Surf Stronger: Surf Fitness

Tips and tricks to keep you fit as a fiddle for surfing!

Surfing is one of the most pleasurable, but also one of the most physically challenging sports. To surf you need the skills to swim, to paddle out, to catch a wave, to balance on the board and to top it all off decision making is also required! Some dry land training can be extremely beneficial, allowing you to perform better, catch more waves and increase your stamina. Doing a bit of work outside the water will also go a long way for injury prevention.

What sort of training should I be doing?

Increase your swimming and paddle fitness

When you surf, your body uses both your aerobic energy system (with oxygen) and your anaerobic energy system (without oxygen). In order to better your cardiovascular fitness for surfing, you need to work on both of these energy systems concurrently. One of the most efficient ways of achieving this is through interval training. Surfing requires stretches of explosive energy output, in combination with bouts of lower energy output such as casual paddling. It is very important to train for both elements. Interval training combines high energy explosive output with longer, slower duration energy output. Check this great swimming interval workout. Intervals can be incorporated into nearly any exercise format.

Core Strength

Core stability plays a crucial role in your general fitness program and is exceptionally important for surfers. Despite common misbelief, the core is made up of much more than your abs. It is made up of a number of muscles throughout your trunk that help to stabilize and communicate movement and power throughout your entire body. These muscles provide the foundation for the body’s movements. Working on your core stability will aid overall performance, improve balance and will help to prevent injuries. The most important element of core strength is core stability, which requires using your core muscles to stabilise your torso when there are external forces acting against you. The basics of this are bridge or plank type exercises.

Upper Body

To just paddle out into small surf necessitates good upper body strength, let alone when you have to spend minutes paddling against walls of white water. Once you manage to get through all of this you still need the energy to look for a wave, catch it, stand up on your board….surfing is hard work!! Paddling can be one of the most tiring elements and requires strong shoulders, a resilient upper back and a powerful core. Extra training for your shoulders and upper back can help you build a stronger, durable, and pain-free upper body.

Lower Body & Balance Training

You will also need to have a lot of lower body strength and power for when you are up on your board and riding. Balance is another critical component for surfers which will help stop you from wiping out. Strong and fit legs will mean that you can execute powerful drills without increasing your risk of injury. A good training program will test your balance demands, so that not only will you have speedier reaction times, but also are able to dynamically stabilise your joints.

Mobility & Flexibility

Mobility and flexibility are fundamental for surf fitness. Mobility refers to our capacity to move freely with no stress on the body. Flexibility is contingent on the range of motion of our muscles. The two are not the same but good mobility can assist your flexibility and vice versa. Many surfers use yoga to work on both their mobility and their flexibility. Check this video for a great 15 minute yoga routine designed specifically for surfing.

Good quality surf training will ensure that your body is ready for that next big line up and will keep you fit and injury free, so you can stay active and carry on surfing for plenty of years. For more information check out the Surf Strength Coach who has a whole video series on YouTube with great tips for how to stay fit for surfing! Jenreviews also has a great blog, by a two-time Olympian, about how to build your own workout routine!

Want to learn how to surf? Check my article on the best beginner spots in the UK for this summer!

Stephanie Contomichalos

Stephanie Contomichalos is a sports enthusiast. She is an avid crossfitter, wakeboarder and has recently qualified as a Level 1 CrossFit coach. She is also an advocate for women’s sport and for using sport as a tool for development. She is currently living in Athens, Greece.

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