Train Like A Surfer

Finally, surfing will be introduced as an Olympic sport at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo (about damn time, right?). Now that the sport is getting the recognition it deserves, it’s a good time to learn a thing or two about how surfers train. 




One of the biggest mistakes that any surfer or athlete can make is to jump into training, the surf, the game, match, whatever it may be without doing some stretching and warming up first. Surfing warm-ups include exercises that increase heart-rate, release tight tissues, excite the nervous system/rest of the body and loosen up joints. There’s a misconception that all surfers need to do is surf. Forget what you think you know about surfing. Never doubt that surfers are doing the most outside of the water, too. 


Surf Training Warm-Ups

1. Body squats

2. T-Rotation Push-Up

3. Warrior Lunge

4. Bent Shoulder Circles

5. Standing Knee Hugs


Once the warm-up is done, the fun starts. Surfing is focused on the lower body, rotating through the hips, core, core, and more core. It’s important to be able to create power on the waves, control and then absorb it. 



Surfers hit the gym with the intention of strengthening the body for more power and efficiency. More power, less bulk (duh, dude). A surfer needs strength in the lower body to get up and control the board, core for stability, and upper body for paddling. The gym is a place to hone in on explosive skills or to try, “the same exercise on a more unstable or soft platform – to keep the brain awareness to your lower half of the body strong,'' said retired World Tour pro-surfer, Josh Kerr. 


Another pro tip from Josh includes training with a variety of exercises because every section of a wave is a little bit different and awareness of landing is the highest priority. Getting used to dealing with unexpected circumstances is a regular part of a surfer’s training routine. 

1. All forms of squat

2. Light resistance based training

3. Body weight training (pull ups, push ups, TRX)

4. Mobility 



Endurance comes with some strength, but surfers tend to focus on endurance through cardiovascular exercise. 

1. Running

2. Biking

3. Swimming

4. Tabata – Form of HIIT that involves 20 seconds of high intensity, followed by 10 seconds of rest for four minutes. It’s battle rope time. 


Balance & Core:

“White Lightning” professional surfer Mick Fanning swears by yoga for working on balance and core. Surfers have also gotten really good at mimicking what it’s like to be in the water while on land. The Bosu Ball and the Indo Ball are great cross-training equipment for making training for surfing more accessible. 


Agility & Flexibility:

Agility and flexibility training for surfing differs from other sports. Flexibility translates into grace and strength on the wave while preventing injury. 


Breathing & the Mind:

Proper breathing helps paddle, increase stamina, and survive crashing into waves. Surfers train their breathing to incorporate using the diaphragm rather than the chest. Breathing also impacts core strength. While breathing is a major focus, so is the mind. Learning how to train the mind to withstand having to make quick decisions that can be life-threatening while staying calm is essential to any surfer (shaaaaaaaark!). See you out there.


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