First and foremost, I believe the only way to get better at surfing is to surf, but the majority of us cannot surf everyday plus keeping yourself healthy will allow you to surf longer.
I don’t have any specific exercises for surfing but the exercises I do recommend will strengthen your overall body. We will be primarily concentrating on doing compound movement exercises. Compound movement exercises are exercises that work a variety of muscle at the same time, not only is this efficient but it burns more calories.
I like to split the workouts into 3 groups:
- Chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Back and biceps.
I group these body parts together because they basically work the same muscles. You will work abs at least 5 times a week and end every strength training session with 20 minutes of cardio. I like to walk the treadmill at 22% – 24% incline at 4 mph speed adjust your incline and speed based on you current fitness level.
Before I go any further, I would like to explain the meanings of sets and reps (repetitions). A set is series of repetitions for a given exercises. A reps is the number of times you perform that exercise in the set.
For instance, if I say to perform an exercise for 2 sets of 10 reps, you would perform the exercise twice (2 sets) and each time you do the exercise you will execute it 10 times (10 reps) for a total of 20 repetitions.
You will rest no more than 1 minute between sets. The sets and reps listed are for your working sets (this is when you will be putting maximum effort into the sets), but you should always do several warm up sets (this is when you are trying to warm up the muscles for the upcoming working sets) before performing you working sets.
You should perform these exercises at least twice a week for each work group. If you feel tired or are excessively sore, it is okay to take a break and not workout. You should always stretch after working out.
Before you begin any vigorous physical activity you should check with your doctor to determine if you can begin this regimen.
Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Strengthening the muscles in these body parts will help you, at the very least, in paddling, duck diving and popping up.
For chest, you will be perform: 2 sets of 8 – 10 reps of dumbbell incline bench presses.2 sets of 8 – 10 reps of decline dumbbell bench presses and 2 sets of 8 – 10 reps of flat dumbbell bench presses.
The different positions (incline, decline and flat) of the bench will work different areas of your chest.
I chose the dumbbell press over the bench press because a spotter is not required and you get a greater range of motion.
The dumbbell incline and decline bench presses are performed similarly to the flat dumbbell bench press. You grab two dumbbells of equal weight:
- Approach a flat bench.
- Place one of the flat ends of each dumbbell on the front of your thighs (just above the knee).
- Sit down on the bench, the dumbbells should be resting on your thighs with one of the flat ends facing up.
- Start laying back on the bench, maintaining control of the dumbbells at all times, until your back is flat on the bench.
You should now be in the following position:
- Back flat on the bench.
- Both dumbbells at chest level your palms should be facing towards your legs/feet.
- Feet flat on the floor.
You are now ready to press the dumbbells. To press the dumbbells, you will push with your arms and chest muscles until your arms are straight. This is considered one repetition, repeat until you have done the required reps.
To end the set, with your arms straight, turn your wrist until your palms are facing each other. Raise your knees until they are at a 90 degree angle to your body, let the dumbbells drop towards your knees and at the same time raise your upper body off of the bench.
You should now be in a sitting position with the dumbbells resting on your thighs. Sit up and return the dumbbells to their place on the dumbbell rack.
For shoulders, you will perform: 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps of standing dumbbell shoulder presses you will super set this with side laterals, which you will perform for 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps. A super set is when you do one set of exercise immediately after another with no rest between sets.
To perform the standing dumbbell shoulder press, start by grabbing two dumbbells of equal weight:
- Stand up straight.
- Dumbbells should be hanging at your sides.
- Feet should be about hip width apart.
- Swing your arms and thrust your hips in a forward motion.
- Clean the dumbbells until they are resting at shoulder height with your palms facing away from you.
You are now ready to press the dumbbells. To press the dumbbells, keep your body straight and core tight, now press the dumbbells overhead. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps.
To end the set, with the dumbbells at shoulder level and palms facing away, in a controlled manner, let the dumbbells drop to your sides. Now return the dumbbells to their place on the dumbbell rack.
To perform side laterals, start by grabbing two dumbbells of equal weight:
- Stand up straight.
- Dumbbells should be at the front of your thighs.
- Palms should be facing towards you.
- Elbows are slightly bent.
Raise the dumbbells in an upward, slightly forward motion until the dumbbell are at should level with your palms facing downward. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps.
For triceps, you will perform: 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps of lying triceps extension aka skull-crushers.
The lying triceps extension can be performed with dumbbells but we will be using a barbell. To perform this exercise, grab a barbell and place it on top and at the head of a flat bench. Lie on the bench but do lie on the barbell. Grasp the barbell, then pull and press it until it position over your face, palms facing upward.
