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The Inertia

Surfing can deliver an intense full-body workout. From paddling with your arms and shoulders to balancing on the board with your lower body and core, surfing uses every part of your body. You’ll even need mental agility to monitor the conditions and coordinate your movements.

The first few times you try surfing, you’ll use muscles you never knew you had. Overall, this is a sport that requires you to take care of your body if you want to do it well. And that means training in and out of the water if you ever want to take your power, strength, and stability to the next level.

Here are five ways to exercise at home which can benefit your surfing technique as well as improve your overall fitness.

1. Push-Ups

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These days, it seems like no workout routine is complete without a series of push-ups. Rather than including them as part of your workout out of obligation, make them an integral part of your routine.

Push-ups are fantastic for strengthening shoulders, arms, and the upper back. A significant part of the exercise involves having your arms locked and extended, which means that your arms won’t get so tired when you’re using them for balance out on the waves. This is particularly true if you surf atop a SUP, where your arms are extended constantly as they hold the paddle.

For an added challenge or to simulate the experience of being on the waves, add an element of instability into your exercise. This could be anything from using an exercise ball to lifting one foot off the ground throughout the push-up.

2. Planking

When you drop the words “strong core,” many people immediately think of sculpted abs. While abdominal muscles do play an important part in your core strength, there are actually many other muscle groups, including back and pelvic muscles, that compile a truly strong core.

Perhaps the best-known exercise for strengthening core muscles is the plank. Hold yourself prone, with only your toes and your forearms touching the floor. The aim is to keep your entire torso, pelvis, and legs flat, which takes far more muscle control than you might think.

If you’re looking for further inspiration on building core strength, yoga is a good place to start. Many of the poses require a great deal of balance, which will boost your stability. You could even combine your love of the water with this exercise by trying a variation of stand up paddle boarding called yoga SUP. Not only does this strengthen and tone your whole body – especially the core – like any yoga session would, but it adds in the extra challenge of finding balance on an unstable surface.

3. Create Imbalance

Exercises that improve your stability are similar to those which strengthen your core, and many cover both areas. However, exercising to improve your balance is essential for improving surf technique. The surface in which you surf isn’t just uneven. Sometimes it can be fast-moving, choppy or even rough. So no matter what, it’s a constantly changing surface in which you’re riding waves. Any balance training will help you manage challenging conditions.

The key here is to introduce instability to get your body used to combat the different sensations. Exercises using gym balls are great for this as they mimic the natural bounce of the ocean. Alternatively, try using weights as part of your balancing exercises. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with a weight in each hand and your arms hanging down beside you. Bend forward at the waist and, at the same time, extend one leg out behind you. Your arms should swing down at the shoulder so that they’re pointing straight down at the floor. Hold the position, then try it again with the other leg. The idea here is not only to build your sense of balance, but also to strengthen your muscles in those awkward positions. You won’t just be able to balance, you’ll be strong while balancing.

4. Trampolining

Typically considered to be a childhood activity, trampolining can actually be a very useful tool for surfing fitness. This is because like surfing itself, trampolining offers a full body workout. Most of the exercises we’ve looked at so far focus on individual muscle groups, but trampolining works out everything together. Your core strength will be built by trying tricks (or merely staying upright); your arms and shoulders will be toned as they swing to give you more momentum; your legs and ankles will strengthen as they spring against the surface of the trampoline.

Nowadays, the best outdoor trampolines are specifically designed as exercise equipment rather than as toys. They’re robust, durable and long-lasting. In the comfort of your own home, you can spend all afternoon jumping on a trampoline or just a few minutes. Either way, you’ll develop power, muscle strength and stability which will prove invaluable when you head out for the surf.

5. Swimming

Swimming is well known for being one of the best, most effective forms of exercise known to man. The buoyancy of the water supports muscles and joints, allowing them to exercise and build up strength without the impact that comes from working out on dry land. In fact, according to the Aquatic Exercise Association, your target heart rate in water should be 13% lower than it would be on dry land.

Swimming provides a great deal of resistance against which your limbs need to push, building strength. You’ll be more streamlined if you wear a wetsuit, but the power that you’ll need to propel yourself through the water is still huge, so swimming is a highly efficient way of accomplishing this.

When it comes to training for surfing, one of the most beneficial elements of swimming is that it builds stamina. The all-around strength that you’ll build from moving through the water will be more than enough to get your body used to spending a long period of time doing hard exercise.

Surfing is one of the most physically exhausting activities that you’ll ever try, but swimming is one of the most relaxing ways to train for it. Just remember to stretch and wind-down properly after to avoid injury and muscle pain.


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