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My Conditioning Dilemma


Hey guys,

I have got myself into a very strange situation with my training over the last 1-2yrs. For a bit of background I have been training pretty hard for the last 1-2yrs in my sport of sprint kayaking. Its a sport that requires us guys to have really good power to weight ratio's - just like powerlifters? Of course there is also quite alot of cardiovascular endurance required due to our racing being over 3mins 40sec.

Anyways my problem I am having Is that I keep putting on size? Size is something that really hinders the performance of us guys because more weight = more energy to move the boat through the water. Most of you guys would say, well with more size comes more strength usually? But with me it's not the case...

I only do 2 gym sessions a week and so far I have put on about 4kg's of muscle in about 6 weeks. Its a pretty basic session which involves bench press, bench pull, squats, weighted chins, reverse flys ect.
I maintain that I am not taking any steroids, but take supplements such as ZMA, Glutamine & BCAA's & of course WPI protein after a session.

I have also tried diets like Poliquins biosignature where I eat mainly protein & veggies + good fats ect... Not many carbs!

So my question is...
Does high protein diets put weight on? when I say weight I mean Muscle??
Would something like running get my weight down or would it make me too weak??

Anyways I have plenty more questions about this & I know most blokes are more worried about gaining muscle and getting bigger but I am the complete opposite... sure it looks great but It's not what I am after..



You have much to learn young man.
High protein diets will aid in the sythesis of muscle if you are stimulating the muscle and are consuming an adequate amount of calories.
Running long distances will most probally lead to loss of muscle. Will it make you weak? That depends on what you define as weak.

If I was you I would continue with your weight lifting routine. Maybe on another day, add in some high intensity sprints and 400 m runs to help with conditioning.
You can thank me later.

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Your diet sounds faily sound although I prefer Paleo for Athletes for sprinting and power athletes. Zone is ok too.

Your weightlifting training plan, however, sounds faulty. Do not train like a powerlifter if you are a sprint athlete. This will only lead to extra mass that is not the most efficient in producing force. In other words, you will be bigger and not substancially faster. You did not mention Olympic lifts or other explosive movements as part of your program and, if that is so, it is a bad training mistake.

I suggest you try CrossFit training, which will address your competitive need for increasing speed, athletisism and keep your weight down, or at least a training plan based on the olympic lifts or variations and using the lifts you mentioned only in moderation as assistance work.

USAW Regional Coach, C.S.C.S.,CrossFit Level 1 Trainer


You definitely need to look into CrossFit training. It is designed for speed, strength and endurance. Some of the WOD (workout of the day) are insane. It is a completely different program, extremely diversified in nature and should be a great match for what you are trying to do.


Hi Slider,
from what I understand you are talking about the 1000m distance of sprint kayaking. Though it's called sprint it requires tons of cardio endurance as you already mentioned. And you almost only use your upper body. Pics of top athletes (Ronald Rauhe) don't show much of a leg development.

That was just the intro :-p.
Now let's have a look at your 'problem' of gaining muscle.
Did you really gain 4kg (8.8lbs) of muscle in 6 weeks? Not bad for a drug free athlete... Or is it a mixture of muscle, fat and water retention?
What's your bodyfat percentage?
Where did you gain the muscles?
My recommendation would be to diet down to a lower bodyfat (provided your are not yet in the single digit range)
Ditch the leg workouts (squats etc.) You don't need strong legs for your sport.
That also means that running is pretty much the most useless thing that you can do. Even the cardiovascular carry-over will not be great.
Instead get into the boat or on a kayak ergometer. 'Miles build champions'
Keep track of your body measurements (i.e. calves, thighs, waist, arms etc.), that allows you to see where you gain or lose.

High protein diets definitely help to gain muscle or to prevent muscle breakdown. But that doesn't mean that you gain magically just because you eat more protein than the average Joe. Even a normal diet gives you usually enough protein to gain muscle, so reducing the protein doesn't help you much at all. (and yes I know it depends on the level of training etc...)


Kayaking uses primarily the upper body?
In that case do endurance exercises for the upper body. Rowing, alternating dumbell rows for max reps and the like would be your best bet.
That will help you in terms of (cardiovascular) endurance.
Crossfit would absolutely not help you for what you want to do. You don't train for a marathon by biking just like you don't train for the tour de France by running. Do sport specific movements.

As for your gain in weight, if your gain in 4kg results in a 20kg power output (those units are wrong), then isn't it worth it? You've still maintained a high strength to body weight ratio.
The best you can do right now is experiment. See if your additional mass will hinder your performance. If not, keep going. If so, then step back and re assess why that is. Is it the food or the strength training?

Good luck.


What don't train DE? It won't make you faster?


Although kayaking is primarily an upper body sport, the need for overall power is still essential. A multitude of exercises, like the CrossFit program provides will give you plenty of newfound strength in the upper body while not making your lower body overdeveloped, as a powerlifting workout or even an olympic lifting based workout might.

