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Stand Up Paddle Boarding – Fitness That Is Actually Fun

It would be a very safe bet that very few people have ever got off an elliptical trainer and raved about how much fun they just had. The exact opposite is true of stand up paddleboarding, very few people step off their paddle board and DON’T rave about how much fun they just had. A little secret is that stand up paddle boarding can burn a ton of calories, and get you uber fit.   Plus, you are outside, on the water, and getting fresh air which usually isn’t the case inside a sweaty gym climbing the stair master to nowhere !

Don’t believe us? Take a look at these few things you can do on SUP to increase your fitness, burn calories, and have a ton of fun while you are at it.

SUP Yoga

Yoga can be calming and relaxing. However, regardless of the Yoga style you practice, it increases strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance when done in a yoga studio or at home. Now, shift that practice to your SUP board and an entire new dynamic is added. Your stand up paddle board becomes your yoga mat, and the studio is now replaced with water. The ever moving water will test your balance in all new ways, and increase the intensity of your practice. Estimates have SUP yoga done in a “flow” style burn between 400 and 600 calories an hour. Not to mention the new challenges to your balance, and the fact that you are outside and on the water!

Pro Tip – Make sure you have a stand up paddle board yoga friendly SUP. Something that has a full deck pad like BalanceFusion, or Bliss are best.

A woman doing stand up paddle board yoga

SUP Surfing

Watch someone out paddleboard surfing sometime and you will notice one thing, and that is they never stop moving. SUP surfing is a super high intensity workout, but also insanely fun.   It is very similar to a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) style workout. On the way out through the surf you have to paddle like crazy to get around the breaking waves to get to your position in the line up. A little recovery time while you wait for a set to come in and then paddle like crazy to catch the wave. While you are riding the wave you are balancing, carving, and pegging your heart rate. Kick out of the wave at the end of your wave and repeat. Endlessly. For hours if you want. At 600-800 calories an hour, you can SUP surf your way to a fitter you in no time.

Pro Tip – before you try SUP surfing, make sure you have your flat water paddle boarding skills dialed in. Start to learn in smaller wave conditions before moving up to larger. Work your way up to longer sessions. It is tough work, so start with shorter sessions and then slowly get longer. Most versatile all around stand up paddle boards will work in smaller surf, but more dedicated paddle boards like the All-Terrain series are best for dedicated surf performance.

A man stand up paddle board surfing

Interval Training

Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Intervals are just periods of different intensities of effort with a bit of recovery in between. The great thing about interval training on a SUP is that you can do it on any all around stand up paddle board. Race or Touring paddle boards can let you be faster, but are not required. The intervals are done by simply changing your paddle stroke rate, or cadence.

A very simple and popular interval style workout is refereed to as “up-downs”. Start out with a moderate cruising pace you can sustain without much effort for 10 minutes. A good rule of thumb that the effort is moderate is if you can easily talk in completely sentences without having to interrupt your speech to take a breath. Then, up the pace for 10 minutes to a higher stroke rate. Try to get your effort up to a point where you can still talk, but you are breathing hard, and likely your sentences are chopped up a little bit as your take breaths. Then, go back to your moderate pace for 10 minutes. Repeat these intervals for as many times as you want, or until you feel you have had a good work out. Don’t forget to eat and drink when you are done, as if you have done it right, you will blast through about 1000 calories an hour!

Pro Tips – there are a few in this section:

  • Remember you still have to get back to where you came from, and you will be tired at the end of your work out. Make sure you paddle boarding route is one that will bring you back to where you started!
  • Any all around paddle board will do nicely!
  • Mix it up as you want. Do different lengths of intervals, stop and do push ups, sit ups, burpees, or other exercises on your board.

A woman stand up paddle boarding


SUP surfing or SUP Yoga not your thing? Don’t worry, just by getting out and paddleboarding on your all around stand up paddle board you are going to get fit. Your core is engaged, you are using your giant muscle groups like legs and back, and your working your cardio vascular system. Not to mention, you are clearing your mind and lowering your stress levels. The fact that you are burning more calories than walking at about 350 calories an hour is just a bonus! And, you aren’t on a treadmill or elliptical!

Pro Tips – Be safe on the water. Wear your leash, and let someone know where you are and when you will be back if paddle boarding alone. Drink lots of water like you would while doing other workouts.

a man on a stand up paddle board

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is Fitness Disguised as Fun

Not only is stand up paddle boarding super fun, it will get you fit. Stand up paddle boarding, depending on the intensity and activity, can burn up to 1000 calories an hour. Not to mention, give you a great cardio workout, strengthen your core, and clear your mind. Let that gym member ship expire!

Did we miss something, or do you have questions? Comment below or email us at

Glenn Morton is Customer Experience Manager at Cruiser SUP, as well as chief content creator. Glenn has been stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing over 20 years, and has been with Cruiser SUP for over 15 years. When not on the water, Glenn can be found on his road bike, a ski hill, or raising his 12 year old daughter Nora. Glenn is an expert in all things paddle boarding including paddle board technique, SUP safety, and all paddle board products. Customers rely on Glenn's expertise to help guide them in their purchase of the best stand up paddle boards for their needs. Glenn helps equip thousands of paddle boarders each year, and is ready and waiting to help you.


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