Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts

The Only Paddle Board Workout Routine You’ll Need

Stand up paddle workouts are getting increasingly popular. When I last looked at the stats, I was pleasantly surprised to know that more than 50 million people around the world reported they love a good stand up paddling session, whether recreational or as a sports activity.

And while SUPing burns whooping 700kcals an hour, what if I told you there’s a way to build a SUPer body with some awesome muscle-activating exercises?

Yup, that’s right! You can enjoy your favorite lake, sea, or river plus sculpt your body like a real Greek God(dess).

So, are you ready to do some sculpting with the next stand up paddle workouts?

Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 1
Do abs on your paddleboard every day, just like I do 😉

Stand Up Paddle Workouts and Exercises

If your old jogging and lifting weights routine has become dull, it’s time you brighten things up with some surprisingly effective stand up paddle workouts.

This list will knock you off your socks, starting with yoga to balancing-act core exercises, to hot leg work, and vigorous upper-body movements. All the while, you enjoy the sun and get tan.

Even simple paddling requires lots of upper-body, leg, and core strength. But, because of the fact that you are exercising on a board in water, you’re forcing your body to make constant adjustments—shifting weight between feet, shuffling around the deck, and crouching slightly.

These elements all help to build what is known as proprioception—the body’s sense of where it is in space. This way, you’ll be firing more muscles than you knew you had.

So hey, don’t forget I warned you when you wake up the next day sore all over the place!

Now that I got that out of the way let’s start with the first stand up paddling workout routine…

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Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 2
One of my favorite Stand Up Paddle workouts, too bad I do not get to do it a lot

Stand Up Paddle Workouts: Yoga

Yoga paddle boarding is so popular that they started making specialized boards just for yoga. Of course, if you’re following the constant trends in paddle boarding, you will already know about all the types of paddle boards.

Missing a yoga board? Check out the best ones in 2021 here.

When doing yoga on a board, you are activating your entire core and strengthening your deepest stabilizer muscles just because you aren’t as stable as being on a yoga mat in your living room.

You see, merely maintaining solid footing while standing on a paddleboard requires core and quad engagement— but when you do it in water, boy oh boy, things get heated!

Before starting out, I’d like to give you a little tip first on stand up paddle workouts with Yoga.

If you are a beginner, start with paddle board yoga in a calmer area. It’s hard to focus and concentrate when boats are roaming around you all the time. Plus, take a small dumbbell with you and tie it to a rope to use as an anchor on the front of the board. Ready to start? Here are the best yoga poses for paddle boarding.

    Starting with the most advanced, if you’ve already done the headstand pose on land, why not try in the water? When you’re upside-down, simply grip the rails of the board for added stability. Also, press into your shoulders and arms to ease up the weight off your neck.

    Next in line with the stand up paddle workouts, the side plank may not seem as challenging, but it sure can be if you try it in rougher waters. The unstable base will rock your body and challenge your core even more. Keep your board parallel to the chop for an added challenge. When doing it, squeeze your glutes and reach free hand high to ride out the turbulence.

    The tree pose requires that you have one leg up and one on the board. This alone makes in tough already, so feel free to use your paddle for balance. Focus on one point far away to keep you stable.

    Trust me when I say, various yoga progressions (forward bends, planks, and upward-and downward-dog) like sun salutations gain a new dimension on a paddling board. With the instability of the waters, shifting weight through the poses adds even a more significant challenge.

    To make it work, simply stabilize your body calm and make small shifts to your body position. Little by little, you will come to the final position. And, just like with practicing yoga anywhere, focus on your breath and use it to connect with the water below you.
Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 3

Stand Up Paddle Workouts: Next-level Abs Routine

Even the simple paddling over the water is able to fire up your abs like no other exercise. But when you throw a specifically targeting abs workouts into the mix, you have a real six-pack maker.

    This exercise targets: Abs & obliques
    Position yourself on your back and raise your legs from hips up. With your hands, grasp each side of the board for added stability and then lift your hips and rotate right hip toward the left shoulder. Then slowly lower and repeat on the side to complete one repetition. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

    This exercise targets: Abs, obliques, back
    Sit on the board with your knees bent on your board. Engage your abs to hold you as you crunch up sitting. Then with the paddle in both hands, rotate torso going left to the right extending on each side as much as you can. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

    This exercise targets: Abs, obliques, back, shoulders, arms
    Stand on the board and hold the paddle – one arm up and the other grips the paddle 2 feet below. Hold the paddle perpendicular to your body and dip it in the water right in front of you. Then paddle by rotating your entire body (mostly at the core) while holding your paddle tightly. 5 times swiftly to the right and 5 times swiftly to the left until you feel your abs engaged.

  • V-SITS
    This exercise targets: abs, core
    Lying on your back, place the paddle straight above your chest with your arms completely straight. Then, squeeze your abs to simultaneously raise your legs and your shoulders off of the board until your paddle meets your legs. Pause, then lower back down to the starting position and repeat.

    This exercise targets: Abs
    To finish it off and really engage your abs at the end, scooch toward the tail of the board to make the nose come off the water a bit. Then sit with your knees bent towards you as you would do crunches. As you are in the V-sit, stay there, and hold your core tightly until failure. One set of this at the end is enough.
Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 4

When you do activities on dry land, it can be a good exercise, but when you include a SUP and water underneath you, it makes things automatically more challenging. Plus, in my opinion, one of the best things about stand up paddle workouts is that they get you away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life onshore. There’s something special about being surrounded by water. Whatever you do, it is peaceful, cleansing, and energizing.

Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 5

Stand Up Paddle Workouts: Interval Training

Whether it’s yoga or whole-body exercises, when working out on a paddle board, you are mostly doing endurance exercises. With this interval training routine, you will push a little cardio into the mix that will leave you out of breath (and literally) a few times.

