Fitness For Surfing – How To Train At Every Level

Surfing transcends mere sport; it’s a symphony of strength, agility, and harmony with the ocean’s whims. To thrive amidst the waves, a surfer must cultivate a unique set of skills, encompassing physical fitness, mental resilience, and a deep understanding of the aquatic realm. Today, we discuss fitness for surfing, going over different training methods that will help you stay firmly on the board.

Fitness for surfing - preparing to hit the waves

The journey from paddling out to mastering the curl requires not just courage but a dedicated regimen of training tailored to the rigors of surfing. 

This comprehensive approach ensures that every surfer, regardless of their level, can rise to the challenge of the waves, embodying the spirit of the surf with every ride.

Bali is the surfer’s paradise

Bali, known as the mecca for surfers worldwide, offers an unparalleled surfing experience. Its pristine beaches, consistent waves, and vibrant surfing community create the perfect backdrop for both novice and seasoned surfers to hone their skills. 

The island’s allure lies not just in its surf but in the culture and adventures that accompany the surfing lifestyle.

Finding accommodation

Embarking on a surfing adventure in Bali begins with finding the right accommodation. The choice of stay can significantly influence your surfing experience, offering not just a place to rest but a basecamp for exploration. 

Ideal accommodations cater to the needs of surfers, providing easy access to the best surf spots, surfboard storage, and a community of fellow wave enthusiasts. Whether seeking a beachfront villa, a cozy surf camp, or a budget-friendly hostel, the key is to prioritize proximity to the surf, comfort, and the opportunity to immerse in the local surf culture.

Bali is the surfer's paradise

The essence of surf training is deeply entwined with the environment in which one chooses to engage with the waves. 

Bali, with its diverse range of waves and welcoming surf community, serves as an ideal classroom for surfers at every level. Training in such a setting goes beyond physical preparation, inviting surfers to embrace the cultural and spiritual aspects of surfing, further enriching their journey on the waves.

Enhancing your surf skills

Once settled, the next step in the surfer’s journey in Bali is to focus on enhancing surf skills. This involves a combination of practical surfing experience and targeted training exercises. 

For beginners, lessons from experienced local instructors can provide invaluable insights into wave selection, board control, and surfing etiquette. 

Intermediate and advanced surfers might focus on refining specific techniques, such as improving their cutback, mastering the tube ride, or increasing aerial prowess. 

Incorporating video analysis can be a powerful tool for identifying areas for improvement, allowing surfers to visualize their performance and make precise adjustments.

Embracing the local culture

An integral part of training for the waves in Bali involves embracing the local culture. 

Bali’s rich history and traditions offer surfers a unique perspective on the connection between the land and the sea. 

Participating in cultural activities, from temple visits to traditional dance shows, can enrich the surfing experience, providing a deeper appreciation for the island’s spiritual connection to the ocean. Engaging with the local community, trying regional cuisine, and learning about Bali’s environmental conservation efforts can inspire a more respectful and mindful approach to surfing and life.

To fully make fitness for surfing work, you have to relax into the local environment, and accept the local culture.

Holistic fitness for surfing

Fitness for surfing and staying on the board amidst a wavy ocean

Surfing demands a unique combination of strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility, making it essential for surfers to adopt a comprehensive training regimen that addresses each of these aspects. 

By focusing on specific exercises that target the muscles and skills used in surfing, you can significantly enhance your performance on the waves.

Muscle building for surfers

Muscle strength is crucial for paddling into waves and maintaining stability on the board. 

Exercises that build muscle not only enhance your power but also improve your endurance, balance, and flexibility, which are all vital for surfing. 

Two key exercises stand out for surfers looking to build muscle:

  • Alternating sandbag lunge: This exercise targets your core, glutes, and legs, mimicking the dynamic movements required in surfing. By engaging your core and maintaining balance as you rotate the sandbag with each lunge, you effectively simulate the rotational movements of surfing​​.
  • Surfer pop-up: This exercise directly replicates the motion of popping up on a surfboard. It’s essentially a dynamic push-up that transitions into a jump to your feet, preparing your muscles for the quick, explosive movement needed to catch a wave​​.

Incorporating these exercises into your training can significantly impact your surfing performance, focusing on building the muscle groups most used in the sport.

A while ago, we reviewed a fitness program that still holds the number one spot when it comes to athletic training. Designed and released by Beachbody, and Shaun T, the Insanity Asylum series (vol. 1 and vol. 2) provide a structured way to train cross-fit, at a level that significantly improves strength and cardiovascular endurance. Personally, I’ve always preferred the first volume, as it provides a more compartmentalized and straightforward way of training every muscle group.

Endurance training for surfing

Endurance is key for long sessions in the water, allowing you to paddle effectively and stay on the waves longer. 

Exercises like lunge jumps and jumping rope are excellent for building cardiovascular endurance while also enhancing coordination and agility, critical for navigating the ever-changing conditions of the ocean​​.

Flexibility and mobility

Man stretching on stairs

Flexibility and mobility are essential for surfers to maneuver their bodies into the correct positions on the board and to prevent injuries. 

Deep squat holds with rotation improve lower body flexibility and mobility, which is crucial for maintaining balance and control on the board. Meanwhile, exercises like the rib roll focus on spinal mobility, allowing for smoother transitions and turns while surfing​.

For those who want to train their flexibility without making a significant sacrifice or opportunity cost with regards to strength and endurance, workout programs like PiYo can be an excellent choice.

Ready to hit the waves?

Surfing fitness encompasses a journey that melds physical prowess with spiritual connection to the sea, requiring a regimen that extends beyond mere physical training to include mental resilience and cultural immersion. 

Bali, as a surfer’s haven, provides an idyllic backdrop for this journey, offering not only challenging waves but also a rich cultural landscape that deepens the surfing experience. 

Building muscle, improving endurance and flexibility through challenging exercises, and structured routines are all critical components of a surfer’s training regimen. 

These exercises not only prepare the body for the physical demands of surfing but also ensure a holistic approach to fitness that considers the mental and cultural aspects of the sport. Embracing this comprehensive fitness for surfing approach allows surfers at every level to harness their full potential, embodying the spirit of the surf in harmony with the ocean’s rhythm.

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