PT on the Net Research

White Water Kayaking


How can I learn about the sport specific training adaptations for white water kayaking?


Great question. I have had the unique opportunity to work with many kayakers and hope to shed some insight based on science and practical experience.  First and foremost, the body must be as balanced as possible before it can perform at any level regardless of the sport.  Therefore, we start with an assessment of subjective questioning (what the client tells us), static posture, transitional posture (base of support is not moving) and finally dynamic posture (changing base of support utilizing various movements).  After all info is gathered we design a specific flexibility program that balances muscle length tension relationships followed by a movement conditioning program that strengthens movement weaknesses uncovered in the assessment.  Please see the Reebok Movement Screens section on PTontheNet for various assessment ideas.

As for the program variables, we will start the athlete in a Preparatory Phase with an emphasis placed on muscular endurance.  The main objectives are:

The acute variables in this phase of programming are:


+30-20 3 4-2-2 0

The above mentioned Preparatory Phase will last approximately four weeks which will prepare the body for the Transitional Phase (TP).  The TP acute variables are:


Movement 1: 12 Movement 2: 12 4 2-0-2 4-2-2 0

The TP increases the volume of training by super-setting two movements that relate to what the client needs (assessment dictates specifics).  This phase is designed to:

This phase will also last four weeks.  The athlete should now be prepared to enter into the second cycle of TP conditioning which will focus on strength and power endurance.  The acute variables are:


Movement 1: 5 Movement 2: 10 3-5 1-1-1 Explosive 120sec.

Again, movements selected should match the need of the athlete progressing to the need of the sport. For example:  Kayaking requires the athlete to sit with their legs braced, spine constantly rotating while uni-laterally pulling and pushing.  Therefore, the athlete must have tremendous leg strength-power (to avoid back injury), trunk rotational strength-power and pushing-pulling strength-power.  All of this strength-power must take into consideration the surface beneath is constantly and unexpectedly changing.  Therefore, the balance mechanisms of the body must be challenged at high levels (providing you are safe).

Last but not least, we would enter into a Specific Form of Conditioning based on the re-assessment of the athlete.  For example, if the client lacks power we would perform a bout of strength training prior to returning back to power endurance conditioning.  Rationale: Strength is a pre-requisite for power. Of course this all depends on the re-assessment results.  We may find that the overall training stimulus is too much for the client and therefore repeat the Preparatory Phase to enhance the stabilization mechanisms. Much of the specifics depend on the cumulative stress (all forms of training) and how the body is adapting to the stress.  Your assessment and re-assessment will answer these questions. In conclusion, your goal is to improve your client's muscle endurance and power endurance BUT you must progress based on their current conditioning level (use the above 12 week sequence to accomplish proper acute variable progressions).

We hope this helps!