For an extra kick, you can even turn and paddle against the current for 10 minutes, vigorously giving your all, and then turn and paddle with the current for a few minutes to rest.

  • So, you will start by paddling at your 70% effort for 6 minutes.

  • Then, increase to 80% for the next 3 minutes.

  • Lastly, go for 90-100% for 1 minute. It should feel like you’re sprinting, and you should be pulling really hard with considerably fast strokes.

  • Rest for 2 minutes. Split the rest so that you are standing still for 30 seconds and then paddle leisurely for 90 seconds.

  • Repeat this high-intensity interval for 3 times or more if you can.
Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 6

Stand Up Paddle Workouts: Whole-body Exercises

The following section has a list of 12 exercises that I usually do when I want to get a workout out of my paddling routine. Each exercise targets one or more body parts for a complete full-body routine.

    This exercise targets: butt, legs, shoulders, calves
    Position yourself in a deep squat with your feet a bit wider than your hip-width and your toes and knees facing the outside. Keep your thighs parallel with the board and place your elbows so that they touch your knees. Hold the paddle at chest level with your arms bent to the chest.
    Then rise up on your toes as you lift the paddle in front of you at chest length. Keep your butt, core, calves, and shoulders tightly pressed when performing the exercise.

    This exercise targets: butt, legs, shoulders, calves
    Lie on your right side and stack your legs one on top of the other with your knees bent. Put your left palm on board in front of the chest and your right hand on your left shoulder. Push your left hand into the board to raise torso as high as you can. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions and then switch sides.
Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 7
    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, chest
    Go into the water up to your hips and hold yourself onto the board with your hands. Push down until arms are straight to lift your body out of the water. Then release and let yourself go in the water and then push down again on the arms to pull up from the water. It’s like a reverse pushup as you would do to get out of a pool. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, back
    Stand on the board with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the paddle with hands wider than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing in. Press paddle overheard, and try to “pull” it apart as you hold at the top; lower and repeat. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

    This exercise targets: arms, abs, chest
    Place your feet wide on the board while you are standing. Hold the paddle and put the blade in water. Hold your left hand near the center of the chest. Grasp the paddle on top with your left elbow out. The right hand should be gripping the shaft at the hip level. Then start by pushing the left hand straight out to punch paddle away from you, and then slowly bring it back to your chest. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each side.

    This exercise targets: abs, arms, chest, back
    In a sitting position on your board, have your legs extended and knees slightly bent. Hold the paddle on your right side with the blade dipped in water. Then hold your left hand a foot from the top of the shaft and your right hand a little more than two feet down the shaft. At all times, keep your arms completely extended. As you are in that position, drag the paddle through the water pulling until your elbows are at 90 degrees. Do 4 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions on each side.
Tired Of the Gym? Here Are the Best Stand Up Paddle Workouts 8
    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, abs, back, obliques, glutes
    Lie facedown on the board with your arms extended upfront. Raise your chest, arms, and legs by squeezing your back and your butt as much as you can. Hold this superman position for 45 seconds or to 90 seconds (depending on your abilities) and then let go. Repeat 3 times.

    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, abs, back, legs
    Go into a high plank position with your arms stacked below your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels and your core tight. Then tap one foot into the water, return it to the board, and repeat with the other foot. Do it for 30 to 45 seconds, repeating 3 times.

    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, abs, back
    Sit tall in the middle of the board with your legs stretched out in front of you. With your arms extending out to the sides of your body, hold the paddle just in front of your shoulders. While extending your head up to the sky, twist your body and paddle to one side as far as you can without tipping the board over. Immediately repeat in the opposite direction.

    This exercise targets: arms, shoulders, abs, back, legs
    Go into a low plank position with your arms stacked below your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels and your core tight. One by one with the hands, push through the chest, and triceps to go into a high plank. Pause for a second there and then again one by one lower your hands to get into a low plank position. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line while completing the movement; do not “break” at the waist. Do this switch between low and high plank for 30 to 45 seconds, repeating 3 times.

    This exercise targets: abs, arms, shoulders, side legs
    Position yourself into a side plank (from your feet or your knees, depending on your ability) and let your hips drop to the board. Then, with your top hand, grab the paddle in the middle of its shaft. This is your starting position. At this point, raise your hips to be in line with the rest of your body and raise the paddle as high off of the board as possible. Pause in this position and then return to your starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times. Then, switch to the other side doing 12 to 15 repetitions for a total of 8 sets or 4 sets per side.
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A few tips on Stand Up Paddle Workouts before I let you go

When first starting out, it is crucial to have the best board at your side. If you still don’t have a paddle board, maybe rent in the beginning just to get a feel for it. Then, see how much paddle boards cost and how to choose a paddle board and then make a purchase based on your preferences.

Standing up: When you get into the water with your board, hopping back on is like getting out of a pool. Push up in the center, roll legs toward the back, and you’re SUPing again. Then when standing up from your hands and knees, raise your butt like you’re in Downward Dog. Then, walk your hands to your feet and straighten up.

Holding the paddle right: I see many people making rookie mistakes with the paddle even if they aren’t beginners. This is why I wrote this great piece on how to paddle board and how to hold the paddle the right way.

Falling off the board: When you feel you’ve lost balance and you’re about to fall, let it go! Don’t be afraid. After all, it’s just water beneath you. So, don’t try to catch yourself but just jump in the water. Otherwise, you might hurt yourself if you decide to grab the board in order not to fall.

I might earn a small commission when you make a purchase through my link, so that I can keep my site running and pay the hosting bill. Read my affiliate policy to learn more.
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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)

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