Posted on by Total Gym

 How To Train Your Stand-up Paddle Boarding Enthusiasts With Total Gym Exercises


From oceans to rivers, lakes and ponds, Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a fast-growing recreational pastime. SUP requires a unique combination of core strength, dynamic balance and cardio-respiratory efficiency, making it a fun and challenging way to get a great workout. As this activity has exploded in popularity, I’ve noticed more and more health club members and clients expressing an interest in improving their strength and fitness levels, so they can enjoy their time ‘walking on the water.’

Whether it be running, rock climbing or SUP, whenever I work with a client who is into a particular recreational activity, I always ask this question: “Do you do your favorite activity to get in shape, or do you want to get in shape to maximize enjoyment from that favorite activity?”  It’s always interesting to see how people respond. Most will say they do a particular activity because they feel it’s a great form of exercise. My response is to point out that adding some activity-specific conditioning to their workout routine, can help improve their overall fitness. They will have more strength and stamina to enjoy their favorite pastime. Nowhere is this more important than for Stand-up Paddle Boarding.

The body of water where an individual will be doing most of his or her SUP should also play a factor in the conditioning program.  An ocean will require more focus on dynamic balance to accommodate the constantly changing surface. A lake or pond may require more core and rotational strength to provide the propulsive force to keep moving. To help one of my clients improve his fitness for SUP in Mission Bay (located in San Diego) I created the following workout for him.


Squats and Unilateral Squats

Place feet toward the top of the squat stand positioned shoulder-width apart.  Lie back slowly making sure the head is on the glideboard.  Begin to squat slowly.  Repeat 20 times.  Then lift one leg and with the other, slowly squat.  Going slowly keeps the muscles under resistance for longer and so builds strength and muscle definition faster.  Repeat 12 single leg squats on each leg or 30-45 secs.


Unilateral Chest Press

This position provides training and conditioning of the anterior shoulders, chest and arms.  Trunk stabilization is integrated into the exercise, as the upper body is upright and unsupported.  One arm presses help improve core strength by integrating all of the muscles that control thoracic rotation; helpful for the rotational forces generated while paddling. Do the same number of reps or amount of time on each side. 12-15 reps each arm or 30-45 secs.


Kneeling 2-Hand Press

Combine hip and core strength; squeeze thighs and gluts, press hips forward and keep spine tall while doing this exercise. Do the same number of reps or amount of time on each side. 12-15 reps on each side or 30-45 secs.


Kneeling Shoulder Extension

With an upright posture, press the handles back and down past the hips, in an arc motion.  Maintain a stable trunk as the hands return with control, back to the starting position.  This exercise will enhance strength of the upper back and arm muscles (triceps) used for paddling. Keep your spine long and hinge from the hips while pressing arms straight back. 12-15 reps or 30-45 secs.


Kneeling Bicep Curl

Strong arms and grip are a requirement for successfully moving the paddle through the water; doing curls on your Total Gym not only blasts your biceps but also involves many of the muscles responsible for core stability. 12-15 reps or 30-45 secs. For a good pump – keep one elbow in a flexed (bent) position while doing a rep with the other arm, alternate arms.


Kneeling Torso Rotation

SUP is done in a standing position, therefore strength exercises for the core should be done in a similar position. Keep your hips pressed forward, gluts squeezed and focus on rotating from the shoulders. Do the same number of reps or amount of time on each side. 12-15 reps on each side or 30-45 secs.


Doing timed sets and trying to complete as many reps as possible during the time can be an effective way to increase the cardio-respiratory benefit of the workout.  Make sure to do the same amount of time on each arm or in each direction.

This workout can either be organized horizontally: completing all sets of an exercise before moving to the next.   Or it can be performed vertically: moving from one exercise to the next with little-to-no rest (circuit training). Start with 2 sets of each exercise and progress to 5 sets. If doing horizontal sets, rest 30-45 seconds after each exercise; rest for 90-120 sec. after a complete circuit.

What I love about the way you exercise with Total Gym, is it allows several different options for both foundational exercises and creative movements and more advanced exercises, if needed.    I follow the KISS method (Keep It Simply Silly) and use exercises that focus on the foundational patterns of movement. This way, clients have the highest probability of actually doing the workout I design for them. That’s how this program is designed, to make it more challenging when using timed sets. I challenge clients to complete as many reps as possible in the time frame and then encourage them to meet or beat that number on the next set.

About the Author

Pete McCall is an educator, performance coach, personal trainer, author, consultant and host of the All About Fitness podcast. Based in San Diego, CA, Pete holds a master’s degree in exercise science and health promotion, completed a Fellowship in Applied Functional Science with the Gray Institute, is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Currently Pete is an adjunct faculty in exercise science at Mesa College, a master trainer for Core Health and Fitness, a blogger and content contributor for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and online instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Consulting with organizations like the World Bank, Reebok, 24-Hour Fitness, Core Health & Fitness, the Institute of Motion and Fit Pro, Pete has experience identifying needs and delivering solutions. Frequently quoted as a fitness expert in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, U-T San Diego, SELF, Glamour, and Shape Magazine and featured as a fitness expert for TV news outlets including WRC-NBC (DC), Fox News, Fox 5 San Diego, and NBC7 San Diego, Pete is a sought-after media resource for accurate, in-depth insight on how to get results from exercise.