Surfer/Fitness & Health Coach
Spinal stability. That's a good thing.

Spinal stability. That’s a good thing.

The Inertia

Editor’s Note: This guide was created in collaboration with the Surf Strength Training Program, a mobile app and online program designed to improve your surfing through fitness, nutrition, movement, and recovery methods. Enter code THEINERTIA to save $30 for a limited time.

Core Training!!! Ripped abs!!! Aagggghhhh!

Yeah, maybe you’ll get some abs, with core training, but that’s not what you should focus on. What you should focus on is spinal stability and pelvic control, and then progress into high speed rotational work, which is much more functional. The ripped abs will come with that. Too often I see guys hopping right into high speed or power dynamic core training.  That’s exactly what surfers need to get to, and what most of the fancy pro-level surfer exercise videos demonstrate, but the average surfer doesn’t have the body of a pro-surfer. So before you get to that point, you should slow it down and focus on the basics… just for a bit.

Surfing Foundational Core Training


It really just comes down to spinal stability and having the necessary flexibility. Do you have the required flexibility to rotate the lower body away from the upper body?  If not, and you go into high speed core training or whippy snaps, you’ll likely end up hurting something. If you don’t have that necessary flexibility, you need to get flexible, or you’re at high risk for injury.  I provide heaps of info on this site regarding various stretches.  Here are a few to take a look at.

Surfing Stretches: Full Body Dynamic Flexibility

Surfing Stretches: Dynamic Surfing Stretches and Warmup

Spinal Stability:  Intrinsic Core Control


This basically means you need to have the “inner-unit” of the core functioning very well, before working on the fast and fancy core training.  Think of an outer layer and an inner layer of the core. The outer layer consists of the abs, obliques, and muscles running up the spine. The inner layer is made of the diaphragm, multifidus, pelvic floor, and transversus abdominis.  We need to make sure the “inner-unit” is functioning well in order to provide stability and safety to the spine.  I see a lot of folks with a dysfunctional inner-unit, which will result in some pain at some point. Check out the video above – it starts with proper diaphragmatic breathing, and basic core control.  Then you’ll progress that into movements that require stability of the spine.  If you can adequately control the spine, then you’re ready for higher speed movements and rotational strength work.

How To Do Them:

Foundational core training for surfers focuses on proper core function and being able to efficiently stabilize the spine. The goal here is technique. Execute these movements with PERFECT  form and get highly efficient with the drills I show in the videos.  Aim for longer duration with the exercises. We want to have you working for 2-4 minutes, so perhaps 4 sets of 1 minute reps. Your aim is to train these muscles to have endurance and the ability to contract and maintain spinal alignment for longer periods of time. Once those exercises are mastered, you can move into more dynamic core training like chops, kettle bell swings, medicine ball throws, and all the fancy stuff you see the pro-surf training programs doing. But you gotta lay the foundation first!

A Few More Foundational Core Training Exercises for Surfers:

Become proficient with these movements. It will keep you out of pain and help you stay injury free. The key is proper progression to all the fancy training, which is what we, as surfers, need to be doing. We just need to find the best method to get there.  Work on these foundations first.

Please share this with any buddies you think could benefit.  Get in touch on Facebook if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see or if you have any questions.

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