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All the Right Moves for Your First Stand Up Paddleboard Workout


I’m still pretty psyched about my stand up paddleboarding adventures up north, and although I haven’t gotten out on a paddleboard since reentering the U.S., that doesn’t mean I’m not planning yet another SUP workout.

Only this time, I went to the experts for some tips.


I rented my board from Naturally Superior Adventures and went back to them for this post because not only do they rent out SUPs, but they also hold SUP fitness classes for locals. I figured that, if they can get a bunch of random people out on a board in a really, really cold lake to do an hour of exercise, they probably know a thing or two.

SUP Workout Moves to Try

First off, you need to know what kind of board you want. A longer, wider board will be more stable than a shorter, thinner board — if you’re new to the sport and/or plan on doing mostly exercises (vs. paddling for speed or distance), go with the more stable one. If you’re planning to paddle a long distance or are racing, shorter and thinner might be right for you.

Exercises the fitness instructor at Naturally Superior Adventures has had great success with include:

  • basic plank and variations (plank + tap, side plank)
  • burpees (slower than usual, probably not ending in a jump)
  • squat and punch the air (heavy focus on core rotation to engage the punch rather than just using arms)
  • Russian twists (consider adding weight with rocks or whatever you have available)
  • v-snaps and toe touches (opposite hand and foot)
  • bird dogs
  • dead bugs
  • superman
  • push-ups
  • crab-position push-ups
  • hamstring curls (a more advanced version would be with single-leg raised squats)
  • mountain climbers
  • wood choppers with small rock as a weight (straight up and down lifting, rather than cross-body)
  • crunches and sit-ups (slightly tricky with a personal flotation device)
  • lunges (although lots of people have balance issues on the board with those)
  • paddle for distance or timed sprints
  • flutter kick off the back of the board
  • paddle with your arms

With all of those options, it’s hard to imagine ever getting bored on a paddleboard, right? But there are a couple of things I learned right away that could come in handy for your first SUP workout.

SUP Workout Tips

1. When you try standing for the first time, make sure your feet are even. Like, really even. Perfectly even, even. Having your right foot slightly closer to the edge than your left will make it about 80 percent more difficult to get into — and hold — a standing position. This becomes second nature within a few tries, but on my first go? Not so much.

2. Some exercises will be easier than you expect; some will be way, way harder. I figured mountain climbers would be really tricky. There are so many muscles involved, and all the switching of feet! Surprisingly, I had no trouble maintaining balance with them, though, even as my arms began to fatigue. Lunges, on the other hand (along with basically anything that required one foot to go in front of the other)? Oh, hell no. Maybe next time, but this time around, unless my hands were on the board as well, I needed my feet directly across from each other on the board and perfectly spaced.

3. Keep in mind that you’re probably going to get a little bit wet. Even if you don’t fall in, between using the paddle and gripping the board, you’re going to get a bit wet. Hopefully you’ll have dressed for that, but keep it in mind for your chosen exercises, too. Really, really want to try crow pose or something else that requires your arms to come in contact with your legs? It goes a whole lot better when you’re not all wet and slippery. Go ahead, ask me how I know.

Are there any awesome exercises you love (or would love to try) on a stand up paddleboard? Any tips you’d like to offer or questions you’d like to ask? If I can’t answer it, I’ll find someone who can! —Kristen

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  1. MIZ says:


  2. Sagan says:

    Saw people doing this in Vancouver when I visited it for the first time this summer – thanks for all these tips! I shall apply them the next time I’m visiting the city and work up the courage to do this 😉

  3. I really want to try SUP, i’m not sure I would be very good though given my lack of balance. Trying some of these exercises might help before I give it a go though!

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