Breaking down a sports-specific workout: Stand-Up Paddleboarding

OK! I’ve been checking out the workout from for paddleboarding & I’m making some tweaks to make it appropriate for Mom. I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of how a trainer thinks about her client going through a workout & what changes would be made for the client’s specific needs.
[There’s a disclaimer on this post, because I want readers to take notice. This workout is designed for my mom, someone I know very well – her strengths, weaknesses, health state, and injuries. I’ve also been working with her for a year, so I know what she can/can’t do already. I’m presenting it here for your info only – if you try it, it’s at your own risk! It says so right on the REI workout, too: “Before beginning any training plan, check in with your doctor or certified training professional.” Well, that’s me (not the doctor, of course). If you need/want an activity-specific training regimen but are over 50 & maybe also have some prior health issues or injuries, get in touch & let’s talk about what you’d optimally want in order to get there. BEFORE you try this or any workout.]

Here’s a list of the exercises & the frequency of training:
To start off, they assume you’ll devote 6-8 weeks prior to getting out on the water. I think this is good. 8-12 weeks would be better, but 6-8 weeks is a good start, if you slowly introduce yourself to SUP and don’t go bananas and do it for hours the first week or two.

Frequency: 3 days (not back to back) of the exercises below, mixed with 2 days (not back to back) of some type of cardio, and 2 rest days mixed in.
Always do a 5-10 minute warmup.

Mom has been getting core-focused workouts for several months, so even though she is 80+, she is already ahead of the curve. For equipment: we have a foam block to stand on, a BOSU ball, some light dumbbells, and resistance bands to work with. Note: I would not put a total beginner on the foam/BOSU for the workout below, it would be too much of a challenge to balance.
(5-10 minutes walking – including walking with a band around the legs to get the glutes woken up.)
1. Skater with uppercut. If you watch the video on the REI page, it’s got a hop. Mom ain’t hopping – we will eliminate the hop element and make the movement more of a lean to one side, then the other. The small dumbbell is fine, so we’ll keep that. Also…we’re training for an unstable, floating activity, so we’re going to train AWAY from using the feet – we’re going to prioritize using the belly, back, & hips, the core.

2. Single-leg deadlift. The modification I’d make here is to do a regular, 2-legged deadlift, on a foam mat. Yes, that’s a slightly different exercise, but I’d think two-legged is more practical for going on a SUP, and she’s already been doing cross-body training anyway. (Again, this is specific to my mom’s needs.)

3. Chop. This again will be done standing on the dome side of the BOSU ball, or on the foam mat, to teach how to control feeling stable/not wobbly while paddling with a oar while standing up. I’d also train this with a narrower stance, to simulate the width of the board, more like feet shoulder-width apart.

4. Reverse Chop. Same as above, really. Narrower stance, standing on an unstable surface (foam or BOSU).

5. Single-Leg Squat & Row. This is ok, because it’s a fairly shallow squat. Even so, I’d encourage mom to not go deep – even standing on one leg and hinging at the hip slightly could work almost as well. She has a knee issue, so deeper squats are going to cause discomfort.

I’d also like to see this on the BOSU or foam pad, because learning to stabilize through your core instead of your feet is the common theme here. If you can use your core to stop you from wobbling, the SUP won’t wobble nearly as much.

6. Side Plank with Leg Raise. NOPE. For the specific person doing this workout (mom), this is too challenging. Honestly, if you can do this exercise, you’re already fairly advanced.

7. Step Up Lateral Leg Raises. Looks good! This works the legs in 2 different planes: stepping up with one leg, and swinging away with the other. I’d have her *not* look at her feet, though – this changes body alignment and it’s harder to do with your head hanging down.

8. Hip Clock. Ok, this is a nice one. If you guessed that I’m going to ask her to do it on a foam pad, you’ve got the trainer’s mindset! Same note here on the head position – it’s tempting to look down, but it helps when you’re actually out on the water to look where you’re going, not at your feet. We want to train for what we’re going to do, not for exercising in a gym.

That’s the whole workout – I’d start with a lower amount of sets of repetitions, and see how it goes, and never do it 2 days in a row. I might also run it in reverse some days, to see if that’s easier or harder for her.

So, that’s a look at how my brain picks apart and customizes a workout for someone. There are a lot of factors that go into figuring out what works & doesn’t. And training someone means that I’m watching how the exercise is performed & making it suit your body better, more safely, and giving you a better sense of how your body’s muscles work together. It’s a very empowering thing to have someone explain & help align you, especially if you get frustrated with trying to get stronger & have better balance. Hope you enjoyed it! If not, send me a message telling me what you DO want to see! 😀