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ACE Insight

RESEARCH: Investigating the Athletic-Performance Benefits of Standup Paddleboarding
Part 1


Does standup paddleboarding deliver the core workout its proponents claim it does?

Originating as a mode of transportation for ancient cultures in Africa and South America, standup paddleboarding (SUP) has become an enormously popular sport throughout the United States. Paddleboarders have become ubiquitous on both coasts, as well as inland on rivers and lakes; and professional competitions, races and festivals have sprung up in celebration of the sport.

Many athletes have claimed that SUP can increase muscle strength, condition the core, improve balance and provide an exceptional cardio workout. To investigate these claims, ACE commissioned two studies: one focused on the level of core muscle activation, and a second studying caloric output and cardiorespiratory function. This article will detail the first study, and we’ll follow up on the second one in next month’s issue.

To evaluate core muscle activation during SUP, ACE enlisted a team of researchers led by John Porcari, PhD, at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

The Study

For this study, researchers recruited 13 healthy volunteers (six men and seven women) between the ages of 21 and 25 years of age, all of whom had experience with SUP. Participants
performed a series of exercises with electromyography (EMG) electrodes placed on three muscles of the core (rectus abdominis, external obliques, erector spinae), to elicit a maximal voluntary contraction against which the SUP results could be compared. Once on the paddleboard, each participant was asked to determine the intensities that elicited ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) of 11, 13 and 15 (on the 6–20 scale). They then paddled at each of those levels for bouts of 30 seconds, and muscle activity was recorded via EMG electrodes.

The Results

Previous research concluded that muscle activity above 45% of the maximal voluntary contraction (% MVC) should result in strength improvements (Ekstrom, Donatelli & Carp 2007). EMG results for the muscles tested were as follows:

  • rectus abdominis: above this threshold at all RPE levels
  • erector spinae: above this threshold at all RPE levels
  • external obliques: above this threshold only at an RPE of 15

The Bottom Line

This study indicates that SUP provides a sufficient stimulus to strengthen the erector spinae and rectus abdominis at RPEs of 11 and above, but the external obliques were stimulated only when the RPE reached 15. According to Dr. Porcari, when subjects increased their intensity to an RPE of 15, more twisting was evident in their movement, which is an indicator of good form during SUP. This twisting motion would likely stimulate the external obliques. “The ability to turn the shoulders and really dig in to create torso rotation,” says Dr. Porcari, “creates more power in the paddle stroke and better recruitment of the external obliques.”


Ekstrom, R.A., Donatelli, R.A., & Carp, K.C. 2007. Electromyographic analysis of core, trunk, hip, and thigh muscles during nine rehabilitation exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 37 (12), 754–62.

ACE Certified Personal Trainer;
ACE Youth Fitness Specialist;
Sports Conditioning Specialist
Easton, Maryland


Q&A with Alex

What inspired you to start working with kids?

My passion is lifestyle change, and as I’ve become more involved with the fitness industry over the past couple of years, I’ve realized that our nation’s youth are in dire trouble. I knew I had to get involved. I wanted to do something big to get kids fit again, and to reach as many kids as possible in a positive way. That was the inspiration behind BOOST, a website I created that’s dedicated to providing kids with fitness and nutrition information in a fun, innovative way.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that at any time a child might be improving his or her life by using the interactive tools on my website. Knowing that I have influenced kids to strive for a healthier life is invaluable to me.

Which client are you most proud of?

The kid who takes a chance on himself by realizing he can improve his quality of life through movement. It’s hard for children to grasp the concept of mortality, or health for that matter. So when I see kids taking notice and actively seeking fitness information, that makes me extremely proud.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by the boundless determination of all the kids I work with. This is what really
gets me motivated. I am inspired to create, to fight for what I believe in and to make a difference. I like to find motivation through the accomplishments of others. If they can do it, so can I!

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I would be lying if I said my first love wasn’t weightlifting, but I also love to ride my road and mountain bikes. In addition, I enjoy trail running and hiking with my dog (Ike) and fiancée (Kristi) in our local state park. I’m planning to add capoeira into the mix soon.

What’s the biggest success factor in meeting fitness goals?

You have to celebrate success with checkpoint goals. The ultimate goal may be to lose 20 pounds, but that might take 6 months. So I challenge people to set checkpoint goals, like eating a salad four times a week, running 2 miles three times a week or attending a yoga class once a week. I built my kids’ fitness website on that same foundation. I encourage kids to take quizzes on my site; correct answers give them points; and kids use their points to get rewards as they work toward their end goal.

POLICY: Around the Country


Grow Your Business by Collaborating with Park and Recreation Departments

Public lands and facilities are vital to creating healthy, active communities. Park and recreation departments that manage these spaces enrich the physical environments in which we live, while providing ample opportunities for positive behavior change. Health and fitness professionals can collaborate with these agencies to implement physical activity programs. This type of collaboration has the potential not only to create healthier communities but also to grow your business.

Here Are Three Ways to Collaborate With Park and Recreation Departments:

Identify Opportunities

Although these may not be the first options you think of when it comes to growing your business, partnerships with park and recreation departments exist for every type of fitness professional. All that’s needed is some out-of-the-box thinking. There may be opportunities to create physical activityÔÇôrelated print and electronic content, lead walking groups, or provide programs for special populations like seniors or new moms/dads.

