Many people take kayaking as an activity that allows you to have a serene experience with a bit of exercise. However, contrary to general belief, it can be a fantastic way to get some exercise for your body.
But it’s understandable where that notion comes from, as it doesn’t seem like utilizing any parts of your body other than the arms, back, or shoulders. Well then, what muscles does kayaking work?
That’s where this article comes in – we will be talking to you about which muscles kayaking works and what kind of effect it has on your body.
How Good of an Exercise Is Kayaking?
Before we get into the little details, let’s answer the question that many people have – is kayaking worth it in terms of exercising? And it is a rational thought, too. I mean, having a great activity such as this work your body too is a great bonus.
So, can kayaking be a worthy choice among your options when it comes to getting some physical exercise? The answer is mostly yes; however, it can drastically fluctuate depending on how you do it.
For instance, the intensity of the whole activity can play a significant role in determining its effect on your body. If you have a short but intense session, it might even bode better results than less intense, slower sessions.
But that applies to any exercises, so let’s talk about this in a general sense. In that aspect, kayaking is undoubtedly a viable option if you want to get some proper, whole-body exercise.
What Muscles Does Kayaking Work?
As we already said, kayaking can work a large chunk of your body’s muscles, contrary to what it might seem from afar. That said, let us now get into the details to provide you with a clearer picture.
Legs and Glutes
Let’s start with the one that is bound to surprise a lot of readers. An upper-body activity like kayaking working your leg muscles? As it turns out, the leg muscles play a significant role every time you paddle.
As you might know, your legs need to be balanced when you are paddling. And when your arms are trying to stroke, you need to put in quite a bit of effort with your lower body to stay firm inside the kayak.
On the other hand, the glutes are what you might know as the hips. Also known as the longest muscle group in your body, they work in conjunction with your legs and allow you to do things like extending or rotating them.
Therefore, kayaking does an excellent job in working these muscles, as it’s vital for the activity.
Core muscles are the ones that connect your upper and lower body. That includes the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, and a few other major and minor vital muscles in the core of your body.
Remember how the previous section talked about the beginning of the balance is from the legs? Well, that continues to your core and then onto the upper body – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Core muscles are incredibly vital when it comes to kayaking, yet we don’t talk a lot about them. Much of the power that you generate relies on this area, so you can imagine how important they are in kayaking.
These portions also play a significant role regarding movements like controlling the torso’s rotation – like a gyroscopic trunk, dare I say. As a result, they help you stabilize the kayak when you paddle.
An interesting fact is that kayaking engages almost all of your core muscles. Therefore, they indeed have their work cut out when you are kayaking.
There are many muscles in the back, and they act as a sort of powerhouse when it comes to providing your arms with the strength that it needs. And that is exceptionally vital, even though these muscles don’t seem to do much from the outside.
For example, let’s take the Latissimus Dorsi, which are also known as the ‘lats’ – the largest group of muscles on your back. Every time you paddle, they move in a contract and expand method and provide you with the strength necessary.
Not only that, but these muscles are also essential to maintain a proper posture. Moreover, kayaking works them pretty well since your upper body relies on them for proper function and precision.
- Trapezius Muscles
Do you know the middle back muscles on your back? Well, those are the trapezius muscles – and they certainly don’t get the attention they deserve. You might also know them as the ‘traps’ since everything has to have a hip, short name.
You will find these muscles divided into three sub-categories – the upper, mid, and lower traps. And as they play a crucial role when you are paddling, kayaking also works them quite well.
- The Rhomboids
When you rotate your shoulder blades (also known as the scapula), your body relies on the muscles called the Rhomboids. That means you utilize them near the end of each stroke, as it makes the scapula move together inward.
Therefore, kayaking will do a decent job of helping you build these muscles and help improve your overall posture. But you should also remember not to overuse them, as some kayakers end up doing, which can be counterproductive.
As anyone can guess, the shoulders are some of the most relied upon muscles when kayaking. Let’s take the deltoid, for example. It’s the muscle that contours your shoulder and plays a vital role during any movement.
Every time you paddle, you put some tension on these muscles because they help with shoulder rotation. Along with it, the rotator cuff goes through a bit of work as well, as they connect your shoulders and arms.
Of course, it’s essential to know whether you’re putting too much pressure on a region, especially with something important as the deltoids. So, make sure that you’re doing things in a proper manner.
When we say upper arm, it includes everything from the triceps, biceps to forearms, which are some of the show’s stars when kayaking. Some of the most visible developments through this activity will be on these parts.
The way these muscles work plays a crucial role here – while one of them works, the other relaxes. That ensures that the muscles in your whole arm get worked out.
Something you might not know is that you use your triceps more than your biceps while kayaking. When one part is pulling the paddle, the other one has to push on the other end, ensuring a thorough workout for the whole muscle group.
A lot of this is attributed to the paddle design of kayaks, which provides a unique workout that even professional gym equipment can’t always replicate.
- Forearms and Gripping Muscles
The next part of your arms is the forearms and the way you grip the paddle. You need to perform various tasks with them – holding the paddles, rotating and flexing your hands, and much more.
Many beginners slowly need to build up endurance for these, so you can imagine the amount of work they go through. Depending on the intensity and length, kayaking can seriously work these portions.
We can’t overlook the chest muscles either, as they bear quite a bit of the overall workload. You probably remember how we talked about your back muscles contracting and expanding when you’re paddling.
Your chest muscles go through a workload in the same ballpark, only in the opposite manner. When your back contracts, the chest muscles expand and vice versa, and this includes working vital portions such as the pectorals.
You might not feel an enormous impact on these muscles in comparison to the shoulders or forearms, but they go through an extensive workout as well.
Now, let’s talk about how kayaking affects the good-old heart, which is one of the most crucial muscles if you want to, well, live. Kayaking provides you with impressive cardiovascular benefits and makes you healthier.
You can certainly burn a reasonable amount of calories with this activity, although it somewhat depends on the session’s intensity. And as you know, such exercises can always be helpful with maintaining a healthy heart.
As the effects significantly depend on your weight, speed, and overall intensity, we can calculate a possible estimate. An hour of kayaking can burn somewhere around 300 up to 500 calories for a typical session, which is impressive.
Therefore, kayaking is an excellent way of keeping your heart healthy. Moreover, it can be well-suited for people who suffer from issues related to their knees or legs if they do it correctly.
That way, they can get a whole-body workout (even including the legs) without having to move around too much.
Kayaking is one of those activities that might seem like a leisurely, laid-back one. So, it’s no wonder that there is a misconception regarding the amount of work your body goes through during the process.
Therefore, we often face questions like ‘what muscles does kayaking work.’ The discussion above should hopefully be able to answer your question with ease.
And as you can see, kayaking can be a rewarding experience both for getting proper exercise and enjoying your time while doing it. But always remember that you need to be careful when working your muscles.
For instance, you need to be careful about straining them, overworking them, and the list goes on. Try to invest some time to ensure that your body is getting the most out of the workout, and enjoy your time with the fantastic activity that is kayaking.