As much as we all love to SUP, sometimes paddling everyday isn’t practical for various reasons; running out of time, too windy, too hard basket to get your board on and off the water (where do you store it?), paddlers keep standing you up blah blah blah!
So, if you are feeling that your progression is perhaps not as speedy as you’d like it to be, or perhaps your fitness whilst SUPing has hit a brick wall. Or maybe you aren’t seeing consistent improvements in your training, have you considered adding one or more of the following activities into your fitness routine to help you break down that wall and continue to UP your SUP!
BBy becoming a more competent and stronger swimmer IN the water, you will become a stronger and more competent paddler ON the water. The art of swimming with correct technique requires us to engage our core muscles to help us stabilise our torso, which inherently supports major power muscles which ultimately helps our limbs (mainly arms but legs too!) to produce the power we need to generate propulsion through the water. The same technique is applied when we paddle standing up! In order to propel both our bodies and our boards forward on the water powerfully and efficiently we must engage the same core muscles as we do in swimming. Because of these similarities, by practicing correct swimming technique, your SUPing technique will inevitably improve too.
Consistent yoga practice can actually allow us to develop the specific form of strength & stability required for correct SUPing technique. Yoga not only stretches out our bodies overall, it can ultimately increase our flexibility holistically. Yoga also trains our joints and muscles (especially stabiliser joint muscles) to work in a stronger, more controlled and stable manner. By holding a yoga pose, you force your body to utilise the appropriate muscles and joints required for stability but also develop endurance of the same muscles to withstand even those uncomfortable or strenuous positions. There’s also a whole lot of mind control with this practice which also helps with your SUP game. Correct stand up paddling technique demands certain body placements and movements which can feel difficult and even arduous to achieve at first, especially when coincided with maintaining balance on top of the water and having to use your body to propel yourself forward to gain speed. When this form of controlled strength and balance cannot be achieved or maintained, we often see paddlers falling back into a ‘lazy’ and inefficient way of paddling and often are left behind the pack! Yoga is a great option to help you to maintain your technique as well as your SUP pace.
The movements in Pilates practice and reformer workouts, focus on connecting the appropriate muscles in which our bodies should naturally utilise in order to move. Pilates can teach our bodies and muscles to work in unison to achieve a smarter and more efficient way of moving. By engaging our core and activating our stabiliser muscles (in the right order of course!) whilst we are in movement, we are training our bodies to work as one but also inherently creating a stronger and more controlled and even more powerful movement all together! This concept of kinetic chain movement will definitely benefit your SUP as the perfect paddle stroke will utilise our entire body which should produce a smooth, connective and powerful movement throughout the entire stroke…Much like how the side rods which connect the wheels of a steam train work – they move in unison ie in one smooth uninterrupted motion in order to move the wheels forward – think of a locomotive like Thomas the Tank Engine – toot toot!
Cycling is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and is an awesome way to up your fitness which will help boost your endurance when paddling. But this isn’t the only reason cycling is a great complimentary exercise for your SUPing! Both in SUP and cycling, momentum is your best friend – paddling into the wind is not too dissimilar to cycling up the hill. Maintaining a level of momentum is what will get you through the wind and avoid going backwards (or sidewards!) or will help you get up that hill and avoid going backwards or even falling off your bike yikes!!
Cycling also helps us to think proactively which is another essential skill in SUP. To avoid falling off, we always need to be thinking as well as looking one step ahead; wash from a ferry approaching? a tight corner or an uneven road surface ahead? Make sure you react to these instances prior to them affecting your performance to avoid either a wipeout or falling off your bike. In each case, maintaining balance is essential and by utilising this skill on the road you will be able to tune it into your way of thinking when on the water. And there’s also that matter of strong quads and increased cardio whilst riding a bike! Both these are added assets to one’s paddling any day!!
Just like with any sport, there are constantly things you can do to improve your SUP performance and endurance. Your paddling abilities will increase if your training is complemented with even just ONE of the sports mentioned above.
However, taking up any sport without doing your due diligence on good technique could thwart your intentions of becoming a fitter, stronger, more powerful, let alone faster athlete! Same goes for Stand Up Paddling; technique is everything! Learn the correct technique, develop stronger and more powerful movement habits whilst you SUP will not only keep you free from injury but will set you up with great foundations in which to build your fitness and all the great stuff that comes with training with likeminded people and a fun loving sport!
Once you’ve brushed up on your technique (check out our private sessions for some one2one tuition), our social SUPs are a great way to keep up your regular training regime to get fit and healthy as well as constantly improve your technique. The SUPing friends are a welcome bonus!
If you would like to join us sign up here but remember our social paddles are for experienced paddlers only. If you are yet to learn the art of SUP then a SUP lesson is your first port of call.