Kettlebell Exercises for Standup Paddle – Seychelle SUP SIC Talk Stories

Kettlebell Exercises for SUP

Hello and welcome to my monthly “How to” blog post.

These posts go out the last Monday of the month and are adapted from my popular SIC Maui Talk stories series. I hope you enjoy and learn something from each one! Thank so much for being here. Let’s dive in!

Today I am going to be going over in detail some kettlebell exercises that will compliment your cross training for standup paddle. These are excellent exercises to perform no what type of sport you like to do.

If you’d rather watch this video to follow along with the exercises, here’s a link to the SIC Maui Talk Story that this blog is adapted from:


Here’s what you’ll need to try them out:

  1. A yoga mat or beach towel
  2. Kettlebell or a even a dumbbell will work! (Even better if you have a few different weight options to choose from)

*Disclaimer. I am a certified personal trainer, however please consult your sports medicine doctor or physiotherapist if you have any concerns about performing these exercises. You can also perform these with a personal trainer. I won’t have eyes on you to make sure your movements are correct and safe.

A couple of pro tips I have for if you are new or just starting out are to:

  • Put up a mirror so you can watch yourself and see exactly how you are moving. 
  • Use a very light weight or no weight at all when you are learning the move and also when you are warming up.
  • If something hurts, please stop immediately and seek professional advice 

 Be smart, be safe, and let’s have some fun together doing a few of my favorite kettlebell exercises!

I’ll describe why they’re good for paddlers and what I’m thinking about while I’m doing them that ss helping me with my strength and my paddle stroke.


Warm Up

  1. Hip Hinge

Feet are going to be parallel, right underneath hips. Hip distance apart.

Draw the hips back, bend the knees, and let your body hinge at the hips.

Hinging is how you lower your body down while maintaining a neutral spine. No rounding nor arching in the upper or lower back. 

Maintain this nice neutral spine. The upper body lowers down as the hips pull back.

Weight stays equal in the feet and in the heels.

Draw everything in towards the belly button. Draw the pelvic floor up and the hip bones in towards the center and the rib cage down to maintain a stable core. 

Perform several hip hinges to warm up the movement pattern. The more you bend your knees, the lower you’re going to go and again, this is a great one to watch yourself in the mirror to watch how your legs are moving and watch if you’re maintaining a neutral spine as you lower down.

Chest stays up and open. Shoulders back, down, and wide apart.

I do hip hinges as a part of every warm up for every strength and every paddle session that I do!

The reason is that hip hinging (with the addition ankle flexion) is the exact primary movement pattern that your body needs to be making as you paddle. Lowering your body weight on to the blade and driving yourself past the paddle with your hips while maintaining a stable core and a neutral spine as I just cued above.

  1. Kettlebell Halos 

Use a light kettlebell to warm up the upper body and shoulders.

Grab and hold a light kettlebell underneath your chin.

Bring your shoulders back, down, and wide apart. Keep the back of the neck long.  Maintain a stable core and neutral spine by pulling everything up and in towards the middle like we did in our hinges. 

Slowly begin to completely circle your head with the kettlebell several times in each direction gently finding your full range of motion.

As the kettlebell halos around the back of your head and back to the front, make sure you are not arching your back or jutting your head forward. Stable core. Neutral spine. Back of the neck long.  There’s no forward or back movement of the body.

This is a big range of motion for the shoulders. If you can’t do this with weight, you can just grab and pretend like you’re holding a weight and go ahead and bring the hands in like a sphere.

Some more tips: Relax your jaw. Relax your neck. Relax your shoulders.


Main Set

  1. Romanian Deadlift

Set up in the same way as for the hip hinge. In fact this exercise is exactly the same as the hip hinge with the addition of weight.

Feet are hip distance apart, parallel, and lets add one more cue to help activating the muscles in the backs of the legs, namely the glutes. Press down into your feet and isometrically press them apart meaning pretend you are spreading the floor between your feet without actually moving them.

Keep the chest up, keep the back of the neck long, keep the core stabilized and the spine neutral as you draw the hips back. Let the knees bend as you lower the weight down to about shin height.

Then press through the heels using the large muscles in the backs of the legs to come back up to standing upright.

Keep the weight close to your body, sliding it down the front of the legs. 

Go as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. You’ll know you are doing it right if you feel the backs of the legs working and not the lower or upper back. 

Starting with a light weight, do about 8 to 12. Then slowly increase the weight with each set of 8-12 until it feels challenging to complete the set at that weight. Do 1-2 more sets at the highest weight. 

I only have two kettlebells at home, so I make my workouts based off of the weights that I have. I do 2 warm up sets nice and slow, focusing on form and engagement.  Then I start doing sets with my heavier weight. 

