Both USA Triathlon and American Cross Country Skiers (an organization focused on developing and promoting top XC skiers in the US) have recently endorsed SUP paddling as the ultimate cross-training activity. Stand up paddling, swimming, and Nordic skiing are some of the most full-body endurance activities possible. As a result, not only do these activities train more muscles than nearly any other sport, they are also excellent for increasing one’s VO2max, which is the amount of oxygen the body can use per minute. This also translates to a greater number of calories burned per paddle session when compared to activities like cycling that just work the legs.
Image courtesy of adventuresportsnetwork.com
In the USA Triathlon article, shorter boards were recommended for greater core and leg strength, while acknowledging that longer boards glide better and are more fun to paddle. A board less than about 10’6”, especially with a flat-bottom all around design, will be best for SUP surfing, which bring pure fun to the training table. The happy medium of a board in the 10’ – 12’ 6” range is perfect to get the benefits of increased core conditioning while having a bit better glide and speed if you’ll be paddling flat water(going on the shorter side if you want to throw in a bit of wave riding as well). For those who might be interested in SUP racing, going with a 14’ board is recommended for most adult and larger junior paddlers as the additional length makes for a faster board. Younger juniors and smaller females wanting to race will likely benefit from a 12’6” as the shorter length will be easier to handle on and off the water. The article also recommends getting a board that isn’t too wide, especially if you have narrow shoulders. This will allow for better paddling technique while forcing you to improve your balance at the same time. A narrower board will give a better leg workout as well, especially in rougher conditions (just don’t go so narrow that you spend more time in the water than on the board!).
Photo courtesy of xcottawa.ca
In the AXCS article, stand up paddling technique was recognized to be very similar to double pole technique in Nordic skiing as the upper body should almost fall forward onto the paddle, followed by a strong abdominal and lat pull. The article also praised the “whole body” element of SUP technique, with the core, the lats / back / shoulders, and the legs being the predominant muscle groups trained. One other great benefit pointed out is that crashing on roller skis results in road rash or worse, whereas falling off your board just gets you an unexpected cool off in the water! So for those who have easy access to lakes, rivers, or the ocean, but who don’t have easy access to quite country roads or bike paths to roller ski on, stand up paddling offers a great summer-time training option.
To get started cross training this summer use 'XC10' at checkout to get a 10% discount* on paddling gear on Sup and Foil.
*off MSRP only and expires June 30th.
Written by Aaron Lish.