SUP Fitness Benefits and Workouts

Stand up paddleboarding offers an amazing full body workout.  Find out all the various muscles that it works and how to turbocharge your workouts.


stand up paddleboard hip pain

Most people get into stand up paddle boarding for the fun of it. The love getting out on the water in nature while standing and feeling like a surfer. The typically don't think about paddle boarding health benefits until the next day when maybe they notice a little soreness in their various muscle groups. In this article we will explain the health benefits of stand up paddleboarding and give you a SUP workout or two for you to try out.

SUP Fitness Benefits

paddle board heart attack while paddle boarding

Stand up paddle boarding has had a positive impact on paddle boarders globally for many years. Not only does it relieve stress levels and get the paddler lots of Vitamin D but it also can help you lose weight, builds stamina, and work your muscles. It's also a low impact workout that won't give you shin splints or stress fractures like other workouts can.

Paddle boarding benefits the entire body

inflatable boards

Stand up paddle boarding works the entire body by targeting several muscle groups. Basically it's full body strength training so that you can skip the gym. Here are some of the primary muscles that are worked during paddle boarding:

  1. Core Muscles: SUP engages your entire core, including the abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. These muscles work to maintain your balance on the board and stabilize your body as you paddle. It's a fantastic way for building core strength.

  2. Arm Muscles: Paddle boarding engages your biceps, triceps, and forearm muscles as you pull the paddle through the water. The repetition of this motion also helps to build endurance in your arm muscles.

  3. Shoulder Muscles: SUP works the anterior, medial, and posterior deltoid muscles in your shoulders, as well as the rotator cuff muscles. These muscles work together to stabilize your shoulder joint and generate the force needed to move the paddle through the water.

  4. Back Muscles: Paddling also works your back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. These muscles work to retract and depress your shoulder blades, which helps to maintain proper posture and balance on the board.

  5. Leg Muscles: Your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles on the lower leg are engaged as you balance on the board and maintain your stance. These muscles work together to stabilize your lower body and generate power as you paddle. Even the small muscles of your feet get a workout has they try to grip the deck pad of the board.

    Cardiovascular benefits the paddle board offers

    arms and legs while paddle boarding

Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health. It is a low impact exercise that can provide a challenging cardiovascular workout without putting excessive stress on your joints. When you paddle, you engage your upper body, lower body, and core, which increases your heart rate and respiration, providing an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Research has shown that paddle boarding can be an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants who engaged in paddleboarding for six weeks experienced significant improvements in VO2max, which is a measure of cardiovascular fitness. Another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that paddle boarding can help to reduce blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

In addition to improving cardiovascular fitness and reducing blood pressure, paddle boarding can also help to improve lipid profiles. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that engaging in regular physical activity, such as paddleboarding, can help to increase levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and decrease levels of LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) in the blood. This can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.

SUP Workouts

joint stability while stand up paddleboarding exercise

Even leisurely paddling is a recreational activity that will give you some great exercise and a feeling of well being but in you are looking for a more intense workout, we can help.

Balance and Stability Exercises

Here are some exercises that will give you better balance

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and lift one leg and balance on the other. Then repeat on the other leg. Now, stand on one leg and reach down to touch the water with your hand and repeat on the other leg.

    Core Strengthening Exercises

    stand up paddleboarding is a low impact sport

    Because of the unstable platform that the paddle board gives you, it turbo charges your fitness benefits and gives a great workout. They core exercises are no exceptions.

    Perform a plank position on the board while keeping your body in a straight line. Hold the plank for 30 seconds or so.

    Next, perform crunches on the board, lifting your shoulders and upper back off the board while keeping your lower back in contact with it

    Once you are done with the crunches, perform push-ups on the board, lowering your chest towards the board and pushing back up again.

    Interval Training

    paddle board is a good workout for mental health

    Interval training is a quick way to get a great workout and improve your fitness benefits in a short amount of time. Here is how we suggest you do it on a paddle board.

    Start paddling at a moderate pace for a set amount of time or distance, then sprint for a set amount of time or distance. Then rest for a set amount of time and repeat the cycle several times.

    SUP Yoga and Stretching

    cross training health benefits of core exercise gives health benefits

    A great alternative to yoga in a stuffy studio is getting out on your paddle board and getting in touch with nature. Your arms and legs will really feel the burn when doing yoga on a paddle board. Here is how to get started:

    Start slowly with yoga. Practice basic yoga poses like downward dog, warrior, and pigeon pose. Then try these on your paddle board while you are in water that is at least 5 feet deep. If you lose your balance, just make sure you fall away from the board and land as flat as you can in the water.

    As you spend time doing these poses, you can add more challenging poses depending on your comfort level. Just remember that your body is constantly working to keep your balance so that you stay upright, so every pose will be more challenging.

    For stretching, perform basic exercises on the board, such as hamstring stretches, hip openers, and shoulder stretches. Just like with the yoga poses, don't start out too ambitiously.


standing gym and other sports and the benefits of stand up paddle boarding

Overall, stand up paddleboarding offers a effective and fun way to improve your cardiovascular health. It provides a challenging workout that can help to improve your heart health, reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, burn calories and improve your overall fitness and wellbeing.

Overall, paddle boarding is an excellent whole body workout that can help to improve your upper body, lower body and core strength, balance, and endurance while also providing a low-impact cardiovascular workout.

Remember to always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when paddling and to check the weather and water conditions before going out. Happy paddling!