Is longboarding a good workout

Is Longboarding a Good Workout ? Top Health Benefits of Riding

So you’re thinking about getting a longboard to improve your fitness.  You figure riding a longboard is fun, great for transportation, and will get you moving and potentially shed some weight / fat and build muscle.

Is longboarding a good workout ? It certainly is.  Some of the benefits longboarding has on your health are :

  • Cardio workout : riding makes you move continuously
  • Balance workout : maintaining and changing positions on a moving surface
  • Strength workout : your core muscles and lower body muscles are put to serious work
  • Joints : balancing and turning involve many joints in your body

You may have read that longboarding can make you burn 300 to 450 calories per hour depending on how much you weight (harvard medical school study), which means it can help you lose 1/2 to 1 pound per week if you ride everyday – depending of course on your calories intake.

You may know that cardio exercise in general elevates your heart rate, increasing your lungs capacity as they move more oxygen to your muscles, and strengthening your heart.

These are just two of the many health benefits of longboarding.  With these facts out of the way, let’s look more specifically at how great a workout longboading gives you.

As you can imagine, the type of workout you get on your longboard also depends on whether you’re leisurely cruising around, pulling freestyle kick tricks, tucking downhill or dancing like there’s no tomorrow.

In the rest of this article, we’ll examine each longboarding riding style and assess how much of a workout each provides in terms of cardio training, balance, strength, and joint mobility.  In addition to the health benefits, we’ll also mention any potential negative impact for each longboarding discipline.

Is cruising on a longboard a good workout ?

Cardio workout : low to medium

Cruising involves intermittent to continuous pushing with your foot, and that can really get your heart pumping if you’re doing it fast and strong.

Mellow pushing is not as intense as say an inline skating session, which has been shown to bring the skater’s heart rate to 140-160 beats per minute.  However, if you ride your longboard every day for long distance commuting, you do get a nice long cardio workout.

Balance workout  : medium

Foot pushing and cruising on a larger longboard constitue a pretty good balance workout : you need to balance your body on your front leg while and stabilitize your center of gravity while your rear leg pushes and the board is moving.

You also need to readjust your balance and stance as you bring your rear foot back onto the deck and rotate both feet from forward pointing back into riding stance (about perpendicular to the deck).

Stength workout : medium

Your front quadriceps and calf work hard while you’re standing on your front leg during pushing.  Your core muscles are strongly engaged to keep you standing and a single leg, making up for the missing leg on the deck.  Your glutes are the biggest muscle at work in maintaining yourself stable while pushing.

Joint workout : medium

The pushing leg extends your hip as you lower your foot to the ground, your hip muscles flex as your back foot impulses the ground.  Your lumbar spinal muscles are engaged to keep your lower back straight during the asymmetrical push position. Your ankles play a key role as well, orienting your foot position for balancing.

Possible negative impact

Pushing gets you in a contiuous asymmetrical position on the longboard.  As a result your right and left muscles and joints work unevenly, which over time can cause muscle imbalances.

Make sure to keep your spine straight while pushing.  Also, let yourself slide for long enough in between push so your body gets a chance to realign.

Is carving a good workout ?

Cardio workout : low

Carving involves making successive turns on your longboard in a S pattern, without pushing.  You must shift your body weight and lower yourself by bending your knees with the right timing.  It typically doesn’t push your heart rate very high.

Balance workout : high

Carving is all about balance.  To take your longboard into successive turns, you have to shift your weight forward into your toes and backward into your heals.  These are subtle shifts of your center of gravity, you need to find just the right amount based on how your longboard reacts (see this post about carving on a longboard).

Mastering carving on your longboard will boost your balance skills through the roof.

Strength workout : medium

The strength training aspect of carving mainly involves getting into a half squat right before a turn and extending back up after the turn, working your glutes, quads and calves.

The constant weight shifting and balancing also engages and works your core muscles : abs, TA (transversus abdominis), multifidus, hip muscles.

Joint workout : high

Carving requires high joint mobility as your upper body rotates in the direction you’re going (left or right).  To initiate a turn, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles rotate in turn, in a wave like movement.

Carving is a nice and soft joint workout that can help improve your body’s overall mobility.

