Improve Surf Paddling With These Five Exercises

Now that winter swells are starting to roll in, the waves are finally getting good! It’s time to get back out there and catch those waves that we’ve been dreaming about all summer. But wait. What if you get out there after a long awaited period only to realize that you're a bit out of shape. As surfers, we spend 70-80 percent of the time paddling and as we all know, it gets exhausting! We have all been there at one point. You know the feeling. The experience of paddling incessantly as wave after wave breaks and sends whitewash your way is tiring. Your only goal at that point is just to make it to the outside, but your arms are tired and don’t want to move anymore. Yes, that feeling. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to improve surf paddling strength outside of the water?

Of course, the most efficient way to strengthen those arm, shoulder and back muscles for paddling is to surf more; however, not everyone can get out in the water as often as they want to. For those of you looking for exercises to improve your paddling, you should focus on strength, flexibility and endurance. Here are five exercises to improve surf paddling strength that focuses on all three:

  • Swimming. Do you have a local pool you have access to? If not, put on that wetsuit and go for a morning beach swim. Swimming is an awesome calorie busting exercise that is easy on the body and works the same muscles you use for paddling. Swimming helps build muscular and cardio endurance while also building stability and flexibility in those muscle groups.
  • Horizontal Rows. In the gym, it’s not 100 percent necessary to replicate the paddling movement. It is beneficial, though, to strengthen and stabilize the muscles involved in paddling as well as those surrounding muscles. Paddling uses pulling movements similar to horizontal rows, which are used to strengthen shoulder muscles. Get some Olympic rings and start strength training, while also improving endurance. Increase reps as you see fit.
  • Tricep Extensions. Strengthening the triceps is important since they aid in finishing the movement of paddling. This strengthening exercise will help you avoid that “burning in your arms” feeling you get as you’re paddling out.
  • Superman. This exercise will strengthen those lower back muscles that will alleviate the pain you feel from an arched back while paddling. This Superman exercise will strengthen your core, stabilize your back muscles and spine and improve your posture.
  • Chin Ups/Pull Ups. The pull up is an incredible stability and strengthening exercise that will give you the upper body strength you need for paddling. Shoulder strength and flexibility are incredibly important for a full range of paddling movements. Start with one a day and work your way up.

These five exercises to improve surf paddling will undoubtedly help you get into shape for surfing and help you win any paddle battle out in the water.

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