There are a lot of SUP exercises out there to choose from. And stand up paddleboarding, even without dedicated fitness routines, provides a great workout in itself. It’s especially fine-tuned to work your core and can help to improve your overall balance and coordination. Plus not only does it strengthen your body, it’s a fun activity to do when you get the chance to hit the water.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a traditional stand up paddle boarder or you enjoy SUP surfing. Your fitness level can improve your skill and overall enjoyment, even in the off-season. Best of all, you don’t have to make working out into struggle. Your SUP workout can be fun and keep you fit at the same time!

woman inflates her Thurso Surf iSUP before her SUP exercise

Pumping up her SUP and getting ready to head out into the surf.

Top SUP Exercises and How to do Them

High Plank

High plank is an old-school exercise that works out your upper body, abdominal muscles, and your upper arms. These are some of the core muscle groups used when paddleboarding.

1.) Start in the standard push-up position. Lay face down on your stomach, preferably on a yoga mat.

2.) Place your hands palms down on the mat; they should be shoulder width apart. Your toes should drive into the ground. Make sure your spine is straight.

3.) Push your body up like you’re doing an ordinary push-up, only you’re not going to bring your body back down.

4.) Instead of going back down, hold the top position for 20 to 30 seconds, depending on your upper arm and core strength. Remember to keep your core strong and engaged throughout the exercise.

Side Plank

1.) To do a side plank, start by laying on your side with your feet together.

2.) Use your elbow to lift your hips off the ground. Now everything but your elbow and feet should be raised above the mat.

3.) Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, depending on your strength. Then switch elbows and repeat on your other side.

Like the standard plank, the more you practice this exercise, the longer you’ll be able to hold yourself up. Start by counting as long as you can manage and work your way up, adding time as you progress from workout to workout.

man on SUP exercises by paddling for fun

Work on your fitness to improve your overall SUP experience.

Jumping Lunges

There are numerous benefits to the jumping lunge SUP exercise. It builds your lower body but also improves your stability, which is of course great for stand up paddleboarding. This exercise will help you stand comfortably for longer without struggling.

1.) Drop your body into the standard staggered lunge position. Step forward with one foot while bending your knees so your front leg almost reaches a 90 degree angle. You should look like you’re about to kneel without placing your back knee on the ground.

2.) As you move into the lunge position, keep your core engaged.

3.) Once you bring your body down into this position, you’re going to pop right back up by jumping into the air.

4.) As you come back down, switch legs so your opposite knee comes close to the ground and the other one is at a 90 degree angle.

5.) Repeat, jumping up, and switching knees again. Start with 5 reps (1 rep = each knee once).

Make sure to focus on your form by keeping your core engaged and performing each lunge smoothly. Concentrate on exploding up and out of each lunge to increase the benefits gained from this SUP exercise.

Man on Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around SUP surfs a wave

Put in the effort with a couple of exercises to increase your performance.

Paddle Squats

Paddle squats are a variation of the common squat. Although quite simple, it’s the perfect SUP exercise. It boosts the strength of your legs and can help improve your core. Once you’ve mastered this squat, you’ll be able to hold a crouch or pop up quickly and confidently on your SUP.

*You will need a paddle for this exercise. It helps master the exact moves you make on the water.

1.) Start by standing with your legs just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Now, hold your paddle out in front of you horizontally, parallel to the ground.

2.) Slowly bring your body down into a squat by bending your knees, all the while keeping your back straight. You don’t want to drop your body too fast. Lower yourself with control and focus.

3.) As you go down, raise your arms (with paddle in hand) from outstretched in front of you to over your head like a victory pose. Hold briefly with your knees bent.

4.) Then slowly raise yourself back up, straightening your knees and bringing your paddle down from overhead, back to a horizontal position in front of you.

Repeat this exercise for at least 5 reps. As you get more advanced, increase the amount of reps you do. Unlike the jumping lunge this one isn’t about speed or explosive power. Use a slow controlled motion throughout to get the maximum benefit from this SUP exercise.

Woman paddles her Thurso Surf Waterwalker All-around paddleboard for her SUP exercise

You can improve your stability by increasing your fitness.


Burpees are a great workout for any sports routine. But, if you’re a SUP surfer or even just a cruisy paddle boarder, you’ll get major benefits from this SUP exercise. It’s a full body workout that can help improve your cardio.

1.) Start in a standing position. Then, while keeping your back straight, bend your knees until you can place your hands flat on the floor.

2.) Once your hands are flat on the ground, kick your legs back so you land in a push-up position with your stomach on the floor.

3.) Then push yourself back up and return to a squatting position.

4.) Once in the squatting position, explode upwards by jumping to your feet with both hands above your head. Land on the balls of your feet in a standing position.

Like the other SUP exercises start low and work your way up. Five reps should be a good start. In the early stages, it’s best to focus on your form. That way as you continue you’ll reap all the rewards and benefits from your efforts.

Man walks his Thurso Surf Expedition Touring board to the water for SUP exercise

Feel the benefits of your SUP exercises when you go out for a paddle.

Top SUP Exercises Keep You Fit

Paddle boarding is a great activity for fitness. You get to be outdoors on the water enjoying yourself. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to consider it a workout because it’s so much fun. Get out there and give it a try. These top SUP exercises will help improve your fitness and overall skill level. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to paddle boarding, an expert, or just trying to stay in shape during the off season.

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About the Author: Matt G.

Matt Gelgota is a traveler and all around digital marketing guy. His greatest adventure to date was the Mongol Rally, a 10,000 mile unsupported on and off-road saga from Sweden to Mongolia. He has visited more than 50 countries and has been paddling a Thurso Surf Expedition since 2018. Since then he’s had a chance to paddle board in Nepal, Thailand, Japan, and the US. When he’s not on the road he divides his time between Tokyo and Atlanta, Georgia.

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