What Muscles Does Kayaking Work? [The Ultimate Guide]

Kayaking is a high-energy sport that requires specific muscle groups and the ability to balance, making it an excellent workout.

Here are some of the muscles kayaking works: biceps, triceps, forearms, rhomboid muscles in your back (or shoulder blades), trapezius muscles in your upper back or neck.

Kayaking also works core muscles such as abs and lower body which include quads and hamstrings.

Finally, kayaking uses grip strength for paddling to engage forearm and hand musculature as well.

Arm muscles involved in paddling and kayaking

What muscles does kayaking work?

When you paddle a kayak, your upper body is in for one heck of a workout. It’s like getting an entire exercise routine at once! Not only are you on the water and enjoying nature but also working out too.

Kayaking is a full-body workout that will challenge you both mentally and physically. Your arms, back, core muscles, shoulders even your legs are involved in the act of kayaking.

You’ll be burning calories so quickly it’s like being on an outlandishly intense cardio machine for hours at a time.

Kayaking is not as easy as it looks. You need to use your back, shoulders, and arms to paddle through waves.

It would be best if you also stood for long periods, which will strengthen your chest and abdominal muscles. It might take just one hour a day for you to get fit without lifting anything heavier than yourself.

Lat muscles

Kayaking is tough on your lat muscles. Imagine the muscles as cables that go from one side to another, like in a gym when you use those pulleys for chin-ups and pulldowns.

When rowing, the lat muscles are used for both pulling and pushing motions. They are also used during exercises like bent over flyes (among others). And don’t forget about the roles they play when turning or twisting.

It is important to know about the back when you go kayaking. The back plays a big role in how you paddle and what posture does when you are paddling. You want to be able to have a good form so that your muscles do not get hurt.

The Rhomboid Muscles

The rhomboids are a group of muscles in your back that help to rotate your shoulder blades. They happen at the end of some kayaking strokes when you need one last burst before turning around for home.

The movement is caused by a “shoulder blade squeeze” that happens as your shoulders come together while paddling towards land.

Kayaking will work out more than just your rhomboids. These muscles in your back are also used to keep a straight posture so that the workout will help with that.

The Trapezius Muscles

A kayak is a boat that you can paddle. It’s like a canoe. You might only have to use one side of your body if you’re paddling, but in fact, muscles on the middle back are used more often than other muscles.

They move and turn (move forward and backward). I know that there are eight different parts of your back. We use most often to paddle with are called traps, which work with your back vertebrae.

One word of caution: One issue to be aware of for kayakers is their upper traps. These “shrug” muscles can easily become overused and lead you down a rabbit hole if you don’t train properly, warm up before your workout sessions, cool off afterward as any other sport would require.

A man with strong arm and back muscles holding a kayak paddle

Shoulder muscles

The muscle groups in your upper body that can be easily overworked when paddling a kayak are the shoulder muscles. Working hand-in-hand with your arms and back, they help you propel the kayak and thus need to be treated delicately.

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When people use their rear deltoids so much, the shoulder blades might not be able to help. The neck muscles are weak as well, which means that a person’s head can tilt forward.

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that link your arms and shoulders together. They are important if you go kayaking because if one of these muscles falls out, they cannot do their job, and you will lose power.

Upper arms muscles (biceps and triceps)

You use your triceps muscles when you paddle. They are used more than your biceps muscles. When you paddle, both sets of muscles are used.

The design of the kayak’s paddle also helps because one arm pulls while the other pushes it out in front into the water to move forward.

The kayak’s paddle is different from other boats because it has two blades. It means that with each stroke you take, you are doing a single row.

People who don’t want to go to the gym can do exercises at home using weight machines. This way they can exercise without having to go to the gym.

Many people want some toned arms, but kayaking can help you out with that area. Both the biceps and triceps are heavily recruited during paddling, so be prepared for an intense arm workout.

The key here is to make sure you aren’t leaning back in your kayak for more of a balanced workout. This way, the focus is on your biceps and triceps muscles.

The biceps and triceps are known as an Agonist-Antagonist pair. It means that when one muscle contracts, the other relaxes to give both muscles a consistent workout throughout each paddle stroke.

Forearms and grip muscles

Paddling is one of the most important parts of kayaking. To paddle, your arm muscles will move in different ways to make it easier. At first, you might find it difficult, but you will get better at using these muscles with practice.

It should not be hard anymore when you are doing different lengths or intensities of workouts.

It would help if you had a good grip on the paddle to go fast. If you don’t have a good grip, then you will not be able to get anywhere. The power that comes from your body (your core and back) must transfer into the paddle through your grip for it to work.

Kayaking is one of the best ways to build real strength because your forearms are always engaged when paddling hard.

Many injury-prone paddlers can, unfortunately, be weak on their wrists. It is important to relax your grip when casually rowing to prevent an injury.


Working out on a kayak can be hard. It takes more work than working out with dumbbells because you have to balance and stabilize your body while doing the exercise.

There are many different ways to work out on a kayak, such as holding onto something for support while gripping a paddle, going from land to paddling against the current, or sitting upright listening intently for any sounds of danger.

Chest muscles

In kayaking, people usually think of their arms. But the chest muscles are really important too. When you use your arm to pull on a paddle simultaneously, this muscle helps keep everything balanced while also pushing you forward for more speed.

