How to Improve Leg Strength, Endurance and Balance for Stand Up Paddling

June 12, 2013

By Suzie Cooney, CPT  for Naish

As a Naish SUP team rider,  I offer help to the team and to Naish fans and everyone else addicted and stoked on stand up paddling so you can shred and paddle harder and longer.

This exercise is designed with the stand up paddle boarder in mind to help improve balance, reduce fatigue, build leg endurance and independent leg strength.  I’ve written many articles on the topic and here is just one more exercise everyone can do and enjoy the benefits.

If you find your legs shaking and quivering at the beginning or end of an intense downwinder, or you are charging big waves, or if you are just entering the sport of SUP, you may have discovered at some point during your sessions your legs can or have tired quickly. Maybe you had an off day and missed some bumps or glides and stepped off the back of your board?

You already know that balance is a huge part of being a good paddler but so is leg strength.  It’s much easier to train the larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calve muscles, but what about the tine supportive muscles around the ankle joint, knees and hips?  They are often under trained and overlooked

My training style is functional training first, then we load and fire full force. There’s a million and one ways I could show you how to do this, but for now we’ll keep it simple.  If you are a beginner paddler to the most extreme you’ll find this particular exercise very challenging.  You will be able to modify accordingly based on your level of fitness.

Exercise: Single Leg Touchdown

GEAR:  5-10lb dumbbell

  • Indo Board Balance Gigante Flo Cushion
  • Indo Board Balance Rocker Board and/or Pro Kicktail Board


  • Floor to Gigante Flo Cushion
  • No weights to weight
  • Low inflation of Gigante Flo Cushion 30%-90%
  • Rocker board to Pro Kicktail Board
  • Top of thigh, to knee, to foot
  • 2-5 second hold

Suggested Reps/Sets:  8-12 each leg, 1-2 sets
Movement Tempo/Speed: Controlled with 2-5s hold at bottom

Below: Progression on Rocker Board – Beginner to Intermediate:

Begin with Gigante Flo Cushion nubby side up, place and position board in center.  Here, the Gigante Flo cushion is inflated at about 30%. Place right foot on the center of the Indo Board, knee slightly bent, left foot near by to spot. With really good posture, dumbbell in left hand, slowly bend at right hip, and reach with dumbbell to top of foot without looking down at it.  Hold for 2-5 seconds to increase challenge and intensity.

Slowly rise back to start position keep right knee slightly bent, and return to full upright position to finish full repetition. If you can’t get to the top of the foot, start with top of thigh, then to knee then to foot.

More Advanced: Perform on Pro Indo Board Kicktail.

Training Tip: Keep foot relaxed, perform barefoot, don’t grab with toes, keep dumbbell lose in your hand.

Good luck and see you on the water!

For more tips like these to increase your stand up paddling performance go to  &