Now in a controlled manner, lower the bar, by bending your elbows, until the bar has just passed the top of your head. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps. To end the set, lower the bar until it touches and is resting on the bench.
Back and Biceps
Strengthening the muscles in these body parts will help you, at the very least, in paddling.
For back, you will perform: 2 sets of as many as you can reps of pull-ups. 2 sets of 8 – 10 reps of one arm rows. 2 sets of 8 – 10 reps of seated rows.
To perform a pull-up, stand in front of a pull-up bar and grasp the bar, palms facing away from you. Pull yourself up and towards the bar until you chin passes over the bar. You have completed one rep, repeat until you cannot complete another rep.
To perform a one arm row, grab a dumbbell, place one knee, arm and hand on a flat bench, this arm is kept straight throughout the movement and acts as support. Keeping your back (and the leg not on the bench) straight, grasp the dumbbell, with the unsupported arm, and pull the dumbbell back, upwards and toward the side of your waist. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps.
To perform a seated row, sit on the provided seat and brace your feet on the machine or floor (depending on the machine used). Now grasp the handle(s) for the equipment and pull the handle(s) until they reach your chest or midsection (once again, this will depend on the machine being used). You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps.
For biceps, you will perform: 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps of barbell curls.
To perform a barbell curl, grab a barbell, stand-up straight and your feet should be positioned shoulder width apart. The barbell should be hanging at thigh level with your palms facing away from you. Now curl the barbell up and towards you, until the barbell reaches shoulder level, your palms are now facing towards you.
Strengthening the muscles in this body part will help you, at the very least, in popping up and will help in your stability when standing on your surfboard.
For legs, you will perform: 4 sets of 5 – 10 reps of the king of leg exercises, the squat. You will also perform: 3 sets of 5 – 10 reps of deadlifts.
The squat and deadlift are considered the best compound movement exercises. The deadlifts is considered very taxing on the body and thus should only be performed once a week. The squat is considered the best exercise for building leg strength and size.
The squat can be perform with dumbbells but we will be concentrating on the barbell squat. To perform the squat, load a barbell that is in a squat rack, the barbell should be at a height that makes it easy to remove and replace the barbell in the rack. Grasp the barbell (with both hands) and position your upper back under the barbell, you should be centered (vertically) between the barbell.
Using your upper body and legs, lift the barbell off of the rack. Take two steps back, place your feet about shoulder width apart and turn your feet slightly outward. Take a deep breath and hold it, keep your core tight and squat down. Make sure to keep your knees pointing outwards and do not round your back.
Squat down until the crease of your hip passes the top of your thighs, this is known as an “ass to grass aka ATG” squat, now stand up. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps. To end the set, all you need to do is return the barbell to the initial starting position in the squat rack.
Watch this great video, by Alan Thrall, on how to squat:
To perform a deadlift, grasp the barbell, center yourself vertically between the barbell and position yourself between your hands. One hand should grasp the bar palm facing away from you, the other hand should be grasping the bar palm facing towards you.
Your stance should be about hip width apart, and when you are preparing to grasp the barbell your ankles should be several inches away from the barbell.
Grab the barbell, squat down (not ATG style), tighten your back (do not let it round), if these steps are done correctly, the barbell will now be touching your ankles. Begin the deadlift by pushing down with your legs and continue to straighten your legs until the barbell reaches the lower portion of your thighs.
Finish the move by thrusting your hips forward and straightening your legs, throughout this whole movement do not round your back. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps. To end the set, lower the barbell to the floor and walk away.
Watch this great video, by Alan Thrall, on how to deadlift:
Abdominals aka Abs
For abs, you will perform: 3 sets of 8 – 10 reps of stability ball pike-ups with a super set of side planks for 30 seconds per side.
To perform stability ball pike-ups, place your feet upon a stability ball and position your body like you are performing a push-up. Raise your hips upwards, by moving the stability ball with your feet, until you resemble an inverted “V,” now reverse the movement. You have completed one rep, repeat until you have completed the required reps.
Watch this great video on how to perform a stability ball pike up:
To perform a side plank, lie on your side, push yourself up on an elbow and forearm. Place one ankle upon the other ankle, and move your body and hip until you resemble a triangle. After 30 seconds, do this same movement to the other side of your body.
A regularly scheduled regimen of strength training and cardio will do wonders for your health and also help you perform longer during your surfing sessions.
Check out my post: “Does skateboarding help surfing?”
Thanks for dropping in and should you have questions or comments, please post-it in the comments section of this page.