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Boardcave's Guide to Surfing Fitness

If you're willing to put in the dedication and the work, you can not only become a better surfer, but surf your entire life.

Those who want it bad enough can implement strategies to progress their surfing even when they aren't in the water, and by focusing on your surfing fitness, a diet that promotes your wellbeing, and the proper recovery techniques, you can use your passion for surfing to fuel a lifestyle that directly benefits both your health and your surfing abilities.

What is Surfing Fitness and Where to Begin?

The stigma of the washed-up beach bum surfer is quickly being swept away by a tide of modern health nuts.

Both surfers on the World Tour and weekend warriors alike are becoming well aware of the benefits that fitness for surfing provides, and are now treating surfing with an athlete-like dedication that is proving to drive surfing to new levels of talent extremes; all while reaping the endless health benefits of surfing.

Surfing is a combination of two things: navigating the ocean conditions while paddling and actually riding a wave.

And surfing fitness is anything you do that makes your body more apt to power through one, or both, of these aspects with ease.

Fitness for surfing, then, becomes a combination of addressing:

  • Surfing strength
  • Surfing endurance
  • Surfing balance
  • Surfing flexibility
  • Surfing diet
  • Surfing recovery and injury prevention

When planning your general routine, you want to address each of these equally, as together they progress your surfing skill sets and you never want to work yourself too hard to adversely affect your surfing.

How to Plan A Surfing Fitness Routine

Life gets busy, and we usually want to spend every waking moment surfing. Creating a whole-body surfing fitness routine can be a little tricky in the beginning, but once you get dialed in you'll soon easily balance surfing with outside exercise.

Just remember:

  • Each muscle group needs 48 hours rest between workouts. Keep diligent track of your workouts to avoid overuse and injury.
  • Surfing counts as a workout
  • Focus on balance and flexibility during rest days
  • Recovery and diet are as important as fitness

You can nail down almost all your goals at the gym, but a lot of surfers tend to prefer the lonesome ‘lineup’ of an at-home gym.

Building an at-home gym for surfing isn't rocket science, and it doesn't take much to have all you need to begin planning your workout routines.

Surfing and Surfing Exercises Warm-Up

Whether you are surfing or working out, you always, always need to stretch.

Stretching our muscles allows proper nutrients and blood flow so that they can remain powerful during long sessions and recover so that they can build stronger, and of course, stretching is the key to preventing injury.

A good stretching routine should take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, the longer the better, and you should also try and stretch after your workout. In this article we hit on a super straightforward warm-up routine, so read up if you need a little stretching inspiration.

Surfing Strength

As with most fitness routines, fitness for surfing begins with addressing surfing strength. Surfers need muscles that are powerful, but also ones that can be used for hours to days on end so that no session is cut short from fatigue.

To build surfing strength, you want to perform exercises that balance muscle strength training with muscle endurance training, and you have to dig into the best surfing exercises that target the muscles most used during surfing.

When training your strength, for each day you lift heavy, take a day to focus on muscle endurance by lifting lighter with high repetition to mimic the strain of paddling through clean-up sets.

Surfing Endurance

Endurance is everything. Having high levels of endurance and a killer cardiovascular system will make sure that you not only surf for hours, but that your performance never falters due to fatigue when surfing.

The best wave of the day might be the last of your session, and you never want to feel tired when cruising down that beautiful line.

As well as training muscular endurance as we mentioned above, you have to train your heart and lung function as well.

Cardio-based exercises are your go-to, of course, so think about things like running, swimming, hiking, paddleboarding, breath training, or anything else that gets the blood pumping for an extended period of time.

Surfing Balance and Flexibility

Balance and flexibility might be natural in some of us, but they are also things that you can train to become better at.

A balance routine can easily be incorporated into a fitness routine, and flexibility can be achieved through consistent stretching and yoga.

Training your balance will make you more comfortable when standing on a board or hucking crazy maneuvers, and flexibility will help your body to extend and stretch through these maneuvers, one of the main reasons why some surfers can come completely back out of a total layback.

We hit on a ton of incredible balance and flexibility yoga poses in this article, and the key is to remember to set time away to focus on these essential aspects of surfing.

They might not give you muscles to flex, but you'll definitely be able to flex a fancy turn if you dedicate yourself to improving surfing balance and surfing flexibility.

Surfing Diet

Your fitness will never progress unless it is complemented by the right diet.

From providing you energy during your surfing and workouts, to making sure that your muscles can grow from the strain, diet and nutrition is everything.

You need to make up for lost calories burnt away during cardio. You need to eat plenty of protein for proper muscle synthesis. You need carbs for energy and fats for stored energy and minerals for hydration. I could keep going.

Crazy right?

Your diet drives everything, so take the time to read through our ultimate guide to surfing nutrition. It goes really in-depth and provides you the necessary information you need to approach diet with a definite knowledge and understanding of why surfing nutrition matters so much and how to best approach it.

Surfing Recovery

Surfing recovery can mean one of a few things.

It can mean recovering your body after a long workout or a long day in the sun, it can mean recovering your energy levels, or it can mean recovering from an injury.

The less sore you feel the better you can keep pushing, and this all starts with the proper muscle recovery techniques.

  1. Stretching

Muscle recovery starts before your workout by stretching. This allows proper blood flow to your muscle fibers and prevents injury. Stretching after will also greatly promote recovery.

  1. Hydration

Do you know what proper hydration is for an athlete? It's more than just drinking water. Staying hydrated directly affects your body’s ability to recover, so learn how to hydrate as recovery and hydration go hand in hand.

  1. Nutrition

You should have this dialed in by now.

  1. Other Recovery Techniques

Aside from just these main points, there's a ton of other must-have surfing recovery know-hows, and we hit on each of those in our guide on how to recover after a surf session..

Putting Surfing Fitness Together

You have all the resources you need to start a fitness routine that has been crafted specifically for surfing fitness.

Take this information and continue to progress with your knowledge surrounding fitness, and you are guaranteed to feel positive results with improvements to your surfing.

Seek inspiration where needed, as professional surfers are often more than not willing to share what they too have learned, and use surfing as a driving force to your dedication to a fitness-oriented lifestyle.

There's no limits to what you can achieve, as that becomes entirely up to you and your passion.

So ask yourself. What are you capable of, and how bad do you want it?

And then, go get it.