How to Train for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Stand up paddle boarding (SUPing) is popular because of its ease of use. There’s nothing but you, the water, your board, and a paddle. (Along with a few other necessities.) Conditioning is an often-overlooked aspect: A multi-hour SUP tour will reacquaint you with muscles you haven’t seen in a long time. To reacquaint you with them, we’ve included a simple workout plan below.

This workout is intended to improve leg, hip, abdominal, and back strength, endurance, and balance. A few exercises also help to build endurance in the shoulder and arm muscles, which will be moving constantly as you perform paddle strokes. (Doing prehab exercises like these also reduces your chances of needing rehab after your SUP season.)

Here’s a quick rundown of how to prepare for SUPing:

  • Increase core muscle strength to help you generate paddling power.
  • Increase your endurance in the shoulder and arm muscles, which will need to be in constant motion as you paddle on each side of your board.
  • Improve your balance so that you have a more stable base to perform your paddle strokes smoothly and efficiently.
  • Include some cardio as well. Complement this workout plan with any exercise that strengthens your heart and lungs—swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise to incorporate into your SUP training.

Training Schedule for SUPing

Begin training 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to take to the water on your board. A good week’s worth of workouts should include the following (but feel free to change this schedule to suit your needs):

  • 3 days of strength training that are not consecutive (exercises in this article)
  • 2 non-concurrent cardio sessions
  • 2 nonconsecutive days of rest

Training Exercises for SUPing

As you train, keep the following in mind:

  • Make the exercises fit your body, not vice versa.
  • If something hurts, modify or skip the exercise; and take extra rest days if necessary.
  • Move at your own pace, starting slowly.
  • As your training progresses, increase the repetitions or add more resistance or weight.

Warm up: Warm up by going for a brisk walk or doing a 5- to 10-minute session on your favourite exercise equipment. Then, as you work through the exercises in this article, follow the guidelines below or follow My Kayak Guide for more details and updates on kayaking, boating, paddling and more. 

  • Inhale during the initial effort, then exhale as you return to your starting position; for faster exercises, simply make sure you breathe regularly.
  • Rest for 30 to 45 seconds after each exercise (if an exercise requires a longer rest period, it will state that in the steps for that exercise).
  • Do each exercise once, then rest for two minutes before repeating the entire set of exercises (a third set is even better if you have time).

Skater with Uppercut Exercise

This exercise works your glutes, quads, and abs to improve your rotational power and balance. The uppercut motion aids in the development of shoulder strength and endurance. The dynamic side-to-side skater motion also helps circulate your blood.

  1. Begin in a standing position, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Hop laterally, landing on your right foot, while raising your weighted left arm diagonally across your chest, as if performing an uppercut punch.
  3. The power to raise your arm should come from your torso and core muscles rather than your arm muscles.
  4. Return to your left leg, bringing your weighted right arm diagonally across your chest.
  5. Perform 15 reps on each side.

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