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Great SUP Exercises To Get Ready For Any Adventure

Lower body workout & upper body exercise for paddleboarding.

Get Ready for Adventure with these Great SUP Exercises

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is one of the most popular outdoor sports.  It is a fantastic way to enjoy some exercise in the fresh air and sun.  SUP boarding is fun and easy to do, but it is definitely better if you have some basic strength and conditioning to allow you to carry, load and paddle your board with finesse.

Lower Body Workout

SUP boarding is a great lower body workout because it requires a lot of balance and the ability to get up from kneeling to standing.  You will use muscles you never knew you had!  Find and build them with these 3 exercises:

1) Squat with Lateral Raise

With your feet shoulder width apart, put your weight into your heels, sink you butt back like you are sitting in a chair until your knees are at 90 degrees. Transfer your weigh to your right leg as you stand up and raise your left leg out to the side. 

  • Do 10-15 repetitions before switching legs.  Do 3 sets.
  • Make it easier:  Hold on to a chair back for stability.
  • Make it harder: Add some hand weights for extra resistance, or pulse the side raise three times.

 2)  Leg Surrenders

Start with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Place first your right knee, then the left on the ground so you are in a kneeling position, then reverse by lifting the right knee up to put the foot on the ground, then the left so you are standing again. 

  • Do 5-10 repetitions before switching to lead with the left side first.  So 3 sets.
  • Make it easier: Use your hands on the ground or a chair for support.
  • Make it harder: Hold your hands behind your head and keep your chest up.

 3) Standing “Open the Gate” Hip Flexor Exercise

Stand with your feet together and lift the right knee in front of your body, then swivel your leg out to the side to “open the gate”, then bring it back to the front “close the gate” and tap back down.  Try to balance by keeping your hands on your hips and stand straight, not letting your left hip shift out to the side.  Complete 8-12 repetitions before switching to the left leg. 

  • Do 3 sets for each leg.
  • Make it easier: Keep your knee bent and your foot close to your body.
  • Make it harder: Extend your leg so your foot is further away from your body.


Upper Body Exercises

When Paddling your SUP it is great to have the arm strength to explore as far as your heart desires.  This can take some great shoulder strength and mobility, as well as triceps strength to hold that fulcrum point with your bottom hand.

1) Tricep Pushups

Triceps pushups are like a regular pushup but with the elbows tucked in tight to the body and your hands closer together.  Start with 10 tricep pushup sets with a one minute break in between, 3 times. 

  • Break up the sets if you need to, into 4, 3, 2, 1, reps  with a few second break in-between.
  • Make it easier: Incline onto a bench or on the floor from your knees
  • Make it harder: Put your hands together into a diamond shape and increase your repetitions to failure.

2) Overhead Press

Having the upper body strength to lift your paddle board is important to prevent damage to yourself and your board.  Practice lifting the weight of your board, or more!  Standing with your core tight, hold dumbells or a barbell with a shoulder width grip and press overhead.  Keep your chest up and your spine neutral.  Lower weights until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees and then repeat 10-15 times.

  • Do 3 sets.
  • Make it easier: Use less weight and work up to the weight of your board, alternating left and right arm.
  • Make it harder: Add a squat at the bottom of the press

If you are ready, hold your board and practice lifting it over your head!

3) Row Exercise

Working the Lats along the side of your back will go a long way in helping you paddle a long way!  If you have only handweights, hold one in each hand as you bend forward at the hips.  Squeeze elbows to your sides as you lift the weights.  If you have a bar to use or TRX, invert your body and hang beneath the bar, legs extended.  Pull your chest up to the bar, squeezing elbows into the side of your body. Repeat 10-15 times. 

  • Do 3 sets.
  • Make it easier:  Use lighter weights or bend your knees.
  • Make it harder: Use heavier weight or lift one foot off the ground.



Paddleboard Workout For Your Core


 1) Leg raises

Leg raises are a part of any great SUP workout because they keep your mid section tight and tall.  Lying on your back, tuck your hands under your lower back to support it as you push your lower back into the floor.  Lift your legs until your feet are straight up in the air, then lower them slowly until they almost touch the floor.  Hover for a second and then lift again.

  • Repeat 10-20 times.  Do 3 sets.
  • Make it easier: Do one leg at a time or bend your knees.
  • Make it harder: Hover longer or do small circles at the bottom.

 2) Oblique Crunches

Oblique crunches are a great SUP exercise to help you have strength at the catch, the part of the paddle stroke where your SUP paddle starts to pull you forward in the water.  Lying on your side with your knees bent, place your bottom hand on your top side where you will feel your oblique crunches working.  Place your top hand behind your head and think about bringing that elbow to your top hip as your obliques contract and your shoulders lift up.  No need to go too far, just a few inches and you will feel these oblique crunches doing the job.  Repeat 10-15 times on one side before switching to the other side.  Do 3 sets.

Make it easier: Place your top hand on the ground close to your bottom armpit to help push yourself up as you crunch.

Make it harder: Straighten your legs and lift your feet up off the floor

 3) Swimmers

A Paddleboard workout wouldn’t be complete without swimmers to help you remember to kick your feet back behind you as you get back onto your board after a fall.  Lay on your belly and extend your arms forward and legs back behind.  Alternate lifting your right arm and left leg, then left arm and right leg.  Squeeze your glutes, pull your shoulder blades down and keep your hips pushed into the ground to get the most out of these great SUP exercises!

  • Repeat 20 times for each side.  Do 3 sets.
  • Make it easier: Start with 10 repetitions and work your way up.
  • Make it harder: Pulse 3 times at the top of each repetition.


You can do your paddleboard workout at home while waiting for your board to arrive or during inclement weather, or out on the water where the real fun is!

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