What Muscles Does Paddle Boarding Workout?

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I’ve often mentioned what a great workout paddle boarding is, but what muscles does paddle boarding actually workout? I’m going to break it all down, so you know what you’re getting out of a fun day or night, out on the water. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at how beneficial paddle boarding truly is for your physical and mental health.

So, let’s not waste time. Let’s dive in!


arms muscle

Considering your arms will be working hard to maneuver the paddle through the water, it stands to reason that your arms will benefit at the end of the day. As you propel your body and SUP through the water, you’ll use your rotator cuff. Additionally, you’ll be using both your bicep and tricep muscles to achieve board mobility.

You might be asking, ‘what is a rotator cuff?’ Simply put, it’s a collection of tendons that includes the infraspinatus, subscapularis, supraspinatus, and the teres minor muscles. This is the line of defense between the arm and shoulder connecting, ensuring you don’t dislocate your shoulder while lifting and using your arm.

Paddleboarding means you’re working out the rotator cuff, toning your arms, and strengthening them simultaneously.


hamstrings muscle

Everyone hopefully knows what hamstrings are. If you don’t, well, they’re the muscles located in the back of your thighs. The hamstring comprises four muscles that combined create the hamstring; semimembranosus, semitendinosus, long and short head biceps femoris.

Working out the hamstrings is a common occurrence during paddle boarding. Bending your knees requires this muscle and works it out in the process. Another area where the use of hamstrings is present is hip flexion which occurs when you place your leg behind the rest of your body.

When you’re getting on your board and go from a sitting to a standing position, you’re working on your hamstrings. When you’re out on the water, paddling around, moving your body into the correct positions, and holding those positions firmly, you’re working out your hamstrings. Keeping balance by remaining firm tightens your hamstrings and strengthens the muscles. Overall, you’re getting an excellent workout for these muscles, and you’ll notice the improvements over time as you continue paddle boarding, and your skill improves.


quadriceps muscle

Just like the back of your thighs, the front isn’t excluded. The quadriceps comprise four muscles: your Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Medialis, and Rectus Femoris. These are the muscles that keep you moving. Walking, running, or straightening of your legs.

To work out the quadriceps is all about your stance on the board. A good stance to have while paddle boarding is to have your knees bent slightly; that way, your quadriceps and hamstrings communicate and hold that position. This will continue while you’re paddle boarding, and these muscles will be working consistently, meaning they’re getting more robust as a result of their need to work harder.

Back Muscles

Three muscles in your back will benefit the most from paddle boarding. For starters, the Rhombus- both major and minor- and your trapezius.

The Rhombus Major and Minor is the muscle that connects your shoulder blades and your spine. The trapezius muscle is what allows you to pull your shoulders backward as well as shrug. Since paddle boarding requires you to have a specific stance and posture, you’ll find yourself improving your posture over time and strengthening your back muscles.


core muscle

If you’re chasing a dream of having a six pack, might I recommend one of the best workouts in the world; paddle boarding.

Paddleboarding requires a unique amount of muscle cooperation in order to achieve it effectively. You will find that the more you’re going out on the water, the more your body is toning as a result. This eventually leads to a tighter stomach, and over time, more definition begins to take place. While it likely won’t be the thing that gets you a sick pack, it will get you incredibly close depending on your technique and how rigorous you are while doing it.



One of the most beneficial muscle workouts that comes from paddle boarding is cardiovascular. Having to stand while paddle boarding is great for your health overall. You’re working out multiple areas of your body, and the benefits are undeniable.

Most people who live a more sedentary lifestyle can succumb to heart attacks or poor cardiovascular health early on. With paddle boarding, you’re constantly giving your heart the training it needs to function properly.

You’re Working Out More Than You Think You Are

You may not even realize to what extent you’re working out while paddle boarding. You might see paddle boarders from an outside perspective and view it as completely recreational, not unbeneficial, but not extremely beneficial either. The thing is, that’s not true. Paddleboarding requires a level of attention to detail in your movements and a level of strength required to do it well.

Even if you don’t have this strength, or the stamina, in the earliest days of your paddle boarding journey, you can develop them over time. With each day you spend on the board, these muscles will get stronger, and you will become more adapted and fitter thanks to what is viewed by most as nothing more than ‘fun in the sun.’

Paddleboarding works out a muscle from almost every part of the body. Enjoying this sport means getting a well-rounded workout that’s beneficial to your health and beneficial to your sanity, thanks to your surroundings.


The main thing to take away from this is how beneficial this sport can be for your health, weight loss, and fitness overall. Not just on a physical level but also on a mental one. The more you paddle board, the fitter you become, and you’ll notice that certain things get easier over time. You’ll also notice your body changing for the better.

While it shouldn’t be a vanity contest, looking good while doing something you love never hurt anybody. So what are you waiting for? Get your board, head to the water, and start exercising. You won’t even feel like you’re exercising considering how fun paddle boarding is!

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