Off-Season Training Plan for the Gym

Off-season Training in the Gym

Now that the majority of OC paddle races are finished for the season, it's time to start thinking about what we are going to do OFF-SEASON to get ready for NEXT season!  Since paddling is a year-round sport in Hawaii, we only have a few months to make strength gains and become injury-proof before racing starts again in January with OC1 season.

We decided to enlist the help of a professional this year for our off-season training. Mike Kates, Pro Trainer and SUP paddler himself, has years of experience working with paddlers here on Maui. In working with Mike, he emphasizes the following for off-season training in the gym:

1. Go heavier, train at a higher volume, with more intensity – the kind of training that BUILDS muscle.  

2. You need at least 6 weeks, but 8-10 weeks is better, for strength building.

3.  In the first three weeks, you will be doing supersets (back-to-back exercises) of big muscle groups to build your base. Repeat your program 3 days per week for 8-10 sessions total.

4.  In the fourth week you will periodize and split the workout into days when you train specific muscle groups.  For example, you might train legs/core on Mondays, then back/shoulder/biceps on Wednesdays, then chest/triceps/core on Fridays.  This allows you to train those muscle groups hard and then have time to rest and adapt before your next workout.

5.  Once you start your next race season, you are just "keeping the saw sharp" in the gym between races, rather than making strength gains. So NOW is your time!


Where to Start

Below is a training plan that Mike used for me for our off-season training. While I am sharing this with you, please note that Personal Training should always be just that - personal.  You will get the best results from a program that is tailored to your needs, so consider hiring a personal trainer to get you going or to even hold your hand every step of the way. You won't regret it! And, as always, be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

NOTE: In these workouts, take a rest interval after each superset – just 30-45 seconds – let your HR come down and allow elasticity to come back to the legs. After all 3 sets of an exercise, take a slightly longer recovery – grab some water, shake out your legs, stretch. If you want to have a more active recovery phase, sit or kneel on a Physioball or stand on an Indo Board for more balance work.

For help with the technique for these exercises, we have included short videos of each one on our Training Hub for you. Just click on the links below!

Off-Season Training Program for Paddlers, Week 1-3, for a total of 8-10 sessions


  1. Superset for Gluts and Hamstrings
    1. BOSU Squats (or Indo Board Squats)
      • Stand on the BOSU with flat side up
      • Use body weight to start, then add a dumbell with a "goblet hold" (I used 20 lbs)
      • 3 Sets of 10-12 reps
      • Froggers (you are going to want the video for this one!)
        • Use a physioball and place your hands on the ground in front, with your abdomen on the ball
        • Put the bottom of your feet together with knees bent and lift straight up to the ceiling with both feet.
        • 3 sets of 10-12 reps

    2. Superset for Quadriceps

      1. Hindi Squats on BOSU
        • Stand on the BOSU (soft side up), let toes push a bit forward, squat down as far as can while maintaining balance
        • use body weight or a dumbbell in a goblet hold (I used 20 lbs)
        • 3 sets of 10-12 reps
        • On the floormat
        • use body weight or dumbbells in each hand (I used 10 lbs in each hand)
        • 3 sets of 16-20 total (8-10 on each side)

      3.  Loading Exercise

          • On the floormat (will want to watch video)
          • Use a medicine ball or dumbbell for the arms (I used 10 lbs)
          • 2 sets of 8-10 reps on each side 


        1. Superset for Lats
          1. Pull-Ups
            • If you are like me, you may need a spot or a strap to help you in the beginning
            • Can use the BOSU (soft side up) to jump from and pull up to the bar as many times as you can, then add a spot or strap if needed
            • Use full range of motion throughout
            • 3 sets of 6-10 reps as you build
            • Dumbbell Pullovers
              • Use a Physioball and give yourself enough space to roll out so that the ball is under your back and shoulders
              • 10-30 lbs as you need (I used 20 lbs)
              • 3 sets of 10-12 reps


            1. Superset for Pecs

              1. Pec Flies - can do on Functional Trainer or on Bench
                • Chest high, circle your arms in front of the chest like wrapping your arms around a tree trunk
                • Open the circle, squeeze your shoulders together, push your chest up, feel the stretch, close the circle
                • Adjust weight to what is appropriate (I used 25 lbs per pulley on the functional trainer - could also use dumbbells, laying on a bench)
                • 3 sets of 10 reps 
                           2.  Physioball Knee Tuck Push Ups
                  • Place the Physioball close to your feet, below the knees, on your front, with your chest over your hands
                  • Tuck in the knees, push them back out, drop yourself down and back up
                  • 3 sets of 6-10 reps       


                1. Upright Row/Overhead Press (variation of a Hang Clean)
                  • Standing on the flat side of BOSU
                  • Use a weighted bar or a barbell (I used 20 lbs)
                  • Pull the bar up with the elbows high, then tuck elbows down under the bar, then press up over the shoulders, then reverse
                  • 3 Sets of 10 reps


                1. Plank Ups
                  • On the BOSU, ball side up
                  • 8 reps on one side, then the other
                  • 2 sets


                1. Hammer Curls 
                  • On the BOSU (flat side up) or Indo Board 
                  • Dumbbells in each hand (I used 10 lbs)
                  • If can, use a single leg on the BOSU for increased balance work
                  • 3 sets of 12

                             2. Hanging Knee Raises

                  • Pull yourself halfway up, bend elbows at 90 degrees
                  • Lift knees up, try not to swing
                  • Do as many as can, then hang down and complete the set with knee raises alone if needed
                  • 3 sets of 10
                1. Physioball Obliques Twist
                  • Lay on your back on the Physioball, with neck and shoulders supported, feet hip width apart
                  • Hold a 10 lb weight in both hands, straight above your chest
                  • Rotate to one side by pushing the ball under the shoulder and then lifting straight back up.
                  • Come back to the middle and pause.
                  • Repeat on the opposite side.
                  • 2 sets of 12

              Stay tuned for Part 2 of "Off-Season Training in the Gym" when we move onto the periodization workouts in 3 weeks.  If you have a paddler friend who might like this training plan, please share with them!  Aloha!


              Mike Kates, Pro Trainer, is also the owner of South Maui Fitness here in Kihei, Maui.  His boutique gym is affordable for locals AND offers temporary memberships for visitors (like you paddlers who are planning a trip to Maui!). 

              1 comment

              • Thank you for helpful info and option for gym while visiting Maui.

                Amber Loding

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