Surf Training Guide
We’ve all seen that guy in the lineup and probably had the same thoughts. How is that guy on every single good wave? How can he possibly recover from that layback? How did he make through to the lineup while I’ve been trying to paddle for the past twenty minutes. The truth is that if you want to surf for longer, to surf with power, and to avoid injury, surf training is necessary.
Most surfers only catch an average of 7-12 waves per session. If you’re only doing that once or twice a week, you’ll need to do more if you want to improve. Top surfers, from world champs to free surfers, all train on land to improve their surfing.
Learning the benefit of training is just the first part though since there are so many different exercises and programs out there. To help you out, we’ve turned to our friend Cris Mills at Surf Strength Coach for some pointers about the top surf training tips to help you surf longer and rip harder.
Surfing Warm Ups
One of easiest things to do to help your surfing is a consistent stretching routine. Stretching will keep you loose and flexible allowing you to twist through bigger turns or shrink your body so you can fit into any barrel you find. You’ll also find that stretching before paddling out will loosen you up and prevent you from kooking it up on your first wave of a session. Instead of feeling stiff until your third or fourth wave, you’ll feel like you’re doing your best surfing right away.
One of the top stretches we’ve learned is the shin box. The shin box consists of sitting with your ankles in front of you and spread slightly wider than your shoulders. You then alternate bringing one knee to the center of your body and then the other. As you bring one knee to the center your other knee also falls in the same way.
The shin box works on loosening the muscles around your hips which are some of the most engaged muscles while surfing. Whether you are crouching into a barrel or cranking huge turns or just trying to hold on with your toes, surfing moves through your hips. Loosening them up will help you surf smoother and more confidently.
Adding Explosiveness to Your Surfing
One of the things we’ve learned is that if you want to add explosiveness to your surfing, you need to work on your power. There are tons of options for power orientated exercises, but two of our favorites were box jumps and uphill sprints. They can both be done almost anywhere and require minimal equipment.
If you’re like me, you may be asking what does running and jumping have to do with surfing? I was surprised to learn about the connection too, but surfing uses lower body strength on the wave face. Whether it is pumping, bottom turning, airs, snaps, or cutbacks, how much power you are able to push with against the water determines how much speed you generate, how high you go, or how much spray you’ll throw. We all want to be throwing buckets, which means we can’t skip out on leg day.
Strengthening Your Core
Strengthening your core is about so much more than just doing crunches until you have an awe inspiring six pack. Your core has muscles throughout your trunk that help you balance and harness the energy coming through your legs.
There are plenty of ways to exercise your core that don’t involve endless sit ups. Most of the ones that we’ve seen involve using some tool that creates an element of instability.
Whether you use is a balance board to force more balance work through normal movements, exercise balls, or some kind of TRX bands, creating more instability that you have to overcome in your exercises will give you a stronger core. These kinds of exercises will also help mimic the effect of surfing on the ocean with all of the slight bumps and movement that you’ll find on a wave.
This is our recommended surf training program by Cris Mills at Surf Strength Coach:
Increasing Your Paddling Power
Much of surfing is paddling. Whether it’s catching waves or just trying to get to the lineup, you need the strength to paddle fast and paddle for a long time.
The best training program will address both parts of paddling. A lot of the strength for paddling comes from your arms, back, and lats. Basically, we’ve found that working the upper body pays off when it comes to maximizing your wave count. The biggest takeaway is that any exercise you end up doing should have a lot of activities that include pulling and a few that include pushing.
Pull ups and pushups are some of the most helpful exercises we’ve found to help our paddling. High repetition is recommended to keep you fresh for the next time you want a marathon surf session or need to paddle for twenty minutes when your local is firing.
Building Surfing Endurance
We’ve looked at tons of different methods for building our endurance so we can surf all day. Besides surfing more, the best endurance training includes some sort of interval activities.
Surfing is all about periods of high intensity whether scratching towards the horizon to avoid being cleaned up by a set or riding the wave of the day. Whichever situation you find yourself in, interval training, which is when you work hard for a set amount of time and then rest for a set amount of time before restarting, is a great method to improve your endurance over long periods of time. You’ll also mimic the rhythm of surfing which is hard work coupled with sitting and waiting for a wave.
What are some top surfing exercises?
The majority of wave riding is a combination of a lunge and a squat. Regular lunges and squats are excellent tools to strengthen your lower body. If you really want to up your game though, there are also dynamic lunges to help you increase your surfing ability.
Do the pros use land-based training?
Absolutely. Mick Fanning winning the world title in 2007 was the beginning of professionals realizing how dedicated training could help them improve their surfing. Now, surfers of all ages and abilities, from top pros, to free surfers, to big-wave surfers all train to improve their surfing performance.
Can I improve my surfing by land training?
Absolutely! If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t be here.
We’ve gone through a ton of different surf training programs looking for the most useful information for you to get started on your own. Really, though, all this information is just a taste of what you can get from a dedicated surf training program.
Our buddy Cris Mills at Surf Strength Coach has put together the best program that we’ve tried out and are stoked on. We’ve learned a ton that we’ve shared with you and that’s only the beginning. The Surf Strength Coach has an easy to follow app to keep you up to date on your training program and offer tons of other cool insights.
If you want to rip harder, feel better, and take your surfing to the next level, we recommend the Surf Strength Coach. It’s tried and proven to work.