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 …
- Exercise time: 53:43
- In the area: 51:32
- Average heart rate: 147 bpm
- Calories Burned: 822kcal
A couple of comments:
- The “Exercise time” is the total time from when I started rowing until I stopped.
- “In zone” refers to how many minutes my heart rate was in my “anaerobic zone”. My “Zone” is between 118 bpm and 170 bpm.
- My average heart rate for the entire training cycle was 147 bpm.
- 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).