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Free Surfer exercise routines: How to Get Fit like yOur Favorite Pro-SurferS

Since most gyms are closed and we are all still hanging at home, I thought I’d share a collection of my favorite surfer exercise routines from around the web.

While these surf exercise routine videos will be especially helpful if you’ve been out of the water for a while due to quarantine, you can use surf workouts to build your strength and mobility and really see results when you get back into the water. The truth is that so many of us don’t have time to get to the gym everyday. As we get older, responsibilities coupled with aging can really drag us down in terms of surf fitness. However, the physical demands of surfing are such that it is more important than ever to stay in shape.

My surf fitness journey draws on inspiration from H.I.I.T. (High intensity interval training), yoga, breath work, and now the Brazilian disciple of gymnastica naturale which is a body movement discipline that’s been adapted to help surfers.  I’ve been following the surf workout program from Luke Stedman below but also mixing in my own workouts and some of the pro-surfers’ workouts below.

So whether your training for post-Covid competitions or just learning how to stand up on a surfboard, these surfer exercise routines will help you be ready for more water time in the future. Remember, the key to developing a new habit is to create a system, read more about how to do that here.

Elements of Pro-Surfer exercise routines

You’ll notice if you watch the videos below how each surf workout combines elements each section below. No one surfer exercise routine does everything you need for surfing, but you can tailor your training to be more surf oriented by keeping these types of exercises in mind.

  1. Balance and Stability Exercises: Wow, I do a lot of lunges at the Surfer’s Gym. It is key to work on your balance and stability to stay upright on your board and be able to attack sections with grace and power. Try incorporating exercises like single-leg squats, stability ball exercises, and balance board training. These exercises not only improve your balance but also help strengthen the muscles used for paddling and riding waves.
  2. Core Strength: A strong core is crucial for surfing, as it helps you maintain control and stability on the board. Include exercises like dead bugs with the swiss ball, planks, Russian twists, and crucnhes to strengthen your core muscles. A strong core also helps prevent injuries and improves overall athletic performance, especially paddling.
  3. Upper Body Strength: Improve your paddling power with exercises that target your upper body. Push-ups, pull-ups, ring rows, and shoulder presses are great for building upper body strength. At the Surfer Gym, we have purpose built paddle machines for cardio fitness, but a standard rowing machine is also a great way to train for surfing. Strengthening these muscles will help you paddle out to the lineup faster and catch more waves.
  4. Cardiovascular Fitness: Surfing requires endurance, especially when paddling out through waves or riding long waves. Improve your stamina with cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, or swimming. These exercises will increase your lung capacity and overall endurance, allowing you to surf for longer periods without getting fatigued.
  5. Flexibility and Mobility: Stay flexible and mobile to move freely on your board. Stretch regularly to improve flexibility in your hamstrings, hips, and shoulders. Incorporating movement, yoga or Pilates into your routine can also help improve your flexibility, mobility, and core strength, which are all essential for surfing. I especially love animal movement flows.
  6. Interval Training: Mimic the intensity of surfing with interval training. Alternate between high-intensity bursts of activity and rest periods to improve your overall fitness. Using an Assault bike, paddle machine, or rower and alternating 30-40 seconds of 80-90 efforts with 20 seconds of rest is a great way to simulate paddling back out through the line-up. This type of training can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and strength, all of which are important for surfing.
  7. Functional Movements: Focus on exercises that mimic the movements you’ll do while surfing. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts are great for building lower body strength, which is important for generating speed and power on the wave. Incorporate these exercises into your routine when you have trained with a professional to learn proper form. Nothing will get you out of the water faster than an injury. Single leg balance is another thing that all surfer exercise routines should focus on.
  8. Apnea Training: My favorite thing in the world is to incorporate short breath holds with aerobic training. I find that just a few reps of holding my breath while doing something like a farmer carry (carrying two relatively heavy kettlebells for 10 meters or so) drastically improves my static breath hold. Learn more about how I like to do Apnea training here.

Remember to tailor your workouts to your fitness level and consult with a fitness professional before starting any new surfer exercise routine. Incorporating these pro surfer exercise routines into your fitness regimen can help improve your surf fitness and take your surfing to the next level.

Sample weekly surfer exercise routines

Monday: Surf cardio

Tuesday: Strength

Wednesday: Mobility

Thursday: Body weight strength and mobility

Friday: Surf cardio

Saturday: Yoga.

Sunday: free day – surf or rest!

Of course, anytime you surf, you can usually skip your workout or just go through a mobility routine.

Surfer exercise routines by Luke Stedman

Pro Surfer Exercise Routines + Workouts at Home

Blackball Challenge on WSL Wellness Week

This is the Sea Hearts Surf Club surf workout de jour.  I’ve been doing Luke Steadman’s program for the last three weeks because I am focusing on increased hip and leg mobility and empowering my core to avoid back pain.  Luke combines jitsu and gimnastica naturale moves to create surf specific workouts.  This is the work out Luke does for the WSL crew but you can also check out the Blackball Challenge which is the 30 day program I’ve been doing during quarantine.

