Off-Season Periodized Workouts for the Gym

Aloha paddlers!  It's time for Phase Two of your Off-Season Gym Training! 

According to Mike Kates, Pro Trainer, once you've completed your basic Gym Training for Off-Season by improving your Base Strength, you can move onto Periodized Workouts.  This means that you are splitting up your strengthening program for different muscle groups to different days per week. 

You will be in the gym 3 days per week with these intense workouts, doing each one just once per week.  This allows your muscles to lift hard, building strength and endurance, and then resting and adapting for a week.  You will find that as long as you are hitting the workouts hard, more subsequent rest will lead to more gains in strength.

As always, Personal Training is best when it is personal!  These blog posts contain the recommended workouts made for us as paddlers, but can be adapted to your own needs.  If you need more personal advice, please reach out to your favorite Personal Trainer! And, be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

If you need, check out the video links for each exercise to make sure you have proper form and technique. Enjoy and see you on the water!


Back/Shoulders/Biceps/Core Workout:

1. Lat Pulldown

  • Start with arms in full extension, grasp the bar wide
  • Engage your lats (rather than your arms) and pull straight down toward your chest with your chin slightly up, do not lean too far back
  • Raise bar back up to extension consistently and slowly
  • Start with a weight that is comfortable for 12 reps
  • Add 10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

2. Seated Row

  • Sit up straight on bench with knees slightly bent against the brace
  • Keep your core engaged throughout
  • Engage your mid-back muscles and pull straight back slowly and evenly toward your body
  • Release into full extension without bending forward
  • Start with a weight that is comfortable for 12 reps
  • Add 10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

3. Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

  • With a straight bar on the functional trainer, stand with your arms in full extension and hands rotated slightly forward so that your wrists are straight. 
  • Pull straight down to the thighs, keeping your arms straight, and release back up to shoulder height.
  • Move slowly and evenly throughout the set, while engaging your core and back.
  • Start with a weight that is comfortable for 12 reps
  • Add 5 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

4. Single Arm Back Fly on Physioball

  • Start with your hands on a bench and put your shins up on a Physioball next to the bench
  • Start with a lighter weight, like a 10 lb dumbbell, in one hand
  • While balancing on the ball with your legs, engaging your adductor (inner thigh) muscles, lift the weight up and out to the side, keeping your elbow slightly bent and out to the side, while engaging your mid-back muscles.
  • Move slowly and consistently for 10 reps on one side
  • Switch hands and repeat on other side
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10 each side

5. Limo Driver on BOSU

  • Start with BOSU flat side up
  • Step on BOSU with one foot on the edge and then the other
  • Get your balance and lift a reasonable free weight up in front of you with your arms extended (we used a 10 lb weight)
  • Rotate 90 degrees to the right, then 90 degrees to the left
  • Lower arms back to your front
  • Repeat for 10 reps
  • Repeat for 3 sets
  • If this becomes too easy, move to standing on the BOSU with one foot only and switch feet halfway through the set.

6. Single Arm Snatch on BOSU

  • Start with BOSU with flat side up
  • Step on BOSU with one foot on the edge and then the other
  • Once balanced, squat down with a lighter weight dumbbell (we used 10 lbs) in one hand and then, in one smooth and controlled movement, stand up and reach dumbbell over the head and then back down to the shoulder.
  • Repeat for 10 reps on one side, then switch.
  • Increase weight incrementally with each set (i.e. 10, 12, 15 lbs)
  • 3 sets of 10 each side

