6 Best Exercises to Prepare for Whitewater Rafting

Regular strength training is essential to prepare for whitewater rafting. (Image via Unsplash / Julie Thornton)
Regular strength training is essential to prepare for whitewater rafting. (Image via Unsplash / Julie Thornton)
Soniya Y

Though whitewater rafting can be a fun summer activity, it can also be challenging. Whitewater rafting is great for the upper body since you will be paddling with your arms and shoulders.

By rafting regularly, you will quickly build strength in the shoulders, chest, forearms and hands. Repetitive stress on the bodily tissues is unpreventable with this sport, which means you should prepare yourself with adequete training.

Exercises to prepare for whitewater rafting can be easily designed and integrated into your regular strength training program. These six moves will not only improve and enhance upper body strength but will also prevent injuries caused by the force of the river.

Six Effective Exercises To Prepare You For Whitewater Rafting

1) Barbell squat

The barbell front squat is the best exercise to prepare you for whitewater rafting, as it strengthens your legs and core.The barbell front squat is one of the "big three" powerlifting movements and is an advanced exercise for those pursuing strength gains.


To avoid injury, it is important to use proper grip and elbow placement when performing the exercise. Experiment with different positions until you find one that works best for you.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet spread about shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out.
  • Rest the barbell on top of your chest, using an overhand grip to hold it securely.
  • Your arms will remain parallel to the floor so that you can support the weight of the bar.

2) Cable push pull

Cable push-pulls are a popular weight training workout in gyms because they work several muscles simultaneously. With this move, you will want to be first familiar with weight training. Once you get the hang of it, the move is actually quite simple.


To do this exercise:

  • Stand with one leg forward to put yourself in a balanced and stable position.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and rotate your shoulders to keep your balance.
  • Brace your abdominal muscles.
  • When you inhale, push the cable behind you as you simultaneously pull it in front of your body.
  • As you exhale, let both cables return to their original position slowly and under your control.

3) Cable Wood Chop

The cable woodchop will prepare you for whitewater rafting or building strength and power in the core and obliques. Performing this exercise slowly and with control will make it more effective. This exercise works well as part of a core strengthening or total body workout.


To do this move:

  • With your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and spine in a neutral position, extend your arms above your shoulders and grab the cable handle with both hands.
  • Slowly pull the handle down and across your body until it passes your opposite thigh.
  • Keep your arms fully extended throughout the movement and rotate your torso as you pull.
  • Hold for one or two counts before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement in reverse to complete one rep.

4) Dumbbell bent-over row

The dumbbell bent-over row will efficiently prepare you for whitewater rafting. While the main muscles worked are the traps and rhomboids, you will also engage the lats and rear deltoids, providing a full body workout experience.


To do this exercise:

  • Exhale as you pull the weights straight up toward the sides of your chest.
  • Take the upper arms no higher than parallel with your shoulders, slightly lower than your shoulders is fine.
  • While lifting, keep your wrists from moving as much as possible.
  • Lower the weights in a controlled manner as you exhale.
  • Once you have completed all repetitions, remain bent over until all repetitions are complete.

5) Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is an intermediate level variation of the popular abdominal crunch. Easy to add to any ab or core workout, you can also make it part of your total body workout.


To do this exercise:

  • Lie face-up on your mat with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your arms near your sides, palms down.
  • Inhale, then exhale and tighten your core.
  • Stand on your feet and raise your thighs until they’re vertical.
  • Hold for a moment, then slowly lower your feet to the floor.

6) Seated Cable Row

The Seated Cable Row is a fantastic compound exercise for developing the middle back while offering useful arm work as well.


To do this move:

  • Start by pulling the handle to your lower abdomen while keeping your back straight and shoulder blades together.
  • Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you row, keeping your chest out.
  • Then, return the handle forward under tension to full stretch, remembering to keep that back straight even though flexed at the hips.

Whitewater rafting is a sport with challenges that can make you stronger, both mentally and physically. That said, it is more of a fun adventure than a way to get in shape. Though it will not shed your unwanted pounds, it is nonetheless good for challenging yourself and getting your blood pumping.

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Edited by Saman


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