Home exercises for paddlers

Home exercises for paddlers

May 01, 2020


Covid-19 has forced the world to stay predominantly indoors for the foreseeable, during this time of social distancing it’s going to be hard for people to go to a gym or even get on their SUP. Elaine Campbell, professional white water kayaker, team NRS Athlete and Pau Hana Ambassador is here to share some of her ideas on exercises you can do from home that can help you stay in shape for paddle boarding.


'Let me be clear I’m not a personal trainer, I’m just a White Water Kayaker and Stand Up Paddler who just wants to offer a few tips that may help keep you stay sane and in shape during this crazy time period in all our lives.


I live in Vermont, in a rural town near the river and work from home. I’ve been working out in my home gym for almost 15 years now. There’s no gym in or around my town and even if I lived near a gym I’d still rather work out at home. I like working out by myself and I’m cheap so there’s that.  


In my home gym I have a pretty basic gym machine, bench, free weights, resistance bands, balance ball, double-end speed bag, speed bag, ab roller, foam roller and balance board. The double end speed bag and speed bag have been a huge help in keeping me in shape for the paddling seasons, and for a fight :). The double end speed bag is by far my favorite piece of equipment in my home gym. When you punch you start at your foot and end at your hand. Your entire body is in on the action. You are not standing still you are bouncing all around. It's an incredible full body workout, super fun and great for hand-eye coordination. It's something to keep in mind to add to your list of workout routines or add to your home gym. For cardio in the winter I mostly nordic ski and will occasionally jog in the spring, summer and fall. I’m pretty much on the water paddle boarding or kayaking everyday in the spring, summer and fall too.

elaines home gym equipments for paddlers

Winter is my off-season, its too cold to paddle board or kayak so I need to stay in shape and keep strong. I use a lot of free weights and will use resistance bands when I’m traveling or on our road trips in our RV.

elaines home workout for kayakers and paddlers
elaines home workout for stnad up paddlers

Paddling is a full body workout so you want to keep that in mind. The shoulders are super important to keep strong since shoulder injuries are a common problem for paddlers. Don’t skip those shoulder exercises!

If you live in an apartment, a small space or don’t want to deal with free weights get some resistance bands they are fantastic. You can pretty much take any free weight exercise and use resistance bands instead. You can order them online and you don’t have to leave your house!

There’s fantastic videos on the web of professional trainers that will show you the proper technique for the exercises that I’m going to list below so google them if you have any questions on how to perform the specific exercise. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a personal trainer and don’t feel comfortable telling you how to perform the exercise. I’m just going to tell you some of the upper body exercises that I like to do to keep me in shape for paddling. Remember to also work on your core and lower body and get that heart rate up with some cardio.'

elaines home workouts for kayakers and paddleboarders
Upper Body:

Free Weights or Resistance Bands

Alternating Shoulder Press  

Deep Swimmers Press

In and Out Shoulder Fly

Upright Row

Bicep Curl

In and Out Bicep Curl

Static Arm Curl

Bench Press or Standing Chest Press Bands

Lying Fly or Standing Chest Fly Bands

Chair Dip

Side Tri Rise

Lawn Mower

Standing Y Press

Bent Over Row


'If lifting weights or using resistance bands is new to you start with less weight and then you can work your way up. Don’t push it because you can injure yourself. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each is a good place to start. If it’s not too cold where you live and you have a backyard you can do most or all of the exercises outside.


There you have it. A couple of my favorite upper body exercises that help keep me strong and safe from injury for paddling. Thanks for reading!'

Till next time,

Elaine Campbell

Elaines home workouts for keeping paddle fitness



Elaine is a well established paddler who has been on the freestyle, squirt and wild water USA kayak teams for the last 12 years. Elaine is the Operations Coordinator and Pro Staff at Pau Hana, a job she enjoys doing from her home in Southern Vermont. Elaine spends the spring travelling in her RV and summers on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario exploring the local rivers.

Elaine Campbell professional whitewater kayaker

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