It’s important to remember that, in the beginning, before the state of the art high-tech custom boards and ultra-light carbon fiber paddles, SUP is still, basically, a board and a stick – it’s entirely up to you, the paddler, to make it go and get fit in the process. If your goal is fitness, then the number-one thing you can do is to invest a little time and money in professional training from your local SUP Pro. It really is worth it and you’ll get more Aha moments than you can imagine. Plus you’ll have a lifetime of workouts on the water that will, literally, take you anywhere.
For most, paddle technique begins and ends as an upper body workout. Men especially, naturally rely on their upper body to do all the work of creating and controlling momentum with some core and supporting leg muscles for stability. BUT, good paddle stroke technique is all about generating power with your core and legs first. Paddle technique is not the most intuitive thing in the world – especially when there’s a water-based wobble factor involved. While paddle Pro’s who teach race and surf technique can show you the technique, it’s up to you to practice and apply them. This does take time but the gains come every session – stroke by stroke!
All good SUP workouts have an immediate application for practical purposes on the water in case the conditions change and/or your goals change and you want to paddle on moving water, adventure paddling, SUP racing, surfing and white-water. Plus, wind, waves and the water provide naturally occurring resistance so you get a two for one deal when you use your SUP for a great skill-building,
interval workout. Note: while just standing on the board can be a challenge for some, the trick is finding your balance so you can focus on coordinating your movements to derive the power of each stroke from your legs and core. That’s how you create speed and gives you the ability to a great interval workout.
Here are drills and workouts you can do to get that great whole-body, low-impact, water workout any
day of the week.
Pivot turns are great and have practical applications for SUP racing, surfing and white-water or you’re in a crowded water way and need to make short, sharp turns and they are also great for balance training.
Your first pivot turn – Start by standing in the center of the board, over the board handle approximately, and with shoulders back sink at the knees into a chair position and slap the surface of the water with the logo side of your paddle to brace. Shuffle your feet, one by one, towards the tail of the board, then back to the center and repeat. See how far back you can go and test the tipping point – prepare to get wet.
The further back you go the more balance skill you will need. Pro tip – keep your eyes up and the paddle in a brace position
Make it harder by stepping back with one foot and align your body down the center of the board and really lift the nose of the board up and out of the water.
Make it harder – with good technique, paddle as fast as you can and get into a pivot position at speed, sink the tail and try and turn the board 180 degrees in one movement. Get back to the middle and paddle sprint 20 yards and repeat. Intervals and balance training all in one!
Make it harder – 5 minutes of buoy turn/sprint drills followed by a full speed (use good technique!) 2 k paddle sprint. Cool down for 5 minutes and end with 5 minutes more of buoy turns – make those shaky legs work after that 2k and you got yourself a workout.
Interval training with a mini-workout
Technique is key – think golf and tennis swing on a wobbly surface – it’ll take practice – So, start your interval workout with some technique drills – one good, slow stroke is better than 5 fast sloppy ones so start with a dynamic warm up on the water. Build to medium tempo (stroke cadence – maybe a 6 out of 10 for effort) and get warmed up for 5 minutes. Feeling warm? Good. Not yet? Check your technique.
Interval Drills –
1. Rail Dips – shoulders back and eyes up sink into a chair position over the center of the board, slap the water with the logo side of the paddle to brace and use your lower body to sink the right rail followed by the left and repeat. Try to get your feet wet, and stay low for a 20 count. 2 minute at 7-8 effort with good technique
2. Squats – you know them and you’ve done them your whole life. Knock at 20 at the center of the board facing forward. Feeling string? Great. Turn sideways, still centered in the board but face the left or right rail. Great for balance and knock out 20 or until you feel the burn. 2 minute at 7-8 effort with good technique!
3. Plank – drop into plank- knees of toes and hold for 30 to 45 seconds 2 minute at 7-8 effort with good technique!!
4. Modified burpee – shuffle in brace position back towards the tail, lay your paddle down the center line, touch your toes and walk your hands out so you’re into plank position hold for a ten count and walk your hands back. Make it harder – through in a pushup 2 minute at 7-8 effort with good technique!!!
Through in some pivot turn/ 20 yard sprints at the end and repeat as your fitness level allows. Once you start walking around on your board and adding in calisthenics you’ll get creative and make up your own moves – it’s fun, you’re outside and you get to spend time on the water. It really is the best not just for your body but your state of mid too.
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