February 04, 2021


increasing paddle endurance for SUP using dumbells

With so many SUP races now on the calendar, it's time you got your strength and paddle endurance to peak performance, both to perform better on the water and to prevent injury. Winter is the time of year where we likely swap our on-water routine to an off-water routine. It’s important to keep exercising the muscles you would use on the water to keep them conditioned for the following season.

These exercises target the shoulders and core and we recommend you incorporate them into your gym routine at least once a week. Your shoulders are the most exercised part of your body when you paddleboard and they are also the most complex joint in the human body, which is why you need to keep them in top shape. We recommend you mix them up with some leg workouts to maximize your potential and start winning those races!

increasing paddle endurance for SUP warm up cardio

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels


20 mins cardio/ 10 mins sprint intervals to get the heart rate up.


A Theraband is essential for any paddler. I use this before I jump on the water to warm the shoulders up so that I’m not starting cold. You can get a range of different Theraband band resistances’, start with a strength that is comfortable and build up to one that is more resistant.


3 x SETS

Attach a Theraband around a pole or post and hold the two ends in your right hand.

Position yourself so that the band comes across your body. Keep your elbow by your side throughout the whole move.

Pull the ends of the band outwards away from the body. This creates an external rotation on the shoulder.

Pause when the band reaches the outermost position and then bring it back to the starting point.

Repeat this for 12 reps then swap arms and repeat for 1 set.


3 x SETS

Internal rotations are similar to external however the move is reversed. So start with the band on the outside of the shoulder with the elbow close to the waist but the forearm extended away from the body.

Internally rotate the shoulder pulling the band inwards across the body.

Again repeat this for 12 reps and swap arms and repeat for 1 set.


3 x SETS

Attach the Theraband at a high point, from a pull-up bar or similar.

This time face the attachment point and grab the Theraband in your right hand with your arm extended out and high.

Keeping the arm extended pull the band down until it is at your hip.

Pause with the band at that position before returning to the starting point.

Remember to keep your core engaged for the whole movement and repeat this for 12 reps and swap arms and repeat for 1 set.

increasing paddle endurance for SUP kettlebell swings

Photo by Pixabay


Use a low weight, these are designed as a warm-up, don’t get tempted to jump into a big weight straight away. Use this to get the arms moving and warmed. These also engage your core and legs, getting your whole body prepped for what’s to come!

3 x SETS

Start with legs shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell in both hands letting it fall between the legs. ( remember to bend at the knees when picking the kettlebell up).

Keep your feet flat on the floor, try and drive the heels into the floor, and engage your core. Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs, keeping your knees soft.

From there, explode through your hips, sending the kettlebell upwards and keeping the arms straight. Aim for the kettlebell to reach chest high before letting it fall back between your legs.

Throughout the whole move keep your back straight and tight. If you start to lose form it means the kettlebell your using is too heavy.

increasing paddle endurance for SUP using rings

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels


With a circular motion to engage full shoulders.

10-12 x REPS
3 x SETS

Rings are a great way to exercise all those little stabilizing muscles as the rings are allowed to hang freely and are not fixed like a bar. These are some of the best paddle exercises to do as they engage the same muscles as paddling would.

Attach a set of rings using tie-downs from a pull-up bar or similar, about shoulder-width apart. Adjust them so they hang at the same level and roughly chest height.

Either start with your feet on a box or heels on the floor (your feet being higher makes the exercise more challenging). Face the ceiling and grab the rings with extended arms.

Pull your chest close to the rings, twisting them at the end to use more of the shoulder muscle. Keep your body in a straight plank and engage the core through the movement.

Release your arms back to the starting point and repeat for 10-12 reps and 3 sets.


This is a solid core exercise but also works the stabilizing muscles in the shoulders.

10-12 x REPS
3 x SETS

Using the same rings from the same attachment point, adjust the rings so they hang around 4 inches off the ground.

I like to double over a yoga mat to provide some cushioning for my knees and place this about half a body length away from the rings.

Kneel on the mat with feet crossed and lifted off the floor behind you. Grab the rings, one in each hand.
It's important in this exercise to keep your core strong and engaged to avoid putting excess pressure on your back.

Slowly lean forwards and push the rings in front of you with your arms extended until you are as far stretched as possible.

Keep the arms extended and return to the starting point.

Repeat for 10-12 reps and 3 sets.

increasing paddle endurance for SUP using battleropes

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels


Start at 20 secs on 40 off and slowly increase to 40 on 20 off.

Battle ropes are a great way to increase shoulder endurance and bicep strength. The best part is you can easily see your progress each session by the amount of time you can continue the exercise!

Start standing shoulder-width apart, start in a squatted position. Make sure you are holding the core tight for the time of the exercise.

Hold a rope in each hand and keep the elbows tucked into your side.

Alternate moving your arms up and down sending a wave down each side of the rope.

Aim for 20 seconds on and 40 off and repeat for 10 minutes. The more you do this exercise you’ll find you can keep the intensity on for and minimize the rest. I.e 40 secs on 20-sec rest.

increasing paddle endurance for SUP using rings for pull ups

Photo by GMB Fitness on Unsplash


Can be assisted using a band or machine.

10-12 x REPS
3 x SETS

Pull-ups are a staple among gym-goers and for good reason, they are a solid shoulder workout and you can get strong quickly. If you're not used to doing pull-ups you can start with assisted pull-ups on a bar. If you are used to pull-ups swap out the bar for rings to make the exercise more challenging.

If you want to start with assisted pull-ups you can attach a band to the bar and place your knees or feet in the band loop.

Start with gripping the bar or rings with your palms facing away from you and shoulder-width apart.

From here you want to pull your chest towards the bar so your chin just reaches the top side of the bar. If you are using rings pull until your chin is to the top of your hands.

Try and avoid jumping off the ground on the first rep.
Lower back to the starting position keeping your feet off the ground and repeat for 10 reps and 3 sets.


Seated rows are great at engaging those paddle pulling muscles. If you don’t have a seated row machine at your gym you can swap this exercise for a one-armed dumbbell row on a bench.

3 x SETS

Sit on the bench with feet extended in front of you. Reach forwards with one arm, twisting the torso to extend the arm further. Hold the handle of the row machine.

Keeping the core engaged and feet planted, pull with an explosive force back towards your body bending the elbow.

Slowly return to the starting position and complete the reps. Swap arms and start again on the opposite side.

Increase the weight the stronger you get at these.


Bent over reverse flys are a great way to strengthen the shoulders and improve posture, something a lot of paddlers could benefit from!

10-12 x REPS
3 x SETS

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand. Ben forwards at the hips keeping the back straight and engage the core. Let your arms fall towards the fall.

Raise both arms out to the side squeezing the shoulder blades together, pause, and then return to the starting position.


Dumbell raises are great for targeting the traps, which are engaged when lifting your paddle on each stroke. Making these part of your workout routine will no doubt help your performance on the water.

10-12 x REPS
3 x SETS

Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand and hanging by your side.

Don’t be tempted to start with a heavy weight, you will only risk injury. Start low and build the weight up over time, making sure that each rep is completed with the proper form.

Lift each arm, keeping them straight but soft at the elbow, until your hands are in line with your shoulders. Pause at this position before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps and 3 sets.

Remember: Throughout all exercises, you should maintain proper form and technique. If your form starts to fail the weights you are using are too heavy.

It’s worth incorporating these exercises alongside a core and stability session and also a solid leg workout to strengthen all areas of your body and improve your performance. You should also be adding cardio into your training plan but we will cover that in another post!

Written by Jennifer Chrimes


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