How to Improve Leg Strength, Endurance and Balance for Stand Up Paddling By Suzie Cooney, CPT for Naish SUP Team
As a Naish SUP team rider, I offer help to the team and to Naish fans and everyone else addicted and stoked on stand up paddling so you can shred and paddle harder and longer.
This should get you fired up:
This exercise is designed with the stand up paddle boarder in mind to help improve balance, reduce fatigue, build leg endurance and independent leg strength. I’ve written many articles on the topic and here is just one more exercise everyone can do and enjoy the benefits.
If you find your legs shaking and quivering at the beginning or end of an intense downwinder, or you are charging big waves, or if you are just entering the sport of SUP, you may have discovered at some point during your sessions your legs can or have tired quickly. Maybe you had an off day and missed some bumps or glides and stepped off the back of your board?
You already know that balance is a huge part of being a good paddler but so is leg strength. It’s much easier to train the larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calve muscles, but what about the tine supportive muscles around the ankle joint, knees and hips? They are often under trained and overlooked.
My training style is functional training first, then we load and fire full force. There’s a million and one ways I could show you how to do this, but for now we’ll keep it simple. If you are a beginner paddler to the most extreme you’ll find this particular exercise very challenging. You will be able to modify accordingly based on your level of fitness.
Suggested Reps/Sets: 8-12 each leg, 1-2 sets
Movement Tempo/Speed: Controlled with 2-5s hold at bottom
Below: Progression on Rocker Board – Beginner to Intermediate:
Begin with Gigante Flo Cushion nubby side up, place and position board in center. Here, the Gigante Flo cushion is inflated at about 30%. Place right foot on the center of the Indo Board, knee slightly bent, left foot near by to spot. With really good posture, dumbbell in left hand, slowly bend at right hip, and reach with dumbbell to top of foot without looking down at it. Hold for 2-5 seconds to increase challenge and intensity.
Slowly rise back to start position keep right knee slightly bent, and return to full upright position to finish full repetition. If you can’t get to the top of the foot, start with top of thigh, then to knee then to foot.
More Advanced: Perform on Pro Indo Board Kicktail:
Training Tip: Keep foot relaxed, perform barefoot or in shoe that is small wedge ( no running shoes or trainers that have extreme cushion), don’t grab with toes, keep dumbbell lose in your hand.
Good luck and see you on the water!
For more tips like these to increase your stand up paddling performance go to
It’s my sincere pleasure to introduce you to one of my new clients and new inspirations to Maui’s stand up paddle scene, Sasha Kinloch. Like many who enter the sport they discover that it’s amazing way to achieve a superior level of fitness, it’s a great cross training tool, or like Sasha they learn that this could be their newest healthy obsession!
I believe all of my clients are unique and often teach me more than I offer them. Sasha is an interesting blend of high energy, intense focus and has a way of visualizing exactly what her goals are. For a trainer, that makes my job easy!
Her base of fitness is already on the higher side which can only help her achieve her goals faster and with greater success. She wants to compete in all of Maui’s races, which are mostly downwinders. Her first race was the recent OluKai Ho’olaule’a. I didn’t get to meet her until the event, and learned that that day was her first time down Maliko! What a day that was for everyone. And here we are.
When I meet a person like Sasha and I see that fire in her eyes, I feel the need to pull the reigns in ever so gently to be sure she will enjoy every step of the way and not rush the “process” of putting her time in on the water. Nothing can compare to pure paddling time, getting worked and tumbled now and then, as the time spent on the water is the real training ground. People often ask me how many miles they need to run or cycle to equal number of miles on the water for distance or catching bumps or glides, and I simply say, ”just time on the water.” There really is no way to measure that.
I asked Sasha a few questions as to why she’s taken with the sport of SUP and I hope it will inspire you to set new goals or maybe enter your first local race.
What is the best health benefit you fill stand up paddling gives you? Sasha writes, “SUP provides a whole body workout combined with the intimate connection to the ocean that feeds my soul. I appreciate the way SUP has developed endurance in my arms, while at the same time engaging my core and legs. As a collegiate athlete I settled into running as an adult because it was an efficient way to stay in shape in the midst of a busy life. Now SUP has become my focus because of the total body workout it provides along with the dynamic ocean experience.”
