Did you know that surfing is experiencing one of the largest growth surges in history? If you surf, you can surf longer and get less fatigued if you’re stronger and more flexible when you hit the waves. Even if you don’t surf, these training tips can help you improve upper-body and core strength. To understand what makes the best surfing-specific workout, read these insights from Lenita Anthony, MA, exercise physiologist, Reebok master trainer and San Diego surfer.
Although cardiovascular endurance is important for performance, surfing itself may not provide enough cardio training. Swimming is an obvious choice for improving a surfer’s cardiovascular conditioning, but some surfers experience shoulder-overuse injury from combining surfing and swimming. If so, cross-train with activities like rowing, cycling and running.
As a surfer you spend significantly more time paddling than actually surfing, so upper-body strength and endurance are essential. The lats, pecs and triceps muscles provide the power for paddling. The rhomboids, levator scapulae and erector spinae muscles act to allow you to extend your trunk, and the deltoids are largely responsible for the recovery portion of the arm stroke. Strength in the lower body is also important for leg drive and power. Squats and lunges are great exercises because they mimic the semicrouched position required in critical sections of the wave.
Flexibility in the leg, hip and back muscles and mobility throughout the body are also crucial to surfing success. Paul Frediani, author of Surf Flex, feels that yoga is the perfect presurfing warm-up. A routine of yoga Sun Salutations after surfing is also a good way to improve flexibility.
Riding waves requires you to react quickly to the unstable environment of the ocean. You need to move dynamically in many planes while maintaining core stability, balance and coordination. You can use exercise equipment such as stability balls, core boards, foam rollers and pads to develop proprioception, which is the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body.