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Bodyweight SUP Exercises

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Mixing in some bodyweight exercises when out on your SUP is a great way to add an extra stability challenge, requiring you to engage more of the small muscles in your core that help you control your body and stay balanced. The amplified instability of performing these exercises on a SUP is really going to fire up your core!

A few things to think about before getting on the water; first and foremost if, for any reason such as illness or injury which might be aggravated by exercise think twice, be sensible and consult your doctor if you have any doubts.

Dress appropriately for the conditions and consider the slight increase in chances that you ‘may’ take a dunk (side planks particularly tricky!).

Be mindful of your surroundings and think about how wind, river flow or tides for example could pose risks. Always wear an appropriate leash for the location.

When it comes to boards, the more stable your board is, the easier the exercise will be to perform. An all round SUP or touring board will be ideal.

Finally, before you go into these exercises, make sure you are nice and warmed up to avoid injury.

Air Squats

  1. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Keep your core braced and eyes looking forward.

  2. You can hold the paddle out in front of you which will help with balance, or to make it more of a challenge, assume an overhead squat position (see next example)

  3. Slowly bend at the knees and drop your hips to lower your body, keep your heels flat on the board and avoid caving the knees inwards.

  4. At the bottom of the movement, strongly push back to the starting position.

  5. As you continue to do more air squats, remember to keep that tension as you start to go back down and then squeeze again as you reach the top position.

Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps

Overhead Squat Variation

Follow the air squat walk through above, but instead of holding the paddle out in front of you, assume an overhead squat position :

  1. Start with the paddle above your head, with a wide grip

  2. Hold the paddle above the crown of the head with your arms straight, with the biceps in line with the ears. The wrists should be slightly extended, with the elbows straight and ribs pulled in (neutral spine). Make sure the shoulders are shrugged up and active with the armpits turned forwards.

Perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps


  1. Begin in the plank position, face down with your forearms and toes on the board. Your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your forearms are facing forward. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the board.

  2. Engage your abdominal muscles, keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. This is the neutral spine position. Ensure your shoulders are down, not creeping up toward your ears. Your heels should be over the balls of your feet.

  3. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Release to the board.

  4. Over time work up to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

Side Planks

This is a tough one on a SUP!

  1. Lie on your right side, legs extended and stacked from hip to feet. The elbow of your right arm is directly under your shoulder. Ensure your head is directly in line with your spine. Your left arm can be aligned along the left side of your body.

  2. Engage your abdominal muscles.

  3. Lift your hips and knees from the board while exhaling. Your torso is straight in line with no sagging or bending. Hold the position.

  4. After several breaths, inhale and return to the starting position. See how long you can hold the position. Change sides and repeat.

Press Up

  1. Position the hands flat on the board, at shoulder width apart

  2. Brace the abs, lower chest.

  3. Push back up, extending arms but not locking elbows

You can make it slightly easier by placing your knees on the board, as shown in the video.

Close hand Press Up

Another alternative to the press up is the close hand press up. If you bring your hands closer together. The narrower hand placement involves higher muscle activation of both the chest and the triceps. The narrow variation is thereby somewhat harder to do..

Sit Ups

  1. Either place hands on the temples, across the chest or holding the paddle out in front

  2. Keep there core engaged and lay back on the board.

  3. Curl up rather than sit up

  4. Keep legs bent and feet flat on the board and maintain a neutral head alignment throughout

Back Extension

  1. In a prone position on the board, keep legs straight, feet on the board.

  2. Place hands straight out overhead or at the temples

  3. Raise the upper body up until the chest clears the board, avoiding lumbar hyperextension (lifting too high)

Incorporating into a SUP Workout

You can mix up your SUP paddling and these bodyweight exercises to create a great circuit style work out:

1. Paddle at a fast pace for 30 seconds

2. Perform 20 air squats

3. Paddle at a fast pace for 30 seconds

4. Perform 15 press ups

5. Paddle at a fast pace for 30 seconds

6. Perform 15 sit ups

7. Paddle at a fast pace for 30 seconds

8. Hold a plank for as long as you can

Rest for two mins and repeat

These are just a few examples of bodyweight exercises you can perform on a SUP, follow my YouTube and social channels where I will be posting other ideas over the coming months!

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