How to UP your SUP Performance by Combining Upper Body Paddle Endurance with Balance and Core Training for Naish International

by Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui


 by Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui
Naish Team SUP Rider

Whether you’re new to the sport of SUP stand up paddling or preparing for an exciting Maui Maliko down winder, having upper body paddling endurance and excellent balance will get you through the deepest troughs, maybe help you pass a competitor, or help you enter bigger waves and swells with extra confidence and success!

I like to be as efficient as possible when training, so combing the two is perfect. The following exercise is just a sample of what you can do to get stronger, develop faster reflexes, increase the rapid firing of your finite muscles that stabilizes your larger muscles, improve your timed runs and possibly reduce fatigue and/or risk of overuse injuries.

It’s well known that SUP requires the entire body to perform and respond in unison. You’re never isolating one muscle group at any given moment. As you paddle, your entire shoulder complex, upper/lower back, feet, ankles, knees, hips and core (everything excluding your extremities) are executing each short or long stroke in a fast and/or smooth, connected motion. Conditions can and do change, so adding some balance work is also a huge plus. I totally can tell that when I balance train, my reactions are sharp and quick.

Based on your current level of fitness, ease into some of these more advanced moves, and change the variables accordingly. You can simply start with your own paddle or select one of the suggested weights and I usually start light to heavy, to fatigue.

Equipment: 4-10lb medicine ball, or 9-12lb body bar, a regular dumb bell, balance platform such as a small 12” inflatable disc, or BOSU, INDO Board 24” Gigante inflatable disc, INDO Board or your own SUP board. (Caution: if using SUP board on Gigante, you may want to remove fins.)

Balance/Weighted Paddle Stroke Repeats:

Progression Variables: floor or sand, 1 -2 legs, discs to board, less air (easier)-more air (faster action) in discs, light – heavier medicine balls, tempo of movement, slower-faster paced, number of reps, change stance position

 1. Medicine Ball,  INDO Board Gigante disc inflated to 6-7” Faster tempo

2. 9lb Body Bar – Slow to medium reach tempo, keep breathing and look forward. Draw in your core to protect your low back.

(Advanced) In the photos above, I’m standing on my Naish 9’0” Mana with one Gigante disc lightly inflated and an 8lb medicine ball, then I advance to 12lb weight body bar. You can also add another disc, more air, for more action. My stance is a surf stance and my ratio of paddle stroke is 2:2 and a fast tempo. Be sure to have good posture, look at the horizon, engage the muscles of your core (draw your navel in to the front of your spine) and mimic the movement of the appropriate paddle stroke of your choice. For example, short for wave practice or extended a little further towards the nose if you’re training for long distance. Stop the action and exit at your feet.

You will feel EVERYTHING engage and maybe burn a little. This is good! If you feel any low back discomfort, pinching at the top of your shoulder, reduce the weight of medicine ball or body ball and/or keep the weight closer to the center of your body. Don’t sacrifice good form. If you’re goofy foot, switch for fun to regular and visa-versa.

Time yourself instead of counting reps. First start at 15, then 30, 45 and for hardcore folks 1 minute! Be sure to rest appropriately in-between sets or timed bouts. Change the ratio to 3-4 same side strokes, switch to opposite side OR alternate side to side continuously. ALWAYS mix it up.

Until next time, paddle hard, stay hydrated and fuel your body well for extra time on the water.

See you on the water!

Aloha and Mahalo,

Suzie Cooney

Suzie Trains Maui


Join our secure and EXCLUSIVE mailing list.

Mahalo for joining our Suzie Trains Maui Ohana!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!