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Annual Strength Training Plan

Enhance your dragon boat paddling performance, power, and endurance through targeted strength training while reducing the risk of injury.

By following this 10 point annual strength training plan tailored specifically for dragon boat paddlers, athletes can optimize their physical conditioning, paddling performance, and overall health while minimizing the risk of injury. Consistency, dedication, and a holistic approach to training and recovery are key to achieving success in this demanding sport.

Goal Setting and Assessment 
  • Set SMART goals tailored to dragon boat performance, such as improving paddle stroke power, increasing endurance, or enhancing overall strength and stability.

  • Conduct baseline assessments including paddle ergometer tests, strength evaluations (especially focusing on core, upper body, and legs), and flexibility assessments to identify areas for improvement.

Periodization Plan 
  • Divide the training year into phases focusing on strength, power, endurance, and tapering for competition.

  • Align training phases with the dragon boat season, emphasizing strength and power during the off-season and transitioning to endurance-focused training closer to race season.​


Off-Season Strength Phase 

  • Focus on building foundational strength with compound movements like squats, deadlifts, rows, and overhead presses.

  • Incorporate exercises targeting the muscles used in paddling, including rotational movements and anti-rotation exercises to improve core stability.

  • Aim for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps with moderate to heavy weights, focusing on proper technique and controlled movements.

  • Include plyometric exercises to develop power and explosiveness, such as medicine ball throws and box jumps.


Pre-Season Power Phase 

  • Transition to power-focused training with explosive exercises mimicking the paddling motion, such as cable wood chops, rotational medicine ball throws, and plyometric push-ups.

  • Incorporate strength exercises with lighter loads performed at higher speeds to improve rate of force development.

  • Integrate interval training and circuit workouts to improve cardiovascular endurance while maintaining strength and power gains.


Race Season Endurance Maintenance 

  • Reduce training volume and focus on maintaining strength and power gains while prioritizing on-water paddling sessions.

  • Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and longer endurance paddles to simulate race conditions and maintain cardiovascular fitness.

  • Emphasize recovery strategies such as foam rolling, stretching, and active rest to prevent overuse injuries and optimize performance during races.


Recovery and Injury Prevention (Throughout the Year)

  • Implement regular recovery protocols including foam rolling, stretching, massage therapy, and adequate sleep to facilitate recovery and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

  • Incorporate mobility drills and corrective exercises to address imbalances and movement restrictions that may impact paddling performance.

  • Monitor training load and provide opportunities for active recovery days or deload weeks to prevent burnout and optimize performance.


Regular Progress Evaluation (Throughout the Year)

  • Assess paddling performance through on-water drills, time trials, and race simulations to track improvements and adjust training strategies accordingly.

  • Conduct periodic strength and power assessments to monitor progress and identify areas for further development.

  • Solicit feedback from coaches and teammates to identify technical deficiencies or areas for improvement in paddling technique.


Nutrition and Hydration

  • Prioritize proper nutrition and hydration to support training adaptations and recovery.

  • Ensure adequate intake of carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle repair and growth, and fluids for hydration and thermoregulation.

  • Consider consulting with a sports nutritionist to optimize dietary strategies for performance and recovery.


Mental Preparation and Team Dynamics

  • Incorporate mental preparation techniques such as visualization, goal setting, and positive self-talk to enhance focus, confidence, and resilience during training and competition.

  • Foster a supportive team environment with open communication, mutual respect, and camaraderie to maximize motivation and cohesion among paddlers.


Flexibility for Adaptation

  • Remain flexible in training plans to accommodate changes in schedule, weather conditions, or unforeseen circumstances.

  • Adjust training intensity and volume based on individual responses to training, ensuring that paddlers are adequately prepared for peak performance during races.

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