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HOME arrow GEAR INSIGHTS arrow Stand Up Paddle Fitness: Big Blade, Little Blade, Bulk or Tone
Stand Up Paddle Fitness: Big Blade, Little Blade, Bulk or Tone PDF Print E-mail
By: Nate Burgoyne, Editor   
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Wondering what size to get for your next stand up paddle blade? If fitness is your goal, it’ll depend on your desired end result. The first thing you’ll want to decide is, do you want to bulk up or tone down? I recently switched from a big blade to a small blade and then back to a larger blade. Now, I’m looking to move back to a smaller blade again. Here’s my personal experience with making the switch.

My first paddle was a 9.5” wide C4 Waterman carbon paddle. I still use the paddle and think it’s great. The next paddle that I was using for an extended period of time was the Kialoa Methane which is merely 8” wide. Well, after some distraction and the beach and a moment of absentmindedness, I left my Methane and the beach. After returning 15 minutes later, it was gone. So, I went back to my 9.5” C4. It’s been an interesting switch and there are all kinds of variables that change with each paddle. For now, I’m going to talk about muscle tone.

I was sitting at my desk the other day and when I reached forward to turn on the monitor, my forearm looked unusually large to me. I’m not a really big guy, 6’ about 175 lbs. so I took notice. Then, I looked at the other arm, and it was the same. I hadn’t been surfing or paddling more than the normal routine, so I figured it must have been the recent switch that I made back to a bigger paddle blade. Just to make sure, I dug out some photos of me a few years ago and compared them with photos over the last year. Sure enough, in the earlier photos, my arms and back were bigger and badder than they had been while I was using the smaller blade.

bulk_or_tone.jpgMore resistance and fewer repetitions with a bigger blade means more bulk in your muscles. Less resistance and more rapid strokes with a smaller blade means less bulk and more tone.

So, what is the right blade width for you? That depends on your goals, body build, and the design of the paddle. The Werner Spanker, for example, is 9.25” wide with a full outline and some scoop in the blade. It offers quite a bit of resistance. The Kialoa Methane at only 8” wide with a more drawn out template offers less resistance and quicker acceleration. C4 Waterman has a number of paddle blade widths for all stand up paddlers. Infinity recently joined with Werner to produce a paddle which may be a happy medium between resistance and ease of paddling.

Find out what others of your height and weight are using in conditions similar to those where you paddle. With some input, you’ve got a great chance of finding the right paddle for the right conditions with the right amount of resistance for your bulking up or toning down muscle training goals. Truth be told, you may want to get a big blade and a small blade so you can alternate from time to time to get the best of both worlds.


I hope this was helpful. Please login below and share your insights and paddle recommendations in the comments section below. Happy paddling!

feed6 Comments
May 05, 2009

A small difference in blade size and length will translate to a big difference on the stress put on your joints and muscle groups. In Nates case, I would say stabilizing the blade through the stroke is what cause increase stress on the forearm.

April 24, 2009

Hi Candice! Left it at Ali'i Beach.

April 23, 2009

hey nate...what beach did you leave your paddle at?

April 23, 2009

I've have a similar story as the author, spent the last year and a half w/ the 9.5 C4, and recently switched to Werner's new Nitro, which is skinny. I personally noticed a big difference, and I'm going back to my C4 because I feel I get a way better workout.

mark c
April 21, 2009

it is really more than just an inch across. On average a 8.3 inch blade has total of 90 sqr inches of area and a 9 inch blade 110 sqr inches of area. and to confuse things more, you can have the same blade width but different total area measurements. read alot,& talk to alot of people. pick your blade then train hard, go fast and have fun! mark c nfe

April 21, 2009

I've been a trainner for 14 years and a surfer for over 40 years. I really dont think the size of the paddle matters that much. I think the size would have to be more than a few inches to really make a great bit of difference, Paddling, I only see toning issues,Maybe some increace in small muscle groups but only toning in most major groups of muscles. The change in the resistance would have to be much greater than just a few inches. At least thats the way I see it.

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