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5 Muscles to Target for Paddleboarding

5 Muscles to Target for Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is a great sport that can be done on almost any open water, and the very brave are even venturing out onto rivers with their paddleboards! River paddleboarding requires an expert guide and extensive personal skills, but most lake and oceanfront paddleboarding is accessible. Be sure to learn how to swim first, and always wear a life jacket!

I love paddleboarding because it can be done during most weather; however, your skill level will impact your ability to stay on your board and dry! So, paddleboarding can be year-round support depending on where you live.

As far as a workout goes, paddleboarding is  flexible; if you can manage to stay upright, your workout can range from an easy activity to a super challenging burn. As you will be standing relatively still, your legs may not get a thorough workout. They will, however, be challenged to stand firm to maintain your balance, and there are ways to bring them more into play. 

  • Core: 

  • Staying up on the paddleboard does require great balance, and the source of balance comes from the core. When remaining stationary on the board, you will recruit your entire core to maintain a statuesque posture. Think of standing tall, with your  head, shoulders, and hips stacked one on top of the other. Your hands will be gripping your paddle with your shoulders down and relaxed. 

    When you are ready to begin movement via paddling, you will need to fire your core even more; the movement of your arms and shoulders will want to throw you off balance. By engaging your core, you can maintain your balance and give your core muscles a solid workout.

  • Ankles and feet: 

  • Another strong player in maintaining your balance is your ankles and feet. I find that my ankles and feet work super hard during a paddleboard session. Your feet will be placed on the board about hip-width apart, and the muscles that serve your ankles and feet will be called in to play as your motion through the water rocks the board side to side and forward and back.

    As you dig into the water with your paddles, your feet will need to be strong so that they stay placed firmly on the board. Remember to wiggle your toes and shift your feet around a tiny bit as you want to avoid being in a tight position for too long.

  • Shoulders: 

  • Your propulsion through the water will be driven by your arms moving the paddle. This is where you can alter the intensity of your workout; paddling slowly and gently will provide you with an easy activity while digging fast and hard will get your cardiovascular and muscular system working hard. 

    Playing with the  depth, length, and intensity of your paddling will alter the intensity of your workout and how hard your shoulder muscles will be working. Mix it up by paddling on one side only, and then the other or paddling side to side with each stroke.

  • Legs: 

  • The legs will always be working at some level, as they work to maintain your  balance and posture, especially when waves rock your board. To give your legs an extra challenge, do a mini squat with each paddle stroke.

    Or, to challenge your balance and legs even further, move into a stride or lunge position with your legs hip-width apart and one in front of the other. Now, with each stroke, perform a mini lunge. 

  • Upper Back:

  • Just as with the shoulders and legs, you can easily alter the intensity of your 

    workout by changing the cadence and power you exert in your paddling. When 

    your paddle is in the water, and you are ready to pull the paddle back through the 

    water, your  upper back will come into play. 

    Change your intensity by gently and slowly pulling the paddle back or by pulling it 

    through the water as though your life depends on it. The faster your paddleboard 

    moves through the water, the harder your muscles and cardiovascular system 

    are working!


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