Five Land Activities to Supplement your SUP

When the water’s at bay, these land exercises will supplement your SUP

You’re landlocked. Visiting family, away on business—whatever the reason—you find yourself trapped in a pavement playpen or literally up a (dry) creek without a paddle. You’re out there, but your SUP is not. Paddling simply isn’t an option.

It happens. We all find ourselves insatiably jonesing for SUP sometimes. Fortunately, there are plenty of land-based concentrations that compliment standup paddling. Because traveling doesn’t always equal paddling, here are five activities that’ll help you through the dry spells of SUP life.

1. Slacklining 

Photo: Jeffery Juelsgaard

Life, and standup paddling, is all about balance. And there’s no better way to hone your balance than to walk the line. The slackline, that is.

Slacklining is one of the most versatile and thorough workouts in the outdoor sphere. It’s kind of like a hybrid between a trampoline and a tight rope, and all you need are two trees, some one- or two-inch webbing and some basic knot-tying skill (or a ratchet) to set one up.  Easy-to-use kits are available at most outdoor retailers, and they make conveniently packable toys/exercise machines for travelers, from backpackers or business trippers.

Slacking can be tricky to learn, because like standup paddling, it calls upon obscure muscle groups that take time to develop. But learning is a blast, and nearly as addictive as it is fun. “Slackling is excellent cross-training for turbulent water paddleboarding,” says whitewater SUP expert, Paul Clark. “The more you do it in a relaxed and present manner, the better you get. Just like SUP.”


2. Yoga

Photo: Morgan Hoesterey
Photo: Morgan Hoesterey Plamen Petkov

Even with all the good SUP does for our bodies, a little wear and tear is unavoidable in any action sport. Yoga acts as not only a strengthening activity for your SUP muscles but a rehabilitative exercise to keep us nimble and avoid injury.

“Yoga is a great activity for paddlers,” says SUP yoga guru Gillian Gibree. “You have to open everything back up after putting yourself through a workout. You spend a lot of time hunching over in SUP, so my favorites are shoulder openers and chest expansion poses.”


3. Land Paddling

land paddling
When it’s too cold to SUP the seas, try SUPing the sea shores. Photo: Kahuna Creations

This one’s a no brainer. Land paddling is standup paddling’s urban counterpart—the city dweller’s SUP for cement. In essence, land paddling involves a long skateboard with soft wheels and a paddle-length staff with a rubber knob on the end that simulates a paddle. Stand on the board, propel yourself forward with push off the ground with your staff, and off you go. It’s the perfect activity for those who want to keep their SUP muscles in shape when the water’s at bay.

“(Land paddling) is good for style, good for stamina, good for core, good for your abs, good for your upper body, the legs…It’s just healthy in general,” said the late surfing legend, Buttons Kaluhiokalani. “And it does help you to be a better paddler.”


4. Rock Climbing

Photo: Aaron Schmidt
Photo: Aaron Schmidt

Where water is not, usually, land is. And where land is, normally, rock is. And where rock is, typically, opportunity for climbing is, too. Therefore, where you cannot SUP, most likely, you can climb.

Rock climbing, like SUP and slacklining, is an activity that works acute and obscure, practical muscle groups that lend strength to balance, and endurance. Like SUP surfing or running whitewater, it’s an adrenaline-fueled activity that affords a thorough workout without the burden of feeling like you’re “working out.”  Try it for the first time and afterwards you’ll likely find soreness in areas you didn’t know could be sore. That’s a good thing. Soreness = strengthening.

Rock climbing may seem like a daunting or dangerous activity to some leisure paddlers, but most climbing gyms and bouldering areas offer routes for all experience levels. It’s as challenging as you make it, hence the beauty and the parallel to SUP.


5. Meditation

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Feeling “grounded” is widely considered one of the main purposes of meditation. Isn’t it ironic, then, that meditation compliments SUP—an activity involving no ground at all—so swimmingly?

SUP is as much an activity for the mind as it is for the body. Focus, relaxation, presence in the moment—these are but a few of the inherent mental components at the core of standup paddling. John Hogan, founder of ZEN SUP sports center, is a practitioner of both meditation and SUP with a unique take on pairing the two for his SUP instruction courses. “Through the practice of meditation, we take out some of the trash, so to speak,” Hogan says. “We get rid of what we don’t need. The cumulative effect of this leaves us feeling, thinking and acting more clearly. To be able to tap into this, in the ever-changing water environment where we place ourselves, is invaluable to the standup paddler.”


The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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