Surfing Fitness

Surfing Workout

Quality surf workouts keep your body prepared to surf hard, prevent injury and keep you fit for life. Focus on high reps of compound exercises that train balance, strength and coordination.

These workouts focus on bodyweight exercises that feel like surfing and can be done with or without weights.


Surfing workouts focus on building the major muscles in the upper body, such as the shoulders and chest. They also train the core to improve balance and stability. These classes move quickly through a series of exercises to keep your heart rate up.

Most surfing-inspired workouts are done with bodyweight, but some may include a few weighted exercises. A typical routine includes a few sets of multiple repetitions (reps), with a rest period between each set.

To build muscle endurance for surfing, a program should include several reps of low-weight, high-intensity exercises like dumbbell presses or lunges. Calisthenics and single-sided movements, such as the Bulgarian split squat and one-arm rows, are also good for developing balanced strength.


As a surfer you need to have good cardiovascular endurance. Paddling out against a rip and staying on your board for long sessions requires a lot of energy.

Endurance training improves lung capacity and helps maintain a healthy weight, both essential to surfing performance. Swimming is an excellent cardio workout for surfers because it mimics the paddling motion and is a full-body exercise. Swim laps in a pool or at the beach and incorporate interval training to increase your endurance.

Core muscles are also essential to surfing. Core exercises like planks, side planks and front squats strengthen your core, which in turn improves balance and posture.

Arm and shoulder strength are also important for surfers, so include resistance training using dumbbells, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises to target these muscles. For example, try rows and pull-ups to build strength and improve shoulder mobility.


Endurance training is a key component to surf fitness. It is important to build endurance to allow you to paddle out further and catch more waves. During your endurance workouts you can incorporate long duration aerobic exercise (exercise that requires oxygen to fuel your muscles) or high-intensity anaerobic exercises such as sprint training. A good mix of both is ideal.

Swimming is one of the best exercises to improve both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance. It takes place in an aquatic environment with minimal oxygen, similar to surfing, which forces the body to uptake and store oxygen efficiently.

Arm and shoulder strength is also important to help maintain balance and power while surfing. You can use weights or bodyweight exercises such as rows and pull-ups to build the necessary muscle endurance. Balance training is also essential for surfers and can be done with a slackline or using exercises such as the single leg balance drill or squat to pushup position hold.


The ability to twist, turn and maneuver the body is a key component of surfing. This requires a certain level of balance that can be improved through training exercises and stretches.

Surfing is a full-body sport, and it involves both large and small muscles groups. When paddling, executing a pop-up or riding the wave, the hips and legs take on most of the load while the core and shoulder contribute to balance.

Often, surfing-related injuries come from tight muscles that are not properly stretched and warmed up before a session. To avoid this, perform stretching exercises such as the child’s pose to open up the hips and improve flexibility. This exercise helps improve flexibility in the hip flexors and groin, which are necessary for all movements on a surfboard. It also helps to stretch the lower back and shoulders. Do this a few times before you hit the water for optimal results. Aim for 15-20 repetitions.

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