SUP Fitness: How Stand Up Paddleboarding Can be Your Best Workout Ever

Over thirty years ago, the most popular quote amongst those looking to get into shape was uttered by Jane Fonda during one of her infamous aerobics tape workouts. Long since debated, the “no pain, no gain” approach to working out suggests that if you are doing it right, it’ll hurt. I, personally have a low threshold for pain and prefer the unassuming workout, the one where no one realizes you are getting fit.

Stand up paddleboarding might very well be the single, best, all around workout available for every age and body type. Bold statement, I’ll admit. Here’s why an unassuming day on flat water can leave you feeling reinvigorated and fully worked out. Just keep this in mind, on a paddle board, if you feel pain, you’re doing it wrong.

In this article I thought I’d briefly discuss the benefits of this activity followed by what I believe is one of the best boards on the market to do just about anything you’d like to achieve, the Pau Hana Crossfit PaddleBoard.

You do not, I’ll repeat, do not need to follow the conditioning workout that was recently featured in Men’s Fitness in order to get the benefits of an 800 calorie an hour workout. It is a good idea if you have access to a gym to keep in relatively decent condition during the long winter months. In truth, any activity will keep you almost ready for the moment when the weather breaks.


You would be wise to follow a couple of suggestions before you throw off that winter hibernation and jump on your board. John Hamm for has some excellent tips for stretching that uses both your paddle and your leash. You should use these exercises when you get to the water and before you begin and, to stay limber, on the days when you can’t.

Low Impact

If you follow some of the basic paddleboard techniques I outlined in this post on paddling fundamentals, you find that the effort you exert on the water should be fluid and unassuming. With your hands properly positioned on the paddle and using a stabbing technique for the maximum about of blade contact with the water, the stroke actually provides a low-impact workout to five major muscle groups.


There are lot of factors that impact your ability to balance on a board. Choppy water and wind can make it harder to get balanced and stay upright. So practice on flat water to begin. Find the center of the board and position your feet about shoulder width apart. Your eyes should be focused on the horizon. Your hips can play a big role in staying upright so keep your knees slightly bent and practice making circles with your hips. If the board begins to wobble, don’t try to adjust your stance to the right or left. Instead, lower your body by bending your knees, getting closer to the board.


There is no doubt that the activity of paddling, balancing, and adjusting your stance to meet different water and weather conditions works your core muscles, helping you with all sorts of potential health problems. But your current condition is only one part of the equation. The right board is essential.

One of the best all around boards in the Pau Hana Crossfit PaddleBoard.

Pau Hana Crossfit Paddle Board

available at

This board won the best in class from Outside Magazine in 2012 for several good reasons. It is wide enough, at 29 inches, with a displacement hull, measuring 12 feet six inches in length. It also has a slight V-line retreating from a water piercing nose to give all levels of user, from the most experienced boarder to the beginner the chance to not only do it style but under a wide variety of conditions. Racers use the board to build endurance and beginners will find the board adaptable to a variety of conditions.

This board is also excellent for on the water yoga, which I discussed earlier is an excellent way to reduce injuries and increase the workout potential that paddleboarding offers.

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