7 home surfing exercises


Surfing is a great sport that challenges the entire body.


Some of the movements involved in surfing can be challenging. Fortunately, some exercises you can do at home can help you do better in surfing.

This article suggests 7 exercises that can make you a better, healthier surfer.

Virtually all of your muscles are involved when you’re trying to catch a wave.

Laying on the board requires the strength of your stomach as you float through the water.

When rowing, you engage your shoulders, triceps, chest and glutes.

When you try to catch a wave, your chest, triceps and shoulders push you back to your feet, with support from your glutes, quads and hamstrings.

Once you’re standing, your lower back and glutes are needed to stay upright.

When riding a wave, your legs and torso should be strong and stable. Your core muscles also help your turn and move around on the board.


Surfing is a complex sport that works the muscles all over the body.

Surfing requires short bursts of high energy combined with a reasonable amount of less intense paddling.

From an adaptive standpoint, a 2012 study recommends repeating these conditions in your training. High-intensity intervals using compound movements are ideal for most people looking to improve their surfing (1).

From a strength perspective, you need the strength to push yourself off the board and stand up quickly. Research has shown that this involves moving about 75 percent of your body weight in less than a second (2).

You should also improve your core stability, which is essential for moving around, surfing, and lying on the board.

Good mobility is also essential in surfing. For example, you need ankle movement to stand on the board and shoulder movement to paddle or lift your torso off the board when looking for a new wave.

Finally, you also need to make sure you keep your joints healthy to prevent injury. In fact, an older 2005 review found that many surfers suffer injuries to the shoulders, neck, and lower back from repeated paddling (3).


Surf training should revolve around high-intensity bursts of energy, low-intensity endurance work, stability core training, and full-body mobility work.

1. Push-ups

Basic exercise: Start with your hands on the floor below your chest, shoulder width apart, with your fingers pointing slightly outward. Bring your feet back and step on your toes. Bring your chest to the floor with control and press back. Start with 3-4 sets of 5-20 reps

Variations to increase density: Add a weight jacket or elevate your feet to make the standard push-up more difficult.

Power version: Start at the top of the push-up position. Lower yourself to the bottom position of the push-up with control. Then explode as hard as you can upward to get your hands to leave the floor. Add applause if desired. Gently back off as far as you can and repeat.

2. Squat

Basic exercise: Bring your feet outside the hips in a standing position. Push the hips back and down with an erect chest. Lower until your hips are below knee height, then come back up. Start with 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

Variations to increase density: Add dumbbells or kettlebells for more resistance. Hold the weight on your collarbone with both hands.

Power version: Control the squat descent. On the way, add a jump.

3. Lunges

Basic exercise: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Bring one foot forward and bend your front knee until your back knee touches the ground, aiming for a 90-degree angle at both knees. Start with 3 sets of 10-15 reps per side.

Variations to increase intensity: Do a Bulgarian squat version of this exercise. Place your back foot on a chair behind you instead of on the floor. You can also increase weight by wearing a weight vest or holding dumbbells or kettlebells.

4. row

Basic exercise: Place dumbbells or kettlebells next to a bench. Place one knee and your hand on the same side on the bench. With your opposite hand, grab the weight and pull it up until it touches your chest, then lower it with control. Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps per side.

disparity: If you have a TRX strap system or two gym rings, you can use them to perform an inverted row. Face the rings or straps above you and pull your body weight up to chest level, keeping your core tight. This is a great way to increase shoulder stability.

5. Planks

Basic exercise: Get into a basic push-up position, but instead of using your hands, lower yourself to your elbows. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and your abs tight. Start with three sets of 15-30 seconds each.

Variations to increase intensity: Try to lift one foot off the ground during a plank. When this becomes easy, lift the opposite arm forward with the foot. These differences will really challenge your core.

6. Turkish Renaissance

Basic exercise: This is a great body and shoulder exercise that requires a lot of stability and movement. Before you add any weight, practice the movement while holding a teacup filled with water.

  1. Start by lying flat on the floor with your right knee bent and your foot flat on the floor. Keep your right arm straight above your head, holding the teacup. This arm will remain directly above you throughout the exercise.
  2. Sit with the teacup on top of you, using your left arm to help lift your torso off the floor.
  3. Lift your butt off the floor and pull your left leg under your body in one motion until the knee is behind you. Your leg should be on the ground and pointing.
  4. Lift your left hand off the ground until your torso is completely straight. You are now in a half-kneeling position, which is like the bottom of a lunge with your knee on the floor.
  5. Finally, stand with the cup of tea above your head, holding it in your outstretched arm.
  6. Now do the same thing in reverse, until you’re back on the ground where you started.
  7. Do 2 sets of 3-5 reps on each side.

Variations to increase density: Once you’ve mastered the teacup version and can do it without spilling any water, replace the cup with a light dumbbell or kettlebell.

7. Handcuff with rotation

Basic exercise: This is a great shoulder mobility tool to improve the internal and external rotation of the rotator cuff.

  1. Start by lying face down on the floor. Interlace your fingers and place them behind your back as if you were just handcuffed.
  2. Keep your fingers locked and raise your hands as high as you can. Then slowly unlock it. With straight arms, raise your arms out to the side, making a T-shape.
  3. Keep the arms straight and continue to raise them until they are completely above your head, letting the wrists rotate naturally so that you can see your palms.
  4. Now, bend both elbows and try to touch both shoulders with your hands.
  5. Straighten your arms and repeat the same steps in the opposite direction until your fingers are intertwined and your hand is behind your back in a handcuffed position.
  6. Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

Below is an example of a two-day-a-week training schedule using the above exercises. Aim to complete this training in addition to your regular surfing sessions.


First, do 3-5 sets of the following exercises, with 30 seconds of rest between sets:

  • Bodyweight squat, 12-15 reps
  • Push-ups, 10-20 reps

Then do 2-3 sets of the following, with 1 minute of rest between sets:

  • Turkish combinations, 5 repetitions on each side


First, do 3-5 sets of the following exercises, with 30 seconds of rest between sets:

  • Dumbbell rows, 10-12 reps
  • Bodyweight lunge, 15-20 reps per side

Then do 2-3 sets of the following, with 1 minute of rest between sets:

  • Plank holds 30-45 seconds

Finally, do 3 sets of the following, with 30 seconds of rest between sets:

  • Cuffs with rotation, 5 reps

All of these exercises will help prepare you for some of the movements required in surfing. However, the number one thing that will make you a better surfer is getting out there and riding the waves.

In a 2017 clinical trial, 17 surfers were introduced to a strength training program. After 5 weeks, rowing performance increased. However, after developing the required amount of strength, their performance stopped climbing.

This suggests that while strength training can help you get stronger and better at surfing, there is a point of diminishing returns when you have developed all the strength you need (4).

Another thing to consider is conditioning.

For example, a 2016 study found that doing water rowing intervals using 10 sets of 40-second bouts increased performance. So, next time you hit the water, bring along a waterproof stopwatch or a friend to start working on your conditioning (5).

Surfing is an excellent full-body sport.

If you want to strengthen the muscles involved in surfing or get in better shape to perform better in the water, try adding some of these at-home exercises to your routine.

These surfing exercises will not only improve your performance but also improve your overall health. With consistency, you’ll quickly see yourself riding a few more waves than the previous week.

Leave a Comment