Question: “How much cross-training is enough in paddle sports?”
Assuming you do enough sport specific training (i.e. for a competitive recreational athlete you paddle more than 4-5 x week) and you have enough time in the week, then 2-3 x 15-30 minutes of running or cycling should suffice.
Swimming would only work if you are a very good swimmer and you can get a workout in. This is a great cross-training sport for paddlers as it works you arms above your head, where many paddlers are flexibility challenged. It also heightens your feel for the water, need for good hydrodynamics knowledge (swim pull theory/mechanics is very similar to paddle pull theory). However, many non-swim trained people can’t last long enough swimming to get an effective aerobic workout; it is all anaerobic efforts and quite a high risk for injuries (or drowning). That being said, if you can’t swim and you’re doing a paddle sport, take the time to learn the basics to stay afloat and acknowledge your main safety liability.
If you really have spare time, then you could even put in a light aerobic power intensity workout to build/maintain peak VO2 and peak HR.
However, an associated risk for kayak sports (i.e. ski or ICF kayak) is that running and cycling can lead to tight glutes, hamstring and quadriceps, all of which detract from comfort in the boat. So you’ll need to stretch and work on flexibility more…
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