The multitude of exercises found in these program will also make most people simply better athletes. It also raised heartrate to very high levels for longer times than your races will last.

Training programs for all sports, including marathon, cycling, triathlon, etc. all many exercises to make athletes stronger. The idea of just doing more of your specific sport movement to achieve the best result is correct only to the point when a good degree of technical proficiency is reached.

Once that occurs(of course, technique improvement is a continual, often uneven and incremental work in progress)further, profound increases in performance can be gained by a well suited weight training and conditioning program. Technique and mental strength being equal, the more powerful, well-conditioned and athletic individual will win most times.


What is overall power? Have a look at the attached pic of Ronald Rauhe. His legs look pretty pathetic (mine are stronger and I bet yours too) but his track record in sprint kayaking is more than impressive.

Crossfit haters call this multitude 'randomness'. I'm not yet a Crossfit hater (but I might become one :wink: ) Nevertheless I think it makes more sense to set up a sport specific weight training program.

Yes, it will make you a better Crossfit athlete. So if you want to take part in the Crossfit games it is the program of choice. But it does not automatically make you a better sprint kayaker, cyclist or runner.

Seriously Coach? Endurance training is that easy? and what's a very high level? (anaerobic threshold, VOmax,...???)

Obviously something is missing in this sentence.

100% agreement!!!

and not the beitallandjackofalltrades Crossfit program!!!

also fine.
Besides the fact that we are drifting away from the original question of the OP. He was worried about his increase of muscle mass. And there was this dude, what's his name...., yep, Greg Glassman (founder of Crossfit), who proclaimed a hierarchy of training for mass from greater to lesser efficacy:
1. Bodybuilding on steroids
2. CrossFitting on steroids
3. CrossFitting without steroids
4. Bodybuilding without steroids

And you Coach recommend this training that will make him grow even more than bodybuilding training and that though the Op wants to stay small.
Or does your experience tell you that Crossfit doesn't lead to growth of muscle?

So don't be personally offended (or be if you prefer it that way) but I simply can't hear anymore that Crossfit is the 'end all be all' solution and especially not from a coach (because you should know better)


Because New Year's Eve is close you get 2 posts for one.
Just a small story: There is a cyclist with the name L.A. He is a pretty big name in cycling, his VOmax is impressive, his fat burning is great and he doesn't produce much lactic acid.
And he was so nice to run a few marathons with good, but not top results.
Though his conditioning was top notch!!!
But for cycling not for running.
Maybe the missing link was the CrossFit training? I mean the missing CrossFit training of course.

This small story just shows that endurance is very specific and does not transfer very well.

And Happy New Year!


While you already have numerous suggestions from obviously non biased individuals who only want to offer sound advice, and would never think of hijacking A thread to turn it into their own promotion/ debate of ideas I will give a quick and hopefully helpful answer.

Weight gain is a caloric issue. In your case probably fat, you need a fair amount of carbs due to the energy exp. of the sport (I was a rower, so similar cond. issues), you also want aot of protein because you do want to maintain and increase lean muscle, just not to a huge degree. So slowly cut calories with an em. on fat but not completely, do it slow so to feel it out, you dont want to blow training for a week because you ate to little for three or four days.

Sport specific training definitely.
Crossfit is specific to the sport of Crossfit.t And it wouldnt gain such a horrid rep if its advocates werent so concerned with proving how it is the end all be all.
A bit longer winded than I meant.


Just reread the whole post. If you are truly competing at a high level I would steer away from things like a bench press and overhead pressing. Not necessarily altogether, keeping them in some way to counteract muscular imbalances can be a good thing. These are two places which an athletic body often has room to put on a lot of mass and they are not heavily recruited in your stroke, so growth in muscle groups that are not involved in your sport can amount to dead weight.

I say this if your only goal is competition, which is not the healthiest thing for your body. But focusing on your sports muscles and motions will make you go faster, you may be sorting out some imbalances and chronic injuries years from now. That really just comes with competing at a high level.


If you recently started creatine usage, it is very likely that much of the "lean mass" you gained in the past 6 weeks is a direct result of water retention. An easy way to check this is to stop taking creatine and observe if your body weight/lean mass gradually reduces over the next month.



I'll pick this one, just because I think you protest way, way, way too much. If you have seen many CrossFitters or done many(any) of their workouts you will see athletes that are lean and pound for pound both strong, powerful and agile with a great body awareness.
I think all of those things could help our kayaker.

I was just out at a CrossFit/USAW contest, where I got to see a lot of CrossFit athletes. They tend to be leaner and seem to have no problem controlling their bodyweight, also important to the poster above. I think it is a very usable conditioning/strengthening program that can be modified somewhat for different sports training. I don't think it is the best weightlifting program for single outburst athletes(throwers, lifters) because it won't add the extra mass needed in these and some other sports at the top levels. But, it can be a usable variation for even them and is a lot better than some of the s/c programs I've seen athetes is some sports use.

And, exactly who have you coached??



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