Improving Your Fitness With SUP

In previous articles, we’ve shown how stand up paddle boarding works every major muscle group in the body but what muscle is more important than the heart.

By knowing your individual data points and catering your SUP workouts accordingly you can definitely become a leaner, healthier you!

In a previous article, we discussed the many muscles that are used to stand and paddle a SUP. In this article we will explore paddle boarding’s effect on cardiovascular health and weight loss.

paddle board

What is cardiovascular fitness?

Cardiovascular fitness refers to the ability of the lungs to provide oxygen to the blood and the circulatory system to transport blood with oxygen and other nutrients to the working muscles for sustained periods of time while they are under stress.

Improving our cardiovascular fitness benefits us with:

  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Increased heart function
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Decreased fat stores

Cardiovascular exercise is a sustained exercise that uses both glycogen (stored sugar) and fat stores as fuel.

Your fat/carb burn ratio will be dependent on your heart rate while exercising and your individual physiology.

To understand when you are in “fat burning mode” vs “heart health” mode, we highly suggest that you have a Vo2 Max test done at a local health diagnostic provider.

Such a provider will be able to give you the exact heart rate zone that you should keep your heart’s beats per minute (BPM) at to be in pure fat burning mode vs the heart rate zone that you want to bring your heart rate up to in order to improve your cardiovascular performance.

The BPM for fat burning varies greatly by individual. Typically, it is somewhere between 90 and 130 BPM.

Your particular BPM zone is most likely a spread of 10 BPM somewhere within that range. For example: 105-115 BPM. Similarly, heart health zones tend to be in 10 BPM increments starting for some around 135 for some and could be as high as 185 depending on age, fitness level etc.

These heart rates can easily be tracked with an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, etc.

With these parameters in mind, it’s safe to posit that when you embark on a long paddle of 60 minutes or more you are probably keeping your heart rate somewhat close to your fat burning zone.

Typically, you are burning an average of 500 calories or so per hour while SUPing. We determine this calorie burn with the Captain Calculator. If your main fitness goal is weight loss, we strongly suggest that you get your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) tested.

You can typically get this done when you are having your Vo2 Max tested. DexaFit is a nationwide company that does Vo2 Max and RMR tests, but you can also find local clinics that do these as well.

Once you learn your particular RMR, you will know exactly what your minimum daily caloric requirement is. This is an important metric because if you are eating below your minimum caloric requirement and adding the added caloric requirement that supports your SUP efforts, your body will think it is in starvation mode and will hold onto fat.

SUP workout

Once you’ve learned your BPM zone for building cardiovascular health, we suggest that you add some SUP High Intensity Interval (HIIT) training to your paddle board regimen.

During high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of the activity.

This system works without oxygen and produces lactic acid as a by-product. As lactic acid builds during intense intervals, a paddler enters oxygen debt.

It’s in the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to recover this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. By performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise.

SUP HIIT training can take many forms but we’ve found an effective one that involves paddling slowly and easily for 2 minutes and then sprinting for 30-45 seconds with the goal of getting your heart rate into your Heart Health zone during that time and then easing back to another slow 2-minute paddle followed by another sprint.

Because this workout can be quite strenuous, we suggest (after checking with your doctor first) that you go no more than 15 minutes for the first week or two and then gradually work up to 30 minutes.

The beauty of HIIT training is that you don’t need to exceed 30 minutes and even though you are mainly burning carbs during that 30 minutes, you will find that your body goes into fat-burning mode in the hours (and sometimes days) that follow your SUP HIIT workout.

In previous articles, we’ve shown how stand up paddle boarding works every major muscle group in the body but what muscle is more important than the heart.

By knowing your individual data points and catering your SUP workouts accordingly you can definitely become a leaner, healthier you!

 

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