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Exercise can be fun. You can use this new thing to get a great workout. You put your arms on it, and you push it like you are kayaking.

Core muscles

Kayaking is really fun and exciting. You can also use it to work on your core muscles. Kayaks are very stable, so all you have to do is move with your upper body. That will make the exercise easier for your core muscles!

The forward paddling motion is when your abs and obliques work together to rotate your trunk from side to side. That is where the power comes out. Beginners often think it’s just their arms working hard, but this rotational force comes from our legs and core muscles.

The muscles in your back, arms, and abs work to stabilize the boat for optimal balance.

The abdominals and lower back are constantly engaged in maintaining good posture and preventing the capsizing of the boat.

Rowing machine experience is similar to paddling a canoe or kayak

Legs and hips

If you want to have a good kayaking experience, all of your arm and torso muscles must be loose before getting into the kayak.

Kayakers who have strong legs can push themselves forward more with their feet because they will be using them for stability and movement. It is best to be active outside of when one is kayaking to keep up these healthy habits.

A kayak is a sport that requires many muscles to work together. Your legs are important for balance and stability, but not as much when it comes to movement as other sports might be.

If you wear yourself out with your muscles before you even get on the water, you’re more likely to get hurt before you start. But kayakers need their muscles at 100% capacity while they’re out on the water.

It is important to have your feet in the foot braces of the kayak. It will help transfer power for a more fluid and successful stroke. As you become better at this water sport, you can experiment with different ways to use your legs.

You can use them as an anchor or brace. When turning, you can use it like paddles to paddle faster through the waves. Your leg muscles are also great tools for rolling back onto shore if you are out past where you should go.

The hips play a large role in kayaking because they act as the connection point for your core and the boat body. They can help when performing a ‘hip snap’ during a roll or brace maneuver by spreading more weight for stability.

The heart is also a muscle (cardiovascular exercise)

A kayak is a boat that you can use for water sports like canoeing, whitewater paddling, and fishing. It is also good for exercising because you can row in the boat for one hour and burn 400-500 calories each day, depending on how hard you work out.

You might not injure your lower body but want to do some form of cardiovascular exercise without putting pressure on your knees or joints like running while still getting all the benefits from being outside – fresh air, beautiful scenery.

Is kayaking a good form of exercise?

Yes, kayaking is a challenging and rewarding sport. You use your arms, back, stomach muscles, and more to support yourself while paddling on the water. The most important muscles are your arms and back.

The paddle is the most important thing in the kayak. It helps move you through the water. Don’t forget to use it because it can be easy to use your arms instead, which takes up more energy than using your paddle.

You can also get stronger by using weights or wearing ankle weights while doing exercises like planks or push-ups.

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In canoeing and kayaking, you use a paddle to move you through the water. These are low-impact activities that can improve your fitness. They’ll make you stronger because they will work on your back, arms, shoulders, and chest while paddling.

You will also improve your balance skills because these activities are done on unstable surfaces like waves or rapids.

There are many benefits to kayaking

Here is a list of some of them:

  • Kayaking makes your spine stronger;
  • Kayaking is a sport and a good form of rest for your body;
  • Proper posture is a benefit of kayaking and other exercises;
  • One way to lose weight quickly is by kayaking;
  • Kayaking is a useful training option thanks to the variety of muscle groups its challenges;
  • It is also a stellar way to prepare for an endurance event.

Can you get ripped from kayaking?

Kayaking is the best workout for people who want to get a summer body. Its calorie-burning benefits are twice as much as jogging, so that means it can burn up to 2400 calories in just six hours of kayaking.

Kayaking also helps improve your cardiovascular health and strengthens muscles all over the body while being a low impact on joints like running or biking.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get into shape without having any joint pain, then start kayak now.

Does kayaking work your glutes?

Yes. Paddling is a motion that is carried through the lower and core body. So it works the glutes, arms, and chest. It also works your abs, but this might not be true for people who are used to kayaking from a laying down position.

Kayaker with strong muscles rides a long kayak in Czech

Muscles workout and kayaking

Kayaking is fun because you can be lazy, and you will not work hard. You feel good when you are kayaking because it exercises your whole body. It’s also relaxing because everything is easy and on water.

Kayaking has changed how I think about laziness. When someone says he is doing nothing for his workout, I tell him to try kayaking.

The best way to get exercise while kayaking is to use the correct stroke. That means that when you put your feet into the boat, you should also start your stroke at this point.

Kayaking is a challenging sport with different techniques and skills. Learning the most popular type of stroke – the paddle stroke – will be helpful when learning about other types of strokes like rolling over.

When you are kayaking, it is important to remember that the kayak will hit your hip. You can use a maneuver or do a roll. If you need to use one of these, it is important to have mastered “hip snap.”

That will help you and your boat move where you want them to go. Kayaking works on every major muscle group and gives the perfect blueprint for something that is both fun and good exercise.

Many muscles help kayaking: your back muscles and the lats, which are like the sides of your back. The upper arm and forearm muscles get a workout too.

And the ab (which is like your stomach) helps you have enough strength to push with your legs when you want to move farther in kayaking.

Kayaking is a fun sport. It’s hard but very rewarding. Kayaking is also a great way to exercise and will make you feel like you are working out. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like to work out at the gym for hours, kayaking can be an intense cardio session, and it feels good.

Last updated on June 19, 2022 by Duncan Barrett

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