A Surfer’s Guide to Keeping Fit

By Lily Addington, 2012.

Do you hanker to get in shape and raise your energy levels so that you can become better at surfing? Perhaps you just want to lose some weight . The average man burns up approximately two hundred calories per hour when surfing so the sport itself is a good way to stay fit but it is still essential to exercise when not surfing in order to get the best out of it. An obvious way of ensuring that you have the necessary endurance to be proficient on a board is to go swimming regularly. Long time surfer and trainer of surf stars Tim Brown advises that surfers should take advantage of down time between swell to strengthen their muscles. He points out that swimmers use many of the same muscles when they are paddling as swimmers do, making swimming the ideal exercise.


Running provides a good cardiovascular workout for the heart. The best destinations for going for a run are those that have a hard sand surface, as this gives the legs a better workout and has less of a negative impact on the joints. Former world champion surfers Mark ‘Occhilupo’ Occy and Martin ‘Pottz’ Potter ran religiously up and down sand dunes during the time that they spent on the ASP Surfing Tour, demonstration the effectiveness of this exercise technique.


In order to get strong arms for paddling, it is advisable to invest in a set of dumbbells. These will also help to strengthen your upper body. A technique known as the ‘dumbbell row’ will help you to improve your strength. Start by picking up a dumbbell in one hand then lean forward and support yourself using the other hand. Keep your back fixed straight and avoid hanging your shoulders downwards. Pull the dumbbell slowly upwards, making sure that your arm is kept close to your body. Change sides after every set you do and do as many sets as you can three times every week.

Another training technique that is particularly good for increasing paddling strength is the lying triceps extension. This involves lying on a bench and raising a barbell above your chest whilst keeping your back in a straight position. You should choose a weight to do this with that you are only able to do fifteen reps with.


If you don’t have access to dumbbells or a barbell then press-ups are a great exercise for improving your paddling strength. If you are just starting out as a surfer then it helps to do plenty of exercises that strengthen your arms because they are one of the main muscles that you will be using. Try and increase the amount of press-ups that you do each week as you get stronger in order to maximise muscle growth.

Eat Healthily

Eating well is just as important as exercising for maintaining the level of fitness that is required for surfing. Professional surfer and writer for Surfer Mag JD Irons advises practitioners of the sport to only eat fresh foods. He says that he avoids eating anything that is frozen or processed and makes sure that he consumes lots of fruit. JD also advises against eating red meat, as it can be difficult for the body to digest.

Surf-related health and nutrition expert Peggy Hall points out that certain foods can aid flexibility, which can be useful for surfers. She lists fish, beans, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes and zucchini amongst these foodstuffs and also recommends drinking three litres of water each day in order to remain properly hydrated. Peggy says that it is advisable to drink a cup of water at the very least before embarking upon a surfing session and an additional cup or more once an hour during your session. She says that coffee drinkers should try to reduce their consumption to one or two cups a day and suggests that they could replace them with green tea or Yerba Mate tea. This is so that they don’t consume too much caffeine, which can dehydrate you and hamper your ability to concentrate whilst you are surfing. An excess of caffeine can also lead to an upset stomach, which is the last thing that you want whilst attempting to catch a wave.

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