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How To Get in Shape for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

how to get in shape for stand up paddle boardingSo, you want to start learning how to paddle board. You might wonder, “How do I get in shape for stand-up paddle boarding?” Luckily for you, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to go from a beginner paddle boarder to an intermediate level, and beyond. With a little hard work and dedication, you’ll soon be paddling through the water like a pro!

Set Realistic Goals for Yourself

Before you get too ahead of yourself, ensure you’re setting realistic goals you know you can accomplish. Starting off too big could diminish your interest in the sport and set you up for failure. Don’t give up right away; sometimes, the best way to reach your goal is to make tiny steps, one at a time. A larger goal is much more attainable with smaller goals in between.

If you’re brand new to this water sport, your first goal can be to get in shape before you step foot on a board. Make small changes over time by eating healthier, exercising, and reflecting on what you might be doing wrong. Paddling straight to the deep end of your journey to paddle boarding could make it more challenging to hone your skills; remember, small goals first!

Eat a Balanced Diet

You cannot benefit from the workouts we’re about to suggest if you do not fuel your body with the proper nutrition. Completely altering your diet can be a gruesome process, so again, start small! Maybe you begin to cut out fast food and limit yourself to one outing a week. Slowly, over the course of a set period, you can cut out more refined foods and replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables.

A balanced diet might look like this: eating more fish, fruits, and veggies, basing meals on high fiber and starchy carbohydrates, cutting saturated fat and sugars, and limiting sodium intake. Educate yourself on how to read nutrition labels to make better decisions when you’re at the grocery store.

Drink Your Water!

Is all that talk about eating a balanced diet making you thirsty? Water is also an extremely vital source for getting in shape. On average, we should consume around half a gallon of water daily, give or take. When we drink and add more water to our diets, we will be less hungry, more flexible, and more hydrated. When you’re getting in shape for stand-up paddle boarding, water can help lubricate your joints to enhance your muscle strength and size and reduce exercise-related injuries.

Get Enough Sleep Each Night

Your sleep schedule and how much sleep you get each night is also a significant component of getting into shape. In order to receive the full benefit from your workouts, your muscles will need adequate rest each night to fully recover. You also need a sufficient amount of sleep to provide you with enough energy to get through your exercises.

Try to get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to give your body the best chance of getting into shape.

Exercises To Do Before Hopping on a SUP Board

As we said at this article’s beginning, do some exercises and workouts on the ground before you attempt to hop on that inflatable paddle board. Toning your body and practicing your techniques on land first will help you build a better foundation for when you begin this water sport. Take a look at our favorite exercises and implement them into your new and improved SUP workout routine.

Side Planks

Side planks are a great exercise to strengthen your core. Your core strength is vital for keeping your balance on the board—without it, you could be taking many dips into the water. Not only does this tone your core, but it also tones your shoulders, legs, and obliques, which is excellent for long-distance paddling.

Side Lunge

A side lunge is better for training for paddle boarding because it’s the most similar to what you might need to do on a paddle board. This type of exercise also provides you with better stability when the water might be choppy. Your quads, glutes, and inner thighs will get a good workout from this!

Hindu Pushups

This type of pushup is great for stand-up paddle boarders because it can improve core stability and increase the range of motion in your shoulders. This exercise targets your chest, triceps, upper back, and shoulders for the ultimate pushup.


A lot of what you do on a paddle board is dynamic and uses various muscles working together to help you keep balance and propel yourself through the water. The skater exercise will build your endurance and strengthen your legs. This is great for when you want to become a competitive SUP racer or surfer too.

Single-Leg Squats

While you use your entire body when paddle boarding, most of the work you’re putting into the sport is through your legs. Single-leg squats will help you focus on each individual leg to help build up your strength. The longer you perform this exercise, the lower you can squat to further improve your balance.

Mountain Climber Twist

Do you want to increase your coordination? A mountain climber twist is perfect for this. This exercise engages your hips, shoulders, and balance—all perfect for SUP boarding!

Plank T Rotations

When you perform a plank T rotation exercise, it mimics the same kind of movement you might make when you’re moving your paddle through the water. This also improves shoulder strength so you can easily push yourself through the water.

One-Leg Hip Thrust

A one-leg hip thrust is perfect for working your legs, shoulders, and core. The better your stability and leg strength, the better your balance on the board. Choosing to do one leg at a time will allow you to isolate those leg muscles and let you focus on each leg individually.

Are you ready to start getting into shape? With this guide, you should have all the necessary information to set yourself up for success in paddle boarding. Remember to take your time and make baby steps—no matter how slowly it takes you, don’t give up! After you start eating and drinking healthier and staying consistent with your workouts, you’ll look like a pro in no time!

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About the author: Julian Kidd
I have been an avid stand up paddle boarder since 2009. I retired from a decade of professional kiteboarding to focus on SUP. Green Water Sports grew from this love of all things SUP. As well as being a keen paddle boarder, I'm a football fan, closet petrol head, web tinkerer, husband and father.