What is it about the sport of SUP that draws you to it? Is the rush of the downwind glide? The freedom of exploring? The challenge of the sport itself? Sasha shares: ”I love the way that paddling changes daily with the temperament of the ocean, wind, and weather. The connection to sea life that SUP provides is unlike anything I’ve experienced. On any given morning I can be delighted with joining a pod of dolphins for a swim, slipping smoothly along with the mantas feeding below, or admiring a humpback mother and calf lounging in the open ocean.
What draws me to the sport of SUP is the unique camaraderie and community I observed firsthand during the Naish World Championships in Maui last year. As I watched the start at Maliko Gulch, I stood side by side with family members of competitors from all over the world. At the finish line I watched the first-place finishers complete the race and witnessed the crowd cheer, hours later, as the last few racers crossed the line. While the athletes were fiercely competitive, they laughed together, and celebrated the success of their peers. It was obvious these world-class competitors had developed deep friendships and mutual respect for one another. I wanted to earn a place in their ranks and at least be able to complete the race with them.”
If you had a message to inspire others to try a race or competition, what could you say you like about that aspect? Sasha: “What I love about the competitions is that as a novice, I paddle side-by-side (at the start anyway) with the best paddlers in the world. It is unique to this sport is that if I can be trained for a Maui downwinder, I can join the world-class elite in their competition. At the starting line I can paddle side-by-side with the best in the world…then watch them paddle away as I settle in for a couple hours of ocean adventure.”
In closing she also adds, “ I recently moved from the mainland and have been drawn to the ocean my whole life. Every morning when I get to the beach, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy the ocean. SUP has provided the perfect outlet for me to enjoy a comprehensive workout, and feed my craving for the connection to the ocean.”
I will continue to help Sasha where she needs me but for the most part, she’s putting in lots of water time. Her base of fitness really helps her get a kick start to the cardio aspect of the racing. We’re working on footwork transitions and I’m encouraging her to get as much time as possible to paddle surf small waves so she can transfer that to catching more bumps and glides. I’m training Sasha with the Indo Board Gigante Flo Cushion, combined with the Kicktail Pro and/or Rocker Board. You can order yours here. Any questions on what’s the best gear for you, feel free to email me through this website. I have also suggested she keep a paddling log that records time on the water, conditions that day, time, average HR and distance.
So, if you see this bright, cheery person out in the harbor going hard give an “Aloha” and welcome her to the club. We are all here to help each other . The ocean is our best teacher and after each session we graduate to the next level.
If you’re thinking of stepping up your SUP performance and you’re on Maui or planning to visit to increase your SUP performance, I’m available to help. I can offer you studio strengthening and/or water coaching. Please contact me well in advance.
FREE SKYPE Session with Suzie Cooney of Suzie Trains Maui
March 16th, 2013
Here’s your chance to train with the best! Improve your stand up paddling now! Increase your core strength, leg strength, reduce foot and leg fatigue, catch every wave, bump and glide, step up your game now! With the purchase of ANY piece of Indo Board Balance Training Equipment, through this website, you will also get a FREE 15 minute SKYPE training session with
Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui
Hurry, deadline for offer ends June 16th, 2013
Suzie Cooneyis an Indo Board Team Rider, a professional fitness expert, sponsored SUP Team Rider for Naish and can help you take your training to the next level. You’ve seen the videos and nows your chance to get your best game on and learn all of her jewels specific to your training needs.
For stand up paddling, learn all the cool tricks and how to be more powerful and ready on your feet! Have your questions answered, watch do and learn! Don’t miss another wave and learn how you can reduce foot and leg fatigue, improve your balance, strength and confidence.
Her suggested gear is the Indo Board 24″ Gigante Flo Cushion combined with either the Rocker Boardfor beginner to intermediate use and/or the Kicktail Pro, her favorite for the more advanced training. She believes this premium combo offers the best in all dimensional training. Pictured left to right: The Indo Board Gigante Flo Cushion, The Pro Kicktail and the Rocker Board.
Music makes the world go round and it makes me paddle faster! Let’s face it, training at high speed anything takes a little motivating and maybe some groovy tunes will help you paddle faster too and keep your stand up paddle training sessions more focused and gratifying. Gear review below.
photo credit Darrell Wong All Rights Reserved
Whether you’re training for long distance courses, or adding time or additional miles to your current training regime and you’re a recreational paddler, those long hard miles with some tunes to make you smile through the pain and increase your pace could be just the trick for you. I want to share with you here how to enhance your SUP training so it’s more structured and enjoyable with music.
