Rate Your Paddle Board and WIN $250 Read more

4 Simple SUP Exercises to Build Up Core Strength Fast

sup core strength boat pose

You have probably seen more people trying out stand up paddle boarding, especially if you live near a water body. This sport is thrilling, and it is such a fantastic workout. However, it demands a lot of physical energy—you have to be stable and upright on an unstable surface while controlling a paddle that is taller than you. Therefore, you need several SUP training exercises to get your body ready for this activity.

When you are paddling, most of the power is drawn from your core. Sure, your legs help you to balance, and draw energy from the lower part of your body but the core is the single most important muscle when standup paddling. It is responsible for stabilizing your torso for you to balance, rotate and paddle efficiently. You rely on it to maintain the rhythm of your paddle and to make more powerful strokes to increase speed and maintain your direction. Still think the legs and arms are the most vital?

That said, you have to put to ensure that your core is strong and firm. Now that you know the importance of your core in SUPing, how do you build up your core strength?

RELATED: Read our reviews of your top rated paddle board options in 2024.

1. The Plank And Its Variations

sup core strength plank exercise Pin
Photo by michael coghlan licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

Planks work in an isometric manner and are very crucial—and probably the best— in strengthening and stabilizing your core muscles. Besides, they are safer compared to crunches or sit-ups which strain the lumbar curve. Not only do planks work your core, but they also work your shoulders, hips, and quads. You can see how this one exercise has a total strengthening and stabilizing effect.

If you do planks often, you will be able to do stand up paddle boarding more efficiently. The side plank is important too. Note that your side muscles are required when paddle boarding. Strive to do full rotations of the plank exercises such as the swiss ball planks and raised leg planks.

Consistently do planks for a couple of weeks and your endurance and ability will improve. A stronger core ensures less muscle fatigue while paddling and you will not even have to rely much on your arms. You can get amazing plank exercises videos on YouTube.

2. Regular Ab Exercises

sup core strength abs training Pin
Photo by bwanderd licenced under CC BY 2.0

Various crunches and regular ab exercises will help build your core strength for paddle boarding. Bench crunches and knee hangs are especially recommended and should be done at least three days per week—if you want to show off your SUPing prowess (and abs) the next time you go paddleboarding.

To start you off with a simple exercise: Hold your paddle overhead and widen your feet slightly past your shoulder level, lift one knee and hip; maintain the position for as long as you can. This is meant to make your side oblique muscles stronger.

Bench crunches, if done consistently, develop core strength and tone in addition to improving balance. Lie supine on a bench, making sure your hips are at the ends. Put your feet and knees together, lift your shoulders and legs simultaneously then push your chest towards your knees. Repeat several times. If it is your first time doing a serious workout, you may be struggling to catch your breath after a few of them; but don’t worry, you keep going.

ALSO READ: How many calories do you burn paddle boarding?

3. Pilates Exercises

sup core strength pilates exercise Pin
Photo by nayana thara k

Pilates exercises go a long way when it comes to tightening and strengthening your core. They are various activities that include a ball like a shoulder bridge. But now they have been made even better by being combined with stand up paddleboarding. So now there is paddleboarding Pilates.

With the surface being unstable, Pilates exercises will work your core like never before. There is one Pilate exercise that is now called “the hundred.” You lie on the paddle board with your back, bend your knees and raise them above your hips. Lengthen your legs up to a 45-degree angle. Inhale as you raise your arms and legs up, and exhale as you bring them down. This particular work out is a great way to improve your blood circulation as you build your core strength at the same time.

Other SUP Pilates include;

  • SUP ankle taps: lie on your stand up paddle board with your legs and arms extended, curl forward and bend your knees while sitting up and reaching your hands to touch your ankles. Go back down. Let each one last for 30 seconds and do as many as you can.
  • SUP Teasers: lie down on your board, hold your paddle and extend your legs and arms. Pull your belly button back while lifting the paddle towards your raised legs. To make it more intense, bend your knees throughout the exercise. Again, each movement should last 30 seconds and strive for as many as you can.

4. The Boat Pose

sup core strength boat pose Pin
Photo by lillian white licenced under CC BY 2.0

The boat pose is a classic. The best thing about it is that it has so many variations, some more difficult than others. Whether you want an intense or simple work out, you can get it with the boat pose. But however you do it, one thing is for sure—your core will feel it.

Sit on your stand up paddle board, making sure your shins are parallel to the ground and your knees are bent. You can have your shins straight but it will be more difficult.( Alternatively, you can include your paddle by holding it perpendicular to your legs and arms).

To make the pose more intense, add some movement. With your paddle still stretched out and perpendicular to your legs, pulse it up and down. You will definitely feel the burn. You will be able to support your posture and maintain balance on the paddle board.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Discover the 7 health benefits of stand up paddle boarding.


Stand up paddle boarding is quickly becoming everyone’s favorite sport. Not only is it fun but it offers an awesome work out that you do not have to force yourself to go to. But what good will it do you if you cannot paddle board for as long as you like because your core won’t let you?

Commit to doing the plank and its variations either from home or on your board. Take on regular ab exercises to tighten your core— also, you know you want those abs to pop. Invite your friends (and their boards) and together try the new SUP Pilates and the boat pose. Alternatively, you can just sit and miss out on all the fun work out benefits. Your call.