Book safe & secure No booking fee Free advice 4.7/ 5 - 148 reviews

Surf Fitness: Get + Stay in shape for surfing

Surf Tips General

Surf Fitness: Get + Stay in shape for surfing

During times of no surfing, e.g. during the current pandemic, it’s important to keep working out, especially when it comes down to surfing. Together with SurfaWhile, we’ve worked on a number of great excersises you can easily do from home. As it is not unlikely that your endurance has declined by quite a lot, it is vital that you work on that, so that you are ready to go back into the water whenever it’s possible! All of the below mentioned exercises you can do from home.

The best surf fitness exersises, no equipment needed

SurfaWhile provides you with a number of exercises which you easily can do from home. This will be highly beneficial to your body, your strenght and your endurance, even if you do not plan to go surfing as soon as we are allowed again to do so. It’s always better to be prepared, just in case!

SW Fitness Jumping Jack
SW Fitness Jumping Jack

Retrieve the required strenght for surfing

This work out is build up with 7 exercises and 1 bonus activity. The first 2 activities are used as a warm-up, after which you will get a number of exercises to work on different muscles and abilities which will help you to prepare getting back into the water. As every work-out has a warming up, there will also be a cooling-down. And we will give you one bonus exersise in the end.

You can do these exercises with sport shoes or with no shoes at all

Warming-up for surfing exercises

Total time: This doesn’t need to take longer than 4 – 6 minutes. We include 2 exercises, which you can do 30 seconds each and than change. Keep rotating until you did both exercises at least 4 times.

When starting a work-out, it is very important that your body has warmed up, including your joints and muscles. Also, you will slowly be raising your heart rate. A higher heart rate allows you, later on during the work-out, to go deeper and train harder.

1. Jumping Jacks

The jumping jacks are an easy way to get that body moving while your heart rate is slowly getting up. You follow the following steps:

  1. Stand up, with both feet next to each other. Have your arms rested, alongside your body.
  2. You will jump up while you stretch your legs and raise both hands in the air, where your hands will reach above your head.
  3. You jump again and go back to the basis position (as described in 1.)
  4. This process, you will repeat for 30 seconds.

Scroll up for the picture of Jumping Jacks (all the way on the bottom of this article, you will find a video which explains everything.

2. High Knees

High knees have a similar effect to your body as the jumping jacks and also serve as a warming-up activity. You also move both your arms and legs, but as this is a different movement, you trigger other muscles to also warm up. You follow the following steps:

  1. Stand up, with both feet next to each other. Have your arms rested, alongside your body.
  2. You lift one of your knees up, where you try to reach a position which isn’t as high as you can, but you really have to lift it off the ground. Simultaneously you raise your other arm (right leg goes with the left arm e.g.), while holding it on a 90 degree angle.
  3. You switch legs on a high pace (and thus your arms alongside), which will make you run on the spot.
SW Fitness High Knees
SW Fitness High Knees

3. Stretching after your warming-up

To keep your body healthy, flexible and relaxed, it’s vital that you do sufficient stretching. Scroll down to ‘cooling-down and stretches’ section for more information. Do not take this lightly, stretching is very important and improves the flexibility of your body and will help you in becoming a better surfer.

We are huge fan of the combination of surfing with yoga, something that is becoming highly popular. Feel free to have a look at any of the many surf holidays in Portugal where yoga is offered in many accommodations.

SW Fitness Stretch Tricep
SW Fitness Stretch Tricep

Exersises to prepare your surfing

Total time: You can really make this as long or as brief as you’d like. We would especially advice one thing: repetition, repetition, repetition! The 4 exercises below, you might only do once or twice each on one specific day, but we would advice you to repeat them on other days as well. The more you do them (make sure not to get overtrained, always listen to your body and react accordingly) the better your body will get prepared for some proper surfing. Bottom line for this part: between 10 and 20 minutes.

This part is where you are really going to improve. We are nice and well warmed up and our heart rate is pumping a bit faster than it was before. It’s important that the breaks you take in between the different exercises are not too lengthy as you do not want your body to cool off and your heart rate to go down.

