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The Power Beneath the Paddle: Why Strength Training for Prone Paddling Matters

Over the past few years many surfers have been drawn to the challenge of prone paddling. Some of us have been competing and leveling up with aspirations of completing the Catalina Classic and others have been inspired to participate in the annual Ben Did Go channel crossing. My personal experience with prone dates back to the early 90’s when my dad and uncle were racing every weekend. I drove the escort boat for their countless channel crossings over the years, completed my own race in 2018 (R2R), and in the years since I have had the joy of escorting and paddling many channel crossings. The inspiration for this post comes from the conversations I have been having this summer with friends who are getting ready to complete their first channel crossing and are struggling to balance their training needs. While mastering the paddling technique is crucial, it's equally important to recognize the significant role of strength training in enhancing your performance.

Why is strength training vital for prone paddling and why does solely relying on water time for training fall short?

Amplifying Paddling Power Strength training is the key to unlocking your full potential in prone paddling. While paddling relies on technique and endurance, building strength enhances your ability to generate power and paddle with greater force. Strengthening your upper body muscles, including the back, shoulders, and arms, enables you to paddle more efficiently, resulting in faster and smoother performance.

Building Endurance Prone paddling demands not only bursts of power but also the ability to sustain your efforts over extended periods. By engaging in strength training, you can enhance your muscular endurance, enabling you to paddle for longer durations without succumbing to fatigue. Building endurance through strength training allows you to conquer longer distances, challenging conditions, and maximize your time on the water.

Injury Prevention The repetitive nature of paddling can place strain on specific muscle groups, potentially leading to imbalances and injuries. Strength training helps counteract these imbalances by targeting both primary and supporting muscles, thereby reducing the risk of injury. By strengthening the muscles around your shoulder joints, for example, you can enhance stability and prevent common issues like rotator cuff injuries. Similarly, a strong core provides a solid foundation, minimizing the strain on your lower back and reducing the likelihood of lower back pain. Incorporating a well-rounded strength training program into your paddling routine can significantly decrease the risk of injuries, allowing you to enjoy the sport safely and consistently.

The benefits of strength training are manifold and by investing time in building strength, you amplify your paddling power, improve endurance, prevent injuries, and enhance your overall performance. Strength training isn't meant to replace paddling; rather, it complements and elevates your paddling abilities. So, hit the gym, embrace a balanced training routine, and unlock your true prone potential–see you out there.

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