From its humble beginnings in 1885 to its mainstream popularity today, surfing remains a gratifying and rewarding pastime. The excitement of being alone on your board in the vast ocean gives nothing but natural high.
As stimulating as it may sound, surfing is a physically and mentally demanding activity. It needs you to have a fantastic combination of strength, power, endurance, balance, flexibility, speed, and mental toughness.
We listed down surf fitness exercises that will improve your surfing and boost your athletic capacity. The best workouts for surfing will prepare you to tackle more giant waves as your fitness level meets the strength and ability every wave requires you to have.
Why Should You Workout for Surfing?
The best training for surfing would be, well, surfing too. But, if you are getting three to four sessions a week, it wouldn’t be enough to keep you physically fit in the water.
Cody Thompson, a Floridian surfer and personal trainer, suggests that spending an hour inside a musty, halogen-lit gym can appear entirely dissonant for sliding on the waters, but doing so can help your surfing skills in the long run.
Thompson says that if you want to become a better surfer, you can ride more waves. But, if you don’t get to surf as often as you wish, you can incorporate into your gym routine some workouts for surfing to keep you in surf-shape.
Best Workouts for Surfing
Generally, you don’t need to be incredibly fit to surf. Although, it helps if you are relatively active and in shape, can swim a few lengths, and enjoy surf sessions without feeling too exhausted.
It can be pretty tricky to train for surfing – you must exercise on land to perform well in the water. You need to prepare your entire body dynamically by imitating the movements on the surfboard.
Keeping yourself in surf-shape is another thing. As we’ve hinted above, if you are fit to surf, you can go on surfing for extended hours without feeling too tired. We’ve compiled a list of the best workouts for surfing to improve your surfing and boost your athletic capacity.
The main component of most lower body exercise programs is squats, and it is a crucial pattern to surfing. Imagine crouching through a bottom turn, landing at a higher speed with a complete rail turn – the best way to achieve that is to have a strong lower body with healthy joints to move through the full range of motion.
Even though many consider them as leg exercise, basic squats are, in fact, a full-body workout. And, it is the best workout for surfing. When you surf, the ankles, knees, hips, and spine support a heavy load, so they need to be as strong as they can be. As you progress, add load and complexity. Some of the squat variations you can try are:
- Jump squats or going down into a squat and explosively jumping as high as you can from the squat position.
- Single leg squats or standing on one leg and squatting as low as you can. You can hold on to something for support and slowly let go once you get the hang of it.
- Bulgarian split squats. Do this while standing straight and raising one leg on a chair or box behind you. Achieve by bending your front knee, lowering your back knee towards the ground, and going as low as possible.
- Barbell squats. Do this while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip. Squat down and repeat.
- Braced squats. This squat variation requires you to hold a weight plate in front of your chest with both hands and arms straight. Then perform a squat while keeping the plate in place.
The amazing benefits for your overall athletic ability are what make Turkish get-ups more popular than ever. Combine them with your surf training program, and it will increase your mobility, joint health, dynamic movements, spine stability, shoulder control, core strength, and many more.
As you develop your skill and precision with Turkish get-ups, slowly add some load and go up to 44 lbs (20 kgs) for men and 26 lbs (12 kg) for women.
Think through all the dynamic positions you are putting your joints through while surfing. Different hip positions while turning or popping up, shoulder angles as you duck dive or rotate – all of them are encompassed in this workout for surfing.
Turkish get-ups are quite a versatile workout that you may choose to utilize this exercise as a part of your surf warmup, too.
Push-ups are raising and lowering your body using your arms from the prone position. This exercises the pectoral muscles, triceps, and interior deltoids. In short, it builds both the upper body and your core strength. The good old basic push-up will never go out of any workout routine, including workouts for surfing.
Push-ups engage your whole body and strengthen the core, align the spine, and improve shoulder control. It is a good workout for surfing, considering the water activity needs a strong upper body for easier pop-ups, duck dives, and injury prevention.
For push-ups, alignment should be worked on first. Then the volume or how many more reps you can do. After mastering the classic push-up, you can work your way up to TRX or gym ring push-ups. You may also add weight by elevating your feet or wearing a weighted vest.
- Ring push-ups – this great progression exercise emphasizes building strength in the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder while increasing coordination and additional muscle recruitment in the chest.
- TRX push-ups – push-ups performed using the TRX suspension system allows you to use your own body weight as resistance during the movement.
- Dumbell push-ups – with a dumbbell in each hand while in a push-up position, you can work out by pushing up and rotating 90 degrees to one side, and raising one weight overhead.
- Clap push-ups – in the same push-up position, lower your body until just a few inches above the ground. Forcefully push yourself back up and as your hands leave the ground, clap in midair.
