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Surf Trip Workouts : Simple Exercises For Maximum Stoke

You've booked your surf trip to Panama, the surf is going to be pumping and you haven't surfed anything over 5 feet in months. You want to prepare so that you are in the right condition to take to the water for some overhead barrels, but you don't have a wave pool in your back yard. Here are some straight forward dry land exercises that will get you the pre-conditioning you need to spend your trip throwing buckets, instead of throwing out your back.

*This list is far from complete, these core exercises hit all athletic components that surfing demands. Strength, power, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and balance.

#1 Front Squats

Think of the fundamental motions of power surfing. Crouching through bottom turns, holding a full rail carve, or landing a big off the top. You need to absorb some pretty substantial forces and generate consistent power from your lower body to maintain speed and control.

For strength building that checks all of those boxes, a squat pattern is essential. Front Squats are similar to Back Squats, however, the barbell is placed across the front side of your shoulders instead of your upper back. The shift in the center of mass forward allows for a more upright posture putting more demand on the extensor muscles of the spine which are essential for good paddling posture and balance. It also shifts some of the work from your glutes to your quads, making this one of the most effective quad strength builders.

Begin with the barbell across the front side of your shoulders.

Place your fingertips under the barbell just outside of your shoulders and drive your elbows up.

Keeping your chest up and core tight, bend at your hips and knees to lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Straighten your hips and knees to drive up to the starting position.

#2 Dynamic Lunge

Look at any videos and pictures of professional surfers and pay close attention to the leg positioning through pumps, maneuvers, and barrel riding. You will notice that almost all top surfers today will show a ton of power generated from a lunge position.

There is a certain degree of hip strength and mobility that is required for critical surfing, which is why the dynamic lunge essential to this routine. The dynamic lunge is an exercise that will reinforce posture and build balance in positions that are key for advanced surfing.

Stand with your feet together and hands at your waist.

Take a big step forward and bend your legs to form 90 degree angles.

Once in your lunge, try a few pulses.

Then, straighten your legs back up and repeat, alternating sides.

#3 Push-Ups

The old classic. A strong upper body and core are crucial for pop-ups, duck diving, and shoulder injury prevention. With proper form, push-ups get the core engaged, align the spine, and control the shoulder tightly providing huge benefits for your surfing.

Position your body with your arms straight out, abs tight, holding your body in a plank position.

Hands and arms should be positioned slightly below your shoulders, fingers pointed forwards. Shoulders are pushed down away from your ears.

Lower your body until your chest is an inch or two above the floor, elbows pulling back at roughly a 45-degree angle.

Push your torso away from the ground until your arms lock, then repeat.

#4 Dumbell Bent Rows

Paddling is one of the most exhausting aspects of surfing. Strong shoulders, a durable upper back, and a powerful core will give you the endurance and power to increase your wave count and maximize your session length.

Dumbell rows are considered one of the best exercises to build back and shoulder strength. In addition, using free dumbells vs a machine will work the balancer muscles in the shoulder and back necessary for preventing injury and increasing overall control.

With a dumbbell in each hand, bend over at about a 45-degree angle (no farther). Keep the back straight throughout the exercise. Brace your abdominals and breathe in.

Lift the weights straight up, exhaling. While lifting, the arms should go no higher than parallel with the shoulders—slightly lower than the shoulders is fine. No movement of the legs occurs throughout the exercise.

Lower the weights in a controlled manner while inhaling.

Remain bent over until all repetitions are complete.

#5 Bird Dog

This central nervous system exercise aligns your spine and hits your core while improving balance and stabilizer muscle control. It strengthens your core, hips, and back muscles. It also promotes proper posture while increasing range of motion. These benefits make this exercise a catch-all for surf core strength training.

Begin on all fours in the tabletop position.

Place your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.

Maintain a neutral spine by engaging your abdominal muscles.

Draw your shoulder blades together.

Raise your right arm and left leg, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor.

Lengthen the back of your neck and tuck your chin into your chest to gaze down at the floor.

Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position.

Raise your left arm and right leg, holding this position for a few seconds.

Return to the starting position. This is one round.


With these 5 simple exercises combined with a light aerobic program that includes swimming or running, you will be ready to maximize your water time on some warm water points. See you out there!

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