Surfing is one of the best ways to keep fit – it’s a whole body workout that will test you to the limits! But to get the most out of your surfing, you need to work on your surf fitness. To take your surfing to the next level, you’ll need stamina, muscle strength, and excellent balance.
Here are some of our favourite World Surfers exercises and workouts you can do on dry land to get yourself in peak fitness! We’ll cover the best workouts for your arms, legs, back, chest, shoulders, and core, plus endurance and balance training too.
Why Do Surfers Need to Work Out?
It’s important to work out if you want to be at your peak surf fitness. When you surf, you need plenty of stamina to be able to paddle out to the lineup and catch some waves. If you do regular training, you’ll find it much easier to get up on your board, keep your balance, and perform a range of maneuvers.
If you avoid the gym in between surf sessions, you’ll find it harder to get straight back into it. You might even risk an injury if you push yourself too hard.
By working out, you’ll become stronger, more energetic, flexible, and an all-round better surfer. Here are our tips on how to train for surfing!
The Best Surfers Exercises
The best kind of training for surfing includes exercise with dynamic movements such as lunges, squats, push ups, and pull ups. You need to replicate the movements you do in the water on dry land, so using machines to work on isolated muscles is less effective. It’s better to use your own body weight as resistance instead.
Fitness trainers recommend single leg stances and exercises
Using a balance ball or an Indo board is also a great way to train, as you’ll work your core muscles and test your balance. You’ll find our top balance ball and balance board exercise recommendations below.
Another key part of your training should be some endurance training. You’ll spend most of your time on your board paddling rather than riding waves, so you need the stamina to keep going, or you’ll get worn out quickly.
Aim to incorporate these exercises into your routine at least 3 times a week if possible. Little and often is better than nothing at all – even 10 minutes will make a difference. The good news is that you can do most of these workouts from home as they require with little or no equipment, so you don’t even have to drag yourself to the gym.
Don’t neglect your nutrition either, as it goes hand in hand with a workout regime to maximize your fitness. Avoid processed foods, white sugars, and excessive alcohol consumption. Instead, opt for balanced meals of good fats, lots of protein, and pile up your plate with vegetables. Fruit and nuts make a delicious, nutritious pre-surf snack without filling you up too much.
Now let’s get into your new exercise regime!
You’ll rely on the power in your legs to keep you stable and to maneuver your board. Work on your hip and leg strength with single leg squats – you’ll activate your core as an extra bonus of this movement. Start by standing on one foot, raising the other foot a few inches into the air. With your standing foot, bend down until your leg is at a 45-degree angle and hold for several seconds.
Other excellent moves to add into your workout include dynamic lunges and alternating dumbbell split lunges. Lunges get your hips moving more flexibly and freely, allowing you to get into those key positions on your board.
Squats are also amazing training for surfing. Keep your routine fresh by switching it up with a range of jump squats, front squats, braced squats with a weighted plate, and Bulgarian split squats.
When you’re feeling confident, you can add extra resistance to your squat by holding a dumbbell or weight.
You need a rock strong core for balance, speed, and power when you’re surfing. Balance balls and exercise bands are great props for working on your core – try movements such as Lateral Ball Rolls and Stability Ball Jack Knifes.
Side plank with reach through is also a simple but incredibly effective movement to focus on your obliques. Aim to do several sets of 20 repetitions on both sides.
If you need some more inspiration or tips, check out this video:
Shoulder and Arm Exercises
When it comes to paddling and pushing up to stand on your board, you need power in your arms and a strong upper body. Focus on this area with specific upper body training, including Tricep Pushes, Shoulder Scarecrows, and Cable Face Pulls.
Don’t forget to add in some push ups too, as this classic movement targets your chest, upper arms, and lower arms. The first step to a perfect push up is getting your alignment right, and then you can gradually increase the repetitions.
Some fun push up adaptations for when you’re feeling more confident are the TRX push up. dumbbell push up, and the clap push up.
Full Body Movements
Top surf training should include some dynamic movements that work everything at once. In the water, you need to be able to move fluidly with quick reactions and plenty of power. You can practice this with Dead Lifts, Kettlebell Swings, Pull Ups, and Medicine Ball Chops.F
You probably want to spend as much time as possible out on the water, so it’s essential to work on your endurance. Interval training and HIIT workouts are excellent for this, as are boxing, swimming, circuits, jump rope, and jogging/sprinting in intervals.
Youtube videos are handy as you can follow along at home. Check this HIIT workout designed especially for surf training:
Here’s a brilliant arm, shoulders, hand, and chest workout you can do in the pool to prepare you for all that paddling you’ll be doing! Start off by warming up your body for five minutes with a variety of different strokes.
Next, swim for 200 yards at a comfortable pace, then follow this up with 3 fast stints of 50 yards to work on your strength. Finally, do 4 short stints of 25 yards, really pushing yourself to the limit.
Allow yourself to rest for a couple of minutes, and then repeat at least once. Wind down by reducing your speed and then stretch it out.
The best way to improve your balance is by using a balance ball or an Indo board. Try a few squats and lunges on your balance board – it’ll replicate the movement of your surfboard.
If you don’t have a balance board, you can try to stand and balance on one leg with your eyes closed. It’s amazing what a difference just closing your eyes makes, as you can’t focus on a single point and have to rely on your core instead to steady you.
Some of the top dynamic movements for balance include Jump Squats, Single Leg Dead Lifts, Single Leg Box Squats, and Elevated Split Squats.
Some yoga balances really test your balance, too, such as Tree Pose, Dancer Pose, and Eagle Pose. Check out this helpful Youtube video to find out how to get into some of these positions:
Surfing Warm Up
Don’t forget to warm up before grabbing your board and running into the waves. A good warm up is essential to prepare your nervous system, get your heart pumping, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Jog on the beach for at least 5 minutes to wake your body up, and then perform a few jump ups and deep squats combined with an overhead reach. Throw in a few warrior lunges and standing knee hugs, and you’ll be good to go.
Surfer Exercises FAQ
Is surfing a good workout?
Surfing is an excellent workout for the entire body. You’ll get your heart rate up and work muscles on your back, shoulders, chest, and legs. Your core will be engaged all the time you’re standing on your board, trying to keep your balance. Surfing is a great way to stay fit and have fun!
What muscles do surfers use?
Surfers use a wide range of muscles during a surfing session. When paddling, you use your core, back, shoulder, and arm muscles. To push up on the board and get to a standing position, surfers use their triceps, biceps, chest muscles, and deltoids.
You’ll also use your glutes, leg, and hip muscles while surfing. So you can see that surfing really does work out the whole body!
How do you get in shape for a surf trip?
You can get in shape for a surf trip by hitting the gym and incorporating some of the exercises mentioned above into your workout. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, you can even do most of these activities from home. Lunges, squats, push ups, pull ups, and some endurance training is a great place to start. Check out our tips above for more details!
Why do surfers have great bodies?
Surfing is a full body workout, and you have to be pretty fit to be able to paddle out, stand up on your board, and control your board in the water. If you’re into surfing, the chances are that you work hard to maintain your fitness in and out of the water. This leads to a toned, healthy body.
The Wrap Up
If you want to get the most out of your surfing time and reach your peak surf fitness, you’ll need to put some work into it on a regular basis. This routine is designed specifically for surf training and should help boost your fitness, improve your strength and balance, and build those muscles. When you add these tips and movements into your workout a few times a week, you’ll soon notice a big difference out on the water
Found this article helpful? Share it with your surf buddies over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also pin it to Pinterest so you can refer back to our guide whenever you need to!