Steph Gilmore’s GIF Surf Workout on Vogue

Watch Sea Hearts’ fav, seven time World Champion professional women’s surfer Steph Gilmore show us a simple seven-move circuit that emphasizes single leg strength (critical to all surf workouts) and even demos the Upper Russian Twist that you see Bethany Hamiliton doing over and over in her movie.

Mick Fanning’s At-Home/Pre-Surf Workout

See what Mick did before every single surf competition and that you can do at home to build your surf fitness. Gets the blood flowing, looses tightness, and will give you a pre-surf boost of energy.

High Intensity Training with Hawaiian Pro Surfer Koa Rothman 

For those of you who feel like going hard with your surf fitness today, try this workout.

2 Minutes of Surf Mobility with Jordy Smith

Like I’ve said before on Instagram, a major component of surfer exercise routines is mobility.  So grab your foam roller and tennis ball and work out all your tight spots.  Jordy also talks about his pre-surf competition approach. Check out the surfer exercise routine workout video here.

Pro Surfer Coco Ho shows us her surfer exercise Routine

Check out Coco’s morning food and coffee routine and her favorite surf specific exercises that she does at home.  Personally, I am super into the abductor stretch she does at the moment!

There you are! Enough surf workouts to keep you surf fit to the end of quarantine and beyond! Also, check out our Instagram for more quick, surf-oriented exercises!

The Best Surf Fitness Instagram Accounts to Follow

  1. Surfer’s Gym – I am a bit biased here, but the Surfer’s Gym has changed my fitness, surfing, and life. Matt and Felipe post heaps of good content, but if you are in Sydney you should come check it out for yourself.
  2. Surf Blackball – Luke Stedman’s Instagram is full of surf tips and training ideas.
  3. Surf Ready Fitness – this California based gym trains pro-surfers as they stop by to surf Trestles. This account has great tutorial videos of specific workouts you can do.

Where Should You Do Your Surfer’s Exercise Routine?

When there’s no global pandemic on, your options for staying surf fit abound. Surfer exercise routines can be done in various locations including while you are traveling. Whether you prefer the convenience of home workouts or the energy of group classes, there are options to suit every surfer’s needs. Here’s a look at where you can train and what you’ll need for a surfer exercise routine:

1. Home Gym:
Training at home offers convenience and flexibility, allowing you to work out on your schedule. To create a surfer-focused workout space, you’ll need basic equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, a stability ball, a jump rope, and a yoga mat. You could probably set up an entire gym from Amazon for less than $300. Incorporate surf-specific exercises like interval training, balance and single leg training, and strength exercises to improve your surfing skills.

2. Outdoor Spaces:
Take advantage of outdoor spaces like parks, beaches, or trails for a refreshing workout. Running or cycling on beachfront paths can improve your cardiovascular fitness and leg strength, beneficial for paddling and maneuvering on the board. Outdoor spaces also provide a natural setting for balance and agility training.

3. Fitness Studios:
Best: you have a surf specific gym in your town we like do. Good: finding classes at gyms that specifically address the elements of surf fitness. Fitness studios offer a variety of classes that can complement your surfer exercise routine. Look for classes that focus on strength, flexibility, and balance, such as yoga, Pilates, or functional fitness. These classes can help improve your overall fitness and enhance your surfing performance by targeting key muscle groups.

4. Surf Camps and Schools:
Surf camps and schools often offer surf-specific fitness programs designed to improve your surfing skills. These programs typically include a mix of strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and balance work tailored to surfers’ needs. Attending a surf camp or school can provide a focused environment to enhance your fitness and surfing technique.

5. Online Workouts:
Online platforms offer a convenient way to access surfer exercise routines from anywhere. Look for online programs or videos that cater to surfers, offering a mix of strength, flexibility, and balance exercises (like Blackball above). Many online platforms also provide guidance on surf-specific workouts and drills to improve your surfing performance.

6. Gym or Fitness Centers:
Gyms and fitness centers offer a wide range of equipment and classes to support your surfer exercise routine. Look for gyms with functional fitness areas that include equipment like TRX suspension trainers, balance boards, and stability balls. Group fitness classes like HIIT, circuit training, or strength training can also complement your surfing fitness.

7. Personal Training:
Working with a personal trainer can provide personalized guidance and support for your surfer exercise routine. A trainer can create a customized workout plan tailored to your fitness level and surfing goals, ensuring you’re targeting the right muscle groups and progressing safely.

8. Beach Workouts:
Training directly on the beach can enhance your surfing fitness by simulating the conditions of surfing. Incorporate sand sprints, agility drills, and balance exercises into your routine to improve your strength, speed, and balance on the board. Beach workouts also offer the added benefit of being outdoors, providing a scenic and invigorating training environment.

No matter where you choose to train, consistency and dedication are key to improving your surfing performance. Incorporate a mix of strength, flexibility, and balance exercises into your routine to target the specific muscle groups used in surfing. By tailoring your workouts to enhance your surfing skills, you can take your performance to the next level and enjoy the waves to the fullest.

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