VRC Paddle Club Crest


March - Around Beaufort OC6

24 May - DWB Dragon Boat Regatta

Around Lamma OC6

Po Toi OC6

November - ATIR OC6

For the full HKOCRA race calendar visit our facebook page & click "like"




Tuesday @ 6am
Advanced training
Tuesday @ 7:30pm
OC6, OC1, OC2
Coached training
Wednesday @ 7:30pm
Dryland training
Dryland circuits
Thursday @ 6am
Advanced training
Thursday @ 7:30pm
OC6, OC1, OC2
Coached training
Saturday @ 9am
OC6, OC1, OC2, Dragonboat
Weekend long paddle

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HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover

HKIPC magazine cover




“Strength is defined as the neuro-muscular capability to overcome an external and internal resistance.“ The bio-mechanics and physiological characteristics of ‘Strength’ are extremely complicated, though following some basic principles of strength training will help to improve performance dramatically. This is particularly relevant as we age, since strength begins to diminish after we reach 35 years old, unless we make an effort to maintain it. It is quite easy to reach a performance plateau early in the season without a good strength base to enhance improvements.

For the purposes of paddling, strength is required for powerful acceleration and maintenance of speed throughout a race. To develop strength for paddling we will need to focus on selected muscle groups which are utilized in the paddling stroke.

It is normally more effective to increase strength with resistance exercises such as weight lifting, pull-ups/push-ups etc. and fixed resistance ie. isometric contractions. These are better and more efficient means to improving strength than resistance exercises conducted on the water.

Resistance paddling, such as pulling tires or seat races etc. have value as a specific application of strength, however they should be carefully be mixed up with speed exercises to prevent crews from getting in the habit of paddling slowly. In the event that paddlers cannot commit to a dryland weights training regime, resistance work on the water would be critical.

Strength training involves more than just hitting the gym and pumping a bit of iron. It must be planned out as carefully as a paddling programme. It is necessary to begin with a less specific level of general strength development and physical fitness as a starting point. For this reason ‘pre-season’ or ‘off-season’ training is vital to provide a good fitness base and maintain the gains made during ‘race season’. Sport specific training is not necessary in the ‘off-season’ in fact cross-training activities such as swimming, running, windsurfing etc., can be very beneficial to a competitive training regime. Non-specific muscles often get neglected towards the competitive phase of a paddling programme and can use a little work.

Strength Training Periodization

A strength development programme should be structured work together with a paddling programme. The effects of a maximum strength training regime can have adverse effects on specific endurance or speed, resulting in frustration and a premature notion to scrap strength training all together. The final product of a properly structured strength programme, however is ‘power’ and not ‘strength’ alone. Power will make us paddle fast, but strength will not. Power is converted from strength though a carefully arranged process.

Typically there are four phases to a strength programme, namely:

  • Hypertrophy (4-10 weeks);
  • Strength (4-6 weeks);
  • Maximum Strength (2-3 weeks); and
  • Power (3-4 weeks)

a) Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy refers to building muscle mass. This is done with small loads of about 50-60% maximum capacity (1rm) repeated to failure, which should occur between 10-15 repetitions. For example if you can lift 100kg only once, then you should be able to lift 50 to 60kg 10 to 15 times in this phase until you can lift anymore. This is referred to as a set.

Repetitions should take 4 seconds with a 2 count lifting and a 2 count lowering weights. Care should be taken when lowering weights as this is often where many of the injuries occur. Rest periods between sets in this phase need only be 1 minute. It is also important in this phase to develop good technique to isolate the specific muscle exercised. If exercises do not adhere to strict technique, you can easily sustain an injury.

b) Strength

Strength results from recruitment of muscle motor units ie. muscle fibres and their associated nerves. This is done by increasing work intensity by adding weight and increasing rest periods. Weights in this phase should be about 80% 1rm so that failure is achieved in 6-8 repetitions, again at a rate of about 4 seconds per rep. Technique should be very strict to avoid injury. Rest periods should be 2 minutes between sets.

c) Maximum Strength

Maximum ‘Strength’ results from training at extremely high loads reaching 100% 1rm capacity with very few repetitions of 1-3, performed slowly. Maximum fibre recruitment is achieved in this phase, thereby affecting maximum strength.

Great care should be taken in this phase, with adequate warm-up precautions and warm-down to follow. It’s best to focus on the primary muscle groups namely the Pectorals, Quadriceps and Latissimus Dorsi. Work on the secondary muscle groups such as the Deltoids, Trapezius, Biceps and Triceps etc. should continue with higher repetitions and lower weigh. Rest periods should be up to 3 minutes between sets.

Strict technique is an absolute must. Most shoulder injuries sustained by paddlers result from training with excessively heavy weights. Unless there is a real need for maximum strength, it is advisable to forego this phase and opt for more specific resistance work in the boat.

d) Power

Muscular ‘Power’ results from exercises that include a load which is about 30-50% capacity with 8-10 repetitions where contractions are performed at an explosively high speed. Care should be take when the muscle is extended ie. lowering the weight and a long rest interval of up to 5 minutes with relaxation exercises are advised.

This is the phase which ultimately converts strength to power by adding the speed component. Strength has no value in paddling unless it can generate force quickly. The result from this phase will be a slight loss in maximum strength, however the contribution to boat speed will be noticeable.