Possible negative impact

If you suffer from back pain, you may have some stiffness in your lower back or hips.  Beware of spinal rotation, make sure your rotate at your hips instead of at your lower spine (see Hip hinging in this article).

Is longboard freestyle a good workout ?

Cardio workout : highest

Freestyle tricks get you jumping fast and turning your longboard mid-air with your feet.  Now that will get your heart pumping ! One hour of freestyle riding is a much more intense cardio session than cruising around or inline skating.

Balance workout : high

Dooing freestyle tricks is the riding style that demands the most balance and coordination since you’re constantly jumping off the board, even taking off and landing (skate park).  Mastering these tricks will greatly develop your balance skills.

Strength workout : medium

Freestyle riding requires more balance and flexibility than pure strength.  The moves are fast and swift but typically don’t require prolonged flexing of your external muscles, though your inner core muscles certainly get one hell of a workout.

Joint workout : highest

This is were freestyle longboarding provides the best workout.  The quick multidimensional whole body movements put great demand on your joints with explosive flexing / extensions and high range of motion on multiple joints in rapid succession.

Possible negative impact

Freestyle longboarding may potentially be hard on your joints, e.g. when landing after a jump (knees and spine) or spinning on your board (hips and lower spine).

However, longboarding tricks are typically more about technique than height so the impact for most riders is not nearly as bad as traditional street skateboarding.

How good a workout is freeriding on a longboard ?

Cardio workout : low

Freeriding is about riding downhill at moderate speeds while performing certain technical maneuvers to control speed and have fun.  It involves limited heart pumping actions.

Balance workout : high

Freeriding on a longboard involves a lot of carving and sliding.  Carving requires strong balance control for successive turns.

Sliding is also a demanding balancing exercise which requires you to turn your longboard sideways across the slope and put your body weight on your board’s uphill rail, so the wheels break traction and start sliding.

You need very good balancing skills for sliding, since unlike snowboarding, misjudging the amount of body weight you put on the rail can have dramatic consequences (read : tipping over and smashing the pavement).

Strength workout : medium

When freeriding your longboard downhill you need to maintain a solid stance for a potentially long amount of time.  As you carving to control speed your lower body (glutes, quads, hamstrings, ankles) gets a good workout.

Heavy sliding can also put massive pressure on your glutes and quads as you push hard on the rail to get the wheels to slide sideways.  Core muscles work hard on balancing as well.

Freeriding gives you a pretty good strength workout, althoug your mucles do get to rest between slides.

Joint workout : medium

Like carving, freeriding enrolls your knees, ankles, hips, shoulder and lower back for turning.  Your knees, hips and ankles must also be able to withstand a lot of flexing for hard sliding.  Weakness in any of these joints will limit the amount of sliding, and hence turning ability and speed, that you can do comfortably.

One good thing about freeriding is that your joints are sometimes able to rest between carves and slides, allowing your body to recover before for the next turn.

Possible negative impact

Sliding at high speed can be very hard on the knees and ankles. Technique is important for a gradual control of speed.  Consider doing some cross training to reinforce your joints, e.g. snowboarding.

Does speed boarding offer a good workout ?

Cardio workout : low

Speed downhill longboarding primarily involves getting into and holding an optimized, minimum air resistance position body position (tuck) for maxiumum speed.

Balance workout : medium

You must be able to remain tucked at high speed, leaning forward with one knee behind the other, a very unstable stance.  You must also be able to shift your weight to the side to adjust course and steer at high speed.

Strength workout : medium

Holding a tuck does require leaning into your front thigh with your knees flexed for long periods of time. This builds strength and endurance in your  front quads, glutes, calves and lower back.

Joint workout : medium

Pressure is primarily on your knees and back ankle, and sometimes in your lumbar area particularly for tucks that involve curving your back (“European” tuck).

Possible negative impact

The tuck position is asymmetrical so you might develop muscle imbalances if you speed ride intensively – switching stance is not easy once you have your tuck and balance figured out.

Wrapping up

Longboarding clearly is a great workout, and as such, offers fantastic health benefits in terms cardio fitness, balance skills, strength training and joint reinforcement and mobility.  How you ride your longboard – and how much you do – will determine in which area(s) you’ll see the most improvement from your skating workouts.

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About me

Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding, regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. I hope this site can help you learn a lot about the riding styles and techniques that best suit your personal goals. Ride on !

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