A Beginner’s Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding

posted by Boundless Outdoors July 19, 2019 0 comments

Welcome to the world of SUP, or stand-up paddleboarding; you’re in for a great ride and a challenging workout! It’s been popular for almost 20 years now, and it’s a great form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. To participate, all you’ll need is calm water, some basic techniques, and a bit of paddleboarding gear. Read on to learn the benefits of stand-up paddleboarding, as well as a few tips for SUP success.

The Wellness Benefits of Paddleboarding

SUP is a great low-impact workout that’s much gentler on the body than other forms of exercise. Below are several of the health benefits that make it so great.

  • Provides a full-body workout: SUP works every muscle in the body. Your leg muscles are working to keep you in balance, and your core muscles provide additional stability. Your arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles move you through the water. You’ll be stronger from head to toe!
  • Great cardio: Although it may not seem like it at first, once you’re strong enough to stay up on the paddleboard, you’ll want to move more, which will raise your heart rate. SUP provides cardio and strength in one amazing outdoor workout.

Selecting the Right Board

If you’re an SUP rookie, you might have trouble finding the right board simply because there are so many available options. For most of us, fitness and fun are the primary goals, and a medium-length planing hull board (9-12’) is ideal for use on relatively calm waters. Inflatable boards are another good option; they fit into a backpack, so they’re easy to carry. However, your board choice will likely come down to preference, and talking to an SUP expert is a smart move.

Some of Our Favorite Stand Up Paddleboards for Beginners:

Surftech Generator

We love the Surftech Generator because of it’s versatile shape and quality design. This board has great stability for beginners but has the ability to glide and manuever easily in any type of water. Really, if you want to invest in a paddleboard you’ll probably never have to upgrade or replace, the Generator is a great choice.

SereneLife Inflatable Paddleboard Package

A true beginner’s package, this Inflateable paddleboard packs up nicely, is easy to inflate, and comes with a paddle included. While more advanced paddlers looking to manuever in more than flatwater will find this model a bit lacking, it’s a budget friendly option that will get you out on the water quickly.

Selecting a Paddle Length

Your paddle will be used for propulsion, and choosing one that’s too long or too short will inhibit your SUP ability. For racing, your paddle should be 10-12” taller than you; for flat water cruising, 8-10” is sufficient. If you’re buying a couple of paddles for use by multiple people, an adjustable paddle is a great choice. 

Some of Our Favorite Paddleboard Paddles for Beginners:

BPS 2-Piece Adjustable Paddleboard Paddle

Super Paddles Carbon Fiber Adjustable Paddleboard Paddle


  • You’ll need a lifejacket, as the Coast Guard requires everyone to wear one or have it on board.
  • Clothing: Depending on the climate and your plans to go swimming, your clothing choices may vary. Some wear swimsuits, while others wear rash guards or workout clothing.
  • Sun protection: As you’ll be out on the water, you’ll be in direct sunlight. Stay protected with water-resistant sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brim hat.

Some of Our Favorite Life Jackets (PFDs) for Stand Up Paddleboarding:

Onyx A/M 24


Falling Off

Most people who are new to SUP wonder whether they’ll fall off the board and into the water. Paddleboards are quite sturdy; you can sit down, lie down, stand up, kneel, or even do a few yoga poses! While SUP takes a bit of practice, most pick it up within a few minutes. It’s more about overcoming your fears than anything else, and if you do fall in, it’s easy to climb right back onto the board.

Get Out on the Water

Now that you’ve gotten a few pointers on stand-up paddleboarding, you’ll need a spot to do it. As popular as SUP has become, your nearest lake or river should have classes and rentals. However, if you’re having a hard time finding a place, your local watersports store’s experts should be able to help.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start paddboarding!

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