Exercise Routines for Awesome Surfing Skills

A Complete Guide

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A 2005 study concluded that surfing is 55% paddling and only 5% wave-riding. For advanced surfers, the sport is 75% physical, 25% mental and emotional endurance. This means if you need to get better at surfing, you should think about what you’re doing out of the water. We’ve put together a complete guide of exercise routines for awesome surfing skills.


In any sport, cardiovascular endurance is key. Just few minutes of any of the following before your surfing sessions can help increase blood flow to your muscles and thus performance in the water. Warm-Ups should consist of something to get the heart thumping, dynamic movement, and a bit of stretching.

Step 1: Get Your Heart Rate Up

As the oldest form of aerobic exercise, jogging has always done great things to body, mind and spirit. Physically, it builds strong bones, improves muscle tone and strength, and conditions the heart before you begin pumping waves. Depending on the shape you’re in, you may want to warm-up jog for 5-30minutes before a session.

Brisk Walking
Like jogging, brisk walking can builds strong bones and conditions the heart. What’s more, walking actually involves more muscle groups than jogging and is low impact and easier on the joints.

A quick bike ride down to the beach is a great way to warm up for surf as it involves your knees, core, and coordination. A long ride of more than 30 minutes may be too much if you really want to perform in the water.

Step 2: Dynamic Movements

Scott Adams of surfstronger.com suggests a dynamic warm-up routine consisting of:

Single-leg balance reaches
Stand on right foot. Reach high overhead towards the right with arms raised and bend your right knee. Go back to center position, do the other side. Repeat 5x.

Reverse lunge twists
Put right leg directly behind you being sure the right knee is under your hips. Rotate arms to the left. Do the other side. Repeat 5x.

Side to Side lunges
Take a large step to your right side and bend your knee to 90 degrees. Make sure the bent knee is directly over the ankle and toes are pointed outward. Straighten the opposite leg with toes pointed forward. Do the other side. Repeat 5x.

Step 3: Stretching

Surfing can put our body in compromising positions. Whether in a wipeout or a maneuver, your body might bend to an extreme and pull, strain, or strain muscles and joints. This is why it is important to stretch before a session; it prepares ligaments and muscles for movement and helps prevent injury.

Stretches are important after surfing sessions too. One needs to relax the muscles after intense rides with pumping waves. Simply work your way from your head to your toes. Basic stretches like those we learned from our physical education classes will work fine.


In surfing there are moments when we may be held underwater for quite some time. Practicing breathing techniques not only improves your lung capacity whilst underwater, they help you stay calm.

Take a look at this video showing the Red Bull Performance USA surf survival team coaching a group of athletes on how to develop their breathing skills under or above water. It is pretty rad. Make sure to see the results at the end of the video. You might want to enroll to a similar class if it’s available in your area.

Pro Surfer Mick Fanning attests to the benefits of breath training that help stretch the lungs and increase focus. Many surf instructors also suggest that students take the time to focus on their breathing while out on water just waiting for good waves, so as make use of the time to improve an important surf skill.

Here is a video on how Ujjayi Pranayama, known as victorious breath, is done by Kino MacGregor, co-founder of Miami Life Center. Practice the Ujjayi breath for at least five minutes and allow your mind to focus on the breath completely.

Emma Lovick, a yoga instructor from Hang Ten Yoga, promotes Nadi Shodhana, known as Alternative Nostril Breathing. Watch this video from the Art of Living Productions. Each round of this practice runs for about five minutes or so.

For all breathing techniques, you can start with just 8 rounds of breath and slowly build to the suggested 5 minutes.


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Yoga is by far one of the most popular exercise routines for awesome surfing skills. The calming effects to the physical body and mental space attract many surfers to a regular yoga practice as well as how ay poses strengthen athletic performance. Abi Carver of theinertia.com suggests these four yoga moves for surfers and we’ve detailed the corresponding body parts each work on.

Eagle: stretches the knees, outer hips, upper back, shoulders, arms and wrists; strengthens the feet, ankles, legs and core.

Warrior Three: strengthens the legs, back, shoulders, arms and neck.
One-Legged Side Plank: strengthens the hands, arms, shoulders, obliques, abs and legs.

Crow: strengthens the core, lower and upper back, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands.


You can lift weights or use your own body weight, but in order to be a stronger surfer you’ll need to build strong muscles.

Basic gym exercises like overhead presses, push-ups, squats, lunges, and pull-ups can help enhance flexibility on the legs, strengthen the shoulders, and increase balance and power in surfing turns. If you’re not gym-savvy, it is always better to have another individual check on how you do the moves. Try working with a professional to teach you the ropes. One mistake can lead to injury. Once you’ve got a strong base in basic exercises, you can move onto more complex exercises with weights designed for surfers.

While simple push-ups are great for strengthening the arms and shoulders, more surfers are doing TRX training. TRX involves core and tiny muscles that stabilize joints making the movements more demanding and better for surf training. The video below shows how Atomic Push Ups, Single Leg Squats, Power Pulls, and Abducted Lunges strengthen the core and help improve your surfing skills.


What makes Carissa Moore among the roster of champion surfers with the most world title wins? She imagines herself riding the best waves and taking the title she is aiming for. She runs a scene over and over in her mind while preparing for a heat or waiting for a wave.

Even when you’re an amateur surfer, always stay positive. Don’t be overwhelmed by your fear of not being able to catch a wave. Improving your surfing skills will definitely take a shorter time if you do some visualization.

To learn how to develop and master the art of visualizing yourself to achieve a goal, watch the video at the right.


Don’t just get out of the water and continue with your day, take some time, even 5 minutes will do, to relax the muscles that have been shortening and tightening for the last hour or more. Moving around your joints, stretching, foam rolling, even just laying flat on the floor will help your body release the tension that has built up during your surf session.

Before you put yourself into strenuous surf training, make sure you have professionals to assist you. Group classes and private lessons are a great way to get the education you need to be able to practice these surf training skills on your own.

Did you enjoy our list? Let us know in the comments if we forgot to mention your favorite exercise.

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