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Winter Training for the Stand-Up Paddleboarder

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This post is a long time coming. To all of you who have read my story, you know that I was really into running and golfing before I hurt my back a number of years ago. For the most part I have replaced those activities with my new favorite summer activity, Stand Up Paddle boarding or SUP.

I love getting out on the water nice and early, when it is usually just me and natures creatures. When all I can hear is a slight wind, birds singing, the splash of my paddle in the water and my own breathing, I find it therapeutic almost meditative. I have only been doing SUP for five years, so it is a relatively new sport to me, so I am always trying to improve and push myself. I have done SUP on vacation in the Caribbean and Hawaii, but the vast majority of the time it is in the lakes and rivers near my home. Unfortunately I live in a cold climate so my SUP season is pretty short. Which means I spend more time off-season training to be better than I actually spend doing it. The following are some of my thoughts on off-season training for SUP.

Cardio Cross Training

  • For those of you like me who live in places where it snows during the winter, cross-country skiing or snow shoeing are great full body exercises to keep you in shape during winter and works all the muscles you need for SUP.
  • The rowing machine if done correctly is also a great full body workout that works many muscles throughout the body including your back and shoulders.
  • I am a fan of the Elliptical machine (make sure it has the swinging arms) to not only build a general cardio base, but to also lessen the impact on the knees and lower body.
  • Another low impact exercise is to swim. It is a great full body exercise and you never know when you may need to swim yourself to safety or swim after your board or paddle.
  • You can always run or bike as well to build or keep your cardio capacity, but these two activities are the least comparable to SUP.

Core strength is very important for SUP, and your core obviously constitutes both upper and lower body, so for the purposes here I will split the body into both specific upper and lower body exercises. Keep in mind this is not a one day circuit (it could be), nor an exhaustive list for all training goals, but rather some exercises I like to sprinkle into my weekly routine to help with preparing for SUP. Some I do daily, some weekly and some only once a month.

Specific Upper Body

  • Strong Abdominals are key for not only daily life activities but for sporting activities like SUP. My go to exercises are plank varieties. I do multiple sets of both lying and side planks.
  • Pushing motion (ex. Pushups) help to strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps.
  • Pulling motion (ex. Pull-ups or Rows) help to strengthen your back and biceps and are the key muscles when paddling.

Specific Lower Body -Balance Exercises

  • Lunges are a great foundational exercise. There are many varieties to choose from, specifically for SUP I like to incorporate Side lunges to work the adductors.
  • Squats will strengthen your legs all-around. For SUP training I prefer Single leg squats to work on balance.
  • Calf raises -Again I really like Single leg to work on balance.
  • Toe raises -Many people will neglect all the small muscles in their feet, but I recommend every once in awhile throwing in some toe raises to keep base strong.
  • Barefoot -Whether you SUP barefoot or in a minimal water shoe, I like to do my lower body exercises barefoot or in socks to work the muscles, especially those in your feet more naturally without the support of a shoe.

When you are out on the water, there are always a lot of variables that need to be taken into account. Being in tune with how my body is feeling is the number one thing that drives how hard I’ll push myself or not, where I’ll go SUP etc. However, balance and being physically prepared for the day are the two things that when I am on point, make for a better experience.

Not sure where to get started with exercise or SUP? Contact me.