 7. Medicine Ball Complex: Overhead Smash, Round the Clock, Chest Pass

a. Overhead Smash

    • Choose an 8-10 lb medicine ball
    • Lift the ball up and behind head while fully extending up on the toes.
    • Smash the ball down onto the floor in front of you and catch it as it bounces back up to chest level.
    • Repeat x 10
b. Round the Clock
    • Stand with your arms down in front of you while holding the ball
    • Keeping your arms straight, rotate the ball to the left and up and over to the right, like the hands of a clock rotating clockwise.
    • Smash the ball on the floor on the right and then grab it as it bounces back up to you
    • Reset with your arms back down in front of you while holding the ball
    • Repeat in the other direction, counterclockwise, to the left side.
    • Catch the ball and reset again to repeat on the right
    • Complete the full set with 10 total rotations
c. Chest Pass to the Floor
    • Bend the knees and flex forward from the waist
    • Hold the ball to the middle of your chest and press it down into the floor while keeping your body still.
    • Catch the ball on its bounce back to your chest and immediately press it back down to the floor
    • Repeat for 10 reps
    • Repeat this full complex for 3 sets

8. Pull Ups

  • Adapt your pull-ups, depending on your level of strength
  • If you can do straight pull-ups, do as many as you can
  • If you need to jump up, do as many as can
  • Once down, jump up and do again (as many as can)
  • On your last one, hold at the top for as long as you can and slowly let yourself down

9. 21's (Bicep Curls)

  • Use an appropriate barbell for your strength (we used 20 or 30 lbs)
  • 7 reps from full extension to 90 degrees
  • 7 reps from 90 degrees to full flexion
  • 7 reps with full range of motion
  • Repeat for 3 sets but mix up the order of the 7 reps with each set

10. Resisted Crunch on Physioball

  • Using a cable pulley or resistance band around a fixed point
  • Start with a lighter weight and adjust up as needed
  • Roll your body forward on the Physioball so that your lower back is on the ball
  • If using a cable pulley, pull the handle from above your head to your forehead and hold there throughout the crunches.
  • If using a resistance band, hold the handles of the band with arms extended and palms down at your thighs.  As you crunch, move your hands down toward your knees, keeping your arms straight.
  • Do 20-25 reps with good form
  • Repeat for 2 sets


Legs/Gluts/Core Workout:

1. 5-set Pyramid Front Squat on Functional Trainer

  • Progression Series of Five
  • Start with 35 lbs – 12 reps – rest 30 secs.
  • 45 lbs – 10 reps – rest 30 secs.
  • 55 lbs – 8 reps – rest 30 secs.
  • 65 lbs – 6 reps – no rest!
  • Immediately back to 35 lbs – 12 reps
  • Feel those quads burn!

2. Reverse Lunge with Dumbbells

  • 10 lbs each hand
  • Do 10-12 reps on one side
  • Switch sides and repeat 10-12 reps
  • 3 sets

3. Overspeed Lunge with Functional Trainer

  • Set up pulley so that your shoulder is even with the weight and arm can extend from the shoulder
  • Keep your shoulder in line with your body
  • Do 10-12 reps on one side
  • Switch sides and repeat 10-12 reps
  • 3 sets 

4. Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift on BOSU

  • Flat Side Up
  • Step on BOSU with foot paced evenly in the middle
  • 10 lb dumbbell in same hand as the foot that is on the BOSU
  • See video for demo
  • 10-12 reps on one side
  • Switch sides and repeat 10-12 reps
  • 2-3 sets

5. Lateral Bounding on BOSU

  • Place BOSU with flat side down with enough space to move from side to side
  • Start with foot on the BOSU ball and then jump out laterally to one side and the then back to the BOSU ball
  • 10 reps on one side
  • Change sides
  • Repeat 10 reps on other side
  • 2 sets

6. Bench Jump

  • Have a spotter the first time you do these
  • First stand on bench, hang foot out from bench and step off, land softly with both feet on floor and squat down to absorb your impact
  • Repeat a few times to get warmed up for the bench jump
  • Next, jump from the floor to the bench, using your arms and power from your legs to lift yourself up.
  • Land gently if you can, with both feet fully on bench, extend hips forward and fully stand before stepping down with one foot at a time.
  • 3 -5 reps x 3 sets

