Stand-up paddle boarding can be as much of a workout as you want it to be.
The nice thing about stand-up paddling is that you can go at your own pace and rest when you need to. Unless you are in high wind or surf, it is really a pretty relaxing experience.
Over the years we have experimented with all sorts of SUP fitness activities from power paddling, to SUP yoga, to doing squats, pushups and more on our boards.
Any type of activity that you do on a stand-up paddle board will give you the added benefit of always working your core.
Your core muscles are continuously working to keep you balanced while on the water. If your core is weak, you will feel the instability in all your movements.
However do not let this deter you! SUP fitness can be fun for absolutely everyone, young and old.
Below are some tricks to help you get started no matter what level you are at.
SUP Fitness Tips & Tricks
Learn the basics first. I would suggest before trying yoga, stretching or any othe type of exercise on a SUP learn to paddle comfortably first.
Take a few lessons or get out with some friends and gain your SUP legs. It is normal to feel wobbly your first few times out so take your time and start off by paddling on your knees preferably on calm flat water.
When you feel ready stand and start paddling. Go out a few times so that you feel more confident on the board before trying anything new.
Do some stretches. I find stretching on a SUP very relaxing. Sit down first and start with some leg stretches. Only do what you are comfortable with. You will find as time goes on you will be able to up the level of your stretches easily.
Sit on the board and do some arm and shoulder stretches. Lying flat out on your back and stretching your arms and legs also feels particularly good on a paddle board… as long as you are on flat water.
Use your paddle to help you stretch and to keep it from getting in the way.
My favorite stretch/relaxation pose on a paddle board is child’s pose. It feels particularly great after paddling for awhile. Hold it as long as you want, take some deep breathes and make sure you are on flat water so your board doesn’t float away while you are relaxing!
Try the basic yoga moves. It can be useful to use a little anchor to keep your board from floating too far if you are in moving water.
On calm flat water however it is rarely necessary to use one.
I have never found SUP yoga to be particularly easy and I suppose it is not meant to be.
I can do the basic moves such as downward dog, bridge pose, seated twist, cobra, pidgeon pose and the ever so relaxing child’s pose, which are all great moves to start out with.
I did eventually master the warrior pose on my SUP but attempting most other yoga poses still end up with me in the water ?
Watch the weather. So on that note, make sure you don’t mind ending up in the water if you are trying any of these moves.
These are much more fun to do in a warm weather climate with preferably water that won’t leave you numb, especially if you are just learning.
For many of these SUP fitness activities you will want a warm, calm day with little to no wind… Unless you don’t mind dealing with some major balance obstacles on choppy water.
Move on to calisthenics. This is where it gets interesting and a lot of fun especially if you are doing this with others.
A couple great exercises to start off with are pushups and plank pose.
If you are having trouble with the pushups do them with your knees on the board. Plank pose can be held for 1 minute or longer depending on your skill level.
Sit-ups and squats are a little harder but still very doable. Use your paddle to help with balance!
Feel like stepping it up a notch? Try some lunges. However be warned that these take some skill, strength and excellent balance. They are definitely tricky.
For the super ambitious and brave a teddy bear stand is always fun to try and usually ends up with a big splash in the water and laughs from your friends.
Create a routine. We have had a lot of fun combining many of these exercises into our paddling routine.
Depending on how hard we want to work out, we might paddle fast and hard a certain distance then stop for some squats or pushups, then paddle a little further, then stop for sit-ups and eventually end with SUP stretches and a few easy yoga moves and a rest.
You can add as much or as little as you want. Nothing wrong with just paddling as well, it is still an excellent workout.
Add in tabatas. Tabata’s involve short bursts of high intensity interval moves with short rests in between.
They have been scientifically shown to produce some amazing results with burning calories and boosting metabolism.
I have never been a calorie counter but it is worth noting that a 4-minute tabata routine will shed the same amount of calories as a 20 minute brisk walk!
Not only that but it will improve your fitness level, your balance as well as your speed while paddling.
Before starting a tabata workout make sure you are well warmed up first.
Below are a few examples of 4-minute tabata workouts that you could do on your paddle board. A waterproof watch is useful for helping you keep time.
- Jump in the water then get back on your board, then jump again on the other side. Do this continually for 20 seconds (you might only get two jumps in), then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.
- Paddle at high speed as fast as you can go for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. This exercise helps with strength, agility and balance.
- Do 20 seconds of squats followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times.
- Do 20 seconds situps followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 time.
- Do 20 seconds of pushups followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times.
- Do 20 seconds of plank pose followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times.
Tabata workouts are tiring however you can push yourself hard because you know it will be over in only 4 minutes.
Have fun with these exercises and feel free to combine them and mix them up. As an added bonus you can jump in the water and cool off when you are done… One of the nice advantages to working out on a SUP.
However as great as all of these workouts are, you can also get a great workout from just straight easy paddling, whether on flat water or surf.
Just standing on the board, keeping your balance and paddling works a ton of muscles in your body and will improve your core strength, your balance and muscle control.
Have any other SUP fitness ideas you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and help inspire others to get out on the water and stay fit.