Why SUP will make you Fighting Fit
Big Wave Surfing God, Laird Hamilton uses SUP in his vigorous cross training to face 10 story high waves that move at 30MPH. For us mere mortals, any piece of water will do, 30 minutes three times a week will change your shape and energy levels like nothing else, and its fun...great fun. Half the boards sold in the USA are to women, the top selling brand in the world's fastest growing watersport is based right here in Thailand.
How can paddle-board training en-rich your life?
"Ocean's Bicycle's" a phrase coined by former World Windsurf Champ and all round Water-man -Mickey Eskimo. Stand Up Paddle Boards allow you to "take a stroll" on just about any body of water you can get to. The new Starboard SUP's are so light that you can easily carry one of the smaller models with the fingers of one hand. You can get away from the smoke laden roads even the busy suburban parks - stand where no man has stood before - explore creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, and the coastlines that are within an hours drive of where you live or work. SUP can give you the upper body strength of a wheelchair athlete, yet it so easy that, once you have a basic stroke technique, covering kilometers is no more dificult than walking. Imagine riding a bicylce on flat land and using your upper body instead of your legs as the main driving force, what could that do for your physique? Of course - wind, waves, currents, how fast you paddle and which board and paddle you choose will affect the amount of energy you exert, and of course, the more of the world's frustrations you can return to our watery origions, the more your body will respond to the - Body Sculpting Workout that is the STAND UP Experience.
Stand UP for Cross Training
Stand Up Paddle Boarding is an ancient form of surfing. Yet it is most widely enjoyed on relatively flat water. Most Cities are founded on Waterways, so most people have access to a stretch of water where they can get out on their own or join a group. This can be very easy and gentle gliding or flat out sprinting depending on whether you are looking for a calm relaxing experience or a hard core workout.
Some of the world's most famous water men have re discovered stand up paddle boarding/surfing. Cross training on unbalanced surfaces trains new neural coordination between muscle groups, apart from enhancing concentration this “new” strength is immensely beneficial to other dynamic activities. Big Wave Tow in Surfers were the first to realize the potential of this training. Now pro windsurfers, Kiters, and families alike are able to keep in shape, have a ton of fun, as well as achieving new levels of balance core stability and stamina. A lot of classic aerobic style exercise is focussed on the lower body, SUP is whole body with a focus on core and upper-body, so you can SUP, while re-covering from your running or cycling.
What is the benefit of Core Training, and why is SUP good for this?
Core Training is any workout that targets the muscle groups in the mid-section of our bodies, essentially joining our lower bodies to our upper bodies. Training on unbalanced surfaces is very effective for building the core muscle groups, (stomach and lower back) and for training muscles to fire in co-coordinated ways so that the benefits are immediately transferable to other dynamic sports and activities. As oppose to traditional resistance training where muscles are trained to work in isolated groups in a stable environment. In sport we require our bodies to provide explosive strength while we are on the move, this is the sort of benefit you get from cross-training in a more fluid environment and this where SUP training excels.
Because you have to balance on the baord, you have to continuosly adjust your body weight from one foot to the other, as you pull yourself forward over the paddle, you must balance this force by varying the weight on one foot or the other - this is where applying load on an unbalanced surface comes in. The Paddle stroke has a very pronounced Torso Rotation and forward Curling Component, this occurs while balacing the force generated against your foot preasure on the board. So you get fantastic Core Strenthening combined with "intellegent muscle". The co ordinated firing of neural pathways to get your muscles to contract at exactly the right amount at the right time, with the opposing muscles resiting just the correct amount is the talent of body memory. I have never seen a sport that starts out quite dificult, yet sees new users, develop quite amazing and very rewarding talent in as little as 10 minutes. Recently at a birthday party for 8 year olds, we pushed an SUP with 6 children standing on it onto a small wave - they were stand up surfing for the first time in their young lives in a locatoin where there basically is no surf. The gift of Stand Up Paddle is simplicity and connection - Pure Fun.
You can imagine what SUP training will do for your Golf Swing! The muscles used in your lower back as well as all the inter-vertebral muscles, are used, but not under load. This is perfect as they are strengthened in a very gentle way with many repetitions but no real load. Consult your doctor before trying the sport if you have any back problems. Any activity that involves Bending or twisting your body will benefit from Core Training.