Like any kind of training I do, I treat my stand up paddle training sessions like a session in my studio or on the beach. I have a plan usually with a goal in mind; I’m well hydrated and fueled ( solid breakfast ) and have my rock’n play list that puts a smile on my face. I have a variety of artists that I’ve selected that actually help me control my interval spreads.
Tip: Don’t play the music too loud for you’ll want to make sure barges or cruise ships or other paddlers have you in sight and you know they are there.
For example, plan: 5 miles flat water intervals Kahului Harbor. There may be side chop or head winds. First, I warm up to (2) two mellow grooves, then I know after my 6-7 minute paddle which is about how long these two songs will be in total; the next song is going to have a faster tempo so I’ll increase my paddling tempo a one notch up.
In this warm up mode to medium tempo paddling speed, my stroke distance is of average length with a decent reach and my breath is steady as I begin to prepare my mental state for the next song.
Then full on heavy guitar, full throttle song like Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine, reaching and digging with everything I’ve got! Yeah! Now here my stroke distance changes, my brain state shifts and I’m finding my deepest power in my obliques to share the load and power.
I’ll break it down. So that full throttle song is 4:34 minutes, too long to maintain a true state of and normal anaerobic threshold, so I give it 1 minute, then don’t cool down fully but bring down my pace, lengthen my stroke for the rest of the song. I’m still focused, head down and keeping my form in hopefully consistent from left and right side of board. I know this is temporary. I drink a sip of water from my hydration pack and get ready.
I feel so lucky to be a part of the Naish Team and get the opportunity to explore and ride such a huge selection of top quality boards. People often ask, “Suzie what size board do you ride most?” I’m always stumped because living on Maui one needs at least 4 different sizes and types for all the amazing conditions we have.
I know you’re thinking, brag brag brag. Well yes, I will because I have made my passion my career! And if you haven’t had the chance to hop on any of the Naish boards, like there are almost 39 different styles, then you haven’t lived.
The board I’m featuring here is one of the funnest wave boards I’ve ridden in a while. I also ride the Naish Hokua 9’0 but this Naish Mana 8’10″ GT is a whole other feel. I was very stoked to paddle out to one of Naish’s favorite spots on the N shore and step into that wall of liquid and have the board do what it’s supposed to do…Deliver!
Not only was it stable and able to handle steep, quick take offs but with the rail design as smooth and well proportioned as all the boards are, I was able to maintain my speed and maneuverability.
I’ve got a video coming out soon with this baby, so stay tuned but I felt compelled to share with you now!
I also have in my personal Naish quiver:
14″ Carbon Glide
10/6 Mana Nalu Wood
11/4 Mana Nalu Wood
10/10 Alana Touring
9/5 Alana Wood
Check out http://www.naishsurfing.com/boards/
Share and care out there, and the one with the biggest smile always wins!
Suzie Cooney, Team Naish Rider
Owner of Suzie Trains Maui, LLC
Learn Advanced First Aid for SUP Surfing – Prepare Yourself For Open Ocean Endurance / Safety – Learn Wave Etiquette & Board Handling – Gear Review -Downwind Paddling Tips – SUP Fitness Training Tips Watch on all mobile devices: iPad, Smart Phones, LapTops Desk Tops
Last week, we introduced you to Brian Coppedge of Haiku Maui, who was taking on the challenge of learning to SUP. Read all about his first experiences here. Brian has been hard at work (and play) this week and has more insight to share!
“Week of one of my SUP training is now in the book that means it must be time to bare my soul to all of my new friends. I was excited to get in the water on two back to back days this week and really saw a marked difference in my confidence and basic board handling skills. I can already see that my biggest challenge to meeting my goal by the May 12 event is going to be carving out enough time in my week to make sure I have ample board time.
I think the best way to approach covering this past week is to break it down into two parts; Part 1 “Water Training” and Part 2 “Land Training”
Part 1: Water Training
My partner Max and I headed out to a beach in Kihei near the 5 Palms Resort. The weather was perfect, sunny, fairly glassy conditions with just a little bit of wind to mix things up slightly. The first day’s goal was simply to get use to our new (used) 16ft board. The big challenge for me was that the board was much narrower than the board I had used when I went on my first lesson with Suzie. At just over 27 inches wide the board did not leave me much room for error.
