Feeling like you need to improve your paddle strength?
Summer is finally here and for many of us that means more time to surf! However, after a winter of surfing less frequently, your arms and shoulders may be in for a rude awakening.
You can have the best pop-up in the world, but if you can’t paddle out past the break, you aren’t going to catch many waves! The good news is that there are a lot of simple exercises you can do to strengthen your upper body and get your paddling in fantastic shape. Stronger paddles will help ensure a higher wave count next time you’re out in the water. 😁
Here are our top eight exercises to improve your paddle strength:
Ah, the good old classic. Don’t underestimate them, however! They utilize many muscles in your body, including your abs, in addition to working your arms and shoulders especially well. If these are difficult for you, start on your knees and gradually work to your toes. You’ve got this!
2. Tricep Push-Ups
This is just a slight spin on the typical push-ups. Focus on keeping your elbows tucked into your body the entire time you do the push-up. Your elbow should be touching your ribs as you lower yourself down and come back up. Here’s a tutorial. Make sure that you use good form and, once again, start on your toes if they are difficult at first. Working your triceps is especially important for surfing as they are a prominent muscle group used when paddling.
Pull-ups are one of the best exercises for increasing your paddle strength, because they work your upper body very specifically. Shoulders, biceps, triceps, and lats are all utilized here! These muscles are all really put to work when you’re paddling out through the white water or competing in the line-up to catch a wave. Here’s more info on how to work up to a dead-hang pull-up and use good form. Remember, low reps are still a benefit! Even if you can only do two, go for it! Keep at it and before you know it you’ll probably be doing 20!
These are also known as supermans (or superwomans) and they are INCREDIBLE for your back muscles! Unbeknownst to many people, the small muscles in your upper and lower back play a big part in paddling. It’s important to arch your back when paddling to keep your weight further back on the board and to prevent your nose from diving. Not only do the small muscles hold your shoulder blades back, they help stabilize you as you balance on the board while you paddle. Check out this tutorial to do them correctly; they’re a lot of fun!
5. Bicep Curls
While you may think that this exercise is only for bodybuilders, it is actually incredibly beneficial for surfers as well! No need to start with massive weights here. Feel free to start small and work your way up to heavier weights or do more reps with smaller weights. Strong biceps are crucial as they help pull your arm back in the water when you’re paddling. Check out some tips for good form and get to it!
6. Tricep Dips
These are another way to work your triceps and this fantastic exercise will have them shaking real quick! Find a chair, bench or ledge that you can put weight on. Extend your legs in front of you and slowly lower yourself down with your back as close to the ledge or chair as possible. This link explains exercise in more detail. Feel the burn and think about how great those arms are gonna be looking this summer!
The best way to get stronger at paddling is to paddle more! Stop by your local pool and work on your strokes. Freestyle will be especially helpful for you to practice! Not only will swimming more often strengthen all the muscles that you need to paddle while surfing, it will get you accustomed to the resistance of the water and the feeling of a good stroke.
Practice makes perfect! There’s nothing like the tide, current and oncoming sets to make you a pro paddler! Repetition is everything. At Wavehuggers, we teach all aspects of surfing and we can help you improve your paddle technique as well. Book a package of lessons and as your surfing improves, our instructors will become more like surf coaches. They will take you out into the line up, surf with you and give you tips to refine your skills. Our summer surf camp is another option for kids who want more practice and time to improve their abilities. The camp counselors are incredible with kids, very energetic, and awesome at helping kids learn to catch waves.
So, grab a friend and head to your gym, living room, or neighborhood pool – whatever works!
No matter where you are or your season of life, you can get creative and find ways to improve your paddle strength. Keep your motivation in mind: more epic waves next time you stop by the beach! Plus, as a fun perk, your beach bod may just be the best it’s ever been 😉