Photo: Joe Scavio

Photo: Joe Scavio

Pro Tips | Cross Training For SUP

with Casi Rynkowski

Casi Rynkowski is a go-getter. She's a outdoor fitness specialist, certified personal trainer, ACA Level 2 SUP instructor, expedition paddler, SUP surfer and a mother of three. "Cross-training is key to increasing performance on the water," she says. "The great outdoors can be your training ground with big benefits you can't find inside the gym—both physically and mentally. Taking a break from your main sport of choice can also help prevent burnout and keep your passion alive." Here, Rynkowski gives us her personal smorgasbord of SUP-supporting activities.
Climb a rock. Many people think rock climbing is all upper body strength but good climbers use their lower half to bear most of the load. The average 155-pound person can burn up to 700 calories in one hour of climbing. Muscle endurance, agility, flexibility and cardio all come into play while working your way up a wall. Climbing also allows you to use your shoulder and back muscles in different ways than SUP, which is very important for injury prevention, developing supporting muscle groups and overall shoulder health. Body awareness while rock climbing is super important and can translate over to your board too. Rock climbers often slip into hyper-focus mode on tough climbs, adding to mental toughness, which can come in handy on a long downwinder or tough race.

Hike a trail. Endurance and cardiovascular fitness is important when slogging it out during a long paddle or race and you'll get that in spades out on the trail. Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and core are all firing when hiking and shifting your weight on uneven terrain. The longer you're on your feet, the more prepared you'll be for your board. You may not think much about your lower body while paddling but it's your foundation. And don't forget about the descent: it carefully delivers the muscle soreness that creeps up on you—and stays for days—after lowering your body with a weighted pack down a mountain for several hours.

Climb some ice. Ice climbing looks badass but just about anyone can swing ice axes and kick crampons into an icy cliff wall. I've introduced many fitness enthusiasts to this sport and they're always surprised by the benefits. This is functional training at its best, engaging quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, lats, forearms and core,  just about every muscle you use for standup paddling. And your cardiovascular system will be put to the test moving up different pitches. Just like rock climbing, hyper-focus is required.

Run a trail. Trail running is a hidden gem: it's right outside your front door and provides a host of cross-training benefits for paddling. Unlike road running, hitting the trail requires leaping over rocks, logs, roots and other uneven surfaces. All of this builds serious core stability and concentration, two handy attributes when standing and paddling. Interval training is also the best way to increase your cardiovascular fitness and trail running disguises intervals within the environment around you. Your concentration on the uneven surfaces keeps you focused and before you know it you're on top of that rocky slope with lactic acid filling your legs and your lung capacity increasing.

More Pro Tips.