Aloha everyone! This is a special introduction post and one that I hope you’ll follow, comment on and support. I’d like you to welcome Brian Coppedge of Haiku, Maui to the wonderful stand up paddle community and encourage him to follow his adventure and goal into the year of 2013 and beyond. I hope that from this entry forward you will be inspired and help him realize his life and fitness goals. I thank you all in advance, Suzie Cooney
Welcome Brian Coppedge
Brian’s first day and already flexing the heck out of that paddle! Look out!
The concept seems simple enough – move to an Island you’ve got to get yourself a water sport. After a bit of research and tons of conversation, or should I say “talking story,” I decided that I wanted to take up Stand Up Paddle boarding. I of course have never been on any type of a board, not a skate board, not a surf board, not a paddle board, and I was assured serving on the “board” of a non-profit organizations would not translate to the water.
It was this point that a bit of serendipity entered my life, and I was introduced to Suzie Cooney. Suzie is always upbeat and optimistic, so when I approached her about training to do a downwind paddleboard event she was onboard. When I told her I wanted to do the Olukai’s Ho’olaule’a Maliko down wind event – she wisely suggested, “ why don’t you start with the 3 mile fun paddle”. Cooler heads prevailed, leaving me to wait until our first training session to tell her, “no way I want to do the full 8 mile race”. Without missing a beat she backed my decision and started putting together a training plan, both on land and in the water that would set me on my way to meet my goal.
If you will let me I would love to bring you all along with me on my journey of getting in shape, and learning the necessary board skills to pull off my goal of completing in the Maliko down winder in early May. My idea would be to post training updates at least twice a month, here on Suzie’s site, to be brutally honest about the process and hopefully have lots of new friends to share the in process with me online and in person.
I promise pictures, maybe even some videos and my best running commentary through the whole build up to the event. Now in the spirit of transparency, I must confess that only recently have I been able to get serious about the training component and I have only been in the water on a SUP twice- much more time was spent in the water than on the board!
Here are some basic stats so we can all judge my progress over the next several months. I am 49 years old, 5 foot 10 inches tall and current weight about 210 pounds. My goal is to get that down to around 180 by the time of the race. I am currently working out with Suzie on land once a week and then on my own for the rest of the week. I have been out on the board for some great basic SUP tips with Suzie once and out on my own only one more time. This week will be the first week that I start to record how much time I am on the water, and I promise to share all that data with you as I go forward.
Thanks for reading and I hope you will all check back in and follow me as I blog my experience under the careful tutelage of the wonderful Suzie Cooney.
Brian is an inspiration to me and to others. Brian is one of those guys where I need to look him in the eye and monitor the real athlete in there, because there is no off switch! His workout will consist of timed interval paddling sprints, loaded balance training, upper body endurance strength training, serious core work, and self myofascial rolling. Nutrition will be key as will rest and recovery.
So now he’s shared here with you and the world so drop a line, give him a cyber high five and be sure you’re looking over your shoulder at the next downwind race here on Maui. He’s going to do great and I can’t wait!
WOW, DON’T MISS OUT ON THE GENEROUS OFFER! FREE SHIPPINGTHROUGH DEC 17TH
“The most fun you’ll have off the water, I promise. You won’t even know you’re working out!”
For the BEGINNER to ADVANCED STAND UP PADDLER, This on-land training gear will totally increase your core and paddle power, leg strength and endurance, seriously improve your balance and reaction time.
Everyone knows that you’re coming to the Suzie Trains Maui studio or even at the beach, each session includes some serious time on the Indo Board line of training gear. For the beginner paddler, I may suggest the 24″ Gigante Flo Cushionthat compliments theRocker Board very well. For the intermediate to advanced paddlers the 24″ Gigante Flo Cushioncombined with the Kicktail Board is also a very fine choice.
In the photo above, I’ve placed my 9’0″ Naish Mana atop of the Gigante disc. More air or less air in the disc changes the exercise. ( don’t forget to removes fins )
In this photo, I’m “loading” my hips, legs and ankles with a 15lb kettle bell resting on my shoulder while I perform leg squats with 3-5s hold. WOW, burn. This helps increase total body and SUP board endurance. ( I’m on the “Kicktail” with just a little air in the Gigante to really make it work. )
I have so many videos on this website and articles that will help you advance your SUP skills and performance. So check them out!
The Indo Board Company stands behind their products and so do I.
Hop aboard and order yours today! If you need help deciding on what you may need for your health and training needs or for someone else on your list, please feel free to contact me through this website. I’m happy to help.
