Return to blog

Challenging SUP Exercise Routines For Active Paddle Boarders

Posted by Alex Clasper

Balance, strength and coordination are essential components required for paddle boarding, and so it’s important that any practical SUP exercise routine works on these elements. With this in mind, we’ve sourced some of the most challenging SUP exercise routines for those looking to improve their paddling skills. The following routines incorporate both on and off the water SUP exercises to improve strength, balance and coordination, and ultimately make you a better paddle boarder. So, if you’re up for a challenge, take a look at the following SUP exercise routines for active paddle boarders:


Full-Body SUP Fitness Routine


This SUP exercise routine is aimed at working your entire body and is guaranteed to make you work up a sweat. This paddle board workout routine is designed to be practised on land, however as you progress your SUP fitness you could translate the planks and squats onto the board. You should aim to complete each of these exercises for 60 seconds and repeat 1-3 times in the following order:


Single Arm Pulls: Standing with feet hip-width apart, pull a resistance band back slowly until your elbow is level with the side of your body, making sure to tuck the shoulder blade into the spine. Alternate arms to work both sides of your body evenly.


Opposite Arm & Leg Reach: This is a really useful SUP exercise for building core strength and balance which are both crucial for paddle boarding. Stand on one foot, reaching one leg back and the opposite arm forward, making sure to keep your body parallel to the ground. Alternate legs and repeat for the full 60 seconds.


Plank: A plank is one of the most important SUP exercises for working your entire body and that’s why it’s such a crucial part of this routine. To do a full plank you need to start in a press-up position and then bend your elbows until your forearms are on the floor with your body in a straight line from your feet to your head. Keep your abs tight and hold the position for a minimum of 60 seconds. 


Squats: The last SUP exercise in this paddle board workout routine is squats. For this exercise, you need to start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Press your hips back as if you are sitting in a chair, making sure to keep your chest lifted in a controlled movement. Press through your heels to return to a standing position and repeat the exercise. You can increase the intensity of this SUP exercise by holding your paddle in your hands and lifting it square over your head as you squat.

woman doing a yoga pose on her paddleboard

SUP Cardio Workout


This SUP exercise routine involves testing your strength and stability whilst you’re out on the water. It’s a tough routine that combines cardio with muscle training. These are the key steps involved:


Burpees: Start by setting your paddle aside, making sure it is secured to your board and will not float away. Stand on the SUP with feet shoulder-width apart and hands extended upwards above your head. Squat down to place your hands on the board and step back into a plank position. Step back up to the starting position and repeat for 10 reps.To increase the intensity of this SUP exercise you can add in a jump as you return to the starting position and jump your feet back to plank rather than walking them back.


Pull-Ups: Start by kneeling on the board at the centre. Keeping your hands on the board, drop into the water on one side in a controlled motion. Engaging your core, pull yourself back onto the board into a kneeling position. Repeat the movement on the other side of the board. Aim to repeat the exercise 10 times if you can. As this SUP exercise involves you entering the water, you should only practise it in calm waters and when wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).


Jumping Lunges: Lunges increase your lower body strength whilst improving balance, and they’re even more challenging when you practice them on the water! Step forward with one foot whilst bending your knees to start in a standard lunge position. Once engaged in this position, jump back up into a standing position. Come back down to a lunge position, making sure to switch your leading leg. Jump up and repeat the exercise 10 times, making sure to alternate legs.

Woman doing a plank on her paddleboard

SUP Plank Workout


This is another great SUP exercise routine to practice out on the water that involves plenty of planking! Here’s how it’s done:


Kneeling Plank: Start by kneeling on the board with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees bent at an angle behind you. Keeping your spine straight, tighten your abs to hold the position for 1 minute, without letting all the strain fall onto your hands.


Full Plank: The next step in this SUP exercise routine is to walk your feet back, coming up onto your toes into a full plank position. Making sure to keep your back flat and your core engaged, hold the position for 1 minute. You’ll notice your muscles starting to complain a lot more quickly than when you do a plank on land - this is a challenging SUP exercise, but persevering will increase your strength and stability drastically for your next SUP adventure so stick with it!


Moving Plank: Staying in kneeling plank or full plank, extend one leg outwards to tap your foot in the water, making sure to keep the leg straight, before bringing it back to the starting plank position. Repeat the exercise 10 times for each foot.


Plank-Ups: Start in a kneeling plank or full plank position, coming down onto your elbows. Keeping your core engaged, and your lower body stable, come up onto your hands, before coming back down onto your elbows. Repeat this SUP exercise 10 times.


SUP Squats & Push-Ups


This SUP exercise routine involves just two elements, however that doesn’t mean it won’t have you working up a sweat. This routine focuses on squats and push-ups which are essential for perfecting your paddling skills as well as improving your ability to remain stable on the board. You can practise squats and push-ups on land before practising them on your SUP. Here’s how the routine is done:


21 Squats: The key to making this paddle board workout routine successful is perfecting your squat and your push-up. For your squat, make sure to start with your feet shoulder-width apart, bending your knees to get your quads parallel to the floor. Do 21 of these before immediately moving onto the push-ups…


21 Push-Ups: When doing your push-ups, make sure to keep a perfect plank in between push-ups, keeping your movement controlled. Do 21 push-ups, rest for 2 minutes then repeat for 15 reps followed by 9 reps.

man doing a squat