Fitness | 10-Minute SUP Shoulder Workout
There are thousands of "get fit quick" articles out there that are just gimmicky attempts to sell you on the latest training fads. Despite its title, this is not one of them. Spending just 10 minutes improving your shoulder stability may sound too good to be true, but trust us, it really works.
In his landmark book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, Dr. Kelly Starrett identifies four key positional archetypes for the shoulder, all of which apply directly to paddling: overhead, hanging, front rack and press. Kelly's influential peer Dr. Gray Cook, who also developed the Functional Movement Screen used by the NFL Combine, special forces, PaddleFit and more, came up with a three-position carry complex that tests the durability of your shoulders through a full range of movement in these three exercises.
First, choose a kettlebell that you can comfortably hold up in one hand in an inverted position. Don't make the mistake of going too heavy and risk messing up your shoulders. A kettlebell works better than a dumbbell, as it makes it easier to keep the weight directly over the midline–imagine a line running from your hand, through your elbow and shoulder, just behind your ear, and down through your hip.
In addition to enhancing shoulder integrity, the three-position carry will also improve control of the scapula, which is essential for correct shoulder positioning when you paddle. It also develops stability in the tissues of the abdomen and lower back, and improves balance from the ground up.
You can use the three-position carry as part of your paddling warmup and incorporate it into dry land training. Don't just use it as a developmental exercise, but also as a diagnostic check that can highlight areas that are dysfunctional. For example, if you feel extraordinarily tight in your lats, forearms or triceps, you'll know to mobilize these muscle groups afterwards. You can combine the three position carry with another of our One Move Workout series exercises, the kettlebell snatch, to develop explosive power on top of the firm foundation this workout provides.
As Gray says, "Don't layer strength on top of dysfunction" – in other words, make sure you get the correct form down, have full range of motion and are addressing mobility issues before moving up in weight or adding in other exercises. Your shoulders will thank you later.
For more paddle-related workout routines, check out our SUP Fitness Guide.