A pro tip: If you’re picking your kettlebell up from the ground, stand about a foot behind the weight. Go down into a deep hinge, knees bend a little deeper. With neutral spine and tight core, grab the weight. Lean your weight back by pressing your hips up and back. Press into the heels and use the back to the legs to pick it up. You are essentially performing the deadlift from the bottom up. 

  1. Kettlebell Swing 

As always, start with a lighter kettlebell and warm up the movement to ensure proper from before adding weight to the exercise. 

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes turned slightly out. This stance is just like you are setting up to do a squat, or perhaps with your feet just slightly wider apart. 

Stand about a foot behind your kettlebell. Activate the backs of the legs by pretending to spread the floor between your feet. Press the heels away from each other

Keep a stable core and a neutral spine. Chest up, shoulders back, down and wide apart and back of the neck long. Draw your pelvic floor up and the rib cage down. 

Go down into your deep, wide-leg hip hinge and grab your kettlebell. Stand up using the backs of the legs like you did in your dealifts.

First do a little bit of a warm up swing. Hinge down like you’re going into your Romanian deadlift position letting the kettle or dumbbell swing back between your legs.

Then explosively drive up.   

The down portion is just like you’re in that Romanian deadlift, except for the kettlebell swings, just behind your legs. Neutral spine. Chest up, back of the neck long.

Then hip thrust up, and let the momentum of the upward hip thrust swing the weight all the up to shoulder height. 

Keep a slight bend in the elbows with the elbows drawing down towards the ground. This will engage the lats instead of the shoulders. (More tips on Lats vs. Shoulder engagement here.)

A couple of tips: I often see people going too low on their hinge down. Watch that you’re maintaining that neutral spine on your way down and you’re really exploding the hip thrust on the way up.

This is super helpful for paddlers because what I’m feeling in my body is the lat activation to stablize the movement of the bell. 

Also thrusting with the backs of the legs and the hips like this is almost the exact same movement as we doing when we drive our hips to and past the paddle in the drive phase of the paddle stroke.   

The biggest key to the exercise however is the connection you are maintaining from upper body to lower body because just like paddling, the kettlebell swing is a complex, full body movement.

  1. Goblet Squat 

Set up in the same way as for the Kettlebell Swing. Hips wider than shoulders, with a very slight outward turning of the toes. Anchor with an outward isometric contraction, pressing the feet apart.

Start by sending the hips back like you are going to do a hip hinge. Let the knees bend even more deeply and continuing to drop the hips all the way back and down into a squat. If mobility allows, drop down until the thighs are parallel to the ground. 

Press into the heels, using the backs of the legs and core drive the hips back up into a standing position. That’s your squat. Do 10-20 more squats without weight to warm up the movement before picking up your weight.

Hinge down to pick up your weight in the same way as for your swings or deadlifts. Then bring the weight up under your chin. Hold either side of the kettlebell handle or either side of the dumbbell. Elbows draw down to keep the lats engaged. Chest open, shoulders back, down, and wide. Back of the neck long. Pelvic floor up and rib cage down. 

Perform your squat, hinging and lowering all the way back and down into your full squat and back up.

Do 10-20 with a lighter weight then slowly increase the weight with each set until a desired weight is reached for the amount of reps.

A few pro tips: Keep the chest up and open, shoulders back. No rounding in the upper back. This is helpful for paddlers because I see this rounding in the shoulders a lot in paddlers when lowering the body. Keep the rib cage wide and make sure you are able to take nice, full, complete breaths. You want to be able to do this especially while you are paddling.

Keep the knees right over the toes. Press into the heels. Squeeze your butt. Only go as low as you can before you round or arch in your upper or lower back. It may take time to develop this mobility. (See my free mobility videos here)

For added support, you can put a chair or bench behind you and lower your butt down into a literal seat and then drive back up.


If you want to do a whole workout, Do three or more sets of these exercises in a circuit. That’s a really simple, easy, fun workout that you can do with only a couple of kettle or dumbbells.

A couple more tips: You can do your swings with a single dumbbell or you can do your swings with two dumbells (for more weight options) This is slightly more difficult. Same thing with the goblet squat. If you choose to use two dumbells for the goblet squats, hold one on each shoulder making sure to keep drawing the elbows drawing down, the lats active, back of the neck long, chest open, etc.  

Those were five exercises. Three exercises and two warm ups that you could do as a circuit .

If you are looking for more guidance in your paddle or strength training, I write training programs for paddlers to help you paddle Faster, Longer, and Pain-free! 

Read about my 1:1 Holistic Paddle Coaching and Group SUP STROKE SCHOOL programs here, or reach out with any questions. I love hearing from you!

And make sure you join the Seychelle SUP app for FREE

Thank you so much for being here, for practicing some kettlebell skills and exercises with me!

See you soon!

All my stoke and gratitude,


Kettlebells for SUP Paddler – SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story