Kai Lenny’s Guide to Staying in Summer Shape Year-Round

Kai Lenny, the 23-year-old SUP World Champion, shares with us some of his workout secrets.



Surfing at four years old, windsurfing at six, stand-up surfing at seven and kite surfing at nine — you could say 23-year-old Kai Lenny is a natural at water sports. And Lenny’s maritime repertoire doesn’t stop there. He’s gone on to be a big-wave surfer and a multiple Stand-Up Paddleboard world champion.

If you think those kind of achievements come from a life of sloth or the occasional weekend surf session with friends, you’re horribly mistaken. Lenny trains year round to stay in top physical condition. And to train to get to that level, the young phenom says, “the best type of training is by doing the sport itself. The longer you’re able to do it on the water, the stronger you’re going to get.” But for those of us not living in Hawaii, paddling out isn’t always an option. To remedy that, Lenny shared a few tips and workouts that can help you stay in peak physical condition year round.

For Muscle Endurance

Light Weights, High Reps.


If I’m in a gym, I’m trying to build lean powerful, endurance-based muscle versus just being really powerful over a shorter period of time. A lot of things that I do take time or endurance. Like, how long can you stand on your board in a really critical position? Or how long can you paddle strong over four and a half hours? Stuff like that. -KL

Row for an aggressive full-body workout. Warm up at an easy pace, not too slow but not exerting yourself. Then go into a sprint for one minute with a stroke rate around 26 strokes per minute, then rest for the next minute. Repeat this on-off repetition five times and rest for two minutes to finish the set. Two more sets like this and you’re golden.

For Body Conditioning

Practice Breathing


Swimming itself is one of the best things that you can do. It gives you great training benefits, and it instills confidence when you’re out on the water. I know that if something goes wrong and my equipment fails or I lose something, I can get myself out of the mess.” – KL

Like paddling out (without a board). Two 50-yard laps of front crawl (“freestyle”) should be enough to get the blood flowing. After a short rest, do 200 yards front crawl then rest. Next, swim four laps, 100 yards apiece, with 30 seconds’ rest in between. Then swim 200 yards front crawl again, rest, and repeat the warmup as a cool-down.

For More Endurance

Run on the Beach


To gain endurance, just do beach runs. If you can run a beach or a sand hill, it’ll kick your butt and it’ll put you into shape faster than you can believe. Physically, you could go to a gym all day and lift weights and stuff — and that’s awesome, that’s great. But I feel like you almost get better training out of just doing beach hill sprints. -KL

Fairly simple, just run on the beach. Find a long section of beach (where you can run for 35-45 minutes before turning around) and run along the shoreline. The wet sand near the water is more compact and better for muscle and tendon soreness.

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