Beginner Surf Gear

What are the Best Surfing Exercises for Beginner Surfers?

Surfing is hard work. Sure, the pro’s make it look easy. Hop on the board, paddle out to the backline and two ticks later you’re cruising down the wave. But these are seasoned professionals who have been surfing all their life. Moreover, they’ve most likely made use of some surfing exercises throughout their career.

The reality is that surfing is a difficult sport to master. In fact, the amount of physical strength, endurance and coordination required make it one of the more difficult sports to excel in.

surfing exercises

Far from the sea

As with any sport, surfing requires time, discipline and most importantly practice! Yet, not all of us can make it out into the ocean every other week. Or perhaps, some of us are more seasonal surfers who don’t even live near the ocean. 

Luckily, in a similar fashion that the awe-inspiring skills of Usain Bolt are not only about what he does on the track but just as, if not more importantly, about what he does off the track.

Surfing Exercises

There are numerous exercises you can do to build a base of fitness so that the next time you hit the waves you’ll look like a natural. Here are 9 of the best surfing exercises for you.

1. The Push-Up

surfing exercises

The first real exercise many of us ever did in PE. This basic surfing exercise is an excellent way to increase upper body strength and endurance. You’ll see the results of this immediately in two key aspects of surfing: duck dives and pop-ups. Perform, the exercise with explosive force to give you the edge you’ll need against the sea. 

Make it harder? Try adding dumbbells into the mix. Push up against the dumbbells, at the apex of the push-up, alternatively raise your arms to your chest, keeping your back straight.

2. The Pull-Up

Another surfing exercise that’s an old playground favorite. Except, instead of showing off on the monkey bars, this time we’re building functional strength to aid your surfing.

This surfing exercise will truly aid you in paddling out past the breakers. By increasing your paddle power, you’re getting out to the waves more efficiently giving yourself more energy to surf down the line with panache.

3. The Burpee Box Jump

The burpee box jump is perhaps the most intense of the surfing exercises here. However, if there’s one exercise that does it all, it’s this one. The burpee portion of the move trains all the major muscle groups you’ll be using in the pop-up, making is highly relevant. The box jump helps you develop the lower body strength that will keep you balanced on the board.

4. The Rowing Machine

Do a solid session on the rowing machine and you’re pretty much worked everything you need for surfing. It helps build both lower and upper body strength.

Also, it engages the core whilst providing a rigorous cardio workout. Like many fitness blogs we recommend starting off with 1000m and keep building upwards.

5. The mountain climber

The importance of the mountain climber is clear to anyone who has been on a board before. It assists in training you for the transition from pop-up into fully standing. By helping to improve flexibility around the hips and allowing you to get better foot placement for your pop up.

6. The Turkish Or Dumbbell Get-Up

A bit of an interesting one, but kind of similar to the rowing machine will assist with most aspects of surfing. Start out flat on your back, with a dumbbell or kettle bell. Raise your arm above your head and now try getting up, using your free hand as little as possible.

You’ll be targeting quite a few major muscle groups from specific shoulder muscles, back muscles as well as your core with this exercise. All the important joints are also getting a full workout. You’ll see the results in your stability and posture on the board.

7. The Squat

best surfing exercises
Source: Pop Sugar

Lower body strength and healthy joint mobility are crucial in surfing. Thus, the squat is a very valuable surfing exercise to have in your arsenal. The squat has many variations, all helpful in surfing.

Start out with the basic front squat before progressing to more advanced forms like the pistol squat. If you have a Bosu ball handy try squatting on it for added difficulty.

8. The Lunge

As mentioned, the hip movement is such a pivotal motion in surfing that you need to keep it strong. It is used in most aspects of surfing. From the pop-up to navigating the waves.

The hip is pushing (or pulling) you through it all. This is why we have the lunge to keep that joint flexible. The lunge has the added benefit of also helping train our leg muscles.

Make it harder? Grab a pair of dumbbells and press above your shoulders as you lunge and you’re working out your arms and core as well. Boom.

9. The Plank

planking for surfing

It’s fair to say that a very important muscle group in surfing is the core. The core keeps you sturdy through it all: paddling, balancing on your board, doing the bottom turn and carving on the wave.

The plank is an ideal workout for your core and is arguably one of the best-known core workouts. Start with a full plank and mix it up with side-planks to train different parts of your core.


Mix, match and build up your own routines out these 9 surfing exercises. It doesn’t really matter what order you use them in. The most important aspect to be aware of while doing all these exercises is to maintain proper form and not overtrain. Failing to do this will render most of these exercises ineffective. 

These days with surfing growing in popularity and many lineups are becoming even more crowded than before. Following a good exercise routine out of the water will stand you in good stead when competing to catch waves in the water.

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