7. Pallof Press on Functional Trainer

  • Set pulley handle up so that it is even with your abdomen
  • Set weight at 20-25 lbs
  • Take pulley handle in right hand and rotate 90 degrees to the right and pull the handle to your abdomen.
  • Hold the handle with your other hand too and slowly press out from the abdomen to full extension, then pull into abdomen for 10 reps.
  • Switch directions with body and switch hand on the pulley handle and repeat on other side for 10 reps
  • 2 sets

8. Russian Twist with Med Ball

  • Sit on mat on floor with legs extended in front and lifted – can bend knees as needed to hold them up during this exercise.
  • Place an 8-10 lb med ball on one side of your body
  • Lift it while rotated and bring it around in front of your body to the other side and place it down on the floor.
  • Pick it back up and rotate back to the other side and place it down on the floor.
  • Repeat side to side for 10 reps
  • 2-3 sets


Chest/Triceps/Core Workout:

1. Incline Press on Smith Machine

  • Set up your bench so that the back and the seat are at an angle and your chest is under the bar
  • Set weight to something reasonable to start (I used 20 lbs on the bar)
  • Lift the bar out of the locks and release down to the top of the chest
  • Press back up using your chest muscles, lifting with your chest
  • Move through the full range of motion slowly and consistently
  • Add 5-10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

2. Seated Chest Press or Bench Press with Dumbbells

  • Set up with proper weight – I used 15 lb dumbbells to start
  • Press straight out or up from the chest, lifting the chest as you go to engage your chest muscles, rather than your arms
  • Move slowly and in a controlled manner through the full range of motion
  • Add 5-10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

3. Pec Fly on Functional Trainer

  • Set up the pulleys with handles, so that they are comfortably at chest level.
  • Keep your 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 20 lbs per pulley on the functional trainer - could also use dumbbells)
  • Add 5-10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

4.Triceps Push-up on Med Ball

  • On the floor in pushup position, place a med ball in front of you, underneath one hand
  • Use your feet or knees, whichever is best for you
  • Do a controlled push up with engagement of your chest muscles
  • Roll the ball to the other hand and place this hand on top of the ball
  • Repeat the pushup
  • Roll the ball back and forth between your hands, alternating which hand is on the ball for the pushup
  • Take 30-45 seconds of rest in between sets
  • 3 sets of 8-10

5. Overhand Pec Fly

  • Choose a lighter weight dumbbell, such as 10 lbs in each hand
  • Lay back on a flat bench and extend your arms above your chest
  • Slowly and in a controlled manner, lower your arms out to each side with a slight bend in the elbow, while keeping the ends of the dumbbells pointed toward the ceiling
  • When you have reached 90 degrees, lift the chest and engage the chest muscles to lift the dumbbells back up into position above you
  • Repeat with 10 reps for 3 sets - take 30-45 seconds rest between sets

6. Triceps Extension

  • On the functional trainer, set your weight to a reasonable starting point (I used 20 lbs)
  • Grasp the double rope by both hands and extend your arms down toward the ground
  • Keep your shoulders back and core engaged
  • Move your arms slowly and deliberately through a full range of motion
  • Add 5-10 lbs onto each set, with 30-45 seconds of rest in between
  • 3 sets of 10-12

7. Hanging Knee Raise

  • Pull yourself halfway up, bend elbows at 90 degrees
  • Lift knees up towards chest, 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 10-12 with 30-45 seconds in between

8. Stir The Pot

  • Place your forearms on a Physioball with your hands clasped together and your feet out behind you in pushup position
  • Keeping your core engaged, move your forearms forward and back 10 times
  • While continuing to engage your core, move your forearms in a clockwise motion 10 times, then reverse direction so that you are moving your forearms in a counterclockwise motion 10 times
  • Repeat for 2 sets with 30-45 seconds in between

9. Physioball Crunch

  • Sit on the Physioball and roll your body forward so that your lower back is on the ball
  • Place your hands, a towel, or an Abs Trainer behind your head for neck support
  • Crunch slowly and deliberately while keeping your balance on the ball
  • 20-25 reps x 2 sets


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!). 

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