Are you looking for a fun and engaging way to improve your fitness and overall health? If so, try paddle boarding! This popular water sport has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason.

Paddle boarding offers a range of benefits for fitness and cardiovascular health and engages multiple muscle groups throughout the body. In this article, we’ll explore the specific muscles worked during paddle boarding and how they contribute to the movement and balance required for this exciting activity.

So, let’s dive in and learn more about paddle boarding!

How Paddle Boarding Affects Body Muscle Groups

Paddle boarding is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups. Here is a breakdown of the specific muscles worked during this water sport activity:

Core Muscles

Not only is paddle boarding an enjoyable sport, but it also provides you with loads of health benefits. When paddling, your core muscles are constantly engaged – this includes your abs and obliques. Having strong core muscles helps to maintain balance on the board as well as improve posture and minimizes the chances of getting injured during outdoor activities.

During the “Power” phase of paddling, it is essential to engage both obliques as you allow your body to twist slightly. This strategic use of abdominal muscles helps provide stability and increased core strength in order to achieve maximum results on the board.

Upper Body Muscles

Paddle boarding is an efficient method to strengthen the upper body muscles. The back muscles, including the rhomboid muscles, play an important role in maintaining balance and stability while standing on a paddle board. Specifically, the rhomboid muscles help keep the body upright and straight, allowing for better balance on the board.

upper body muscles

The shoulders also play a crucial role in paddle boarding, as they provide support for the upper body. The rotator cuff muscles, including the subscapularis, teres minor, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus, help keep the shoulder joints in place and allow for better steadiness in the shoulder. This is important for maneuvering the paddle and maintaining proper form during the stroke.

The arms are also heavily engaged during paddle boarding, as they are responsible for holding and maneuvering the paddle. Muscles such as the triceps and biceps are activated during each stroke, allowing for greater control and power on the water.

Lastly, the back muscles play a crucial role in paddle boarding, helping to twist and move the arms and maintain proper shoulder positioning. The trapezius muscles commonly referred to as traps, and the latissimus dorsi, or lat muscles, are both engaged during paddle boarding, allowing for better control and stability on the board.

Lower Body Muscles

The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and feet are all engaged during paddle boarding to provide stability and balance on the board. The quadriceps and hamstrings muscles work together to provide power and stability to the legs, while the glutes muscles work to extend the hips and provide support to the lower back. The calves and feet muscles work to maintain balance on the board.

Lower Body Muscles

Overall, different muscle groups work together during paddle boarding to maintain an upright posture on the board, as well as to provide forward momentum and power. Achieving balance and coordination is essential when paddle boarding and engaging multiple muscles are necessary to attain it.

Benefits of Paddle Boarding for Fitness

Paddle boarding is more than just a fun and engaging way to spend time on the water – it’s also a fantastic workout that offers a range of benefits for fitness and overall health.

In fact, according to research conducted by the University of Wisconsin, stand-up paddle boarding is in line with the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations for improving cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition.

Listed below are some of the ways in which paddle boarding can help improve your fitness:

Full-Body Workout

One of the significant benefits of paddle boarding is that it provides a full-body workout. Paddling requires the use of the upper body muscles, including the shoulders, biceps, triceps, deltoids, and back muscles. The leg muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and feet, are also engaged in maintaining balance and controlling the board. As a whole, paddle boarding is a highly effective activity that significantly enhances muscle strength, endurance, and overall body tone.

Low-Impact Exercise

Paddle boarding is a low-impact exercise, which means it does not put excessive strain on the joints compared to high-impact exercises such as running or jumping. This makes the activity an ideal exercise for people with joint issues or those who want to reduce the risk of injury while still getting an intense workout.

Increased Cardiovascular Endurance

When paddling, the heart rate increases and the lungs work harder to supply oxygen to the muscles. This helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system and improve overall fitness. Regular paddle boarding sessions can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Yoga Paddle Board

Enhanced Balance and Coordination

Paddle boarding requires a lot of balance and coordination, especially when navigating through rough waters or waves. Balancing on the board requires the use of core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae. Improved balance and coordination lead to better posture, reducing the risk of back and neck pain. Additionally, better coordination can help improve athletic performance in other sports.

When compared to other forms of exercise, such as running, cycling, or weightlifting, paddle boarding offers a unique and engaging way to improve fitness and overall health. While each of these forms of exercise has its own benefits, paddle boarding offers a combination of low-impact, full-body, and engaging workout that is hard to beat.

If you’re looking to target specific muscle groups during your paddle boarding workout, there are a number of exercises that can help. For example, planks, sit-ups, and crunches can help strengthen the core muscles, while push-ups and pull-ups can help target the upper body muscles. Lunges, squats, and leg presses can help improve lower body strength and stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

You’re interested to try paddle boarding, but there may be a lot of questions on your mind about this water activity. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about paddle boarding:

Can you get abs from paddle boarding?

Yes, paddle boarding can help work your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, which can help define and strengthen your abs. However, you would also need to maintain a healthy diet and engage in other exercises to achieve visible abs.

Does paddle boarding burn belly fat?

Paddle boarding can contribute to burning belly fat, as it is a full-body workout that engages many muscles, including the core. However, related to the answer above, a healthy diet and other forms of exercise should also be incorporated to burn belly fat effectively.

How many calories can 1 hour of paddle boarding burn?

The number of calories burned during paddle boarding depends on a variety of factors, such as the person’s weight, the intensity of the activity, and the conditions of the water. On average, a person can burn between 330-460 calories in an hour of paddle boarding.

Is paddle boarding a cardio or strength workout?

Paddle boarding can be both a cardio and a strength workout. By engaging multiple muscle groups and getting the heart rate up, paddle boarding can help improve cardiovascular health and endurance. At the same time, paddle boarding requires a great deal of strength and stability, which can help improve overall muscle strength.

Is paddle boarding tiring?

Paddle boarding can be a tiring workout, particularly if you’re new to the activity or if you’re paddling in challenging conditions. However, with practice and experience, most paddlers find that they can paddle for longer periods of time without getting as tired.

How do you get in shape for paddle boarding?

If you’re new to paddle boarding or looking to improve your fitness for this activity, there are a few things you can do. First, focus on building strength and endurance through exercises that target the core, upper body, and lower body muscles. Second, practice paddling in calm conditions to build up your skill and technique. Finally, make sure to stretch before and after your paddle boarding workouts to reduce the risk of injury and improve overall flexibility.


Paddle boarding is an exciting activity that has gained popularity over the years. It offers not only an enjoyable experience but also provides a range of fitness benefits

From the core muscles to the lower body muscles and even the upper body muscles, paddle boarding provides a full-body workout. It is also a low-impact exercise that enhances balance and coordination while increasing cardiovascular endurance. Paddle boarding is a perfect alternative to conventional gym workouts, which makes it easier to exercise outside.

So, get yourself a paddle board, gather your friends or family, and start your paddle boarding journey today!