Most of us are now starting to add a good amount of volume to our training and probably have at least 20-30 hours in the boat this season and should be thinking about adding sessions that will help us race faster. With that being said resistance training in the boat can be a great way to add variety to your training that will also help you come race day. When I say resistance training I am not referring to land based strength training (we will cover that at a later time) but rather in boat resistance Training. There are a couple of different ways to go about adding resistance and I will try to break them down here so you can choose which ones will help you the most.
These resistance based workouts should be done as technical days rather than fitness focused days. Use the rest of the week to focus on increasing your fitness and these sessions on increasing paddling efficiency and technique. For this reason keep the paddle durations shorter so that your technique can stay crisp throughout the session and you do not learn poor habits. Learning to paddle with bad habits will only make your progression as a paddler slower in the long term as you will need to correct these before making it to the next level.
The first way you can add resistance is to add actual weight. Some people use dumbbells, kettlebells or weight plates to do this but I prefer using a construction garbage bag filled with pea gravel. I like this as it is a much cheaper option than the others and in the case of a tip, I am not going to be worried if I cannot retrieve my weight. It also sits in the boat nicely and I can actually change the part of the boat I want the weight in if I want to make a certain weight have even more of an effect by also affecting my trim. For this you should not need a ton of weight to feel the benefits but I feel its common to use in the 10-40lb range. The focus when using added weight in the boat should be on increasing glide by keeping short crisp strokes with a very efficient catch. Using added weight is not the best time to focus on power as other resistance types can help with that.
The next mode of resistance is adding a bungee over the bow of the boat. Doing so will effect the boats ability to move through the water as it is designed to making your effort to push the boat forward with each stroke harder. This is a great mode to work on the strength endurance as you can still make the boat move but you will need more power to keep it up to speed. Think of how the boat feels with a good amount of weeds on the bow as this is a similar feeling. You could easily incorporate a bungee on threshold work days as the effort and duration of sets would be in a good range for bungee training.
If you are looking to add top end speed and power your best bet will most likely be a bungee with either knots, balls or tubes added. By adding the knots, balls or tubes to the bungee you significantly increase the resistance/drag of the boat forcing you to use much more power in your stroke to get the boat moving at speed. For this reason keep the intervals very short and work on increasing that top end speed and allow ample rest between sets so you are fresh each set to get the most out of this resistance profile.
Adding a can or sponge on a string that drags behind your boat similar to a running parachute is another way to add resistance to your boat. This is a mode I myself have yet to use in my own training but have been advised that will help define your power phase. This is a method I plan on using in the upcoming weeks and will add comments below with the results.
If you are not looking to add something to your boat there are 2 other ways that you can "add resistance" while paddling. These would either entail going upstream on a river with a lot of current or purposefully going through intermediate water as both of these will force you to paddle with more power with the water providing the resistance.
I hope this information becomes useful to you and you can start to incorporate this in your own training. Leave a comment below on your favorite type of resistance training and if you have a favorite workout that you like to do regularly.