- Burpee push-ups – this type of push-up mimics the exact movement you do when you catch a wave and have to pop up quickly. Add more complexity by landing with one foot in front of the other.
Another workout for surfing that copies the surf-specific leg and hip movements is the lunges. This popular strength training exercise reinforces, sculpts, and tones your body while improving overall fitness and enhancing your athletic performance.
- Dynamic lunges – step forward and into the lunge position, jump and switch sides—land with the opposite foot ahead. Repeat until you can no longer maintain good posture.
- Overhead walking lunges – hold one dumbbell or weight plate in each hand. Lift overhead and engage your abs. Lunge and step forward while bending your front knee until your thigh aligns with the opposite foot ahead. Repeat with the other leg.
- Alternate medicine ball twist lunges – stand with your feet level and evenly spaced and hold the medicine ball to your chest. Take a step forward and come into a low lunge. Twist your body to the outside of your front foot while holding the ball in place.
- Alternating dumbbell split lunges – grip the dumbbell in each hand next to your sides with palms facing each other. Take a step forward with one leg, then get into a lunge. Jump and switch sides.
- Alternating sandbag lunges – stand tall while holding the sandbag with both hands. Step back into a reverse lunge position while you rotate your body. Bring the sandbag to the outside of your front foot and come back. Repeat with the opposite side.
The stability ball is one of the top fitness tools today. Basic exercises on this ball help, especially on an unstable surface, improve strength, balance, and cardio endurance.
- Exercise ball dumbbell rotations – hold a dumbbell with both hands and lie on your back on the ball. Turn around as far as you can to one side and then to the other.
- Exercise ball dumbbell row – hold a dumbbell in one hand and rest the other hand on the ball. Bend at the hips with your torso parallel to the ground and your back laying flat. Row the dumbbell to one side and complete the reps on one side, then switch sides.
- Kneeling exercise ball press – hold one dumbbell in each hand and kneel on the exercise ball. Find your balance as you lift the dumbbells to shoulder level. Press overhead.
- Exercise ball jackknife – be in a push-up position while resting your shins on the ball. Keep your torso straight. Then, draw your knees to your chest as the ball rolls forward.
Indo boards are slowly becoming a popular piece of fitness equipment amongst surfers. Created by an indoor surfing trainer, the Indo board is an exciting way to energize your surfing workout, improve your balance, and build core strength.
These balance boards are perfect for getting wave-ready. Some of the surf-specific exercises you can do on these boards are:
- Rocking – stand on the board, find your balance with a broader stance. Start rocking it from side to side to ensure the weight stays in the center and over the roller. This is perfect for improving balance, posture, and surfing stance.
- Barrel Stance – crouch into your typical barrel stance and keep your position and the Indo roller still. Try coming out of your barrel stance into your normal riding stance and repeat. It would be best if you could hold for 30 seconds.
- Cross-stepping – strengthen your heel-toe response with this longboard trick. Stand in place on one foot. When feeling steady, start crossing over the other. As the board won’t slide back under you, walk as a longboard does. Keep it steady, directly above your feet as you walk while you keep your balance.
- Nose ride – work on your knee and hip as you bend for when you’re dangling toes. To do this, slide one direction to make your foot almost directly above the roller. Take a bold step with the other foot and turn 90 degrees to face the short side. Take a few little steps to get your toes eventually off the Indo board. Lean back if you must so you can center your weight above the deck.
As with most endurance-building routines, running is essential as it includes lots of cardio. Running is one of the most straightforward ways to increase your physical endurance. Just go out there and run – as often as you can and for as long as possible.
Running improves your lung capacity, keeps you at an optimum weight, and strengthens your legs. All of these benefits are necessary if you want to endure long hours of catching waves.
Your running routine should be at least half an hour three times a week. If your schedule can’t let you squeeze in such an amount of time, you can do it in bursts of speed instead of long and moderate ones. Ten minutes of intense speed bursts will do wonders for your endurance.
As with any physical activity, it gets more fun if you are backed with the fitness levels that it requires. A constant fitness routine that concentrates on most of the workouts for surfing we mentioned above will dramatically improve your surfing endurance. It won’t be long until you can ride the waves for hours on end.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: What else should be considered to be fit enough for surfing?
A: Aside from a religious routine of workouts for surfing, nutrition is vital to staying fit enough to be on the waters. With the proper nutrition, you have consistent energy levels and are healthy, too. A balanced diet is essential for surfers. Here are some more tips to keep in mind:
- Eat real whole foods
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Don’t consume too much alcohol
- Replenish your muscle glycogen
- Eat less white flour made food
- Buy local, fresh, and organic
- Don’t skip breakfast