Endurance of power results from a high number of repetitions at a load of 40-50% capacity performed to failure (30-50 repetitions) at medium to fast speed with a 30-45 second rest interval.Dryland Weight Training Programme

The following weight training programme is provided which compliments the paddling programme in Section 2.6.

The types of exercises are diverse to focus on the principle muscle groups used in paddling. It is also important to note that exercises also work opposite muscle groups from those which are normally used in paddling in order to provide some stability and improve on maximum gains. Sets are organized antagonistically also to promote better gains and reduce training time.

For those who have time limitations in the gym, a more general programme should focus on Bench Presses, Lat Pulls and Squats as the primary exercises since they involve 80% of the muscles you will use in paddling. A caution to shortcuts, however, is that development of only the primary muscle groups may result in a muscle imbalance exposing some of the smaller stabilizing muscles to potential injury.

A variety of free weight exercises are preferred for this reason in order to promote stability and control in the smaller muscles such as the rotator cuff group.

In each phase it’s important to stress strict technique in order to maximize recruitment of the appropriate muscle fibre. Relying on fibre from another muscle will not train the target group, and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.

Phase Programme Cycle Principle Muscle
Base Preparation

(during water Preparation ie. Phase or off season November to February) 10-15 repetitions to failure.

Sets to be consecutive. Complete each cycle 3-5 times before advancing to next cycle. No rest between each set.

Develop strict technique with weights of 50-60% maximum.
Cycle I
Dumbbell Biceps CurlBiceps
Overhead Triceps PressTriceps
Bent Over Lateral Dumbbell RaisePosterior Deltoid/Trapezius
Front Dumbbell RaiseAnterior & Lateral Deltoid
Cycle II
Upright RowUpper & Lower Trapezius
Dips (Elbows Out) or Bench Dumbbell FlysInner Pectorals & Deltoids
Reverse Barbell CurlBrachiallus & Biceps
Wrist CurlsFlexors
Cycle III
Bent Over Dumbbell Row or Barbell RowLatissimus Dorsi, Teres Major
Bent Arm Pull Over or Dumbbell/Barbell PressPectorals
Seated Oblique Twist or Side BendObliques
Lower Back ExtensionErectors
Cycle IV
Military Press Behind/Front of the NeckDeltoids
Pronated Pull UpsLatissimus Dorsi
Lunge or SquatsQuadriceps & Gluteus Maximus
Abdominal CrunchUpper & Lower Abdominals

(during water Speed and Strength Block ie.March) 6-8 repetitions to failure each set with 3 complete cycles.

Very strict technique required to avoid injury, 2-3 minute rest between sets.

70-85% maximum weight in secondary group.

Maximum Strength


(mid to end of March) 3-4 repetitions per set for primary muscles ie. Bench Press (Pects), Lat Pulls (Lats) Squats (Quads).

90-95% maximum weight in primary group. Secondary group to remain in strength phase (6-8 reps.).
Cycle I (Primary Group)
Dumbbell/Barbell Bench PressPectorals, Deltoids and Triceps
Bent Over Dumbbell Row /Barbell Row/Lat PullsLatissimus Dorsi and Teres Major
Lunge or SquatsQuadriceps and Gluteus Maximus
Military Press Front of the NeckDeltoids and Pectorals
Cycle II (Secondary Group)
Upright RowTrapezius
Dumbbell FlysInner Pectorals & Deltoids
Dumbbell CurlBiceps
Overhead Triceps PressTriceps
Cycle III (Secondary Group)
Bent Over Lateral Dumbbell RaisePosterior Deltoids, Trapezius
Front Dumbbell RaiseAnterior Deltoids
Abdominal CrunchAbdominals
Lower Back ExtensionErectors
Maximum strength exercises should only be done if a crew or individual wants to seriously target short sprints. For distances over 500m the potential rise of injury from a maximum strength regime far outweighs the potential gains.

(during Race Preparation Phase ie. April to mid-May) 8-15 repetitions or to failure as required with explosive speed during contraction only. Avoid use of momentum to assist in repetition.

Strict technique required to avoid injury. Smaller weights of 50% maximum
Cycle I
Subinated Pull-ups (to Failure)Lats, Teres Major & Biceps
Power CleansPectorals, Brachiallus & Deltoids
Power Squats or LungesQuadriceps & Gluteus Maximus
Seated Oblique Twist (to failure)Obliques
Cycle II
Pronated Pull Ups (to failure)Latissimus Dorsi & Teres Major
Push Ups (to failure)Pectorals & Triceps
Abdominal Crunch (to failure)Upper & Lower Abdominals
Cycle III
Bent Over RowLatissimus Dorsi & Teres Major
Dips - elbows out (to failure)Deltoids
Dumbbell CurlsBiceps
Overhead Triceps PressTriceps



The Hong Kong Island Paddle Club is proud to announce that the 11th Deep Water Bay Dragon Boat Races on 9th May 2010 was the first Carbon Neutral dragon boat race in the world. With the innovative partnership of Carbon Care Asia, a low carbon solutions specialist, this event was also Hong Kong's first carbon neutral sports event.



Hong Kong Island Paddle Club is partnering with the Hong Kong Shark Foundation

HK Shark Foundation



If you are interested in sponsoring the Hong Kong VRC Paddle Club please email Stephane Boualam, Sponsorship Secretary, for more information.



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