Last updated 5-05-2024

Is Kiteboarding a workout?

How many calories will you burn? 

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Will kiteboarding get me in shape?

Kiteboarding can be a great way to stay healthy, fit, and lose weight. Like all sports, kitesurfing is a physical activity in which you move your body, expend calories, and learn new movement patterns. Kiteboarding is a perfect complement to a healthy lifestyle because it's only as intense as you want it to be. It can be low-impact and high-intensity or low-impact and low-intensity.

Kiteboarding can burn a lot of calories, but the actual amount will vary from person to person and a lot comes down to how you go about it. Kitesurfing can burn around 150 to 1500 calories or more an hour. I have used a heart rate monitor, and the calorie burn will vary wildly depending on how much energy I expend and how intensely I ride.

Kiteboarding doesn't have to be a workout at all, and you don't have to be fit. You can use an electric pump to inflate the kite and choose to enjoy a relaxing session riding back and forth on the water. This will likely not even get your heart rate up! 

Alternatively, you could walk up and down a sandy beach, pumping your kite up fast, and focusing on doing lots of kiteboarding jumps or tricks. A session like this can be physically demanding if you put a lot of energy into it. Even the act of walking through sand burns more calories than walking on the sidewalk


Table Of Content

  • Do I need to be fit to kitesurf? 
  • Is kiteboarding a workout 
  • How many calories can I burn kiteboarding?
  • Is kiteboarding considered a workout? 
  • Why you should take lessons in Tampa Bay.

Do I need to be fit to kitesurf?

You do not need to be fit to kiteboard. It does help, as physical fitness makes most things in life easier and more enjoyable. The magic of kiteboarding is anyone of any age can learn. We've had students in their 70s or 80s learn. The oldest kitesurfer in the world is over 90 years old. We've also had heavier students over 250 lbs. It's hard to find a harness that will fit past a certain weight. Most kitesurfing harnesses range from extra small to extra large.

Some manufacturers will produce double XL harnesses. You will meet riders of all ages and physicalities. There is a strong community aspect, and while everyone has their motives for kiteboarding, we all enjoy spending time outside in nature and progressing in our own way. Some people enjoy the community aspect and focus on basics like sailing upwind or maybe trying small jumps. You can enjoy kiteboarding without breaking a sweat or breathing too heavily. 

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Other kiteboarders might be running up and down the beach to set up their kite and pushing themselves to the limits on the water. Riding in big winds and using their core muscles for powered kite loops or rotations.

Some kiters might be riding unhooked from the kite and essentially doing 100 pull-ups in an hour! This kind of riding is similar to circuit training and sprinting. This is far from the norm, but it is a way to turn kiteboarding into a physically demanding sport. 

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Is kiteboarding a workout? 

is kiteboarding physically demanding?

Kitesurfing does not have to be physically demanding. The baseline fitness requirement parallels a brisk walk, and bodyweight squats underwater. Your first kiteboarding lesson might feel like a light workout. Some students don't feel any exertion at all. Kite students who are not in shape never have issues learning, but they might get winded and feel their core activated.The first few sessions can feel like a light workout, but this will quickly help you learn.

Once you get efficient with the kite and your water starts, it takes little strength and energy. It's a sport of finesse and skill, not strength. You will need mild core strength to fly the kite and control the bar. A water start will require the ability to bring your knees slightly into your chest while lying on your back in the water. Riding on the water is standing in a semi-squat while the kite holds you up. 

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Does kiteboarding take a lot of arm strength?

A common misnomer is kiteboarding takes a lot of arm strength. The control bar is only used for steering the kite. You can hold on easily with one hand and light pressure from your fingers. You will be wearing a kite harness attached to the kitesurfing kite. The pull of the kite comes from the harness. A seat harness will take less strength than a waist harness. It will have leg straps and sit low on your body so you can sit into the harness and use the kite to hold you up.

A waist harness sits higher, offers more flexibility, and requires more core strength. Your baseline fitness will improve quickly, so you will have the choice to make kiteboarding more physically demanding. Working on jumps, new tricks, and other skills can increase the strength requirement. Small jumps are more accessible than you think, and your time riding will build the baseline you need. You do not need to be an athlete or even strong to jump kiteboarding. If you can jump on the ground, you can jump with a kite. 

How many calories can I burn kiteboarding? 