Stand up paddling is sure way to fire up the metabolism and shed some holiday poundage and still enjoy a fabulous meal. You can “shred to shed”. Get your core and body revving high to stoke the fire on the inside before your big meal. Do some interval sprints, go for distance or just get out there. You’ll be glad you did.
Also in this post, you can listen to my radio show ( below )to help you keep your SUP waistline svelte so you can paddle this holiday and fit into your bikini, board shorts or wetsuit, depending on where you live. My tips will also help you steer clear of the usual weight gain that could slow you down on your next downwinder.
Suzie is riding the Naish 14′ Glide Carbon Board
This year I’m adding the Scosche Rhythm Monitor to my SUP interval training and distance training. I can listen to my music list while I track my progress. It’s so cool. This Thursday you can be sure I”ll be either going down Maliko for a downwinder or be out in the surf.
We’re expecting a decent swell here on Maui this Thanksgiving so as tradition, I’ll be getting out there so I can charge my calorie burning engine. Just approaching a big set, the adrenaline and fear along must burn at least a few hundred calories! I’ll be catching a few on my Naish Hokua or the new 8’10″ Mana.
These are my quick tips I’ve shared today on my weekly health and fitness and all about SUP radio show, on how to enjoy this holiday’s feast and not have a guilty conscious. I was thinking of something different to offer the public, and maybe create a pre-Thanksgiving help line, but not for how to cook a turkey but to help counsel those who are already stressing about gaining weight. I think I could be on to something!
According to online surveys the average person will eat over 4,000 and 229 grams of fat, the Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Yikes. Not to mention the additional increase in sodium intake that may leave you feeling bloated and miserable. Do you know how hard you’ll have to work to burn that off? Very.
So instead maybe this segment will see you through. I know many of you who I counsel and train are getting a bit worried about how many calories they will be consuming. I try and give them all the knowledge and power so they don’t come back to me the Monday after with their tail between their legs, and crumbs on their face from pumpkin pie crust. For example if you eat 6 ounces of white turkey at about 180 calories, it will take you approximately 30 minutes to run that off.
Click Here to Hear Suzie Live
Listen here now to my snippet from the Maui Breakfast Club, relax and please whatever you do, leave the elastic pants or skirt in the drawer at home. ( Air date November 19, 2012 )
Go for run on the beach and charge your pre meal metabolic booster!
Tip One: Slow Down – Eat more slowly and taste each bite. Sip water before and after and each bite. PORTION control matters as well. Smaller portions, no seconds.
Tip Two: Sit down while you eat, no mindless grazing. Standing may cause you to eat more.
Tip Three: Go easy on the booze. These are sneaky calories! Fill a wine glass with sparkling water. Avoid alcohol as it slows down your metabolism.
Tip Four: Shift mind set to losing weight, and focus on maintenance. Don’t lose weight to eat more.
Tip Five: Don’t worry about insulting friends and family who push food on you. Politely say, “thank you but I’m so full, or I”ll have some later.”
Tip Six: Celebrate yourself, your friends and family. Hugs are free, they make us feel good and they don’t have any calories!
Tip Seven: Get outside and surf, SUP, windsurf, kite or walk or run on the beach. This is my tradition. Depending on conditions which are usually amazing in November; I’ll grab a board and hit the water for an hour or two.
Tip Eight: Don’t skip meals so you can indulge and binge. You’ll regret it.
Tip Nine: Eat fiber and whole grain breakfast. Fiber is filling.
Last Tip: Don’t stress, there are plenty of personal trainers that can help you get back on track. The trick is, not to go off track in first place.
Holidays are for enjoying yourself, the ocean and being thankful, but also for giving something such as a service or gift of your talent or time. I”m thankful for so much, but most of all thankful for my health, family and friends and you. So grab your paddle and some friends and catch some glides and waves. Then listen to my radio show to make sure you keep that body lean and strong.
Thanks for tuning in and check back here for more holiday tips to help you hold your course and not order that second one.
Mahalo and Happy Thanksgiving!
Aloha & Happy Thanksgiving
Suzie Cooney, CPT owner of Suzie Trains Maui, LLC
Tune in every Monday @ 7:20 AM to the Maui Breakfast Club 900 AM KNUI Listen live also at KNUI.com
Suzie rides the Naish Hokua 9’0″, Mana 8’10″ 14ft Glide, 9’5″ Alana, 11’4″ Nalu and the 10’6″Nalu and many more.