The idea is that you will do the 4 below described exercises consecutively (meaning that all 4 completed means 1 set). You are best off aiming at 3-5 sets and beware not to pause too long in between the exercises (max. 15 seconds) and sets (max. 2 minutes). If that’s too easy for you, you can well increase the intensity by raising the number of repetitions you do.

1. Bicep + tricep exercise: Push up’s

Push up’s is something (almost) everyone has done before. However, it’s very important that you do it correctly. You follow the following steps:

  1. Place your hands flat on the surface while they are shoulder-width positioned, or a little bit wider.
  2. You kick your feet back, so that your legs are stretched.
  3. Make sure that body is in a plank position, keeping your hips in a neutral position (not too high – meaning, do not push your ass in the air – and not too low).
  4. Bring your shoulders down, while keeping your body straight. You can go as low as you find comfortable but try not to touch the surface.

An easier and less tiresome way of doing this is to keep your knees on the ground. You still move your shoulders to the ground, but the part of your body you are carrying is smaller, making this variant a bit easier.

Exercise: repeat the push-up 10 times or 30 seconds.

Challenge: instead of having your hands on the surface, you can also stand in the push-up position while having your clenched fist on the floor. Make sure that your wrist is in a straight line (the line between your elbow and your fist).

2. Core + abs exercise: Side plank + reach through

Planking is widely known and this is one of the varieties you can practise.

  1. You lay down on the floor, a carpet or a yoga mat (or outside in the grass or on the beach), on one of your sides (later you’ll switch, so it does not matter where you start).
  2. Place your arm on the floor, with only your lower arm touching the surface. The angle of your elbow is about 90 degrees.
  3. As your arm is on the floor, you push up your body, creating a 45 degree angle at your armpit.
  4. Your feet you place on top of each other, with the inner part being the touching point.
  5. You stay in this position while your other arm (which isn’t touching the floor obviously) reaches in the air. From that position you move it in half a circle, passing it across your body (into the whole that has been created between the surfance and your chest).

Exercise: stay in this position for 30 seconds, while moving your arm. Switch sides after this period to do another 30 seconds. This together counts as 1 exercise (as part of the set, together with exercises 1, 3 and 4).

Challenge: to make this more challenging, you can take a small weight (as light as a small bottle of water or a bottle of wine – don’t drink it though!) to hold in your hand while moving your upper arm.

3. Leg exercise: Dynamic Lunges

Lunges are a great way to train your legs, but you train much more at the same time. The main muscle group you develop are the quadriceps, the largest muscle in your upper leg. However, you also train the glutes in your hips and butt. As you (possibly without noticing) also perform a lot of stabalizing during this exercise, you simultaneously train your abdominal muscles, the hamstrings and calf muscles (in your leg) and your back muscles. You follow the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight
  2. One of your legs you move forward and you put the bottom of that particular foot on the floor. You bend all the way forward until the knee of the leg that you did not move forward is almost touching the ground (or anywhere above that – just whatever feels comfortable to you).
  3. You bend through, making it likely you will especially feel tension on the quadriceps (possibly even in both legs). After bending forward, you will push your leg up and move back into basic position.
  4. You do not make this movement too fast (about 2-3 seconds to bend forward and move back).
  5. Make sure that your upper body remains nice and straight (up).
  6. You can put your hands on your waist, but you can also use them to keep your balance (if needed)
  7. Now it’s time for your other leg to do the same movement.
SurfaWhile Fitness Dynamic Lunge
SurfaWhile Fitness Dynamic Lunge

Exercise: bend forward with both legs 20 times (10 each).

Challenge: you can increase the intensity of this exercise by holding a heavy object in your hands (in front of your chest) or fill up a backpack with some books and carry it on your back (keep your upper body straight).

