These exercises will help you increase your overall SUP performance. They are presented with a clear progression from easier to advanced. All levels of paddlers can take away a few new training tips and techniques here.
As a trainer and paddler, I want to introduce a new concept that will help keep your brain and stand up paddling skills extra sharp in all dimensions.
What I mean by this is that we live and paddle in one dimension. We walk forward, we swim forward, we surf forward and we all can say we paddle forward. Sure we turn, we cut back and I have seen some paddle backwards to goof off, but we usually train and paddle in one dimension.
Now I have experienced, not on purpose; the act of sliding sideways on a big downwind glide. It’s almost like drifting in a racecar or doing what we call in the rally world, a 4-point drift! (Best freak’n, exciting rush ever!) Have you ever felt your board skid sideways? What did you? How did you react? Did you fight it or did you think it was way cool and go with it?
Have you practiced time and time again to step up; hop up over that small or medium sized wave or beach break attempting to get out, only to find yourself quickly stepping off the nose or back of board? These exercises will help you get up and over that small or medium side chop or wave.
Do you know how to brace yourself with your paddle before you fall? Can you instinctively plant your paddle without looking and confidently know it will be exactly where you need it, without falling off your board? Are you having trouble with quick turns into a wave or around a buoy? If so, these exercises will help you improve those skills too.
I want to tune you in to something that I do here in the studio or at the beach with some of my SUP folks and they don’t even know it. I’m training their brain to paddle and be in all dimensions at every moment. It’s not voodoo or island magic, it’s called training in different “dimensions or planes” of motion. I do this with force, no force, with weights or without weights.
Illustration of All Planes of Motion in Relation to Stand up Paddling (add photo attached here)
For example we paddle forward on the right or left side of board in the sagittal plane, then we look and twist with our lower body to catch a wave or turn around a buoy in the transverse plane or lower superior of body. Sometimes when you’re doing a cut back, you’re paddling in all planes at once. As your board is sliding or floating across the lip of the wave you are now in the coronal or frontal plane.
This is trainer speak for and illustrated like this:
3 primary planes – transverse plane, frontal plane, and the sagittal plane.
Sagittal plane: divides body into right and left sides – We paddle left or right of board. Bracing with paddle lands us here.
Frontal plane: divides body into front/back – We respond, react and shift our weight as needed to recover, catch a bump or catch a wave here.
Transverse plane: divides body into top and bottom – We compress, uncoil, recoil, thrust, twist body in opposite direction for cut back, floater or to step turn into a wave.
How does it relate to SUP? It’s like storing unique imprints of body reactions that you can reach for at any moment in time just in case you’re trying to push off the lip, or free falling maybe a bit sideways down the face of a big wave, or air dropping down the “back” side of a small wave that you’ve decided last minute to not ride down, but paddle up the face and stick it! Make sense yet?
Or let’s say you’re practicing your step turns, bracing with your paddle to help stop a fall, or you’re venturing into a few bigger waves, rapids or glides; you need a powerful and sharp, left to right, up and down even though we are still paddling straight.
Somehow your brain has allowed you to perform at the most intense, extreme level humanly possible without your Spiderman (or woman) suit, in some instances and you execute perfectly. Your brain already has an idea on how to help you do it. Now we train to reinforce it.
There is a way to train for these moments and I want to show you some exercises that relate directly to SUP, stand up paddling, so when you’re faced with the unthinkable, or your calm mellow no wind day turns to victory at sea, or when you think you can drop in on something big or small, your brain and body will be fully present and not leave you on the shore crumbled up in a lump of shame!
Pre Training Notes:
Perform these exercises on the grass or sand, not cement or hard surface. Also you may not want to use your best paddle in case you land too hard. A broom or flexible stick works well too! You can choose to be barefoot or in shoes. You should be free of any ankle or knee injuries.
Performing on sand will increase the intensity. Helmet not required!
Equipment: (to complete all exercises as presented): paddle, or broom, 1-2 BOSUs + (1) Indo Board Gigante Flo Cushion, SUP stand up paddle board. In the video is the Naish Nalu 10’6” Note: You may not want to use your best paddle.
