Surfing is one of the most enjoyable activities in the world and it is also one of the most physically demanding sports. It requires a wide range of physical qualities, to be able to paddle-out, catch a wave, balance on a surfboard and then start laying some big hacking turns and aerial moves.
Quality surf training will help you perform in the water, catch more waves and enjoy a fun surf session. Surf fitness is going to help keep you injury-free, too. To get your body prepared for your surf session, or workout, you'll need to incorporate a full body warm-up. Too many surfers hop into the surf with little-to-no warm-up and eventually that is going to lead to an injury.
Surfing is a very complete sport. It requires swimming skills, sense of balance, decision taking and constant muscle interactions. Spend a few minutes getting your body systems ramped up for your training or surfing.
Nutrition is vitally important to staying in the water, remaining injury-free, maintaining energy levels and being healthy. A balanced diet is the perfect choice for surfers. Here are a few tips to keep you healthy, energetic and fueled for the next four-hour surf session:
1. Eat real whole foods: fruits, vegetables, meats;
2. Drink clean water and stay hydrated;
3. Eat well-balanced meals;
4. Try not to smash alcohol five nights per week;
5. In post surf, aim to replenish your muscle glycogen stores (energy), with some quality fruit and also aid muscle repair with a protein intake;
6. Eat less food made of white flour or processed flours;
7. Buy local, fresh and organic, if you've got the spare cash;
8. Eat breakfast;
9. Eat quality fats and limit your consumption of processed vegetable oils;
10. Learn to cook;
Benefits of a Warm-Up
Increased mobility and flexibility of the body and joints
Your warm-up should consist of movements and mobility drills that replicate some of the movements in surfing. Slow, long hold stretches have been shown to actually "shut-off" muscles and decrease their contraction times.
The key to a quality surf training warm-up is to use movements to increase the heart rate, release tight tissues, lubricate joints and excite the nervous system.
Surf Training Warm-up Movements
Breathing Squats: squat movement, with exhale as body moves down, inhale as body comes up through squat movement and extend arms towards sky;
Single Leg Upper Body Rotations: stand on one leg with knee slightly bent and hip pushed backwards; arms placed in front of body, rotate from side to side slowly; control the movement and remain balanced on single leg.
T-Rotation Pushups: begin in pushup position; rotate one arm towards the sky, while simultaneously rotating the body onto one side; you are now balanced on one hand, with the other hand/arm extended towards sky; rotate back into pushup position and repeat on the other side.
Butt Drops: reach towards sky, bend forward to touch toes; drop butt towards heels as you raise chest to face forwards; elbows are inside of the knees and push the knees outwards; lower the butt as lower as possible and keep chest as tall as possible; hold this position for one inhale/exhale and then raise butt back towards sky, as head and chest move back towards ground; stretch the hamstrings; repeat the movement;
Bent Shoulder Circles: keeping a straight back, with lightly bent knees, bend the torso forward; get to an angle where you begin to feel a light stretch in your hamstrings; bring the arms out to the sides into a T-position; perform small arm circles for 30 reps, in each direction;
Jumping Jacks or Star Jumps
Standing Knee Hugs: stand with your spine tall and erect; bring one knee towards your chest, place hands around knee and pull knee towards stomach/chest; bring knee as high as possible without rounding the back;
Now that you're warmed up, joints are mobile and you're ready to hop into that paddle-out, or get into a some good surf training workouts.
SURF TRAINING WORKOUTS
While nothing can truly replicate what our bodies are required to do in the water during a surf session, you can strengthen the basic required movements and physical demands of surfing.
Even just a few days a month of quality exercises can have a tremendous benefit on your strength, speed, endurance in the surf, and will help to keep you injury-free in the surf.
Full Body Movements
Surfing is a highly dynamic sport that demands our body move in three dimensional space, so you need to train your body to become strong and efficient in movements, not in isolation.
Dumbbell curls and calf raises are not going to benefit your surfing. For quality surf training, you want to use full body movements that require integration of muscles and develop full body strength.
Balance and Single Leg Surf Training
Balance is exceptionally important for anyone looking to improve their surfing. A quality training program will challenge your balance demands, so that you not only have quicker reaction times, but also are able to dynamically stabilize your joints.
Another aspect of training that will not only improve your balance, but also help to keep your lower body injury free, is single leg movements.
Single Leg Balance Drills such as hopping, closed eye balance while standing on a pillow, or upper body rotations;
Single Leg Exercises
Bulgarian Split Squats
SURF CORE TRAINING
Core training has received loads of hype in the last few years, and there are unfortunately a lot of misconceptions. What is true is that a strong core is essential for, not only staying pain-free, but being able to surf with speed and power.
It is necessary to understand that the "core" is much more than your abs. Core is comprised of many muscles throughout your trunk that help to stabilize and transmit movement and power throughout your body.
It is important to train the core in integration, not isolated movements such as a crunch that has zero carryover to surfing. Medicine balls, cables, exercise bands, and stability balls are excellent tools for high quality core surf training.
Supine Lateral Ball Rolls
SHOULDERS AND UPPER BACK
Paddling can be one of the most exhausting aspects of surfing. Strong shoulders, a durable upper back, and a powerful core are essential to strong paddling.
Some extra training for the shoulder and upper back complex can help you build a stronger, durable, and pain-free upper body.
Some extra training focus on the shoulder girdle and the often injured rotator cuff is generally a good idea for surfers. Try these regular exercises:
Dumbbell Bent Rows
Surfing for extended periods of time, sessions in heavier breaks and point break currents require full body endurance. Surf training should also include some type of endurance training that will prepare your body for extended periods of energy production.
One of the best methods is interval training. Since surfing requires bouts of explosive energy output, combined with long duration lower energy output such as casual paddling, it's important to train both attributes.
Intervals combine high energy explosive output, with longer slower duration energy output. A running interval example would be as follows: warm-up, light jog for five minutes, 30-second to 60-second sprints, return to light jog for five minutes, repeat sprint and continue that cycle.
Intervals can be incorporated into nearly any exercise format. Try these regular endurance exercises:
With a combination of those exercises, you can truly prepare your body for what surfing demands. Quality surf training is simply keeping your body prepared for that next big round of swell, keeping your body healthy to withstand injury and staying fit, so you can remain active and keep on surfing.