Be Sensible with your SUP training.
Once you work out a basic pattern of motion, pushing the Paddle through the water can be done with barely any effort at all, especially on flat water with no wind or currents. However, tremendous power can also be produced by forcing the blade of the paddle through the water more quickly. These more powerful strokes are great for getting on to waves, for sprinting, turning quickly and for building larger stronger Muscle fibers. However like any exercise, you need to warm up first and build up your supporting muscles and strengthen the tendons and ligaments that operate across your joints before more heavy and agressive training begins.
Somtimes I only get on the water for 20minutes, but I still stretch the major muscle groups and start paddling slowly and gently for the first 10 minutes. Warming down is also important, some gentle paddling after chasing waves and battling white water is a good idea. Remember to listen to your body, many injuries can be avoided just by paying attentiont to stiffness or discomfort in part of your body and stretching gently through this area prior to more vigorous activity.
Other Major Muscle Groups used and SUP Strength Training
Ok, so you are familiar with the benifits of Core Strength training gaining in Paddle Boarding. The other major muscle groups used are:
Latisimus Dorsi - the mid back muscle that gives that great "V" shape. This muscle works every time we bring our arm back to our body.
Deltiods - The muscles that wrap around your upper shoulder joint - used when you raise your arm to the front, side or rear of your body. Great Delts are like putting shoulder pads into your clothing.
Triceps Brachi - The muscle group that forms the back side of your upper arm. Far larger than the more well know Biceps. Used for straightening your arm. Triceps are where the power of a boxers punch come from.
You can also engage the Chest Muscles - Pectoralis - The Biceps Brachi on the front of your upper arm and all of your leg muscles simply by conciously increasing the engagement of these muscles into your power stroke. If you ride with one foot back then the other for part of your session, you will greatly increase the amount of work the back leg is doing. If you drive forward and across your body with your upper hand you will increase Chest Muscle and Anterior Deltiod Recruitement. By increasing power to the lower hand as you pull yourself over the paddle you will increase Biceps invvolvement.
Fooling around. Once you are warmed up and have gained some basic balance you can increase the benifit and fun of your workout by adding some challanging exersices.
Paddling in 360's while standing on the rear of the board.
Paddling in 360's while standing on the nose of the board facing forwards or backwards.
Standing with one foot as far back as you can in surfer stance and paddling until you back leg is tired, then swapping.
Paddling into strong current or white water or doing sprints for about 40 seconds then resting and doing it again.
Doing any of these exersizes in the shore break, will really test your balance.
Over-developing muscles groups in relation to their opposing counterparts can pull your body out of symmetry and create injuries, so remember to train muscle groups that normal SUP training does not target - I always do some push-up variations, leg exercises would also be beneficial.
Our Staff are sporting 6 packs since we had the SUP's on the beach. Soon after giving birth, Amara won a local Windurfing event with no other training apart from SUP and very occasional Yoga and Windsurf sessions. Competitive WIndsurfing is extremely demanding, yet Stand Up Paddle Boarding for 40minutes 3 times a week. will help prevent strains and injuries and build strength for pushing hard. Keeping excess weight off will help unload problem areas like lower backs and knees. With SUP sunset cruises, you can exercise in the coolest part of the day while taking in the beauty and peace around you. There are so many rivers, beaches and water-ways to discover.
Peace - give yourself a break
Life is getting more complicated, the amount of information we are forced to filter and process in a day is increasing. New terms like Adult Attention Deficit are arising, the inability to focus on something important. Well it is not surprising. Our society is evolving much faster than our physiology can adapt, not to mention our poor old eco-systems. We do not have the answer for this, but taking some time out in nature a few times a month can help to bring your base stress level down and give you time to re-asses different areas of your life. Tuning into the gentle movement of the water, watching the light dance on the surface moving in time with the rhythm of the water is a Zen like activity that can bring a calm awareness to other aspects of your life.
All of these subjects are much bigger than I have time to write about, or you have time to read about? - Take care of yourself, your loved ones and your environment, have fun when you can, and perhaps, we'll see you on the water.