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Paddle Board Strength & Balance

Paddle boarding is a great recreational sport that is accessible to all types of abilities and fitness levels.  In this blog I’ve listed 10 strength exercises I like to use that help improve my overall paddle board strength and balance. 

Paddle boarding requires a blend of balance, strength and endurance. And just like any other sport an improved fitness level can help make your experience more enjoyable. 

Sitting bicep curl laughing

Full disclaimer. I’m not a certified personal trainer but I consulted with one for this blog and find that these exercises help me. Please Use the exercises at your own discretion. Thank you Tony F Fitness for the help!

Remember to listen to your body, modify where needed and start slow.  Progress takes time. It’s not about being perfect on day one. It’s showing up for yourself and staying consistent.

The first 5 exercises to build paddle board strength and balance don’t require weights and can be done anywhere using only your body weight.

1. Single Leg Hip Clock Squat

  • Works your hips, quads, glutes and builds your balance.
  • Squat on one leg and use your other leg to reach forward. Squat back up and down again with your leg out to the side. Follow this as your leg moves forward, side, back and across.
  • Focus on your balance and squeeze your glutes at the top of the squat.
  • 6-8 rounds per leg
Hip Clock Squat

2. Walkout to Pushup

  • Builds good shoulder strength and helps strengthen your core.
  • From a standing position bend from your hips until your hands reach the ground. Put a slight bend in your knees if you need to in order for your hands to reach the floor.
  • Walk your hands forward to a plank position ending with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Keep your abs tight and squeeze your glutes to keep a straight body line and perform a push-up with your elbows tucked into your sides. Put your knees down for a modified pushup if you need.
  • Walk your hands back towards your feet and move to a standing position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
Push up

3. Squat Side Kick

  • Great lower body exercise that will also help improve your balance.
  • Bend into a squat. Keep your knees behind your toes and your glutes low.
  • Come up from the squat and transition your weight to one foot. Focus on your balance and extend your other leg out to a controlled sidekick.
  • Repeat the squat kicking to the other side.
  • Complete 10 reps per side.
Side kick

4.  Bird Dogs

  • Awesome core exercise.
  • Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders.
  • Keep your chin tucked and a straight back.
  • Raise one arm reaching forward and extend the opposite leg straight back to make your body as long as possible.
  • Focus on engaging your core to avoid your hips rotating or moving.
  • Bring your leg and arm back to the center and switch to the other arm and leg.
  • Repeat for a total of 12 reps, 6 per side.
Bird dog

5.  Lying Down Back Extensions

  • This exercise is an awesome back strengthener.
  • Lie down on your stomach with your hands reaching forward over your head. 
  • Keep your chin tucked and shoulders down and back.
  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your arms, chest and legs off the ground.  
  • Hold for a few seconds before releasing back to the ground.
  • Complete 10 reps.
lying down back extension

The next 5 exercises to help build paddle board strength and balance require dumbbells or household items as weights.

1. Single Leg Deadlifts

  • These target the glutes and hamstrings and require a focus on balance.
  • Start with body weight and add weight only when you’re ready. The exercise is equally effective with or without weights.
  • Using dumbells grab a set to help keep your hips square to the floor and avoid twisting.
  • Start on one foot and put a slight bend in the standing knee. Hinge at the hip, press the tailbone back with a flat back.
  • Lower your arms parallel to your legs until you can actively feel your hamstring. Keep your neck neutral and shoulders down and back.
  • Add a brief pause at the bottom before firing up your glute of the standing leg and driving back up to standing.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 reps before switching to the other leg
single leg deadlift with two dumbells

2. Suitcase Squat

  • In this exercise, you’ll hold one dumbbell which will emphasize the use of the core to keep your posture upright. 
  • Holding the dumbbell push your glutes down and back keeping a straight back. 
  • Bending down, ensure the knees aren’t buckling inwards and are pointing forward in the same direction as your toes.
  • Complete 10 reps per side.
suitcase squat with one dumbbell

3. Single Arm Row from a Lunge

  • This movement targets the back, shoulders and legs while improving core stability.
  • Get into a stationary forward lunge.  Hold the dumbbell on the same side as the outstretched back leg.
  • Bend your elbow as you row the dumbbell up to your ribs. Keep the dumbbell as close to you as possible with your shoulds down and back and your neck in a neutral position. 
  • Squeezes your shoulder blades at the top and slowly lower the dumbbell back down.
  • Complete 12 reps on each side.
Single arm row from a lunch

4.  Single Leg Bicep Curls

  • Doing biceps curls while standing on one leg will help you focus and work on your balance.

  • Transfer your weight and lift one leg. If lifting a leg is challenging keep the weight on one leg and touch your toe on the ground with your other. 

  • With two dumbells bend your elbows bringing your hands towards your face. Keep your elbows and upper arm tucked in beside your body.

  • Complete 6 reps and then switch legs to complete 6 more bicep curls on the opposite leg.

Single leg bicep curl

5.  Russian Twists

  • This exercise strengthens your core and obliques which will help with your paddle stroke. 
  • Sit on the floor, slightly leaning back with a straight back until you feel your core. 
  • Twist your torso from side to side with control. You can do this with or without weight.
  • Complete 20 total reps.

Remember,  prioritize the quality of the reps to help prevent injury and build strength. 

If you want to build a 20-30 minute workout, pick 4-6 of these exercises and repeat for 3-5 rounds depending on how much time you have.

Keep in mind these exercises work for me and might not work for everyone. Pick and choose what works for you and consider hiring a local fitness trainer.

Check out the rest of the blog for more great paddle boarding content.


Share below in the comments what exercises you do and find effective to help your paddling experience.

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