By now if you have been on the water for a few sessions, you will realise that Dragon Boating is not just going through the motions of dipping your paddle into the water. It does require the combination of cardiovascular and strength conditioning. The main focus for today’s topic is to give you five exercises that will help you increase your strength for Dragon Boating.
For the purposes of dragon boating, strength is required for powerful acceleration and maintenance of speed throughout a race. To develop strength for dragon boating we will need to focus on selected muscle groups which are utilised in the paddling stroke.
It is normally more effective to increase strength with resistance exercises such as weight lifting, pull-ups/push-ups etc. and fixed resistance ie. isometric contractions. These are better and more efficient means to improving strength than resistance exercises conducted on the water.
The following exercises can be performed using free weights (dumbbells or barbells) and weight machines. Before I go any further, it’s important to understand why these strengthening exercises can help with dragon boating and also the cause and effects it will have on your body. There are two reasons why these exercises help:
- 1. By just doing cardiovascular exercises regularly (e.g. rowing and jogging) without the support of strong muscles can cause injuries easily.
2. By building stronger muscles it helps keep your metabolism fast.
The cause and effects of strength training:
It is normal to have some muscle soreness after strength training. This soreness is a dull and lingering sensation, which usually starts a few hours to a day after the training and is distinctly different from the sharp pain in a sport injury.
The soreness comes from muscle tissues breaking down and reconstituting after training – a necessary process for the muscles to become strong and toned. Eating properly and resting adequately helps speed up the recovery process and eliminate the soreness.
Five Exercises for Strength Training
The following exercises need you to determine what is your maximum weight you can lift and then taking about 80% of that lifting weight to be your guide. Then you will need to do between 6-8 repetitions (allowing for about 4 seconds between each repetition). You will need to complete at least 3 sets allowing for a 2 minute rest period in between sets.
For example, if your maximum lifting weight is say 50kg, then at 80% your lifting weight is 40kg. Each exercise below will have different a weight depending on the body part you train. Furthermore breaking down each exercise you will complete the following:
- set 1: 6-8 repetitions of 40kg
- 2 minute break
- set 2: 6-8 repetitions of 40kg
- 2 minute break
- set 3: 6-8 repetitions of 40kg
Exercise 1: Dumbell Bench Press
Sit down on bench with dumbbells resting on lower thigh. Kick weights to shoulder and lie back. Position dumbbells to sides of chest with bent arm under each dumbbell.
Press dumbbells up with elbows to sides until arms are extended. Lower weight to sides of the upper chest until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder. Repeat.
Keeping upper arm perpendicular to torso, pull barbell up toward neck until upper arms are just beyond parallel to floor. Return and repeat.
Exercise 3: Dumbell Flys
Grasp two dumbbells. Lie supine on bench. Support dumbbells above the chest with the arms fixed in a slightly bent position. Internally rotate shoulders so elbows to the sides.
Lower dumbbells to sides until chest muscles are stretched with elbows fixed. Bring dumbbells together in a hugging motion until dumbbells are nearly together. Repeat.
Lunge forward with first leg. Land on heel then forefoot. Lower body by flexing knee and hip of front leg until knee of rear leg is almost in contact with floor. Return to original standing position by forcibly extending the hip and knee of the forward leg. Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite leg.
Flex waist to raise upper torso from floor. Return until the back of the shoulders contact the padded incline board. Repeat.
Great care should be taken in this phase, with adequate warm-up precautions and warm-down to follow. With these exercises you should aim to do them within a 4-6 week period, then change to a different routine. It will allow your muscles to grow and increase in strength for Dragon Boating.