You’ve heard it before, ‘the best exercise for surfing, is surfing.’ Sure, this is true of course, but with our all-too-busy modern-day sedentary lifestyle it’s not always possible to get out there as much as we’d like. Fortunately, there are few things you can do to stay in good shape for shredding, regardless of skill level. Indeed, some proper cross-training will go a long way to improving even the most experienced surfer’s game. Here is a list of exercises you can do to help make your next session more fun. Perhaps more than specific exercises though; they each represent training theories that will hopefully inspire you to craft workouts that suit you.
Cardio is your friend
Overall cardio fitness can only be a good thing, there’s no denying this. The jury is out however on just what kind of cardio is good and what is ‘less’ good. Most experts agree that running fitness does not translate that well to surfing fitness (they’ll tell you how they’ve seen marathon runners struggle to get out the backline). The recommendation then is this: If you can’t surf, swim. While it’s not the exact replica of the very (unnatural) paddling position it is pretty close in muscle usage.
That being said, perhaps the ‘best’ all-round cardio exercise (for the time input vs fitness outcome) is on a rowing machine.
According to Jimmy Clark, from the Institute for Sport Research at the University of Pretoria was part of the coaching team who prepped the South African Olympic gold-medal rowing crew “it’s about 50% leg and hip drive, 30 per cent trunk extension and only 20 per cent arm and shoulder work”.
Most ‘ergo’ (rowing) machines have time, intensity, stroke rate and power output options. For the quickest results we recommend intervals:
Warm up for five minutes at a stroke rate of about 18, followed by five minutes at a higher intensity and increased stroke rate of 25-30 (you should be struggling to keep it up). Repeat this three times. Cool down for five minutes at the lower stroke rate.
Flexibility, even more so
While weight training will go a long way to strengthening your muscles and protecting against injury (yes, strength training is good for surfers, stay tuned for another article soon), flexibility should take preference. There are countless stretching routines available online, but if you do only one exercise, make sure it is to keep your core and back flexible. Rotation of the core is err, the ‘core’ of surfing.
Try these dynamic lower back rotations:
Drop it like it’s squat
Surfers can benefit a lot from lower body power. The pistol squat is not only great for building strength, but this exercise (sometimes called a single-leg squat) also improves balance and stability. It is also great for working on body imbalances (it is a unilateral movement, meaning it isolates one side of your body) and for strengthening where needs to (some of us surf goofy, others regular).
Stand on one foot and as you sit into the squat simultaneously push out your other leg and arms. Make sure to keep the weight on your heel and reach your hips back. See if you can bust 10 per side.
BONUS: In the office: The wall stand
No time to work out at home, get some isometrics done while in the office. Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower yourself into a seated position and hold for 10–30 seconds at a time. At RYD HQ we do this every time we are on our ‘social-media-Instagram-feed-checks’ - not only does it help limit the screen time, but it means we make the most of that time.
So there you have it, a little bit of cross-training goes a long way to catching more waves and surfing better and of course that all adds up to more fun in the surf... even if it meant a little pain on the land beforehand.