How to Get in Shape for Surfing


Surfing is a demanding sport that requires a specific set of physical skills. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned surfer, getting in shape for surfing is essential. Having the necessary strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility will not only improve your performance but also reduce your risk of injury. In this article, we will explore the physical demands of surfing, how to create a surf-specific workout plan, and the nutrition needed to support your surfing fitness.

Understanding the Physical Demands of Surfing

Surfing is a sport that requires a unique combination of physical attributes. It is not just about standing on a board and riding a wave. It requires a lot of strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility to be able to catch waves and ride them with style and grace. Understanding these demands can help you tailor your training to improve your surfing fitness.

Surfing is a great full-body workout that engages almost all the muscles in your body. Here are some of the key physical demands of surfing and how you can train to improve them:

Cardiovascular Endurance

Surfing requires a lot of paddling to catch waves, and that means a lot of cardiovascular endurance. If you get winded quickly while surfing or have difficulty catching waves, then focusing on cardiovascular training is necessary. Running, cycling, and swimming are all great ways to improve your cardiovascular endurance. You can also try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to simulate the short bursts of energy required during surfing.

Upper Body Strength

The upper body muscles are heavily utilized in paddling, duck diving, and pop-up. In addition, the upper back, shoulders, and arms are essential in maintaining balance while riding the wave. Strength training exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and shoulder presses can help you build the upper body strength you need for surfing. You can also try resistance band exercises to target specific muscles and improve your paddling power.

Lower Body Strength

The lower body muscles are also important in catching waves and maintaining balance. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts are great exercises for building lower body strength, especially the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. You can also try plyometric exercises such as jump squats and box jumps to improve your explosive power and agility.

Core Stability

The core muscles are crucial in maintaining balance while surfing. The rectus abdominis, oblique, and lower back muscles are engaged in almost every movement a surfer makes. Planks, sit-ups, and hanging leg raises are all great exercises for developing core stability. You can also try yoga poses such as boat pose and plank variations to improve your core strength and stability.

Flexibility and Balance

Surfing requires a lot of flexibility and balance, both in the water and on land. Yoga, stretching, and balance exercises such as standing on one leg with your eyes closed can help you improve your flexibility and balance skills. You can also try foam rolling to release tight muscles and improve your range of motion.

Overall, surfing is a challenging and rewarding sport that requires a lot of physical and mental preparation. By understanding the physical demands of surfing and training accordingly, you can improve your surfing fitness and enjoy the waves with confidence and skill.

Creating a Surf-Specific Workout Plan

Surfing is an amazing sport that requires a lot of physical fitness. The physical demands of surfing include paddling, duck diving, popping up, and riding waves. To be able to perform these movements with ease, you need to have a strong and flexible body. In this article, we will guide you through creating a surf-specific workout plan that will help you improve your surfing fitness.

Warm-Up and Stretching

A proper warm-up is essential before any workout. It prepares your body for physical activity and helps prevent injury. For surfing, it’s important to warm up your upper and lower body as well as your core. You can start with some light cardio such as jogging or jumping jacks to get your heart rate up. Then, move on to stretching your upper and lower body. Some great stretches for surfers include shoulder stretches, hamstring stretches, and hip stretches. Finally, do some mobility drills such as arm circles and leg swings to get your joints moving.

Cardiovascular Exercises

Surfing requires a lot of endurance, so it’s important to include cardiovascular exercises in your workout plan. Choose exercises that mimic the physical demands of surfing such as rowing, running, cycling, and swimming. These exercises will not only improve your endurance but also help you build strength in your upper and lower body. Aim to perform these exercises for at least 30 minutes at a moderate intensity.

Strength Training for Surfers

Strength training is crucial for surfers as it helps improve your paddling power, balance, and stability. Focus on exercises that target your upper body, lower body, and core muscles. Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, and planks are all great exercises for surfers. Try to perform 3-4 sets of each exercise for 8-12 reps. You can also add weights to your exercises to make them more challenging.

Core Exercises

Having a strong core is essential for surfing as it helps you maintain balance and stability on the board. Add specific core exercises such as sit-ups, Russian twists, and hanging leg raises to your workout. These exercises will not only improve your core strength but also help you develop better body control. Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise for 8-12 reps.

Balance and Flexibility Training

Surfing requires a lot of balance and flexibility, so it’s important to include exercises that target these skills in your workout plan. Yoga, stretching, and balance drills are all great options. Spend at least 10 minutes at the end of your workout stretching and doing mobility and balance exercises. This will help improve your flexibility, balance, and body awareness.

Cool Down and Recovery

After a workout, it’s important to cool down and allow your body to recover. Stretching, foam rolling, and using a massage ball are all great ways to relax your muscles after a workout. Proper recovery is essential for preventing injury and improving performance. Make sure to give your body enough time to recover before your next workout.

By following this surf-specific workout plan, you’ll be able to improve your surfing fitness and take your skills to the next level. Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity of your workouts as needed. With consistency and dedication, you’ll be riding waves like a pro in no time!

Nutrition for Surfing Fitness

Proper nutrition is essential to support your surfing fitness goals. Eating a well-balanced diet can help you maintain energy levels, support muscle growth, and aid in recovery. But what exactly does a well-balanced diet look like for a surfer?

First and foremost, hydration is key. Surfing in the ocean and sweating during workouts can lead to dehydration. Ensure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day and during your workout. Adding electrolytes supplements or sports drinks during and after your workout can help replenish lost fluids and nutrients.

Macronutrients for Energy and Muscle Building

When it comes to macronutrients, a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is essential for surfers. Carbohydrates are essential for providing energy during workouts, so be sure to include complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, and fruits in your diet. Proteins are necessary for muscle growth and recovery, so aim to include lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and tofu in your meals. Finally, fats are important for hormone regulation and brain function, so don’t shy away from healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil.

Micronutrients for Optimal Performance

While macronutrients are important, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal performance and recovery. Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. For example, leafy greens are high in iron, which is important for oxygen transport in the body, while citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which can help with muscle recovery.

Pre- and Post-Surf Snacks

Eating a snack before and after surfing can help you maintain energy levels and aid in recovery. Pre-surf snacks should be high in carbohydrates to provide energy, while post-surf snacks should be high in protein to support muscle growth and recovery. Some great pre-surf snack options include a banana with nut butter, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. For post-surf snacks, try Greek yogurt with fruit, a protein smoothie, or a turkey and avocado wrap.

By following these nutrition tips, you can fuel your body for optimal surfing performance and recovery.


In conclusion, getting in shape for surfing requires a combination of cardiovascular endurance, upper and lower body strength, core stability, flexibility, and balance. Creating a surf-specific workout plan and eating a well-balanced diet can help you reach your surfing fitness goals. Remember to listen to your body, take rest days, and give yourself time to recover to prevent injury and reach optimal performance.

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