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I may be a little bias, but in my professional opinion, Stand up paddling is the best form of exercise around. Resistance training through the water, functional fitness by standing, and cardio + core with every stroke…not to mention Vitamin D, and fresh air to boot; something you would never get in a stuffy gym. It’s the best of all fitness worlds wrapped into one amazing experience on the water that just about anyone can do.

Now hold onto that thought, while we ponder what many experts agree is the best single exercise you can do to build a strong upper body – Push-Ups!

Quite possibly the most perfect upper body exercise, push-ups have vast benefits from building strength, boosting metabolism and even improving your confidence. So what do you get when you cross the best form of fitness with the single best upper-body exercise? A double-whammy into achieving a strong upper body, fit for more and more of doing what you love – paddling!

Let’s push it real good with different variations of this incredible exercise. Here’s how it goes:

Pushup Variation #1. Diamond Push-ups

To Begin:
Start on the knees or the toes (feet hip-width apart on this one) in a high push-up position with hands close together – index fingers and thumbs touching, making a diamond shape with your fingers.

Pushup 1 Diamond Pushup 2

Lower into the push-up (now you understand way your feet or knees are hip-width apart, feel the unsteady-ness!)
Push back up.

Pushup 1 Diamond PushupComplete for 8-10 reps.

Pushup Variation #2. Staggered Push-ups

To Begin:
Start on the knees or the toes in a high push-up position with left hand a little lower than directly under the shoulder, and right hand a little higher on the board than right under the shoulder. Be sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart.

Pushup 2 Staggered Pushups 2
Lower into the push-up, feeling a little more tension in one arm moreso than the other (this is normal)
Push back up.

Pushup 2 Staggered Pushups
Complete for 5-10 reps on one side, then switch arms and repeat for 5-10 more reps.

Pushup Variation #3. Reverse Push-up Isometric

To Begin:
Sit on the board, legs extended, hands shoulder-width apart a little ways behind you on the board.
Press into the hands and feet, and lift your hips, creating the shape of a sliding board with your body.

Pushup #3 Reverse Pushup Isometric
Hold for 15-45 seconds depending on your strength. Wicked instability means wicked more core recruitment!
Then lower and rest.

Push-up Variation #4. Snake Dive-bombers

To Begin:
Start on all fours, crossing the ankles, hands placed directly beneath the shoulders.
Keeping the buns slightly lifted, lower into a push-up.

Pushup 4 Snake Dive Bombers 1
Like a snake in the grass, dive the chest through the hands and push-up, pressing the arms straight and the heart forward.

Pushup 4 Snake Dive Bombers 2

Pushup 4 Snake Dive Bombers 3

Then, go back from “whence” you came, lowering back down in the push-up and pushing the hips back to all fours.

Pushup 4 Snake Dive Bombers 4
That’s one.
Repeat for 5-10 repetitions.

One round of this is great for beginners, but if you are feeling saucey, complete 2-3 rounds. Then cool down that pumped upper body with a nice gentle paddle the stretch the muscles open again.

You’ll leave no muscle in the upper body untouched with these variations, and you’ll be amazed at the improvement and strength of your stroke after doing it just a few times.

Photo Credits: Mandy McMurdo, Unique Photographer

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Fitness Host for SUP TV, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, PaddleFit Coach Training Instructor, & Certified Nutrition Coach.