Recognize and Address Challenges

When you embark on a journey to form new, collaborative relationships, there will undoubtedly be challenges. For instance, permitting policies and regulations for public spaces can be confusing to decipher. Instructor payment, group size, noise level and scheduling are frequent concerns expressed by both departments and professionals. To build trust and rapport, be proactive: Learn your local public space’s legal policies, and contact park and recreation officials before conducting activities. Successful partnerships foster community connectedness and provide opportunities for a wide range of individuals to engage in physical activity.

Research and Implement Programs

Brainstorm ideas that are innovative and unique. Do your research to identify what community agencies currently offer, who your target audience will be and how to acquire the necessary resources. Draft a detailed plan of action to help the park and recreation department understand how your proposed program will fit within its culture. This plan can also be a catalyst in developing your presence in the community.

For More Information,

check out ACE’s free webinar, “Working with Community Park and Recreation Departments to Grow Your Business,” at the Advocacy Center: ACEfitness.org/advocacy/webinars .

CAREER: Maximize Your Continuing Education Experience at Conferences


By Lauren Shroyer
ACE Continuing Education Product Manager, Product Development

The 2016 IDEA® World Convention has come and gone, but I won’t soon forget how inspired I felt when I walked out of the fitness conference. There were amazing speakers, multitudes of new fitness technology on display, and a buzz of energy in the air created by the thousands of individuals gathered in one place to broaden their health and fitness education.

I used to think I had to see every speaker and attend every session in order to expand my own education at fitness conferences. But if you’ve ever attended one of these fitness events, you know this is probably the least effective way to come away with a valuable educational experience. Over the years, I’ve developed a three-step system that allows me to maximize my continuing education experience at conferences:

1. Go In With a Plan

Take time at the beginning of each year to create a continuing education plan. Set two or three learning goals, and figure out how many continuing education credits (CECs) you need to maintain your certification. Online courses are a convenient way to earn CECs, but nothing can replace the face-to-face interaction you get with dynamic speakers in conference sessions.

Then search conference websites for sessions that support your annual education goals. For example, my goal this year was to learn more about options available for trainers with mobile businesses, so before IDEA World, I perused the fitness conference website and found a workshop about technology-driven workouts. And I walked the tradeshow floor with a purpose—I went straight to the technology section and approached individual booths with a series of focused
questions in mind.

2. Make the Most Out of Your Experience

Meet new people, let the energy of the crowd inspire you, and network like crazy. You can maximize your networking opportunities by using social media to connect with presenters who are offering sessions in your area of focus for the year. Consider setting up informational meetings with these presenters at the conference. And most importantly, have fun! Conferences are a time to meet new people, make new connections, and find new sources of creativity and motivation for your ongoing efforts to get people moving.

3. Implement What You’ve Learned

You’ve come away from a conference with a renewed sense of purpose and a treasure
trove of information. Now what? Start with the low-hanging fruit. Review your notes, and pull out a short list of ideas you can implement immediately. Then make a second list with a few more ideas you want to implement over the coming months. And how about all of those amazing people you met? Connect with them on social, and read their blogs or books. Make these connections so you’ll have access to their thoughts and strategies all year long.

ACEFITNESS.ORG: What’s Trending


Dynamic Circuit Training for Weight Loss

To lose weight, people often turn to cardiovascular exercise, like running on a treadmill or taking an indoor cycling class. While cardiovascular exercise can burn enough calories for weight loss, some people simply don’t enjoy the activities. Fortunately, there is another exercise option for losing weight: circuit training, which involves doing a series of resistance training exercises that target different parts of the body with little to no rest between exercises.

Learn more at: acefitness.org/weightlosscircuittraining.

5 Yoga Poses to Pair with High-Intensity Interval Training

Yoga and high-intensity interval training are essentially at opposite ends of the movement spectrum. HIIT often requires the exerciser to push beyond his or her body’s limits, which can result in injury. Yoga, conversely, requires people to listen to their bodies and to honor where they are at that moment, including being mindful of limitations. Here are five yoga poses HIIT athletes can incorporate into their routines to build flexibility, strength, focus and confidence and, most of all, to create a balanced fitness regimen.

Learn more at: acefitness.org/yogaforhiit.

Keep Group Fitness Participants Coming Back for More

Group fitness instructors tend to run into their classes, turn on the personality, pump up the music and motivate participants to move. The modality doesn’t matter; from indoor cycling to yoga, group fitness instructors know they need to gear up to be “on stage,” because each class really is a performance. There are, however, a few things that can ruin a class and have people sneaking out the back door or, worse yet, skipping your class altogether. Here are three ways to keep participants coming back for more.

Learn more at: acefitness.org/gfisuccess.

6 Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress

One of the best and most accessible tools we can use to decrease stress is connecting with our breath. During the stress response, the breath becomes light and shallow. When this happens, it is important to bring awareness to the breath to help refocus the mind. Conscious breathing ignites the relaxation response, which triggers physiological changes in our bodies. These simple breathing techniques, which can be done anywhere, can help melt away stress.

Learn more at: acefitness.org/breathingexercises.

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