Stand up Paddler on her inflatable SUP in Spreewald
SUP Training

How to find your SUP Training Strategy

A guide for improving your SUP performance

If you are a passionate Stand-up Paddler who really enjoys this sport and spending time on the water, you will get to the point where you want to improve your paddling technique and have a more satisfying paddling routine. There will be a desire to increase your overall performance and decrease pain due to overactivity or bad habits.

In order to get better on the water, you have to figure out what you want to achieve, and what your body needs in particular to do that. Analyzing your weaknesses by using videos of yourself, paddling from different perspectives, is only one way to start this.

Additionally, I would also recommend working with someone. Personal Training or Group training can be useful to find a starting point and helps you, to figure out, where you have room for development. For example, I did training with Susanne Lier on several occasions and had a workshop with Sonni Hoenscheid. Both helped me to get a better technique and to avoid additional strain on my lower back and elbows, as those are my week spots.

Build your SUP routine and a weekly training Plan

Like for most things you want to achieve in life, it is good to define your goals. Then come up with a plan on how you want to accomplish this, and at last track your development and set up regular milestones to see if a strategy adjustment is necessary.

At the bottom of this post, you will find a training plan to download, which you can use to track your activities and to set weekly goals. I would also recommend, using this plan to track what went really well during your training sessions. Focusing on the positives helps to stay motivated and to enjoy your SUP session even more.

However, please include at least one rest day a week. Overtraining can cause injuries and exhaustion, which might lead to a longer break than you have anticipated.

Find the download button at the end of this post

What to include in your routine to improve your SUP performance?

Interval Training

Interval training is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular abilities, to build up strength and to challenge yourself. The interval can be chosen by your personal preferences. You can start with 20 seconds full speed and 60 seconds lower pace and work your way up. Do interval sets of 3 to 10 Minutes according to your performance level. You can use a Tabata app on your mobile for guidance. In the slower phases, focus on your breath. Try to let it become a steady flow again before you start with the next set.

Intervals can include tempo variation but have you thought about including stroke variations or even some fitness moves like Push-ups or squats? Find further suggestions in the core stability section below with some pictures that you also can do on your board. This is a great way to spice up your paddling routine.

Paddle Stroke Variation

  • Practice intervals of 2 long and 2 short paddle strokes (1 set)
  • switch sides every 3 to 8 sets

20 Strokes on one side

  • keep your paddle on one side for 20 strokes (1 set)
  • focus on your technique
  • stay in your direction
  • alternate sides after 1 set and repeat the set on the other side
  • focus while being on your weak side, that your technique is clean – Quality over Quantity, keep your core engaged the whole time

Buoy to Buoy

  • find 2 buoys or another kind of marker which can be used as your training course
  • 150 – 250 meter will be optimal
  • Vary your speed e.g. first round full speed, second round alternating paddle sites with each stroke, third round 2 short, 2 long strokes
  • practice different turns each time you hit a buoy

Upwind / Downwind

If weather conditions allow, incorporate upwind and downwind sessions in your training. Additionally, you can practice the following points

  • Find two points where you can practice in between to have both conditions in your training session
  • practice to step back with your preferred leg (regular or goofy) for both conditions
  • stabilize your position with your paddle as needed

Set clear goals what you want to archive with your training and what indicators you want to use to measure. Weekly or monthly goals are perfect to adjust your training according to your increased performance.

SUP Training on Land

Find your workout

Vary your training & challenge yourself on a regular base, to avoid training plateaus as well as loss of motivation.

One pillar to become a better Stand up Paddler is to include physical exercises into your routine that strengthens your upper & lower body. Find some inspiration below on how to approach your SUP training on land.

1. Increase your upper & lower body strength

  • TRX
  • Crossfit
  • Yoga
Core stability is key

  • Planks & Plank variations
  • Yogi Push-ups
  • Bridge Position & variations

2. Cardio training to increase your SUP performance


Just a hint one mile of swimming equals 4 miles of running, hence you can improve your heart capacity more effective. Swimming is also easy on the joints and one of the best ways to exercise without feeling like doing a hard workout.


  • Add interval Sprints when you are out for a run
  • include jumps or steps into your routine
  • include different grounds

3. Balance training

  • Indo Board training
  • Bosu Ball training
  • include asanas on one leg into your yoga practice e.g. tree pose, dancer, moon pose

Additional Tips

  • Find a buddy or a group to train with on a regular base.
  • Use a Trainingsplan to track your activities and keep yourself motivated.
  • Visualize what you want to archive. Really see and feel in your inner eye how you are paddling with a precise technique and see how you get faster with every paddle stroke.
  • Find a breathing technique that helps you to calm down. This will be useful when finding your breath after a challenging set, and also to level anxiety before a race. Find inspiration from different Yoga breathing techniques or start out just to focus on breathing fully in and out of your tummy.
  • Stretch after you performed a session. This will help your recovery and keeps you flexible.


Most important is to have fun while practicing! Enjoy yourself on the water and stay safe.


Leave a Reply