How many calories burned while 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 searching for the correct answer, but thought I’d do a little “unscientific” research myself. So I rowed yesterday using a heart rate monitor and my Polar computer to give me a pretty accurate picture of a typical SUP workout.

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

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

I did 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 head / tail wind, etc.). I paddled a standard 12 ‘board (SupWorks Alpha) that weighs 28 pounds and was using a QuickBlade Kahana carbon fiber paddle.

Here are the results …

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

A couple of comments:

  1. The “Exercise time” is the total time from when I started rowing until I stopped.
  2. “In zone” refers to how many minutes my heart rate was in my “anaerobic zone”. My “Zone” is between 118 bpm and 170 bpm.
  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 you had continued the same pace for an additional 6:17, making your total workout time 60 minutes, you would have burned a total of 923 calories per hour. (Sorry I didn’t make it for even 60 minutes, I only do one tour every day and don’t pay much attention to time)

So the network 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 so high. On a typical long-distance bike ride (on a Cervelo S1), my heart rate averages the middle 130. When paddling, I really don’t feel like I’m working as hard as my heart rate would indicate (147). I also don’t feel as “throbbing” when I’m done rowing as when I’m riding.

So that’s my little studio. I guess the simple conclusion is that while my findings are not “scientific”, they do show that rowing is an excellent low-impact core workout. If I burned all 822 calories during a typical workout and did it 5 days a week, I would lose more than 1 pound a week (assuming my calorie intake stayed constant).

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