Surf Fitness - The Fundamentals

Every surfer knows that surfing is a physically demanding sport. And like most surfers you want to add some training to boost your surfing fitness. So you start to run a couple miles (good leg training, right?), throw in some pushups (good upper body workout), and knock out some 200 stomach crunches (because you know those abs are important for a strong core). Not a bad start, but it could be even better. Because when you train for surfing, you need to use a surfing specific training program. Looking at the above training routine, lets take a look at what you are really getting from it, and how we can make your training more surf specific.

Old school: Running
Great activity. But great for runners! And although running will build your aerobic fitness, I've never seen a surfer do what looks and feels like running on his surfboard. And besides, it's your upper body that needs the aerobic endurance, not your legs. A better leg training exercise for surfers is the Jump Squat.

New school: Jump Squat
Rather than working only your leg endurance (like running does) the jump squat adds power, balance, and most importantly, mirrors the exact position you surf in.

Jump Squat - The perfect exercise for surfing fitness
Jump Squat - The perfect exercise for surfing fitness 

Old school: Push ups
Good choice, but it could be even better. Surfer's need a strong upper body to pop to their feet. But when you push up on your board, you are also twisting your torso and jumping into a standing position. Only doing the push up is just a piece of what you really need. Replace your push ups with the Surfer's Pop Up.

New school: Surfer's Pop Up
With the Surf'er's Pop Up you can practice getting to your feet more times than during a typical surf session. This practice will help you nail that transition from your chest to your feet on your next paddle out.

Surfer's popup demonstration
Surfer's popup demonstration 

Old school: Stomach Crunches
While doing crunches you are training your core and your abs will burn. But surfing is done standing -- not lying on your back. Don't stop doing your crunches, but train your core while standing also -- the same way you use your core when you surf. In addition to crunches include a Dumbbell Wood Chop.

New school: Dumbbell Wood Chop
Squatting, weight shifting and rotating your torso occur in almost every surfing maneuver. The dumbbell wood chop integrates upper body, lower body, and core training in one movement. Exactly what happens while maneuvering your board. In addition, the lower body training is fast and explosive, again much like surfing.

WoodChop demonstration for surfing fitness
WoodChop demonstration for surfing fitness 

These surfing specific exercises are taken directly from Surf Stronger, The Surfer's Workout. Available on DVD at fine surf shops nationwide and at

So remember if your exercise looks and feels like surfing, you are on the right track. If it doesn't, those exercises are probably better suited for another sport.

Keep fit, and I'll see you in the water.

Coach Scott

For more surf-specific training, get a Surf Stronger video today.

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.