4. Leg exercise: The Squat

Another great movement to train your legs are squats. You follow the following steps:

  1. You stand up, with your feet flat on the ground and about on the same longitude as your shoulders (or possibly slightly wider, just as it feels comfortable to you).
  2. The idea is that you bend through your knees with your ass backwards. The idea of sitting down on a chair makes this movement (which is really similar) easier. You move downwards until your knees are in a 90 degrees angle.
  3. It’s important to make sure the position of your knees do not surpass your toes (when looking from the top).
  4. Make relativelly slow but gentle movements while moving down and back up again (total time will be 2-3 seconds).
SurfaWhile Fitness Squat
SurfaWhile Fitness Squat

Exercise: squat down 15 times.

Challenge: you can increase the intensity of this exercise by holding a heavy object in your hands (in front of your chest) or fill up a backpack with some books and carry it on your back (keep your upper body straight).

Cooling-down and stretches surfing

Stretching is very important, basically in any sport and surfing is no exception. You are well advised to strech before a surfing session, but also after. This accounts as well for the surf workout, where you should be stretching after the warm-up and after the main training. Here are a number of stretches which you can do.

1. Lower back – Lying knee roll-over lower back stretch:

Here you lay flat on your back and the rotation of your bended knees is going to stretch your lower back.

  1. Lay down and pull up your knees, which automatically bend. You carefully rotate your knees to either side and let them rest there.
  2. Stretch out your arms to the side, as this will help balancing your body while rotating your knees.
  3. Slowly and steadily you bring your knees (while keeping them in the same position) to the other side of your body. Your chest (alongside your arms) will stay in the same position, while your legs, hips and lower back are moving while going from one side to the other.
SurfaWhile Fitness Stretch Quadricep
SurfaWhile Fitness Stretch Quadricep

2. Upper legs – stretch the quadriceps

You stand up while doing this exercise. You can make use of a chair or the wall in order to be better able of keeping your balance.

  1. Stand up straight with both feet flat on the floor, touching each other.
  2. Grab one of your legs by the ankle while (trying) having your heel touching your ass. It’s important that you grab your ankle and not the instep (as that forces an unwanted strech around your ankle).
  3. Slowly push your hip forward, feeling the streching of the quadriceps in that particular leg. Keep this for about 10-15 seconds.
  4. Change legs and repeat the above.

3. Tricep – stretch your upper arms

The tricep is a muscle you use a lot while paddling. Therefore it’s important that it’s well developed. Besides training it, stretching also helps a lot.

  1. You can do this either seated or standing up straight.
  2. Raise on hand in the air and bend your elbow, having the hand of that particular arm reaching to your neck or in between your shoulder blades (depending on how far you can reach).
  3. It’s important that your upper body remains nice and straight.
  4. Slightly bend your elbow backwards (only a little bit, to trigger a bit of tension).
  5. Put your other hand on top of your bended elbow and slowly pull that elbow closer (if your right arms is up, pull your elbow slowly towards the left side of your body). This should trigger tension to your tricep.
  6. Hold this position for about 10 – 15 seconds.
  7. Change arms and repeat the above.

Scroll up for a picture of the stretching of your tricep

Bonus exercise surfing

1. Jumping Rope

For this activity you do need a jumping rope. This exercise helps you in your endurance, as well as the coordination between your lower and upper body. This is great for your stamina, either for your core, your legs and your arms.

The most effective way of performing the jumping rope is to only turn your wrists and to refrain from turning your entire lower arm.

Check the Fitness Highlight on our SurfaWhile Instagram account for a video about the jumping rope.

2. Swimming

Swimming can improve your paddling ability and endurance a lot. Paddling is the hardest part of surfing for many people and swimming can seriously help you in building a better stamina.

It is however very much advisable to take swimming lessons as swimming needs to be practised in the correct way. If not, you might harm your body instead of working on improving it. But when seriously looking into this, you can help your surfing a lot.

Video of the SurfaWhile Surf Training


Co-founder of SurfaWhile, with a passion for travel, surf, cooking, salsa, football and meeting new and interesting people.

Only at Errant Surf

The Errant Surf Guide

Order the e-book for € 19.95 or get it for free with your booking!