The Importance of Dry Land Training for Stand Up Paddling

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Muv Strong dry land training for stand up paddling
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Whether you paddle for endurance, time trials (racing) or recreational enjoyment, finding a coach to analyze your muscular movement, usage and efficiency can make a huge difference to your overall paddling.

Muv Strong dry land strength training turkish get up
Increasing the rotation of your T-Spine efficiently translates into a better reach and greater power on the water. Photo by: Kyle Pomerantz

The Importance of Dry Land Training for Stand up Paddling, by Kyle Pomerantz

Dry land training for paddlers kind of sounds like an oxymoron , doesn’t it? How is it possible that I can get better at paddling while on land? The first thing we need to do is switch our mindset. We have a tendency to think that in order to get better at a particular skill set we must practice that skill set ad nauseum. After all, isn’t that what dad told us when we first learned to ride a bike? Think of it this way: If you wanted to be a better race car driver and drove a clunker, you wouldn’t get very far. You’d probably need a better engine, a door panel that’s slightly more aerodynamic than a concrete block, and a decent pit crew. In this case, the pit crew includes your paddling coach, your support team (masseuse, acupuncturist, yoga teacher, nutritionist) and for increased performance, your strength and mobility coach.

Utilizing a personal trainer can help increase your mobility. Being able to move the body efficiently through regular mobility exercises, as well as increasing one’s overall strength, can make you a stronger, more efficient paddler overall. You can become a better paddler even in the off season by working hard to stay on top of your game, whether or not you live in a colder region where your on-the-water training is limited.

Muv Strong dry land mobility training hip sit
Mobility work can’t be overlooked. Muscles stay strong and supple, joints & ligaments in better alignment. Feels so good too! Photo by: Kyle Pomerantz

Strength & Mobility:  the dynamic combo for paddlers

How is a strength coach going to make me a better paddler? It’s simple, really.  A strength and mobility trainer can make you a more efficient functioning athlete for your sport. Paddling is a specific skill set. That’s the top of the pyramid. Beneath that apex, or specific skill set, are blocks that include aerobic capacity and muscular endurance. Beneath that even further are three more blocks containing overall body conditioning, movement & mobility work, and, yes, strength training. For most dedicated paddlers, their conditioning is in good shape. That block is super strong and stable. However, the other two blocks: movement and strength are almost always sorely lacking.  How stable is the pyramid supporting your skill set?

Maximum efficiency:  increased range of movement to access more power

We can improve as paddlers by enhancing movement patterns that we encounter in everyday life through the practice of mobility training. Mobility work includes putting the body through a regular routine of movements, dynamic stretches and body-specific targeted areas to increase range of motion and overall body conditioning. Then, we raise the level of our paddling performance by building strength and conditioning on top of those enhanced movements. The End Game? We become increasingly efficient bio-mechanically, improving our overall athleticism and enhancing our performance in every activity, not just paddling. It’s a win-win-win.

Muv Strong dry land strength training kettle bell
Adding the dynamic of strength training to your overall routine will maximize your power and endurance both on & off the water. Photo by: Kyle Pomerantz

End Game:  Longevity & Better Body Mechanics

In addition, increasing your movement and strength capacity also lends to longevity as a paddler. Why? Because along with this type of performance development also comes increased injury resilience. Our primary goal is longevity. We want you to keep doing what you love, longer. In this respect, that means keeping paddlers healthy, strong and on the water where you want to be.

Shouldn’t I keep paddling to become a better paddler?

Yes, of course but you need to make sure you are maximizing your time on the water.

Without a good mobility coach, you may be compensating for weaknesses in the worst of ways. Ever come away from a paddle or a race with a sore lower back? Not good. A lot of paddlers use their lower back to generate force versus accessing the power in their hips in order to move the board forward. A lot of paddlers don’t know HOW to engage their core properly. Yet, another dysfunctional pattern is using your neck & upper trapezoid muscles instead of your lats (latissimus dorsi) in paddling. Have you ever finished a paddle and felt that space between your shoulder blades was taking on most of the work? Private coaching can spot these misappropriated patterns that can lead to overuse injury.

Muv Strong dry land strength training stand up paddling
Paddling efficiently is all about using the appropriate muscles, namely the lats, core and glutes to create sustained power. Photo by: Alyson Follenius

Strength Training + Paddling = More enjoyment, less fatigue, reduced injury.

I still don’t get how strength conditioning can translate onto the water?

By laying a foundation and building strength on essential movements like the squat, dead lift, overhead pull, horizontal row and core rotational stability, we are are able to rebuild these movements into a fuller, more powerful paddle stroke where muscles learn how to work in conjunction with one another to create a stronger, faster and more pain-free YOU!  Shoulder mobility improvements create a larger preload to your paddling stroke. By improving hip hinge and core stabilization, you get a safer and stronger drive through the water and can unload the paddle quickly and efficiently. All of the above are able to be improved out of the water.

Muv Strong dy land strength training pull downs
A private coach or trainer can watch movements and spot dysfunction to correct long held patterns from overuse, injury or not knowing how to access the appropriate muscle group. Photo by: Kyle Pomerantz

Find a Gym:  Just do it!

OK. I’m interested. Where do I look?

Look up your local “training gym”. I suggest always trying to find a CFSC (Certified Functional Strength Coach), but if you can’t, make sure you find someone with extensive knowledge of human anatomy and physiology and your best interest in mind. In a later edition to our series, we will look at several ways to pick an appropriate training facility.

By Kyle Pomerantz
Muv Strong, Inc.

Muv Strong dry land training small squad photo
Dynamic one-on-one coaching and small squad training at Muv Strong, Inc. in East Hampton, NY

About Muv Strong, Inc.

MuvStrong provides a non traditional approach to everyday gym training by incorporating movement, mobility and flexibility training with power speed and strength.

Muv Strong is a 2400 sq. foot PRIVATE and SEMI PRIVATE training facility that offers customized training solutions on an individualized basis as well as Small Group Training Classes of 2-4 people. Our facility offers access to both indoor and outdoor training with 1500 sq feet of grass, 800 sq feet of turf, 1400 sq feet of rubber flooring and a myriad of training equipment including free weights, kettlebells, TRX, Sleds, rowers, assault bikes, med balls, sand bags a functional trainer and battling ropes. Muv Strong provides a non traditional approach to everyday gym training by incorporating movement, mobility and flexibility training with power speed and strength all dispersed between short interval HIIT periods. “First move well, then move often!” – Gray Cook

We offer a wide array of training and fitness services including: Private One v One training, Post Rehab and Prehab conditioning, small group training for adults, kids, athletes and frustrated or retired athletes. Our goal is to provide you with quality coaches and coaching to help optimize all of your recreational and sporting endeavors.

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.