Sweatin’ for Swells: The Ultimate Surfer Workout

Blonde surfer man training on the beach

Ready to shred the gnar-gnar brah? Itchin’ to drop in and ride a sick barrel? Stoked to kick out on a hollow and ride it all the way home? Ok, we admit that some of that was pure gibberish. But it leads us to a really interesting topic. Where are the workouts for surfers? Sure, we’ve covered fitness tips for runners, cyclists, and all sorts of athletic endeavors, but not those wave-riding dudes and dudettes. Well that stops now. 

Because we’ve come up with the ultimate surfer workout, to help you elevate that hang-ten game. Now, as anybody who rides will tell you, surfing is an amazing workout on its own. But we’re going through an effective fitness routine that can help you get better in the off season, in between major swells, or any other time you can’t drop in, pull up, and kick out.  

Ready to ride? Here we go brah! 

TRX Row (or use rings)

Equipment needed: TRX straps

Woman performing TRX rows with her bodyweight

Paddling to catch a wave essentially consists of pulling yourself through the resistance of water, so elevating your upper body strength is key. To do this exercise, simply grab a hold of two TRX straps and lean back to where you’re comfortable – try to get to a 45° angle with your back completely straight. Pull up slowly, hold yourself there, and gently come down again. If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, try lying horizontal with your feet directly under your knees.  

Recommended Reps: 4 sets of 20 reps.

Surfer Squat

Equipment needed: Resistance bands (optional).

Woman performing a surfer squat

The surfer squat, as you can probably guess, is the literal motion you use while riding those waves. Start with one foot pointed ahead of you, and the other turned out as if you were on the board — meaning the heel of your front foot is in line with the instep of the other. Hip hinge backward, and try to keep your knees from coming inward. You’ll want to hold this position for one minute, and then switch sides. You can throw a resistance band just above your knees to get even more out of it. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 1 minute on each side. 

Lunge & Twist

Equipment needed: Medicine ball. 

lunge medicine ball twist

When you do get up and catch those waves, you’ll have to utilize some major core strength to stay balanced out on those unpredictable waves. The combo Lunge & Twist performed with a medium-sized medicine ball is as close as you can get to that movement. Starting from a standing position with the medicine ball in both hands, go into a deep lunge with one foot in front of the other, twisting in the same direction as your leading foot. Come back up and repeat on the other side. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. 

Single Leg Balance Reach

Equipment needed: Lightweight dumbbells (optional)

Woman performing single leg balance reach in a gym

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the intense lower-body challenges that surfing brings. Developing a powerhouse lower half will not only help you maneuver and stay up, but also aid in your balancing ability. To perform this exercise, begin in a standing position and slowly lift one leg behind you as far as you can, with your arms going out in front of you to balance. Hold the position for five seconds and then come back to the home position. Switch and repeat. If you’d like to augment this workout, add a light dumbbell into the mix to help build upper body strength. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. 

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Land Pop-Up

Equipment needed: yoga mat or soft ground surface.

Man practicing an on-land surfing pop up

An on-land pop-up is a perfect way to build the explosive power you need to spring up on your board, and all you need is a yoga mat, folded towel, or other soft surface to lay on. Start by laying down on your stomach, with your hands pressed against the ground next to your chest. Press up quickly, swing your knees forward beneath you, and land on your back foot. Step your front foot forward so you’re up in that surfer squat position. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 8 pop ups. 

The Seal

Equipment needed: yoga mat.

One woman smiling and performing a seal fitness routine

A key to a strong surfing game is a strong core. And that means paying special attention to your abs, obliques, and lower back. And that’s exactly what the seal focuses on. Performing the seal is easy – start by laying down on your stomach on a yoga mat. Carefully lift your head up and arms behind you, as high as you can without feeling discomfort, and then slowly bring them back down to starting position. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps.

Tricep Push Up

Equipment needed: yoga mat.

Man performing a tricep push up on astroturf

Tricep push ups are a perfect way to gain functional strength in your upper body, which will come in handy while hanging ten. You’re going to do a normal push up, just with your hands close together. This can be in a triangle formation, or simply parallel about a foot apart. Depending on your strength and fitness level, you can perform these on your toes or your knees. 

Recommended Reps: 3 sets of 10 reps.

Well that’s it! We hope this surfing workout gives you all the training you need to hit those waves, and hit them hard. And when you’re ready for more, be sure to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand. We’ve got tons of full-body workouts that’ll get you in the shape you need for surfing and anything else you wanna get into. Our huge library of virtual fitness classes includes Indoor Cycling, TRX, HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing, Barre, Bootcamp, and oh so much more. Sign up today, and let’s go surfing now!

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