Six Core-Building Exercises To Do From a SUP

Russian Twists
Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Words and Photos by Rebecca Parsons

Standup paddling is the perfect workout—it combines balance, strength and endurance into a low-impact and relaxing workout. In addition to cruising your local waterway, try adding core and strength training exercises to your SUP sessions to take your workout to the next level. While the gym or yoga mat are perfectly acceptable places to train, the added challenge of balancing on a paddleboard will enhance your workout. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide for six exercises that will complete your well-rounded SUP workout.

Superman. Photo: Rebecca Parsons


This exercise works to simultaneously strengthen both your core and back muscles.

  1. Lay face down on your board with your arms and legs extended.
  2. Raise your feet, arms, and chest off the board so that you’re in a mock flying position (keep your head and neck in a neutral position).
  3. Hold for approximately five seconds, then gently lower your body back onto the board.
  4. Repeat 10-12 times.
Squats. Photo: Rebecca Parsons


This exercise works muscles in your entire body but is particularly useful for toning the glutes, abs, and legs.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your paddle out in front of you.
  2. Slowly lower yourself into a sitting position while simultaneously raising your paddle above your shoulders. Be sure and keep your weight behind your knees and keep your back as straight as possible.
  3. Lower your paddle as you return to a standing position. Repeat 20-25 times and increase reps as you gain fitness. (An alternative option is hold the “chair pose” for 30-60 seconds.)
Russian Twists. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Russian Twist

This exercise works to strengthen your obliques and entire core.

  1. Sit on your board, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the deck.
  2. Lean back so that your upper-body forms a 45-degree angle to your board.
  3. Hold your paddle out in front of your chest and tighten your core as you raise your feet a few inches off the ground.
  4. Rotate your arms and paddle to one side and then do the same on the other side. Repeat 20-25 times.
SUP Teaser.

SUP Teaser

This traditional Pilates exercise targets the external obliques, abdominals, spinal extensors, and hip flexors.

  1. Begin on your back with your arms and legs fully extended (paddle in hand).
  2. Lift your legs until they are at a 45-degree angle to your board.
  3. Slowly curl your body forward and lift your arms towards your legs.
  4. Exhale and lower your body back down onto your board. Repeat 20 times.

Crossover Plank

Similar to a traditional plank, this targets the abs but the added twist makes for a more intensified workout.

  1. Begin in a standard plank position—straight body, toes on the deck, and arms extended with palms flat on the board.
  2. While maintaining a tight core, reach across the body and dip your hand into the water. Repeat with other arm for a complete rep.
  3. Repeat entire exercise 5-10 times. (If the crossover plank is too difficult, do a traditional plank and hold for one minute.)
Scissor Kicks.

Scissor Kicks

This simple exercise works to strengthen your abs and quads while also loosening tight hips and hamstrings.

  1. Lie flat on your board with your arms at your side.
  2. Keeping your core strong, lift your legs towards the sky and raise them alternatively in a scissor motion. Be sure and keep your back pressed against your board and maintain slow, steady movements.
  3. Repeat 20-30 times per side.

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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