The Full-Body Surfing Workout
Develop the muscles you need to get up on the surfboard with this workout from multiple-time UK surfing champion Johnny Fryer
Whether you’re a beginner boarder or a seasoned surfer, having the necessary fitness levels to conquer whatever the waves can throw at you is crucial. And while nothing beats spending time in the water for improving your skills, adding surf-specific exercises to your training can be hugely beneficial – especially if (like most Brits) you can only make occasional trips to the beach.
“This workout helps to build core stability and explosiveness, which are crucial physical attributes for surfing,” says former UK champion and coach Johnny Fryer. “Add it to your training once a week to prepare your body for surfing, while also building the kind of lean physique a pro surfer would have.”
1 Alternating jump lunges
Sets 3 Reps 10 each leg
Start in a forward lunge position with your hands on your hips for balance. Jump off the ground by driving up with your front leg. Swap your legs over in mid-air so you land with the other leg forward.
Why it works “It’s a dynamic movement pattern that helps to strengthen your leg muscles and replicate your stance on a board,” says Fryer.
Make it harder Rotate your torso 90 degrees when you’re at the lowest point of the lunge, alternating sides with every rep.
2 Plyometric press-ups
Sets 3 Rep 10
Start in a press-up position. Slowly lower to the ground, then explode up as fast as possible and bring your hands off the floor, before landing and continuing into the next rep.
Why it works “This exercise helps to mimic the the initial push you do with your arms as you ‘pop up’ onto a surfboard,” says Fryer.
Make it harder Clap your hands in mid-air during every rep. Still too easy? Try tapping your chest with both hands before catching yourself and lowering (safely) into the bottom position.
3 Gym ball jacknives
Sets 3 Reps 8
Start in a press-up position but with your feet supported on a gym ball. Squeeze your lower abs to roll the ball towards you, ending up with your knees tucked in to your chest. Pause, then straighten your legs to complete one rep.
Why it works “It helps to build core stability, which is crucial for generating power when you’re paddling,” says Fryer.
Make it harder Perform a press-up with your feet still on the ball at the end of each rep.
Sets 3 Reps 12
From standing, drop down and place your hands on the floor outside your feet. Jump your feet back so you’re in the top of a press-up position, then back to between your hands. Jump up, clapping your hands overhead.
Why it works “It’s a dynamic, full-body exercise that helps to develop the explosiveness you need to repeatedly get up on your board,” says Fryer.
Make it harder When you’re in the top of the press-up position, pause and perform – yep, you guessed it – a press-up.
5 Back raise holds
Sets 3 Time 30secs
Lie face down on your front with your hands behind your head and your elbows raised above your ears. Arch your lower back to raise your upper body off the floor, then hold the position.
Why it works “When you’re lying on your board, it’s important to keep you chin up high and arch your back as you paddle, as this stops you from nosediving when the wave catches you,” says Fryer. “This exercise helps to strengthen your body in this position.”
Make it harder Hold a med ball directly in front of you with arms outstretched while performing the move.
Johnny Fryer was speaking at the Newquay Activity Centre to promote the launch of the Citroën C4 Cactus Rip Curl. Photography courtesy of Aaron Parsons
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
Between 2010 and 2016, Ben was the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Ben also contributed exclusive features to Coach on topics such as football drills, triathlon training plans and healthy eating.