Surfing is probably something you hope to do for the rest of your life. Keeping your body healthy and fit is essential if you want to enjoy this beautiful activity for as long as you can. I’ve had more surf injuries than I like to acknowledge, and the reason for many of them was improper conditioning out of the water. The goal here is longevity, functionality, and keeping yourself in a healthy state that allows you to better enjoy your days in the water.
These exercises won’t mimic all of your movements in the surf, but they will help you build a solid foundation of control, strength and power that will improve your performance and increase your stoke time.
Bosu Ball Push-Ups
A Bosu ball is a great way to increase balance and stability. There are so many exercises you can do with this thing, but my favorite is a simple push-up because of its application in the water.
For this exercise, put the flat end of the Bosu ball face up, so that the rounded end is balanced on the floor. Plant both of your hands shoulder width apart on the flat side of the Bosu and get into a starting push-up position. As you do your push-ups you’ll be challenged with maintaining your balance - this engages your core and works the ordinary muscles in a slightly more dynamic way. To switch it up you can place your hands on the edges of the flat surface, but I personally like to keep them shoulder width apart to replicate a pop-up motion. This is one of my favorite exercise because of its quick transfer to your performance in the surf.
Another great variation on the push-up is the spider-man. Grab yourself a Swiss ball (also known as an exercise ball) and get into a push-up position with your feet up on the ball. When you go down for a push-up simultaneously lift one leg to the side and up to your elbow. Alternate each leg on every down count and you’ll start to feel the burn in your core. This is great for overall mobility and core strength that carries over into your surf session.
Active & Passive Hangs
Simply hanging on a pull-up bar for five minutes a day is a great way to decompress your shoulders. Surfers often suffer from gunky, compressed shoulders with lots of forward protraction. As someone who has dealt with multiple shoulder injuries, this one hits home and I cannot stress its importance enough. Hanging five minutes a day will decompress your shoulders and create lots of good space in your upper back, allowing you to gain back some of that mobility in your joints. For a passive hang, your grip is strong, but everything else is relaxed. To move into an active hang, simply activate your shoulder blades and gently lift up so that your head and shoulders sit a bit higher.
Everyone knows that squats are a great way to build strength, but they are also amazing for creating increased mobility. The squat pattern is also essential to surfing. The goblet squat will make sure that you are optimizing your range of motion in the ankle, knees, hips, and spine so that you have the most amount of fun in the water. We are constantly enacting the squat pattern on our surfboard.
Standing with your legs about shoulder width apart and holding a light kettlebell, medicine ball, or dumbbell close to your chest, continue into a squat position. Keep your chest and head up and your back straight. You need that basic squat mobility first so that you can get in and out of positions and produce force in the water.
Another essential pattern we see in the water is the lunge. Any bottom-turn, barrel crouch, or floater worth its salt relies on a healthy and strong hip joint and accesses this pattern of movement. Once you get your lunge technique down, you can incorporate some light weight and experiment with different angles and vectors to create a dynamic exercise.
Written by: AJ Letterel