How to Train your Body for Surfing

Now that summer is just around the corner, and the warm weather is finally starting to really set in, you may be thinking that it’s time to whip out the surfboard and paddle out; however, you also may be thinking, "Wow, paddling is going to be hard, I haven’t done it in a while", or "do I even remember how to paddle?" Nothing feels worse than frothing (overly excited) about a surf session, gathering your surfboard, putting your wetsuit on and paddling out only to feel fatigued and struggle with catching a wave. Surfing is quite the athletic endeavor that requires strength, flexibility, balance, agility, and endurance. Whether it’s been awhile since you paddled out, or you’re just looking to train, here are some exercises to help train your body for surfing:

Conditioning Legs Train Surfing


Having a strong lower body is essential for surfing since your legs play such a huge role in standing up and staying on the board.

  • Front Squats
  • Single Leg Squats
  • Lunges

As explained by Surf Strength Coach Cris Mills, "The loading of the movement places more demand on the extensor muscles of the spine, the crucial muscles for efficient paddling postures as well as a healthy and robust back. When squatting efficiently, and that’s the key word, you’re developing a stronger lower body that moves efficiently through multiple joint complexes".

Train Body Better Paddling

Shoulders and Upper Back

Paddling is exhausting. It is essential to have a strong back, core, and shoulders.

  • Planks
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Renegade Rows

In Cris Mills' words, "Build understanding of what good alignment feels like, and build some basic strength. From there you can add volume, meaning more reps. You can add load by elevating the feet or placing weight on your back. You could improve power by increasing the speed of the press".

Train Body Barrell


Having a strong core is crucial to maintain balance, stabilize your body, and transmit energy and power throughout every movement. The core is not just your abs, it is made up of all the muscles in your trunk. Equipment needed for these exercises are medicine balls, cables, stability balls, exercise bands, and TRX bands.

  • Medicine Ball Chops
  • Russian Twists with Medicine Ball
  • TRX Pike Lift
  • Suspended Alternating Crunch
  • TRX Pendulum Pike
Train Body Ride Waves Better


Surfing is a combination of explosive bouts of energy output, coupled with a longer duration of lower energy output. The best way to train your cardio and muscles to be able to endure extended periods of energy production, is a combination of interval training and strength training.

  • Workout Circuits
  • Crossfit
  • Running Intervals
  • Row Machine Intervals
  • Boxing
  • Swimming

Quality training for surfing will help you paddle out more easily and make you feel invincible as you effortlessly catch waves. These training tips will ease the arduous activity of surfing and prepare you for even the most challenging sessions. Train on!

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