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We know the feeling….you are planning a surf trip and want to make sure you are in the best shape so that you don’t end up pulling a muscle or being too fatigued when the waves are pumping! So here are a few surf specific training tips so that you can get  Surf Fit and make the most out of your surf vacation with PNS.

surf specific training

A little training can go a long way to prepare you for a surf trip. Gem Yates, showing us how it is done in and out of the water.

How long before the trip should I start my fitness training program?

It is best to start your training 2-3 months before you are booked to go on your trip; however, you can benefit from as little as 4 weeks training. So even if you are booked on our 1st camp session of this season, you have time – no excuses!

How many workouts should I do each week?

You will be able to feel results with just 2-3 workout sessions per week but if you really want to commit to being as fit as you can be then we recommend 3 days of surf specific strength training and 3 cardio training sessions per week with one day complete rest and recovery. You can either alternate strength and cardio days or they can be done on the same days, if you have limited work out days in the week. Remember, there is no better training for surfing than surfing, so if you do have waves where you live, then you can go for a surf as your cardio training – you don’t get more specific than that!

What should my workouts consist of?

Warm Up – You are probably somewhere cold right now (or getting colder) dreaming of your surf vacation to Costa Rica, so you need to ensure your muscles are warmed up and ready for your workout.  5-10 minutes of bodyweight only exercises are a better idea than the more traditional cardio when considering surf fitness. It gives you a great opportunity to promote joint mobility and fundamental movement patterns you use whilst surfing.

Start with:

Jumping Jacks for simulating that burst we need when paddling for waves. They will also increase your shoulder joint mobility.

Push-ups to get your body prepared for the countless pop ups you will be doing.

Squats to ready your legs for that functional surfing stance when you are racing down the line or setting up for a manoeuvre.

Surf fitness training planFunctional Strength – When training for surfing, you need to think about using your muscles to generate movements, you are never just using one muscle group. Not only do you want to strengthen your body with exercises that simulate the positions you are in during surfing such as squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, and lifting but you also need to combine these with balance, core stability and rotational strength. We like to maximise workout efficiency by training in circuits or super sets, where you do 2 or more exercise elements simultaneously, such as dumbbell squats whilst balancing on a bosu ball or chest presses whilst lying on a swiss ball. By combining surf specific movements with weights and an instability element, you will work so many more muscle groups, both major muscles and all the little fine tuning muscles that promote balance and core strength too.

Surfing fitness training tipsCardio Training – What do you like to do? Run, Skip, Row, Bike? All are options, but if you do have access to a pool (or a nearby ocean or lake) then we recommend swimming. Swimming is not only a great way to increase your lung capacity but it will build endurance in your arms and shoulders, so it’s a great paddle fitness specific cardio workout.

As you know, there are periods while surfing where you are going at a steady aerobic keel (like paddling through the line up) or other times when you are anaerobically flat out (like when you are paddling for a wave). For this reason, you need to work both energy systems and the best type of cardio training you can do for this is interval based – periods of harder work mixed with slower recovery periods. For example, if you were swimming you could do a lap fast or sprinting followed by a lap slower recovery, then repeat for 10-20 laps. If you were running you could do 20 seconds fast, followed by 40 seconds recovery, repeat for 10-15 minutes.

Flexibility for surfing and surf specific training and fitness

Gem doing her post surf stretching.

Stretching/Flexibility – Surfing is hard on the body, not only the positions it requires our bodies to be in but then we also get a good workout from the being waves themselves, so a good post surf stretch is essential. Surfing is a full body workout so we need to make sure we stretch out all of the major muscle groups, holding only to the point of mild tension and for 10 – 15 seconds at a time.

Final Tips

We recommend changing up your training routine regularly so you keep things fresh and challenging. Check out this post that identifies 6 surf specific exercises you can incorporate into your workout.

You want to start your surf trip stronger and full of energy so we would recommend that you ease back on training a week out from your 1st surf day.

Finally, if you do have access to waves where you are then keep on surfing. If you have limited time, it is much better to go for a surf than hit the gym. As a trainer, I believe surfing is one of the best forms of exercise…plus it’s a lot more fun than the gym!

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