Stand up paddling

Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.

What's up with SUP? Stand up paddling is one of the fastest growing aquatic sports, another stick for your quiver. Not just a novelty, SUP's a superfun core workout. 

Paddling in Columbia River Gorge, photo Lance Koudele

First, it’s easy: almost anyone can paddle these stable tankers. Second, it's a great workout if you paddle with gusto: digging in your thighs, twisting your core, punching your upper arm forward using your lower arm as a fulcrum, and making short, brisk strokes akin to Hawaiian-style canoeing.  

Check out the versatile all-purpose Slingshot Crossbreed:  you can rip waves, cruise slack water, and run rivers. Want to go high-tech, you can get a super-fast flatwater race gun, a whitewater river board beefed up to handle sticks and stones, or a trifin waverider for the surf. You’ll need an aluminum or carbon-fiber paddle and, in some spots like my home break in the Columbia River Gorge, marine rules require you to carry a life jacket and whistle via a deck bungy cord.

The key for a workout: employ proper biomechanics and balance during paddling, stretch before and after a session, use good posture, and pick a proper length of paddle. No standing around, go stand up paddling.

–Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

promo logo