Kiteboarding can burn anywhere from 150 calories an hour to 1500 calories or more. This will vary wildly from person to person and how you ride. If you want to burn more calories, you can make your sessions and set up more intense. Anything that gets your heart rate up will significantly increase your calorie expenditure. For example, when setting up your kite you can jog through the sand and pump your kite up fast. When you are on the water, you can ride hard. Trying lots of new tricks and jumps back to back will take a lot of energy.

Try new movement patterns, like popping to toeside, small kite loops, or grabs. Jumping with a kite is similar to jumping on the ground. If you jump once every few minutes, it won't burn a lot of calories. If you jump over and over consistently, your heart rate will go up, your legs will burn, and you will be working hard. If you try some new kiteboarding grabs, you will bring your legs into your chest, much like doing a sit-up or leg raise


You can get into unhooked freestyle kiteboarding if you want the most intense workout. This will require full body strength as you fly the kite unhooked and pull the bar into your hips for every trick. This will take arm strength as you must fly the kite without the harness. You will take the kite's power through your arms, core, and legs to pop off the water.

You will do a pull-up or rowing movement in freestyle to keep the bar close for landings. This would be like doing a calisthenics cardio circuit routine and will burn the most calories.Big air kiteboarding is a demanding core workout. You need to brace your core against the kite's pull when doing a kite loop. To send big jumps, you will need to hold down a lot of power from the kite.

Is kiteboarding considered a workout? 

Kiteboarding should be fun first. It can be part of your health and well-being routine. Spending time outdoors, being active, having goals, and engaging with a community is monumental for health, but there are more effective ways to work out. Treat kiteboarding as a fun add-on to your fitness rather than your primary focus. If you have a specific health goal, it is better to work with an expert and follow a routine that aims to achieve that goal, mainly due to consistency and progressive overload. The body adapts fast.

A good workout needs to be consistent and to get stronger or faster, you need to increase the intensity over time. It can be challenging to ride 3 days a week or quantify the effort. Kiteboarding is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle if you want to have fun and engage your mind and body while burning some extra calories. You can build a fitness routine around kiteboarding and reap amazing benefits. You don't have to work out for kiteboarding, but for those who become addicted to kites, building a workout to improve your riding is fun. I'm as passionate about my routine as I am about my riding. 

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Focus on strength, endurance, and mobility for better kiteboarding. Yoga, your choice of cardio, and some form of strength training will improve your athleticism on the water. Calisthenics are an excellent way to stay fit for advanced kiteboarding. Pushups, pull-ups, body weight squats, dips, rowing, and so on require you to move your body through space. Not only will this keep you strong for the sport, but it will also help develop the necessary spatial awareness for more tricks. Lifting heavy weights will also build strength, but you are moving an external object, so there is less crossover.  Mobility and cardio are essential.

The better you can move, the more agile you will be for grabs, board-offs, and other kiteboarding tricks. Cardio is necessary for health in general, but it will be hard to progress if you get winded quickly during a challenging session. Swimming is low impact yet high intensity to get your lungs burning. Biking is also a complimentary activity that many kiters use for cross-training. If you are able, running is my go-to for kite fitness.   

In summary, kiteboarding can burn lots of calories and help you get into shape. It does not require a lot of fitness to start, and you will get into kiteboarding shape quickly once you start. You can make it more intense over time, and it will have a place in a healthy lifestyle. Kiteboarding is for everyone of every age, and we encourage you to try it. You'll be moving your body outside, engaging with a solid community, and, most importantly, having fun while moving. If you are a Florida local, book a kitesurfing lesson with us and enjoy the fun. 

 Why learn kiteboarding in Tampa Bay.

We have one of the best beginner kiteboarding locations in the United States for learning to kiteboard. We have shallow flat waters that allow kiteboarding students to stand up when they fall. There is no shore break or deep waters to hinder progress.

We get consistent smooth wind that works in every direction. Our St Petersburg-based kitesurfing school offers jet ski support and custom kiteboarding lesson packages. Come join us and see what the fun is all about.

Need help buying your first kiteboarding kite? 

The expert team at Elite Watersports is here to serve. If you have any kiteboarding related questions call us. We can build custom kiteboarding packages, book kiteboarding lessons or simply offer helpful advice. We're your one stop shop for kiteboarding knowledge.

If you need help deciding on your first kiteboarding kite give Elite Watersports a call. We're happy to set you up with your first kiteboarding kite.



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Ryan "Rygo" Goloversic



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