Suggested Reps/Sets: 1-2 sets of 12 rest of 30 seconds
This progression is presented easier to most difficult.
Progression, 1 to 2 legs, flat surface, to BOSU with or without paddle
Exercises Single Leg Lateral Side Hops: Warm up.
No Paddle: Ground (working in the Sagittal, Coronal (Frontal) and Transverse Plane
Begin with a short distance of about 2-4ft wide. Mark it off with something like a cone or coconut. Feet are together on left side of cone. Leading with Right (1) leg first and thrust sideways right to left, landing softly, left to right, but don’t look down, keep looking forward. Get into a nice rhythm. I will sometimes count to a hold of 2 seconds on each side. Heart rate will climb!
Single Leg Laterals /With Paddle Start by holding paddle in horizontal position. Begin with Right (1) leg first and thrust sideways right to left, left to right, just as above, look forward. As you go from left to right, quickly switch hands with paddle. So if you go right, brace right.
As you land, land with knees bent and with the paddle or broom, as you land on the left or right stop, tap down, look forward (count 2 seconds) and stabilize, then thwart to other side. Try landing softly on the balls of your feet. Keep in a timed rhythm if possible. This is work!
Two feet/ No Paddle: By keeping two feet together you’ll be able to work more explosively in the “transverse and frontal plane”. Start with two feet. Without looking, thwart your body to the left or right,
Two Feet/ With Paddle: Same as above with paddle. Paddle braces on same side to which you land. Your knees slightly bent, on balls of feet to stabilize (count 2 seconds) and brace paddle or broom, looking forward. Repeat now to other side. Keep the rhythm here too. Keep breathing.
On 2 BOSUs 1-2 legs:
Single Leg Laterals without Paddle
Single leg Lateral with Paddle
We now simply repeat all the above from one legs to two, from one BOSU to two BOSUs. I highly suggest you start with them closer together, and gradually move further apart. I also suggest that you put your paddle down on first set, just so you can get used to the motion of moving sideways. You will be performing in the “frontal and transverse plane”.
Be careful and good luck.
ADVANCED: Lateral Hops, 1-2 legs In Transverse Plane Progressions: 1-2 legs, ground to two (2) BOSUs NO paddle
Plain speak: Lateral hops with a twist!
This is a tricky one that takes confidence, practice and courage. Here we just add a twist at the end. It feels strange a little strange at first but you’ll get it. You’ll need to train yourself to look and trust in a leap of faith, literally. Again, practice on flat surface before you venture to BOSU. You’ll notice you have one side that’s a bit easier than the other. You’ll build your confidence in time.
2 Feet on Ground:
Stand at usual marker and this time as your thrust left or right, you simply add a twist at the finish. You still need to attempt to land softly on the balls of your feet, knees bent paddle down for bracing. Try to not look down at ground; as if you were marking that bump to reacting to some sideways, tricky chop or crumbling wave.
2 Feet on BOSU
By now you’ll know sort of what to expect the twist can throw you off, literally! You’ll have a stronger side and more challenged side.
Final Exercise Most Advanced: ALL DIMENSIONS: Indo Board Gigante Flo Cushion: Step Ups, Hop & Stabilize, Brace: All dimensions and planes at all times! This one does it all the entire time you are up. There is no sweet spot, no rest and your brain and body will be in over drive, which equals more storing of information to call upon as needed.
Okay as the final thrill, these exercises will help you not to fall, help you up an over and down the backside of a small or medium size (relative) wave or help you plant your paddle for a cut back.
CAUTION: TAKE OUT CENTER FIN, or Main fin – refer to video.
Inflate Indo Board Gigante Flo Cushion to about 80% for maximum carnage, I mean challenge. Center Gigante Flo Cushion under center of board, nubby side up.
Step up on board with caution and grace just as you would on the water. Look forward and make sure feet are in proper placement. Everybody does the shake and bake, don’t worry it will get easier! That means that your brain has no idea what to do with you, so do you must. Practice your steps, position for pivot turns while your bracing to stop a fall and than finally reach behind you for cutback.
You can be sure your SUP performance will definitely improve after you’ve done these exercises even a few times. Be sure to progress safely and wisely, hydrate before, during and after each training session.