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If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you have a passion for the water like I do.  I discovered the sports of stand up paddling and surfing ten years ago, and have been living the stoke and developing my SUP fitness ever since!

Fanatic Rainbow Ray touring SUP
Whether you’re surfing or distance paddling, taking care of your back & body is paramount to your success. Photo by: Fanatic SUP

SUP Fitness Tips:  Recreational to Advanced

I was already a long-time windsurfer, small craft sailor and kayaker, but being on a board, whether a 14-foot SUP race board or an 8’10  wave board, there is nothing like it.  I’m on the water as often as possible, including SUP surfing through New England’s full four seasons. This column will share ways to enhance your stoke, your performance and your enjoyment on the water and off it.

I’ll be sharing SUP fitness tips through sport specific exercises to improve your paddling game. Additionally, I will discuss nutritional and wellness strategies that will add to your skill set and mindset. I will also share my own knowledge, as well as that of other credentialed individuals, to help maximize your life and your performance level. I’m looking forward to creating a great column and helping you to become “SUPer” Aloha!  – Jeffrey Morrison

 Performance Strategy :  Good Mornings

The lower back may be the most underappreciated area of the body. Generally, we don’t think about it unless you’ve injured it or unless you’ve felt that burning fatigue after a session on the water. Building strength and endurance in the muscles of the lower back can increase your time on the water by preventing premature fatigue. It can also increase your performance as you are adding “horsepower “ (strength) to your paddling. A strong lower back translates to virtually all other athletic endeavors. As lower back injuries are common – 65 million Americans alone suffer from some type of lower back pain – a strong lower back is a great preventative measure.

‘Good Mornings’ are an excellent way to strengthen the muscles of the lower back. Even if you don’t have the benefit of a gym, a broom handle or something similar – your paddle is a great option  – and can act as a substitute for a barbell. These exercises are for all ability levels and are easy to perform.

Check out this quick video on how to execute proper Good Mornings

Good Mornings have the added benefit of being a great pre-paddle warm up exercise as well as a training and strengthening exercise.

Good mornings Fitness stand up paddling
A happy paddler has a healthy back. Try these ‘Good Morning’ hip hinges with a bar to get into your glutes and strengthen lower back and legs.

‘Good Mornings’ Exercise:  Form & Repetition

For the body weight version of the Good Morning, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands placed behind your head. Stand upright, tighten your stomach and pull your shoulders back. Take a breath and hinge forwards from your hips, not your waist, allowing a slight bend in your knees but keeping your back flat. Lean forwards until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings (but don’t go beyond horizontal). Then, as you exhale, reverse the move to stand up straight. If using a barbell or broomstick, rest it across the back of your shoulders,and perform the exercise as in the body weight version. It is always better to perform this exercise slowly and smoothly

Exercise frequency: 2-3 times per week/  3 sets of 10-12 repetitions to start

Start light and be sure to use strict form. When sets of 10-12 feel super easy, add weight  in small increments or increase your repetitions. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to change your weight or repetition count every 4-6 weeks to make continual progress.

Active rest hiking
Get your body moving, even on your recovery days through hiking, gentle yoga, going for a swim or other light exercise will go a long way towards greater health.

Recovery Strategy:  Active Rest

Recovery is one of the most underrated wellness strategies to employ. Whether you are an Olympic athlete or an occasional paddler, proper recovery will set you up to have a great next workout or session on the water.

Recovery in the past was thought of as a period of non activity- couch rest and the like. Today, active rest has been shown to enhance recovery more quickly than non-active recovery. Simply stated, active rest is mild, deliberate and low impact movement with the intent of providing your muscles increased blood flow to flush lactic acid buildup without further taxing them.

Active rest swimming
Easy does it, but do it. That’s the philosophy behind Active Rest. Have some fun with it!

For stand up paddle and surf athletes, the reality is that we may get several days in a row of great conditions which leave us stoked, but also beat up and wanting some couch time. This is the perfect time to incorporate an active rest activity.

Again, the idea is to move and be active, not to set personal records in the gym, on the bike or on the water. A hike, a walk in the woods, an easy bike ride, a lap swim, a short run or a yoga class are all great options. Move, but move with intentional deliberateness. My recommendation is to take time away from the activity you are recovering from – even a day or two can work wonders – giving both your body and your mind an opportunity to come back to it refreshed.

Salmon avocado salad
Fuel UP with proper protein, fats and veggies to get your engine humming at maximum capacity. The Salmon Avocado salad is a sure fire success!

The Fuel: Salmon Avocado Salad

This recipe covers all the bases: It’s  nutrient dense with plenty of lean protein, healthy fats and phytonutrients galore. Everything your body needs to run cleanly and efficiently, plus giving you plenty of  energy to get through long sessions and the nutrient profile to help you recover from them. If you are strictly plant based, you can add Almonds,Walnuts, Chia seeds, Cashews or Chickpeas to ensure you are getting adequate protein.


  • 4 wild salmon fillets, 4 oz each
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, recommend: Braggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces avocado, diced (from 2 small)
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups red cabbage, shredded


  1. Season salmon with 2 teaspoons of the Dijon, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
  2. Adjust the oven on the second rack. Broil salmon 6 to 7 minutes, until cooked through.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the red onion with olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon remaining Dijon, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste; let it sit about 5 minutes, so the flavor of the onion mellows.
  4. Add the tomatoes, avocado and toss. When ready to serve, toss in chopped lettuce and cabbage, finish with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar, taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

Do you have a fitness, nutrition or wellness question?  Feel free to email me and I will get back to you!

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy and Stay Stoked!  


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