of experience under the belt, so only take this form of kayaking up if you are well trained in the niche.

Also Read: Canoe vs kayak fishing

Other than that, you can also go for lake or river kayaking. This form of kayaking is much easier to handle and will require you to practice only a handful of times prior to the actual session. You can either embark on this kind of kayaking with a guide, a loved one or completely alone.

Just make sure to maintain proper safety measures at all times and you will be good to go.

We suggest you to definitely embark on this great activity if you want to not only make new friends and learn something new, but also to stay in shape and get that heart beat pumping.

Benefits of kayaking

Like we mentioned above, kayaking has tons of benefits. Some of the most common benefits that you can perceive from kayaking is:

  • Toning down your body
  • Engaging your core muscles for every session
  • Working out your arms and legs until they are lean
  • Enhance your overall endurance
  • Hone your cognitive skills, including observational skills
  • Burn off excess fat and calories
  • Staying in shape
  • Reducing heart palpitations while also increasing lung capacity.

Nobody said kayaking is only for young people and fitness enthusiasts. Studies state that kayaking can help older people with rigid muscles gain back their flexibility. Alongside that, kayaking on a daily or weekly basis will help correct uneven posture and also enhance your muscle performance to quite an extent.

Kayaking is not only a fun sport, but also an activity that works to tone down your entire body for the better.

Also Read: What piece of safety equipment is required on every canoe and kayak?

Muscles used in kayaking or Does kayaking build muscle?

Yes it does! Kayaking builds muscles in your legs, arms, back, and core.

Final Thoughts

Even though this sport is deemed as risky and highly intensive most of the time, with a little practice and safety precautions, you can enjoy this activity for the better. The benefits of kayaking are endless, yet the ones we listed above are some of the most common results you can expect.

Kayaking is not meant for only young adults as you will find plenty of middle and senior aged people now taking up this sport as a hobby. With the right guide and gears, you can soon conquer this engaging sport and make it your own.

Thank you for sticking around with us in order to learn more about kayaking!

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