Six Exercises to Prep You for the Paddleboard

Standup Paddleboarding

With the ability to burn up to 800 calories in one hour, it’s no wonder stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has skyrocketed in popularity.

“A few years ago, there were only five to 10 SUP races, and now there are hundreds of events,” says J.J. Jameson, a senior instructor for REI Outdoor School and certified level 2 SUP Instructor. Stand up paddleboarding isn’t as easy as it looks, though. “It requires that you remain standing upright on an unsteady surface while maneuvering a paddle taller than you are,” says Jameson. “As a result, you use just about every muscle in your body.”

In order to prepare to get up on the board, it’s important to strengthen certain muscle groups beforehand. So we sat down with personal trainer Orion Mims, A.C.E., A.C.S.M.—who SUPs himself—to create a program that focuses on strength, balance, and muscle reflexes. “The key is to teach your muscles how to cooperate when they’re confused,” says Mims, “and this program does that.” Do this routine three times a week (and work up to five as you get more comfortable) to improve your SUP performance… before you hit the water.

Next: Kneeling Pulldown to Triceps Press >>>

Kneeling Pulldown to Triceps Press
—Kneel on the ground facing a resistance bar, and straighten your spine so it’s perpendicular to the ground. Don’t tuck your chin.
—Extend your arms overhead and grab onto the cable bar.
—Pull the cable all the way down until your hands are in front of your chest and your elbows are tucked next to your sides.
—Continue pushing the bar straight down until your arms are fully extended out.

First Timer’s Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding >>>

Suggested Reps: Choose a resistance that allows you to do 20-30 reps.

Mims says: “It’s important to build up the strength you need to pull your body onto the board. This move will do that.”

Next: Balance Pushup >>>

Balance Pushup
—Place a weighted bar across a bosu ball or balance board.
—Get into a pushup position, feet shoulder-width apart, and grip the bar with your hands, just outside where the ball or board ends.
—Keeping your arms at a natural 90-degree angle, perform a pushup.

Suggested Reps: Start with five; add two more reps each following week.

Mims says: “This exercise is effective at teaching you how to steady yourself, which prepares you to pop up on the board—or get back on the board if you fall in the water.”

Next: Swiss Iso Twist >>>

Swiss Iso Twist
—Facing perpendicular to the resistance cables, straddle a Swiss ball in a wide kneeling position.
—Keeping your back perpendicular to the ground, without rotating your hips or torso, extend your arms toward the resistance and grab the cable with both hands.
—Tighten your core and extend your arms as you hold the cable. Swing your arms across your body to the opposite side.

Suggested Reps: Start with 5; add two more reps each following week.

Mims says: “This move is advanced, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first. It helps strengthen your core so you’ll feel comfortable on the board.”

Next: Bosu Sumo Squat >>>

Bosu Sumo Squat
—Use a bar to stabilize yourself standing on the bosu ball, feet on the outermost edges of the bosu.
—Hold the bar in front of you below your hips with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
—Keeping your feet flat, chin up, and spine perpendicular to the floor, squat down until the bar ends up just in front of your toes.
—Stand back up.

Suggested Reps: Start with 8-10; add two more reps each following week.

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Mims says: “Balance is the key here. Use a wall to center yourself at first if you need to.”

Next: Swiss Lumbar Extension Lat Press >>> 

Swiss Lumbar Extension Lat Press
—Start with a Swiss ball on the floor. Rest your hips on top of it and lean forward, face the resistance cables.
—Separate your legs six inches farther than shoulder width and plant them on the ground.
—Extend arms forward, parallel to head, and grab the cables.
—Without moving your feet or body, exhale and pull your arms straight back past your hips, without bending your elbows.

Suggested Reps: Choose a resistance that allows you to do 20-30 reps.

Mims says: “When you’re on the board, it’s important to paddle with straight arms to get the most power and speed.”

Next: Bosu Paddle Swim >>>

Bosu Paddle Swim
—Facing the resistance, stand on the bosu ball with knees bent and abs tight.
—Extend arms forward and grab cable bar. Hold it perpendicular to the ground and place one hand on the top and the other.
—Keeping your arms extended, make a paddling motion and pull the cable down toward one hip.
—Do the same thing toward the other hip.

Suggested Reps: Start with 30-60, increasing intensity each week.

Mims says: “Your arms and core are utilized so much when you SUP. This will strengthen both.”

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