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Training Tips to Surf Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

by Octavia Drughi

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Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hit the waves whenever we hear Surf’s Up and ride our best? In reality, we must put blood, sweat and tears into it, because when we stop improving, we must start training!

As with most sports, intensive training is not essential when you’re a beginner surfer. But as time goes by, you will need to train specific parts of your body if you want to see some real progress.  

So what does training have to do with it? Research regarding surfing performance is limited, but the few studies that have been conducted show that surfing requires a high-level of aerobic and anaerobic endurance, as well as muscular power.

If you wish to have fun and get the most out of your surfing session, then you need to be in top-notch condition. Otherwise, it may feel exhausting or too demanding and you will not be able to thoroughly enjoy your time in the water. If you want to surf harder, better, faster, stronger, here’s where to start:


Begin with a sturdy warm-up



I can’t even begin to emphasize the importance of a good warm-up. Your aim is to increase the heart rate, stretch your muscles, release tight tissues and lubricate the joints, preparing both your body and mind for the attack. A good warm-up will also stimulate the respiratory rate, pumping more oxygen and blood into your muscles.

A dynamic warm-up should include some cardio to increase your heart rate, as well as exercises that replicate the movements on the board – you can’t go wrong with squats and side lunges. And don’t forget to stretch if you don’t want to feel stiff and sore when you’re catching those waves. Warm down after each surfing session.





Yoga for surfing - Photo by Lucy Kalantari

Standing yoga poses improve balance and core strength, helping you maintain your position on the board. Your legs need to be active, your core strong and the upper body soft and stable. Here are some yoga poses that will improve your balance and reaction time, and stabilize your joints:

  • Tree Pose
  • Triangle Pose
  • Half Moon Pose
  • Warrior I, Warrior II and Warrior III Poses  


Core training



A strong core will get you a long way. After all, it is what keeps it all together. The core is not just your abs, it is a full set of muscles that stabilize your body and transmit movements. Therefore, it is important to train the core as a whole, not just doing crunches that work isolated muscles.

There are many exercises for building core strength and stability that do not require any equipment. Plank variations, I’m talking about you! Use accessories like stability balls, medicine balls, exercise bands and cables to get the most out of your core workout.


Lower-body workouts



When you are riding those waves, you are standing on your legs and feet. Therefore, they need to be strong and reliable. The good news is that you don’t need to hit the gym for this. Simple exercises, like squats and lunges, do not even require equipment. You can take things up a notch by adding some weight to your squats, like a dumbbell or kettlebell. In addition, a balance board is a great accessory to have around the house.


Upper-body workouts



Needless to say, you need a fit upper body to keep on paddling against those waves. Strong shoulders and core is the key to powerful swimming. Include these exercises into your workout routine:

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups/chin-ups
  • Single arm cable pushes and pulls
  • Medicine ball chops
  • Overhead presses and single arm overhead presses
  • Kettlebell swings





Photo by Edward Conde

Flexibility is the part many people overlook, and it can often be a limiting factor. Yoga and surfing go hand in hand, and regular practice is a great way to improve mobility. Plus, it prevents injuries and aids muscle recovery. Seated rotational poses will give you flexibility in the trunk. Poses like Down Dog, Seated/Standing Forward Bends and side stretches can also be included in your warm-up routine.


Full-body endurance



Photo by Matthew Baldwin

Endurance is no laughing matter. You can have the strongest, bulletproof muscles and still get tired. You can miss many waves while standing there catching your breath, your arms having let you down. In a nutshell, endurance helps you avoid running out of gas.

Aerobic workouts include jogging, cycling and swimming. These improve overall fitness and muscle tone, will make you a more dynamic surfer, and will also make you happy.



Photo by Enric Fradera

Interval training is a great anaerobic exercise. After all, surfing is about short bursts of high-energy output followed by a longer low-energy output. Over the past years, jumping and bouncing exercises have been proven to enhance athletic performance. This is known as plyometrics and involves training that enhances explosive movements. This means more speed and agility, which are particularly useful in big wave surfing. Try to incorporate the following into your routine:

  • Jump rope sessions
  • Boxing
  • Swimming
  • Jogging intervals (e.g. light jog for five minutes, 60 seconds sprints, light jog for another five minutes, sprints again and so on)
  • Row machine intervals
  • Workout circuits



Remember that good posture and neutral alignment must be maintained throughout the exercises, on the surfboard, as well as in everyday life. This is where yoga and Pilates come in handy, as they both focus on proper alignment.





Nutrition plays an important role in any training program. Imagine a sports car running on soda pop. How long can it go?

A balanced nutrition, filled with the exact nutrients our body needs, helps us prevent injuries, stay safe and for longer periods in the water, and perform better on a physical and mental level.

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, especially before and after catching waves.
  • Avoid, or even better, ditch processed foods and sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water. As with any sport, staying hydrated is essential. Sports drinks and artificially flavored liquids do absolutely nothing to help, so try to avoid them. Drink clean water instead. If you want a simple and effective rehydration drink, squeeze a lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit into a glass of clean water and add a pinch of salt.
  • A balanced diet should include protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats in every meal.
  • Lower alcohol consumption.
  • Go organic! Buy locally grown organic food.
  • Don’t skip breakfast, it will give you the energy to ride. However, it is advisable to keep it light and healthy so that you’ve digested everything before hopping on the board. Surfing on a full stomach is something to be avoided.
  • Cook your own meals! This is the best way to keep track of what you are eating and to make sure you are having fresh, nutritious meals every day.
  • Avoid dietary supplements. Try to get all the nutrients your body needs from your food.


Strength and endurance are something you can train. Technique and position are something you can learn. Talent is something you are born with. After all, surfing is much more than a physical activity. As with all sports, true strength lies in the mind, and without motivation, all your hard training will go to waste. Only with the right mindset can we unlock our body’s full potential.


Ready to put your training to the test? Go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose among hundreds of surf camps worldwide!

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