Whether this is your first Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot and Paddle or you’re an experienced runner/paddleboarder wanting to improve your finish time, training will help you reach your goal and finish strong.


In this first of a two-part, all-levels’ guide to training, certified personal fitness trainer, corrective exercise specialist and Yoga teacher, Michael Kuang (Owner of Syphon Fitness), shows you easy to follow techniques to help you ace your race.

A teacher of mine once said “You have to get in shape to play a sport, not play a sport to get in shape”. This mindset made a huge impact on me, and it is what led to the change in my perspective on fitness and my career path. Today, my main fitness focus as a personal trainer is Corrective Exercise and Yoga, which is a combination of western sports medicine and eastern forms of exercise.

The Corporate Grind

Before becoming a Personal Trainer, I was working in the corporate world. I was spending 40+ hours sitting behind a computer screen, and really only had time to exercise for about an hour or so a day. This equated to a body that was easily injured due to postural imbalances. I’ve dealt with injuries like plantar fasciitis, achilles heel strain, knee strain, lower back strain, shoulder and neck strain. Mostly from improper movements of my body. Using a combination of western sports medicine and eastern forms of exercise like Yoga I was able to deal with these injuries and heal myself.

Developing a Strong Core and Upper Body Strength for Endurance Training or Sports

In this post I will share a few of stretches I use to help 5K runners, joggers, and paddleboarders reduce the likelihood of injury. The techniques can be done daily or as often as needed. This blog will focus on the core and upper body, part two will feature the hips and legs.


Working the Core will help the body support the spine. Think of it as is the link to the movements of the rest of the body. Having a weak core can cause the body to not function correctly, leading to variety of injuries. Having strong abdominal muscles and strong back muscles will help keep the body in balance. When you’re running, your core is the powerhouse that keeps the entire body moving. Your arms and legs stem from the torso,  if your core is stable the rest of the body moves fluidly. When applied to paddle boarding, the core is essential. Keep your core engaged allows you to have better control over the board. The hips want to move in a different way than the shoulders as you paddle. Your core keeps both in alignment and working together so you paddle efficiently and effectively.

Below are some core stretches and exercises you can use.


Keep the toes pointed and on the ground. Bring the hands under the shoulders and lift the torso up while keeping the hips on the ground. Open up the chest and feel the engagement of the low back. 30 second hold.

 Side PlankIMG_4153

Start on the forearm, getting the elbow under the shoulder and the arm parallel to the mat. Stack the feet on top of each other, and press the hips off the ground. Keep the hip in line with the rest of the body with out collapsing.  30 second hold on each side.


Keep both hands under the shoulders, feet and knees together. Lift the hips off the ground and get your body in a straight line. Squeeze your Quadriceps and pull your lower belly in. 30 second hold.

 Boat PoseIMG_4161

Find a comfortable position on your sit bones. Bring the knees into the chest and slowly lift the feet of the ground. Pull the lower belly in to engage the core. Straighten the leg and lengthen the spine as you open up the chest. 30 second hold.


Keep the hips on the ground. Bring the feet and knees together. Inhale and lift the chest and knees off the ground. The arms and legs will come up as well. Engage through the low back muscles to left higher with every breath. 30 second hold.


The shoulders are the last thing on someone’s mind when they think about running. But the shoulders actually play a big part in running. As the shoulders move back and forth the momentum travels down the body to the legs. Which helps reduce the workload of the legs as well as stabilize the body as it moves. Tight muscles in the upper body distort full range of motion of the shoulder girdle and can affect your running posture. Try running without moving the arms or shoulders and see how difficult it is versus moving the arms and shoulders back and forth. This is an over exaggerated view point, but you can really see where the shoulders play a role in running.

For Paddle boarders, the shoulders are the prime movers of the activity. It’s important to keep the upper body strong yet flexible. The repetitive motion of the rowing can lead to the shoulders being over worked. The activities below can really help the upper body function the way it should.

 Foam roll the chestIMG_4095

You can use a foam roller or a softball. Lay on top of the roller and work into the Pectoral muscle. This helps to open the chest and shoulders. 30 second hold on each side.

 Foam roll Thoracic SpineIMG_4091

Place the roller under the shoulder blades and  keep the feet and hips on the ground. Bring the hands under the head and tilt the head back as you open the chest and throat. 30 second hold

 Foam roll Latissimus DorsiIMG_4092

Place the roller under the torso just behind the armpit. Keep the bottom arm extended and work into the Lat by leaning back slightly. Keep the rest of the body relaxed. Hold 30 seconds.

 Stretch the chest and anterior Deltoid (Shoulder)


Clasp the hands behind your back and squeeze the palms and shoulder blades together. Slowly lift the arms up towards the shoulder and relax the chest and shoulders. Hold 30 seconds.

 Stretching the Lats



Stand up tall with both feet firmly pressing to the ground. Reach the arms up and grab the wrist with the other hand (right wrist to stretch to the left, and left wrist to stretch to the right). Relax the shoulders and inhale to lengthen the spine. Bend to the appropriate side and press in to the opposite foot (right foot if stretching left, and left foot if stretching right). 30 seconds each side.

Strengthen the shoulder and upper back (Dolphin Pushup)IMG_4150


Start in a forearm plank position. Keeping the elbows under the shoulders, feet and knees together, pulling in the lower abdominal, and keeping the hips even with the ground. Exhale and press the hips up into a V and work the heels close to the ground. Inhale back to plank position. 10-15 reps 2 sets.

Strengthen the chest (Pushup)IMG_4152


 Start in a plank position with your hands under the shoulders, bring feet and knees together, lower belly pulled in, and hips in a straight line with the body. Push off on your toes to shift forward a inch or so. Take a deep breath and exhale as you lower. Keep your elbows in towards the ribs and only bend the elbow 90 degrees. Your body should look the same as your Plank position. Only difference is the position of the elbow. You can always modify with your knees on the ground. 10-15 reps for 2-3 sets.

Again, these tips can be applied and used on a daily basis or as much as needed. Bringing the body back into alignment is important in any situation. Especially if you are wanting to start moving your body more. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. SyphonFitness@gmail.com or visit my website at www.syphonfitness.com.

Read Part 2 of the Stronger Foundations. Better Results (Lower Body)


Michael Kuang is the Owner of Syphon Fitness (Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist with the National Academy of Sport Medicine, he is also a Certified Yoga Teacher). His passion to help people started when he was looking to switch careers from being an Accountant. The wellness career path has brought lots of great things to Michael’s life, including making the move from his hometown of Dallas, TX and starting the business in South Florida. His motto is “Stronger Foundations, Better Results”, referring to his training method of getting the body to move and function properly.

Photos courtesy of Erika Colin




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