Paddle Healthy: Keeping Up in the Off Season

Welcome to Paddle Healthy, the newest addition to Each week we’ll share tips and workouts from standup paddle pros and fitness experts to keep you fit and race-ready.

Lake Tahoe is one of the best spots for late spring and summer paddling. But, with snow up to eight months of the year, even the most hardcore SUP athletes need an off-water training program that will keep them aerobically fit, allow them to work on mechanics and help them develop an even more powerful stroke.

Jay Wild, a Lake Tahoe-based paddler who has won numerous SUP events this year, recently finishing sixth in the technical SUP race and 4th in the marathon at the ISA World Championships in Peru, uses Crossfit workouts when it’s too cold to get on the water. To build endurance in the long off season he used to row, cycle and cross country ski. Now, he has found a better alternative: the Paddle Machine adapter for the Concept 2 rowing machine.

The brainchild of longtime Concept2 employee Mark McAndrew, a competitive kayaker who has won events across the country including the prestigious Head of the Charles regatta, this paddle simulator attaches to the C2 erg in about 20 minutes. With its tracking mechanism that allows you to easily switch sides and a tippy platform that mimics the instability of being on a board, the SUP adapter quickly became an integral part of Wild’s training.

“The Concept2 SUP adapter helps me keep muscle memory, do speed and endurance work and work on stability,” Wild said. “It helps me stay competitive even through the long Lake Tahoe winter.”

Here are a couple of workouts from Wild, who uses the Paddle Adapter with a Garmin heart monitor to get accurate feedback on his sessions:

1) Endurance session
30 minutes medium effort (heart rate 140-150 BPM)
15 minutes low effort recovery (HR 115-120)
20 minutes race pace (HR 155-165)
10-15 minutes cooldown

2) Speed session
10-15 minutes warmup (HR 115-120)
3 sets x 10 reps x 30 seconds maximum effort, 30 seconds rest.

Jeff Hughes, owner of Crossfit Orange County in San Clemente, Calif., is also incorporating the Concept2 SUP adapter into short, intense, total-body workouts for the SUP athletes who train at his gym. Here are two sample routines:

1) Tabata SUP
Complete 8 rounds on each side (right and left) of 20 seconds of paddling followed by 10 seconds of rest. Make sure the erg monitor is set on calories for scoring. You score is the lowest number of calories paddled.

2) Circuit
Complete 4 circuits (with no rest time) of:
Paddle 250m on the SUP adapter
21 Burpees
Run 400m

3) Burnout!
Paddle 1000m on the SUP adapter
50 45# Barbell Thrusters (front squat leading to a push press in one motion)
30 Pull ups/lat pull-downs

This isn’t the only “erg” available to standup paddlers. Earlier this winter, featured the SUP-specific ergometer from KayakPro. And more are being developed every year. Know your options. Train hard.

Phil White


  • Wade

    Where can I get the simulator to hook up to my ERG?

  • David Weihnacht

    This is a wonderful piece of training equipment, But as a Denver Colorado paddler without access to a concept 2 I would rather see the initial article in this series focus on training regimens, that can be duplicated in gym or home environments with more standard equipment.

  • jonathan

    My crossfit gym had concept 2 rowers. The paddle/pole looks simple enuf, but is there a”guide” that the cable is going through?

  • Coach Malcolm
  • Miller

    We will see you out there. I will be on north shore this summer

  • Enrique Cubillo

    Consider Stand Up Spike®. New. High, very high, land based performance stand up. Every Olympic Nordic XC Ski racer on earth rolls in summer and slides in winter. SUP has never had legitimate high performing stand up land based cross training. Until now. See us on you tube / standupspike

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