Improve Your Stamina with Surfing Specific Fitness Training

surfing fitness

Ever have days where you get into the water and end up completely bombed afterwards? We’re talkin’ seaweed sprouting out of your ears, sand in every pore, EXHAUSTED, and wishing you had more energy so you could keep shredding.

Thankfully, there’s a solution. Lucky you.

Surfing workouts were designed specifically to work out the same muscle groups that surfing does so you can surf longer and harder without needing to take a sick day to recover.

With summer here, we’ve compiled a surf fitness regimen to make sure you’re looking and feeling your best for the prime surf season.

Here’s what you want to focus on:

Endurance: Wave catching is all placement, timing, and paddle. The stronger your paddle, the easier it is to get the other two handled.

Now how do I fix it?

HINT: or high intensity interval training. Guaranteed to get your heart rate up, burn calories like the dickens, and make sure you can paddle all day once you hit the water. This is absolutely critical to your surf fitness and rapid improvement so DON’T ignore it.

no excuses surfing fitnessThis part of your surf workout involves alternating between performing short 20-30 second bursts of explosive energy output (i.e. sprints) and slow reps (i.e. walking). For best results, apply these principles to your local pool: you can try taking your first lap at max power, then swim back at a normal relaxed speed, then immediately begin another power lap...keep it up for as long as you can.

Don’t be surprised if you burn out quicker than usual. Interval training is designed kill off any spare energy you happen to have lying around, with stupid efficiency.

Throw in a handful of core exercises (Segmental rotations, Planks/Side Planks, and Double Knee Crunches) and pull ups and you’ll be done with the heavy lifting part of this routine.

Balance: The better your sense of balance, the longer you’ll be able to shred that wave without eating it. You have a few options here, though I would highly recommend getting a balance board if you want to improve quickly.

How the heck do I train my sense of balance?

balance boardBalance board: this is what the PROs use when they aren’t within driving distance of an ocean. Basically, you stand on top of a plank that rests on a hard cylinder base. Deceptively difficult, practice this one in an area with plenty of padding in case you fall…

Fit Disk: An inflated rubber/plastic. The object is to simply stand or sit on top of this squirrely bugger and not fall off. For added challenge, you can try balancing on one leg for 60 seconds, resting on it while you do core exercises, or doing squats while you spastically struggle not to keel over.

BOSU Balance Trainer: Looks like an exercise ball that’s been cut in half. You use this in much the same way you’d use a fit disk, except its much larger and squirrelier. Heck yes.

Flexibility: this will increase your range of motion and improve your form. What does that mean for you? You’ll spend less energy paddling, catch waves more consistently, and wipe out with impunity.  

What’s the best solution?

yoga for surfersYoga: your best bet as this will not only increase your flexibility, but also your stamina and strength, by leaps and bounds. There are hundreds of videos and tutorials online, so do your homework and pick the ones that make you sweat and stretch. If yoga isn’t for you, your run of the mill stretches that focus on the shoulders, chest, lower back, and legs will be the most beneficial.

Hungry for more? Here are some more tips on staying safe in the surf.

Surf Etiquette: How to handle your board and not tick off your fellow surfer.


Garek Hurt
Garek Hurt




May 07, 2014

I like the boxing training. I hate paddling exercises and use Swimmers’ Stretch Cordz for them. I have a chronic back problem due to extreme windsurfing years ago so a lot of what I focus on is core. SUP has helped a lot here as well as the crunches and pilates. I had some heart problems last year and was forced to make some changes. Yoga, physical therapy and pilates plus aerobic training plus the cordz and then there’s Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Somehow, I find time to surf. As you age, you can’t surf to stay in shape; you stay in shape to surf. Aloha.

Luc Stokes
Luc Stokes

May 07, 2014

Good tips Tony. Thanks for sharing.

Tony le Blanc
Tony le Blanc

May 07, 2014

Great tips.

I find that boxing training pretty much covers all of the above.

Increases stamina, strength and is largely based on interval and anaerobic training. Balance is developed from footwork training .ie skipping is a great start!

Essentially you train to work through fatigue, use energy in explosive bursts, think on your feet and improve reaction times and stay balanced on your feet at all times. Sounds very, very like a good days surfing no?

I use some basic yogic asanas as part of my cool down.


May 07, 2014

I don’t have pool!!! I wish I did.
went to Trestles yesterday. (it was epic!!) I only lasted 3 hours and then it felt like my arms were gonna fall off.

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