Photo by 1440 Photography
To help you reach your goal, it's important to switch up your workouts to avoid injuries. Cross-training helps improve overall performance because you use different muscles. Stand-up paddleboarding provides the perfect solution cross-train in a fun atmosphere.
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is currently the world's fastest growing water sport. Legend has it that the sport was invented by ancient Polynesians in the Hawaiian Islands, but the recent popularity can be credited to big wave surfers, Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, who started stand-up paddleboarding when waves were too small to surf. Now stand-up paddleboards can be found on most beaches, and even on lakes and rivers in the middle of the country.
More: An Introduction to Stand-Up Paddling: SUP!
What makes the sport so great? First of all, it's easy to learn. If you can stand up, you can paddle. Most entry-level boards are wide and stable. With a little instruction, you can be on the water and on to your adventure in minutes. Secondly, stand-up paddleboarding provides a unique muscular challenge that you won't find with any other sport, making it a great cross-training tool.
More: 'Sup With SUP Yoga?
Challenge Your Balance and Core Strength
Stand-up paddling is like dynamic core training. Core training is any workout that targets the mid-section muscle groups. The body's core is the center for all movement—it is where any movement begins. When the body decides to move, it first fires the core muscles to stabilize the spine and pelvis before producing any other movement. Training on unbalanced surfaces, like SUP., is very effective to build your core muscles and work on coordination. Because balance is required when paddling, the core is constantly working to keep an upright position.
More: Tips for Effective Core Training
Use Your Muscle in Different Ways
Varying your workout and doing something different from your normal routine will help you avoid injury. Of course, SUP requires you to use your core for balance, and it also needs you to use muscles to move the board forward.
Proper paddling techniques will force the body to use your shoulder, upper back (latissimus dorsi and rhomboids), chest (pectorals), arm and oblique muscles. And of course your legs get some love too. Most paddlers stand with a slight bend in their knees to maintain balance.
More: Balance-Training Builds Fitness
Change Your Training Routine
Athletes never want to hear that four-letter word: rest. However, when your body is feeling tired, it's important to listen. If you keep going at your normal training pace, you're likely to injure yourself. Soreness or pains are signals your body sends to your brain to let you know that it's time to rest. Those signals are signs that there is inflammation or injury, and the only way to recover is through rest.
However, going for a fun paddle, will you recover in an active way. You will be able to keep your body moving, yet give it a break from the normal training routine. Paddleboarding will still be able to get your heart rate up and challenge you, yet it's still different enough from your normal routine to provide recovery. Remember, you don't always have to "kill it" to see benefits. In fact, your body will appreciate the break from the usual and soak up the opportunity to heal while moving.
A break from your routine can help prevent boredom, and allow you to be more present in your workouts. Also, SUP provides nice scenery, which will help you release stress.
More: Finding the Fun in Fitness
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