How many calories burned by doing SUP? (stand up paddle boarding)

One of the most common questions people ask me about Stand Up Paddling is “How many calories can I burn?”

I spent some time online looking for the correct answer, but thought I’d do a little “unscientific” research myself. So I paddled yesterday using a heart rate monitor and my Polar computer to get a pretty accurate picture of a typical SUP workout.

Now a couple of considerations and revelations. First, the heart rate monitor I used is made for cycling. I just took my bike computer out and put it in my pocket while paddling. Certainly there may be some adjustments that need to be made for “training type”, but since large muscle groups are being worked in both cycling and rowing, I don’t think the calorie count will change much.

The other consideration is the size and weight of the paddlers. I’m 6’2″ and weigh about 225-228. Also, I paddle about 5 days a week, which I hope means my fitness level should be a bit higher than the average bear. I would expect my As As a result, the average heart rate would be slightly lower.

I ran my unscientific test on a clear morning with low tide and little to no wind. The conditions were near perfect and had little to no effect on my training (unlike a strong headwind or tailwind, etc.). I paddled on a standard 12′ board (SupWorks Alpha) that weighs 28lbs and was using a QuickBlade Kahana carbon fiber paddle.

Here are the results….

  1. Exercise time: 53:43
  2. In Zone: 51:32
  3. Average heart rate: 147 bpm
  4. Calories burned: 822kcal

Couple of comments:

  1. “Exercise Time” is the total time from when I started rowing to when I stopped.
  2. “In Zone” refers to how many minutes my heart rate was in my “Anaerobic Zone.” My “Zone” is between 118bpm and 170bpm.
  3. My average heart rate for the entire training cycle was 147 bpm.
  4. I burned 822 calories during the entire workout. Using the same data, if he had continued at the same pace for an additional 6:17, making his total workout time 60 minutes, he would have burned a total of 923 calories per hour. (Sorry I didn’t do it in 60 minutes, I only row one course every day and don’t pay much attention to the time)

So the net-net is this. I burn 923 calories per hour in a normal Stand-Up Paddle workout.

It’s interesting to me that my heart rate was as high as it was. On a typical long-distance bike ride (on a Cervelo S1), my heart rate averages around 130. When rowing, I don’t really feel like I’m working as hard as my heart rate would indicate (147). I also don’t feel as “bumped” when I’m done paddling as I do when I ride.

So that’s my little studio. I guess the simple bottom line is that while my findings aren’t “scientific,” they do show that rowing is an excellent low-impact core exercise. If I burned all 822 calories during a typical workout and did it 5 days a week, I would lose over 1 pound per week (assuming my calorie intake remained constant).

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